Every Possible Breakdown

Every Possible Breakdown

On July 28, 2021, I will have published daily for a full year.

And in some ways, that moment couldn’t come any sooner.

It’s not that it hasn’t been worth it. It’s been fun and fulfilling.

It’s not that I wouldn’t do it again. I can see the benefit in sharing daily, even if it’s not the fast track to fame and fortune. There are benefits that extend well beyond that.

But in the last year, I:

  • Burned out and spent the better part of six months recovering
  • Lost my grandma
  • Lost my other grandma
  • Had to streamline my finances (it’s still a little tight right now)

It has been my experience that, whenever you commit to something significant, there are always challenges that emerge.

Did these things happen because I took on publishing daily for a full year? Perhaps not. Maybe they would have happened anyway.

But the events always seem to coincide with new ventures and commitments.

Even having gone through every possible breakdown, though, I don’t think I would go back and change a thing. Because I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now.

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Dig Where You Don’t Want to Dig

Dig Where You Don’t Want to Dig

When presented with the choice of doing something hard or doing something easy, most people choose to do something easy.

It’s human.

And this tendency shows up everywhere in our lives, including things we aren’t complete with, and still need to deal with.

If you want to cause a breakthrough, you can’t keep chipping away at the easy. You can’t be satisfied with incremental improvement. You must confront the monster you’ve tried to keep behind closed doors.

Today, I was talking with a friend who wasn’t moving forward powerfully in her life.

So, I offered some coaching. It was difficult for her to dig where she didn’t want to dig. She’d been stuck in the same pattern for a long time.

When I could see plainly that she was capable of so much more, as someone who’s up to something in the world.

I knew that she didn’t really want to look at what I was pointing to. But I poked around a little anyway, knowing that it would hurt a little. Because the pain of not moving forward would surely be greater than dealing with whatever was there for her.

As she kept looking, she started to see what was there for her. Unsurprisingly, it had a lot to do with her childhood and upbringing.

Eventually, she saw why she wasn’t doing anything with the projects that were supposed to be so important to her.

That would not have happened if we had dealt with the surface. It happened because I kept digging, and ultimately, because she kept digging where she didn’t want to dig. I can’t take credit for the breakthrough. Only for the stand I’d made for her.

Stop looking for gold on the surface. It’s time to go deeper. That’s where the hard stuff is. And the hard stuff is where we have breakthroughs.

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How to Live into New Possibilities

How to Live into New Possibilities

I didn’t get much writing done today.

Between recording a new podcast episode, fielding various calls, meetings, and conversations for new ventures and possibilities, all I could do was write in the margins. When it’s usually the opposite.

And you know what I’m seeing?

I created today.

Since starting the yearlong leadership and management program, I’ve been seeing a lot of things in my life more clearly. And I’m beginning to see where I’ve been wasting my time, specifically on projects that will never deliver on my high standards of fulfillment or income. I will never be promoted or given a proper valuation.

And so, I was reminded that I stated today differently. I set the intention to create newly and boldly, and to be in the mind of discovery.

At first, what unfolded struck me as a breakdown. Because I didn’t get my writing done. And that’s what pays the bills.

Then, I realized it wasn’t a breakdown. It’s what I created. Not just that, but the day was more in keeping with the direction I’m wanting to move in. Conversations happened. Team members made the commitment to take on tasks. Possibilities were considered and decided on with new team members.

It’s kind of astonishing.

And so, in terms of writing, what I completed, I completed. What I didn’t, I didn’t. And there’s still some week left. I should have more time tomorrow and Friday to work on that side of things.

Either way, I’m clear that I’ve lived in this rut for long enough. I can see the limitations of trying to do everything myself. I will not be further ahead this year compared to last year if I continue to do what I’ve always done. I’ll see incremental improvement, maybe, but I know there’s no breakthrough in it.

In the meantime, I’m sitting with the discomfort of living out a different kind of day. But I realize the discomfort is good. It’s creating what I set out to create.

Worthy of your reflection:

  • When you last had a breakdown, was it really a breakdown, or did you create it?
  • If you did create it, then how did you create it? What intentions were set?
  • Could you continue to set the intentions so that you could keep living into the new possibilities?
  • Did you run from the discomfort of living into new possibilities, or did you embrace it?
  • If you’re always comfortable, are you really growing?
  • Maybe you can change your life just by setting intentions. What if you were that powerful?

Go and think!

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4 Books I’m Reading Right Now

4 Books I’m Reading Right Now

How much reading do you do?

What books are you reading right now that are making a difference for you?

As with Ryan Holiday and Ayodeji Awosika, I take the stance that reading is important work. It’s like a job. A non-negotiable. Something you must do as a creative or creator, whether it’s to find inspiration, improve your writing, generate ideas, or discover worthy and applicable strategies and tactics for life and business.

I don’t think it’s necessary to read one book at a time, or even feel obligated to finish a book you’ve started (though I generally do). If a book isn’t quite what I expected, I tend to skim most of it instead of trying to comb through it word for word. There are some books I almost gave up on that got good in the middle or towards the end, contrary to what I’ve heard some gurus say.

Reading is where – more than anything else – inspiration happens for me. And that makes it a worthy addition to my life. Some say they don’t read, and I think that’s fine too. What I do know is that reading develops the tenacity and persistence required to be successful in any area of life, just as learning an instrument does.

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

1. The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham

Ever notice how the quality of questions you ask guide your life?

This is obviously true in every area of life, but where The Road Less Stupid shines is specifically in entrepreneurship. And there isn’t a shortage of powerful questions here.

And just in case you’re tempted to go and buy books by the likes of Tony Robbins and Peter Drucker (because they are masters at self-diagnosis), it’s clear Cunningham took inspiration from the greats while forming the many, many questions posed in this book.

Even if you’ve been reading about entrepreneurship for a long time, you’re bound to have some “aha” moments while digging into this resource.

If there’s a downside, it’s the sheer length of the book. This is an advantage as much as it is a disadvantage, I suppose, but if I’m looking to apply what I learn from a book, its length seems to factor heavily into application.

By the end of a book like Launch by Jeff Walker, my head was swimming. I lost the steps to the method by the time I had made it through the word salad that was supposed to offer more clarity and direction for the reader.

I have been keeping notes on The Road Less Stupid, and I’m nearly 50% of the way through, but I’m afraid it will be one of those books who will only ever be applied piecemeal by me – never holistically.

Check out this book (affiliate link)

2. Reality Transurfing. Steps I-V by Vadim Zeland

Okay, so is there any merit to the Law of Attraction? We’ve all heard about Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, maybe even took it a step further with Abraham-Hicks. But is Law of Attraction real? How does it work anyway?

Well, turns out The Secret is kind of like the watered down, easy to understand, kindergarten version of the Law of Attraction. Reality Transurfing is a detailed guide to the nuances and subtleties that make it work. And it is heavily intellectual.

Reader be forewarned – this is a tome if there ever was one. It’s not some rehash of The Secret, or any of its bandwagon proponents. It’s the advanced, bootcamp guide to reality and how you can shift to different lifelines (thus transurfing).

Whether you read it, believe it, or apply it is entirely up to you. It struck me as interesting after watching numerous Quazi Johir videos, which is why I picked it up for myself.

Check out this book (affiliate link)

3. Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? by Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? is a compilation of some of his best blog posts from 2006 to 2012. And again, it’s a tome if there ever was one.

For me, it’s essential reading because I’ve been thinking about compiling my blog posts and turning them into a book as well. My book wouldn’t be quite as cogent as Godin’s book, I think, because sometimes I talk specifically to musicians rather than more broadly to creatives and creators. But I don’t necessarily think that should stop me. Anyway, for me, this is like going to school on how to craft a book that, in a way, is all over the place.

What I like about Whatcha Gonna Do is that many of the blog posts are short and easy to consumed. They are all self-contained thoughts that fit nicely into the broader theme of the book.

Of course, every thought has the potential to be life-changing, which is one of the things many people have found to be so challenging about reading Godin’s blog.

Check out this book (affiliate link)

4. Magnetic Micro-Books by Nate Fancher

I got connected to Nate Fancher on Twitter, and I couldn’t possibly call that an accident. Here’s someone who obviously had a direct line to my current struggles in entrepreneurship and life (because he’s been there), and his book, Magnetic Micro-Books expresses it well.

The idea immediately resonated with me, because I have produced a few of my own micro-books and they have sold reasonably well, while helping me gain broader access to my target audience.

But I can see that Magnetic Micro-Books would be taking it a few big steps forward. Just from reading the opening chapters, I’m clear that I have some serious soul searching to do, and some deeper questions to gain clarity on.

I don’t have any feedback on whether the method works, as I’m just getting started with this book. But suffice it to say, I’m looking for an open block in my schedule to work through the key questions presented in this book.

Check out this book

Final Thoughts

Do you have any book recommendations? What books have you read that have made a difference for you?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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5 Things Most People Don’t do with Their Breakdowns

5 Things Most People Don’t do with Their Breakdowns

We all have breakdowns. And depending on what our relationship to those breakdowns are, we can end up suffering over the long haul.

The truth is most of us were never taught how to deal with breakdowns. Generally, we’re just present to the fact that a) they happen, b) they can happen at any time, and c) they are to be avoided at all costs.

But we can all deal powerfully with breakdowns and even turn them into our greatest lessons and opportunities. Breakdowns can turn into breakthroughs.

Here are five things most people don’t do with breakdowns that can make all the difference.

1. Declare Them

Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. – Pearl Strachan Hurd

Breakdowns should be declared the moment we recognize we’re having them.

Most people don’t. This is typically what causes the resulting rut.

In an ideal world, how long would you sit with a problem? For a few minutes? Maybe a few seconds? But most people don’t believe that’s possible because they stay in their breakdowns for weeks, months, and years, don’t they?

The thing is you don’t need to remain in your breakdowns forever. Most people don’t recognize that they are in full control. They have all the power in their breakdowns. Yet they often want to marinate in the steaming pile of puke in the corner, blaming people and circumstances for their misfortune. And they can remain in that space for a lifetime.

A powerful person isn’t someone who never makes mistakes or doesn’t cause offense. It’s someone who understands that life is full of surprises, and anything could thwart their progress. So, they learn to declare their breakdowns instead of trying to fix, survive, or live with them. Because things will happen. They always do.

Breakdowns make for horrid companions. And you aren’t required to sit with them or to keep punishing yourself for whatever you feel you did wrong for all eternity. Leave judgement to God or the universe.

2. Brainstorm Solutions

Focus on the solution, not on the problem. – Jim Rohn

After a breakdown is declared, you shouldn’t just sit with it. The next step is to brainstorm possible solutions. And you want to move from declaration to brainstorming rapidly.

Chances are there is someone who has already faced exactly what you’re currently facing. It would prove challenging to dream up a circumstance someone hasn’t already overcome, save for something completely contrived (like “I’m stuck on a planet far away from earth and I don’t know how to get back!”).

If someone else has done it, you can too. Other people are not special. Celebrities, leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and everyone else you admire, or think is better than you have all persevered through seemingly awful situations.

And even “awful” situations are a matter of perspective. It’s your relationship to the situation that makes it so. And you can change your relationship to a person, circumstance, or event at any time. It’s up to you.

In brainstorming, you don’t need to try to come up with perfect solutions. No such thing exists. If we were honest with ourselves, we’d all be able to admit that most of our ideas suck. Case in point – none of my Medium posts were curated in the last year, and I’m almost done publishing daily for a full year.

If you suck, keep sucking and remain in action until you don’t suck anymore.

3. Get into Conversation

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer

When you have a breakdown, don’t just declare it, and don’t just brainstorm possible solutions.

The logical, powerful next step is to get into conversation. If you were to look, you would likely find that the best possible solutions are on the other end of conversations (often those you would deem “uncomfortable”).

We live unaware most days, but our language truly does create our world. When we say, “life sucks,” we begin looking earnestly for reasons why it sucks, and we always find them. Which should tell you just how powerful your mind is, and what could happen if you started creating your world, with language, as you would like it to be.

Leadership expert John Maxwell says even the shiest introvert will influence 10,000 people over the course of his or her lifetime. Which means this – no matter how disconnected you may feel, there are people in your life willing to be a resource, contribute to you, support you, and help you with your challenge.

So, get on the horn. Now. No texting or emails, unless it’s to set up a phone conversation or Zoom call.

4. Identify the Opportunity

Within every adversity is an equal or greater benefit. Within every problem is an opportunity. Even in the knocks of life, we can find great gifts. – Napoleon Hill

If Mr. Hill is right, and I would posit that he is, a breakdown is just a breakthrough in disguise.

The breakthrough may not be immediately forthcoming, but the seed of it is within the breakdown itself.

Search and you will find that there is something familiar about the breakdown. Chances are it’s not the first time you’ve faced a challenge like this. It may take some looking, but once you’ve identified what it is, and are clear about the constraint you’ve wound up with, you can begin hunting down opportunities.

Remember, you are the most powerful person in your world. Other people can help you find what old patterns you’re clinging to, and they might even be able to help you identify the opportunity, but you’re the only one who can act on the opportunity. Otherwise, there is no reward in it.

And the opportunity can often be found in conversation, which is something we’ve already covered.

Finding the opportunity is the first step to causing a real breakthrough.

5. Cause Completion

Success is completion. Success is being able to complete what we set out to do – each individual action, each specific step, each desired experience whether a big project or a very small errand. – Susan Collins

We all have “incompletes” in our lives.

To discover what those “incompletes” are, again, we need to be rigorous in self-examination.

If you keep talking about a breakup that happened 10 years ago, guess what? You’re not complete with it. You keep bringing it up so you can remain in the pain. Feel sorry for yourself. If you can’t say “amen,” say “ouch.”

No matter the breakdown, you can cause completion. You are that powerful. You can have a say in what you’re creating.

Stop allowing incompletes in your life. These continue to live on in conversation and all they do is hold you back from the life you desire.

How do you cause completion? Generally, it goes back to things I’ve already talked about 1) declaring it complete, 2) having a conversation for completion, 3) some combination thereof.

Final Thoughts

Breakdowns aren’t the enemy. They often lead to breakthroughs. That context is crucial when you feel as though your challenges are unfair, unjustified, impossible, or otherwise. Because you can begin to confront breakdowns with a sense of excitement, knowing that a breakthrough might be on the other side.

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Being in Action

Being in Action

How much time do you spend thinking about the things you’re planning to do instead of going and doing them?

I would venture to guess it’s more than you realize.

The complicated part, generally, isn’t in knowing what to do. It’s the doing that can feel difficult and risky.

If you’ve found yourself shuffling papers on your desk before an important phone call, then you know exactly what I mean.

Chance are the phone call won’t go badly. At the very least, you probably won’t be facing anything you’ve never faced before. But because something’s at stake, you put it off, procrastinate, and sometimes, fail to follow through. Before you know it, you’ve got a laundry list of conversations, tasks, and projects you’ve never followed through on. Things left incomplete.

But if there’s nothing at stake, is it worth doing in the first place?

It could be argued that if nothing’s at stake, you’re playing it too safe. You’re not pursuing anything truly worthwhile.

If you’re dreading a phone call or resisting working on a project, there’s a good chance you’ve spent way too much time thinking and worrying about something you could’ve been in action for days, weeks, months, or years ago.

Where did all that time go?

It went to thinking.

What did thinking accomplish?

Nothing.

Busyness in the mind is just busyness in the mind. It’s not productivity. If there’s nothing happening outwardly, it’s not productive.

It’s one thing to brainstorm, make lists, take notes, or jot down ideas. Quite another to turn over a thought in your mind repeatedly until you’ve worried yourself sick thinking about it.

Intentions may be important to you. But they make no difference to a finished result.

I could lift a cup and put it down with various intentions, and I promise you it will have no impact on the result. I will have lifted the cup and put it back down. I could put it down slowly, quickly, carefully, angrily, cheerfully, or otherwise. If the action were the same, the result would be too.

It’s the same with anything in life.

We make snap judgments about the intentions of another based on what they’ve said and their general demeanor, but the wicked truth is we have no way of knowing someone else’s intentions. Only our own. Intentions basically live in the world of the “mind,” and you have no access to anyone else’s mind but your own.

I point this out because we tend to worry too much about what’s going on in the mind of another. When it has absolutely no bearing on our actions and the results they produce.

Yes, if someone did something to actively hinder and sabotage you, that would make a difference to the result. But that’s no longer in the world of thinking, you see – it’s in the domain of doing. Action.

Don’t worry about trying to be a deep thinker. Be a deep doer instead.

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