How You Handle Yourself in One Area of Life

How You Handle Yourself in One Area of Life

Is exactly how you handle yourself in every area of life.

Of course, your knee-jerk reaction is going to be, “that’s not true – I have disproportionate results in X area, while Y area suffers.”

But look closely again.

You will see that you are always tempted to quit – or do in fact quit – at a certain point regardless of the relationship, business, fitness goal, or otherwise.

Likewise, where you do well, you tend to do well in every area of life.

We should not be discouraged by this. Instead, we should use it as a mirror to identify where we frequently find ourselves stopped, wanting to give up, or otherwise struggling.

By doing so, we can create plans that allow us to move passed the familiar and into the unknown. Because in the unknown is where breakthrough happens.

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You’re Human & So is Everyone Else

You’re Human & So is Everyone Else

When it comes right down to it, everyone runs from responsibility, discomfort, commitment, and pain.

Even the seemingly fearless who run towards challenges eventually find themselves crying “uncle.” Everyone arrives at “too much” if you push them far enough.

Your heroes aren’t that much bigger than you. They’ve struggled just like you. They’ve had to conquer themselves, wrestle their excuses to the ground, take risks when they felt more like turning, running, and hiding.

I say that as if it’s a permanent condition, but it’s not. It’s a daily struggle.

The only difference between you and them is that your heroes have been just a tad bolder, a tad more audacious, a tad more direct.

Where you’ve held back, they’ve been in action. And those actions might not be as massive as you’d expect. They simply asked where you failed to ask, made requests where you were stopped, had conversations where you were too uncomfortable to communicate. That’s it.

Pedestals are pointless. Your heroes are just like you. They have worries, fears, excuses, and concerns too. And some days, most days, they don’t live up to their own standards, let alone the high standards you hold them to. You just don’t hear about it.

You’re human. And so is everyone else.

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I ended up spending about seven and a half hours on calls and meetings yesterday. Today, I shared this with the leader in one of my groups.

(The leadership and management program I’m a part of tosses you into a bunch of groups and pods straightaway.)

When I shared what I saw unfolding, she said, “it sounds like you’re expanding.”

I like how she put it.

And it made me realize something.

Expansion isn’t necessarily easy, even if it’s something you ultimately want.

It sounds good in theory, sure, but when push comes to shove, it means taking on more, being accountable to others, fulfilling on commitments, and leaning on others for support. Not trying to do everything yourself. There’s a limit to how much you can realistically take on.

Because expansion can be difficult, we often resist it. We don’t rise to the challenges staring back at us. And sometimes we aren’t even present to those challenges.

But fundamentally, if you want to keep growing, you need to keep expanding.

What are you resisting? In what areas are you failing to rise to the challenge? What responsibilities are you avoiding because you just don’t feel like taking them on?

These are the areas in which expansion is asking you to meet it.

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The Value of 365-Day Experiments

The Value of 365-Day Experiments

Online personal development guru Steve Pavlina is famous for having conducted a variety of 30-day experiments, be it learning the guitar, intermittent fasting, or sustaining a raw diet. To this day, he still engages in these types of experiments and blogs about them.

I discovered Pavlina’s work in 2007, and soon began the process of starting my own 30-day experiments – things like learning the mandolin or Joomla – and blogging about the experience.

Earlier that same year, though, I had already started what I called Project 365, and my aim was to write a song, every single day, for a full year.

Although I hadn’t given much thought to it until recently, since then, I’ve engaged in several 365-day experiments, each of which have brought untold blessings into my life.

These challenges are incredibly helpful in developing discipline and making massive progress in a chosen area.

But I’ll talk more about the benefits as we go. I’d like to start by sharing with you an overview of the experiments I’ve completed, and the results derived from each.

365-Day Experiments I’ve Completed

Here are the 365-day experiments I’ve completed so far:

  • 2007: Wrote 365 songs in a year (and succeeded)
  • 2008: Practiced guitar for three hours per day (and failed)
  • 2009: Practiced guitar for three hours per day (and succeeded)
  • 2015: Read 52 books in a year (and succeeded)
  • 2016: Read 52 books in a year (and succeeded a second time)
  • 2020 – 2021: Published daily for a full year (in progress)

Now for some of the results these experiments produced:

  • In 2007, I ended up writing two fan favorite originals: “Wonderfully Dysfunctional” and “Too Late.”
  • In 2008, after a brief stint as a solo artist, I joined a band again, and it went onto become one of the most successful acts I’ve been a part of to date.
  • In 2015, I wrote a book review for Dr. Joseph Murphy’s The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, and to this day, it’s my highest trafficked blog post by a huge margin.
  • It remains to be seen exactly all that will come out of publishing daily, but so far, I’ve gained about 1,100 Medium followers. I’ve also been invited to write for several new publications, started earning money writing on News Break, landed a five-figure ghostwriting contract, and more.

Fascinatingly and coincidentally, Pavlina also published daily in 2020, and his post on the topic is insightful.

Why Start a 365-Day Challenge?

A full year of dedicated hard work might not transform a flabby body into a ripped and cut one. It might not turn a mediocre guitarist into a phenomenal instrumentalist, or convert a lazy, broke entrepreneur into a productive, high income earner.

But you can leapfrog in a chosen area if you’re committed to the task. And whatever progress you make can act as a springboard onto greater progress and improvement.

I certainly don’t think I would be half the guitarist I am today without the effort I put into my instrument in the early days, especially in 2008 and 2009. Trying to figure out how to fit three hours of practice into my day now would be like trying to navigate uncharted waters without a compass (these days, 30 minutes per day is more than enough for ongoing maintenance and improvement).

Similarly, I wouldn’t have momentum in my book reading discipline if I hadn’t chosen to adopt the CEO habit of reading 52 books per year in 2015 and 2016. And that would not have come about without the core disciplines I picked up in network marketing from 2011 to 2015.

So, the best way to think about a 365-day challenge is as foundation-setting. Working on a specific discipline or area of life where you want to create expanded results. You can’t expect to make quantum leaps, but you can create momentum as you never have before.

Despite the benefits, a 365-day experiment will prove a challenge if:

  • You’ve never done it before
  • You’ve never kept a discipline for longer than a month or two
  • You aren’t self-motivated
  • You aren’t clear on your motivation for starting an experiment
  • You overestimate what you can accomplish in a year
  • You set unrealistic expectations
  • You already feel overwhelmed with various commitments

These aren’t reasons not to take on the challenge. If anything, they might be good reasons to take it on. But you can’t assume or take success for granted. You will need to orient your life around the experiment and make it a priority, or there’s a good chance you’ll lose momentum and fail.

Benefits of Engaging in a Yearlong Experiment

The benefits you can gain from engaging in a yearlong experiment are many and varied and will depend a lot on the type of challenge you take on.

But in my experience, here are some of the greatest benefits you can expect to glean from a 365-day challenge:

You Can Create Breakthroughs in Your Life

Want to get more people listening to your music? Instead of relying on fancy tactics and whiz-bang funnels, what if you committed to the hard work of promoting your music daily for a full year? What difference would that make in your career? Could you create a breakthrough result?

Whether you want to get in better shape, improve as a blogger, or grow your YouTube channel, if you were fully present and dedicated to the cause for a full year, I can almost promise you that you could have a breakthrough.

Just look at some of the results I was able to create – writing some great music, publishing my most read blog post, landing a five-figure ghostwriting contract, and more.

You Can Build Confidence & Belief in Yourself

When you start a 365-day challenge, it will begin to dominate your thoughts, behavior, and conversations. Your family and friends will start asking you, “how’s that 365-day thing going?”

If, at the end of the experiment, you can say with pride, “I completed the experiment and fulfilled on all the deliverables,” it will build massive confidence and belief in yourself.

So, you start thinking to yourself, “if I could stick with a single discipline for a full year, what more could I accomplish?” And what’s waiting on the other side of that question might be well beyond your wildest imagination.

You Can Have Your Best Year Ever

Looking back, I can see that some of the best years of my life also overlap with years I was engaged in 365-day experiments. This might be obvious from some of the results I shared earlier.

One must still ask “at what cost?” Especially given that the best part of your day is probably going to be going towards fulfilling on the promises you’ve made to yourself. This is creative energy that could be dedicated to other areas of life you deem important (more on this later).

The point being – you’ve got to ensure you’re spending time on something that matters to you, or it may seem as though valuable time is being eroded away.

What Specific Challenges Can I Expect to Face During a Yearlong Experiment?

Naturally, 365-day challenges aren’t all unicorns farting rainbows. You will have your ups and downs, and if you’re engaged in creative work, you will have your good days and bad days.

Take my Project 365 experiment example from earlier. Out of 365 songs, only two were even worth committing to memory and repeating in front of an audience. That’s kind of crazy.

Here are some of the challenges I’ve encountered during yearlong experiments:

You Will Want to Compromise

You’ll need to find your footing with your challenges, so compromising isn’t necessarily good or bad. But you must accept that challenges may not go exactly as imagined or planned, which means that you’ll need to let go of any sense of perfectionism you might have around completing your challenge.

When I engaged in Project 365, even though I finished the experiment early, I ended up having to bulk write songs after longer stretches of not writing anything.

The first time I read 52 books in a year, I had to finish the year with several shorter books, some of which I’d already read in a previous year.

While publishing daily, not all my posts have been of the utmost quality.

And so on.

Again, compromise isn’t necessarily bad. But your experiment probably won’t progress exactly as you expect it to.

You’ll Need to Orient Your Life Around the Challenge

I alluded to this earlier, but as the days pass, you’ll find that you become consumed by the challenge. Even if the experiment only requires an hour or so out of your day, you may find that engaging in the activity takes everything you’ve got, becomes less pleasurable, and even turns into a source of concern or stress (especially if you’re trying to balance it with other commitments like work).

I’m nearing the completion of my daily publishing experiment, and for the most part, it has been a rewarding, fulfilling experience. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days I didn’t feel like writing or publishing anything though.

You Will Need to Sacrifice

If you make your challenge a priority, you will need to sacrifice. While you’re busy obsessing over one thing, you’ll find yourself unable to tend to others. Inevitably, you will end up having to sacrifice lesser priorities to keep up with the challenge.

Publishing daily has been great. But if I were to say that publishing daily, on average, took an hour, that’s 365 hours I could have spent doing something else (writing a book, working on music, developing a product, building a membership, pursuing other writing contracts, etc.). Looking at it that way can be sobering.

When you say “yes” to one thing, you are always saying “no” to something else.

When you say “yes” to one thing, you are always saying “no” to something else. Share on X

I will not look back on publishing daily in regret. But as with Pavlina, I have no intention of repeating that experience. I would like to take those creative energies and channel them elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

If any aspect of your creative career seems stagnant, a 365-day experiment can reinvigorate your passion and produce massive results in an area that matters to you.

But we can’t forget that it’s going to take discipline and work. You may need to carry out tasks on days when you don’t feel like doing anything. And even if you’re working on something you love and care about, some days it will just feel like work.

A 365-day experiment is a tool. And like any other tool, it’s meant to be applied in specific situations. It’s a hammer, if you will, and hammers are best used for pounding nails – not for sawing wood or tightening screws.

There are times to take on a challenge, and there are times to remain steady and consistent, doing exactly what you’re already doing.

Is it time for you to take on a new challenge? What area of your career or life would you work on? Are you committed to following through on your goals? What are you willing to sacrifice to get to your chosen destination? Do you know anyone that can keep you accountable? Would they be willing or interested in joining you in their own 365-day journey? What’s one thing you will take away from this post?

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Surprise, Uplift

Surprise, Uplift

I lost all confidence and belief in myself.

Things were difficult enough already. I had lived through the Great Hanshin earthquake in Japan only a year and a half earlier.

Plus, I didn’t want to go to school anymore. It was to the point where I became less and less disciplined about getting to sleep at a reasonable hour. I wanted to procrastinate going back to that hell hole.

At the end of a school day, while no one was looking, I would sneak out (and jump) the back gate to avoid possible confrontations with teachers.

Mr. M was the main culprit. He was a two-faced man. He would lure you in with his sly charm, and show his fangs the moment there was no one around to impress. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

He was verbally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically abusive. I saw him throw basketballs at other kids, ream on their hair, and even hit them over the head with a heavy stack of papers. I never got the brunt of it, but it’s fair to say I couldn’t avoid collateral damage.

That’s when my dad got into a motorcycle crash. He was in a coma for 10 days, and then passed. I was only 13.

My mom, sister, and I moved back to Canada to be closer to family.

But that was it!

When my dad died, something else died within me.

From that moment on, things got difficult. My group of friends quickly dwindled. I became painfully shy around girls. I turned into a people pleaser and wanted to make sure everyone around me was happy, even when I wasn’t.

I didn’t want to be noticed. Even when I got attention, I started disappearing and erasing myself from the conversation or scene as quickly as I could.

And, at basketball games, I didn’t even perform at 50% of my true potential. I was so nervous and so anxious that I gave up easy baskets and took balls to the face as my teammates threw passes. Even my cousins knew I was a better than that.

And that was only the beginning…


Friends, fans, and acquaintances have repeatedly told me my music has unexpected twists and turns (surprise), and its positive energy fills the room (uplift).

It took me a long time to put the two together, until I recognized that this was my brand – the difference I wanted to make in the world with my music. From that day forward, “Surprise, Uplift” has been the compass that guides me to True North, specifically with my musical efforts.

What’s interesting is that I’ve written more than my share of sad, angry, heartbreaking, or depressing songs. I would even say that’s most of them. Like many songwriters, I have trouble writing when I’m happy.

For instance, I have a song called “Hope.” Originally released as an electronic single in 2016, I later re-recorded a full-band version in 2018 and released it in 2019 on my No Escape EP. I like both versions.

With a title like “Hope”, you’d assume it was an uplifting song. A song about a brighter future, positive change, or desirable outcome. And, at times, I’ve even been tempted to pre-frame it as a positive song before performing it.

But the song is not an ode or tribute to hope at all. It’s a song about depression and my disillusionment with organized religion.

Even then, the people who listen to my music find it encouraging.


Some of my friends call me “Master of Zen.”

The truth is, I’ve endured many challenges in this life, even in the short time I’ve occupied this earth.

At times, even those around me have uttered these words:

“Enough already.”


But there are things we can control and those we can’t.

And I’ve found the only way to be steadfast in life is to understand what events have far-reaching consequences.

So, what events should we pay attention to? Which events lead to insurmountable devastation?

I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me the answer is “virtually nothing.”

The late motivational speaker and psychotherapist Richard Carlson has a book called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff. That title sums it up well.

I’m not saying there aren’t certain events that leave us little choice but to give up on some of our dreams.

I had to give up on the idea of becoming a professional athlete myself (like many, I idolized basketball star Michael Jordan growing up – more on that later). My injuries kind of got the best of me in that situation.

But most things don’t have far-reaching consequences.

Broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend? There’s always another. Who knows – you might even get back together?

Claimed bankruptcy? Can’t say I’ve been there, but I’ve gone broke three or four times to this point. It’s okay, you can rebuild.

Had a fight with your friend? So long as you’re both still alive, there’s always an opportunity to make up.

And that’s the key point – so long as your heart is beating in your chest, there are always more opportunities.


None of us just wake up one day to become and embrace the heroes we are.

Oh yes, we all have an inner hero. All of us.

But the hero is only awakened through the trials of life. There would be no reason to rise to the occasions otherwise.

We live in a world of contrast. There are highs and lows. Lightness and darkness. Big and small.

I can only imagine the reason there’s contrast everywhere we look is because we’re meant to enjoy it.

Still, becoming the hero is always a choice. Never a default, something we become on autopilot.

You can choose to confront your reality. Or you can say, “no thanks – I’m not climbing that mountain.” And neither choice is right or wrong. Only right or wrong as applied to the relevant context.

But whatever hardship you’ve endured, you aren’t required to give up on your dream.


I don’t want to give the impression that I’ve somehow made it. I’ve been able to do some cool things, but there’s still so much more I want to do. There are countries to visit, businesses to build, books to write, speeches to be give, music to make, romances to revel in, people to impact.

I’m not saying I don’t have fears and doubts, either. It seems like every time I solve a problem there’s always another one to solve.

But it’s true I don’t sweat a lot of things many others literally turn and run from – public speaking, performing my original music in front of an audience, building businesses and communities, writing books

In the same breath, I can’t do what so many others seem to do so easily – hold down a job, go back to school, find romantic partners, settle down in a home with a white picket fence, 1.93 children and a gold retriever named Charlie.

(And, I never liked math, so I don’t claim to know what 1.93 children looks like.)

There were even times I thought there must be something wrong with me. I know I’m not the only one, because other entrepreneurs have shared the same sentiment with me.

I just had to flip the script. And when I did, I saw that I was a creator. Maybe I didn’t fit in at school. Maybe I didn’t fit in at a job. I couldn’t figure out what it meant to be an adult and I’m permanently stuck at 18. But there was a place for me. It just wasn’t apparent at first.

Still, I would never have been able to do the “cool things” I’ve done if I didn’t challenge convention (surprise) and support others on their journey (uplift). I have often done this without asking anything in return. Because it’s who I am.

As I said earlier, I experienced heartbreak and disappointment too many times to mention.

I had to dig deep and take heart again. I had to learn to live consciously and to stop caring what others thought about me.

That was a long, circuitous journey.

And much of it was found in various modes of self-expression and self-education.

That’s the journey I wish to share with you here.

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.

The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.