8 Things Really Successful People Do

Great article about the habits / realizations successful people by Kevin Daum. Pretty straight forward list which is part of its beauty.

The key thing is to be very clear on what you want to do and not on the outcome your successes. Success is a mental game at first (getting into the right mind set, setting the right goals, creating the right habits), followed by the physical game (persistent hard work).

What I found interesting is the inclusion of being clear on spirituality because, for me, that has been a late player to the field. It boils down to being at one with the universe or God, accepting something bigger than just you and engage the world in a way that pays tribute to that relationship.

  • Make Materialism Irrelevant – be successful to be successful, not because you get to buy expensive things. If it is about buying expensive things, you aren’t seeking success BUT expensive things, go straight to them.
  • Enhance Knowledge – keep learning, from beginning to end. There is no substitute for a brain that is crammed full of wisdom.
  • Manage Relationship Expectations – relationships should be given an appropriate amount of time and finding the balance between the right amount of time and what other people want from you is a necessary endeavor. Creating the boundaries to enforce YOUR expectations is critical.
  • Practice Emotional Self-Awareness – emotions are not thoughts. They are types of information, but they are often not as valuable as logical thoughts. Make sure you know when your emotional system is ramped up and when you are functioning with a purely logically mind.
  • Commit to a Physical Ideal – creating a goal for how you want to look in the future will move your mind forward and give you a purpose to make it happen. Exercise tells your body that actions matter and looking and feeling great tells the world that “I am worth working hard for.”
  • Gain Clarity About Spirituality – understand your relationship with the universe so you can always stay true to it.
  • Adhere to a Code of Ethics – acting effectively can sometimes mean you need to have a list of actions to take for when you don’t feel like acting at all. Not knowing what you stand for will delay or impede action when action is needed most critically. A code of ethics will allow you to advance with consistency and it will free you from thoughts about your past actions because you will know you acted with integrity.
  • Focus on Time Efficiency – time moves on, even if you do nothing with it. Use it wisely and get the most out of every second. You won’t be getting any of the moments back.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Brain

The human brain is a remarkable and powerful thing. Under ideal conditions it is capable of processing billions of pieces of information each second and can synthesize complex solutions / understandings based on years of stored information in moments. It has taken a long time for a computer to come anywhere close to the capacity of the brain and it still isn’t there.

However, unlike an electronic computer, the human brain has a need to survive. To this end, built within it are mechanisms that will protect it; or more accurately, protect the body that holds it. The key mechanism is the ability to alter function, to turn off certain areas of the brain allowing other areas to exert more influence.

Rewind to a time when life was more simple, when our ancestors lived off the land, in caves or primitive huts. This was a time when logical thinking would get you killed given that it is not reactive and takes time. In crisis situations the brain needed to do one of two things, run or fight. A compelling reason is of no assistance when a predator has you in its sights and is bearing down you, you need to physically beat on the creature or you need to run.

Out of this environment springs forth brains that are programmed to suppress logical thought in times of crisis, and let the parts of the brain that promote fight or flight reactions control the show.

Various brain scan technologies reveal that the prefrontal cortex shuts down during highly emotional experiences, taking off-line the capacity for executive functioning – logical thought, the relevance of time, the concept of consequences, etc…. Without a future the individual is completely in the moment and is not capable of the things that they would normally be. In this emotionally charged state you attack to kill or run. Survival is the only outcome and everything becomes about that.

How does this help you get more out of your brain?

Well, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for so much of what makes human being unique and exceptional. Anything that reduces the level of functioning of this part of the brain is detrimental to our being exceptional (with the obvious exception to times when we need to be destructively reactive such that we fight or run).

Here is a list of the things that cause the prefrontal cortex to shut-down:

  • Intense emotional responses. Emotions can serve a survival function so they cannot coexist with logical thought. Reducing stress and anxiety will allow the prefrontal cortex to become more active which will improve the entire thought process.
  • Low blood sugar. The brain uses sugar so if you are hungry or your blood sugar level is low, the prefrontal cortex is the first part of the brain to shut-down. Controlling blood sugar by eating good quality whole foods will keep levels normal and keep brain functioning high.
  • Low amounts of glucose in the prefrontal cortex. Even if your blood sugar level is high, too much thinking will use-up a lot of the glucose that is available in the brain. For this reason, it is best to avoid thinking about things that are heavy or require a lot of logical thought after periods of intense thinking of any nature.
  • Being tired. When we are tired, the prefrontal cortex powers down. It’s best to avoid though thinking at the end of the day when we are burned out and running on empty.

“Become a Learning Machine”

How to Overcome Fear by Living Life as a Remarkable Experiment by Marquita Herald is a great article about how to get more enjoyment out of your life.

Fear is something that stops a lot of people in their tracks, it prevents them from doing the things they like or dream about doing and it has them play small. Marquita suggests a hack to help people try-on a different way of being that will open doors to new experiences.

Basically, accept that you are a learning machine, or try on the role of being a learning machine. You keep an open mind and seek out new experiences with the absolute intention of learning something. What you learn doesn’t matter, and it’s better to have no preconceived notion of what will come of an experience. Have fun with it, accept that the outcome will be new and that afterwords you’ll have more information about the world that will help you as you move forward. Maybe it’ll be something that you want to do more of, maybe something you want to avoid, maybe just something that is interesting.

This approach is effective because it removes a lot of the personal risk from your interactions. As a learning machine, you are just playing your role as information collector and processor. Sometimes the information could be viewed as positive, other times the information could be viewed as negative but in the end, it’s just information and a small piece of the puzzle of life. It is safe because who ever you believe you are is shielded from any negative invective or interpretation of a situation.

So, if you are feeling fearful or uptight about getting out there and doing the things you need or want to do, read the article and try out Marquita’s approach. You don’t have anything to loss and it may end-up being a very useful tool in your quest for a more fulfilling life.

Time Apart From Significant Others

A couple of weeks ago, my friend posted on Facebook that people need to spend time away from their significant others, possibly vacationing apart and definitely not working together all of the time. His comment followed an intensive year of him living, working and generally spending all of his time with his partner.

His comment wasn’t new and I have heard others say similar things. What was serendipitous was that Heather had just left for an 18 day vacation.

What I have taken out of the time apart:

I still carry some of my concerns from the past. I’m not certain that this will always be the case though. The concerns manifested themselves in slightly different ways than before and I can see them for what they are. Which is something that doesn’t happen so often when we are together because I’m in a different head space.

From time to time, it can require effort to remember why we are attracted to each other. But this effort is worth putting in because it’s important to remember the reason for your attraction, given the tendency for humans to stop noticing the familiar. Thoughts and emotions are not self sustaining so generating the positivity is critical for keeping it going.

We’ve come a long way and there is a long way to go. Personal growth is similar to relationship growth in that it is always a possibility. Each new thing you learn, alters who you are and who they are. The evolving nature of relationships should be viewed as fun, something with a beginning and a middle, but no end.

Communication is critical to happiness within a relationship. Heather and I are aligned in many areas, but there are some aspects of our personalities that fall outside of the others awareness. Sharing these with an open mind is paramount to cultivating a strong connection. Neither one of us is wrong for what we believe, how we think or the actions we take. Talking about these things removes any road blocks from our future and enhances our understanding and respect of the other.

I have a number of areas of personal development to work on. This pleases me because it would be dreadful to believe that I didn’t. Heather does a lot of learning when she’s away, so when we talk on the phone, there is always a lot of new stuff to cover and hundreds of new ideas. When she gets home, we talk about these things and they alter my understanding of the world, myself and our relationship. Her return is exciting, not just because we get to reconnect, but because we get to recreate.

8 Lessons From 2012 – Part Two

2012 was a remarkable year for me. Below is a follow-up to Part One – 8 Lessons From 2012.

Life is suffering” – M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) – March 9, 2012. This is regarded as the first of the four noble truths of the Buddha. For a very long time I did everything I possibly could to avoid or escape the suffering. But given that it is a truth, the suffering will always come.

“Because you are an adult” – Adam McDonald – March 15, 2012. Adam has always treated me with the utmost respect, he asked questions and listened to the answers, he trusted my judgment with clients, training programs and nutritional advice. So when he gave me a stern warning that I should probably get my crap together because I was about to blow it in terms of a promising career in fitness, I thanked him and said “you have always treated me as an adult”. His reply didn’t gel with my identity at the time, so I took some time to figure-out what my next move was and straightened things out.

“You are always in a hurry, slow down” – Ben Schoene – June 2012. On way way out of the gym after a workout and Ben said that to me. I stopped in my tracks, turned to him and walked up to the counter and started chatting. The conversation made me late for the meeting I was going to, but it was the first of many great chats with him. Had he not invited me to slow down, I’m not sure when I would have found-out that he’s a stand-up guy and a great mentor.

You don’t sign-up for your worst day, you just find yourself in it alone, regardless of who is with you” Sara Burton – March 2012. Sara could see that I was suffering and she gave me a copy of her book and told me that. It felt less isolated knowing that she (and everyone else who has been in a position of loss) had gone through more or less the same experience. It didn’t make it easier per-say, but she’s very accomplished and living a full life so I knew things would get better for me soon.

I can depend on myself during crisis situations – March 2012. I happened across a mini crisis at the gym one evening and in-spite of my best efforts to find someone else to take care of it, I ended-up taking the lead role in helping the person. I didn’t enjoy the experience much, but it wasn’t like anything at all – I just reacted appropriately and saw things through to the end.

I can convince myself of almost anything, almost instantly and with complete conviction. Me & Heather Arthur – May 2012. After our first date I was certain she was an incredible person. A few more dates and I was convinced that I will be with her forever. My level of certainty was a little distressing for her, but, at the same time, my conviction did take care of a lot of questions about my intentions. It was a little over the top, but Heather quickly realized that no matter what the future brings, I see myself in her life as her loving partner.

I am persistent, analytical, and have a strong tendency to be very nice to everyone. When these traits don’t help me out, I use humor to lighten-up the situation – LandMark Forum – March 2012. Things happened in my life that caused me to develop these traits or tendencies. As a consequence, they’ll flow out of me without my thoughts or consideration. Even if the situation does not call for them.

Things are just things, regardless of the emotional attachment you may have with something, it’s just stuff” – Heather Arthur – July 2012. Following a conversation she had with one of her friends who was separating from her husband, Heather shared this with me. “You know that big TV upstairs that has the Xbox connected to it? I need to get rid of it because no one uses it anymore. But a few years ago I fought hard to get it, I regarded me leaving the marriage with it as a win.” I had never noticed the TV before because it’s in a cabinet and the doors are always closed, so it was peculiar that it was once a trophy. The lesson Heather was passing along to her friend, and to me, was that you get rid of almost everything you buy one way or the other, so it’s easier to let someone else take it because it will save you the effort of throwing it out later.

6 Lessons That You Need To Accept

David Wong writes an interesting blog article containing 6 truths that will make you a better person. I’m really feeling the need for his wisdom today.

  1. The world only cares about what it can get from you. It will look after you to a certain extent. It will allow you to exist and to crawl forward living an unremarkable life. But make no mistake about it, the world and its people are taking from you and that is why you matter. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just how it is.
  2. The hippies were wrong. They didn’t like that the world only cared about what it could get from you and they protested. But they didn’t change anything, and as they got older, they became yuppies and part of the society that they were protesting.
  3. What you produce does not have to make money, but it does have to benefit people. Otherwise, what are you doing? Not to suggest that earning piles of cash is better than counting clouds that look like Frosty the Snowman, but earning a living does benefit people because it allows you to pay for their services. Offering free advice that moves and inspires people towards bigger and better things is a good use of time too. And there is nothing wrong with charging for this advice, it may even make it more valuable….
  4. You hate yourself because you don’t do anything. People who are actively making better lives for themselves are too busy to hate themselves. And at the end of the day, they fall asleep tired and content. The same cannot be said of those who don’t do anything. They are aware on some level that they are not contributing and what they are do is of no benefit to anyone.
  5. What you are inside only matters because of what it makes you do. Potential is just a word until you do something with it. A talentless hack who tries is better than an actionless artist because there’s no value in just sitting there.
  6. Everything inside you will fight improvement. The body doesn’t want to change, doing that requires energy. Plus, anything new is a risk, with no track record of survival. By staying exactly as you are, you won’t stand out in a crowd, so you won’t be noticed and that keeps you alive. But it may not be living.