Thursday, January 17, 2013

Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

“Believing everyone is dangerous, but believing nobody is more dangerous.” ― Abraham Lincoln

There are really only 3 types of people in the world.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, or what you had for breakfast.  We run into these people every day, because people are, you know… everywhere.

The first type of person is the Gullible one.  These people are easily duped.  They’re the ones who are easiest to prank on April Fool’s Day.  They’re the ones who believe whatever you tell them no matter how outrageous.  A classic example of this comes from the story The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which the Emperor believes the claims of a couple of con-men and ends up wearing the finest set of non-existent clothes ever not made.  Unfortunately, this type of person is also easily parted from their money.  They fall for every get rich quick scheme that comes along and are easy prey to con-artists.

The second type of person is the Cynic.  These people don’t believe anything that they hear.  These people are often condescendingly distrustful of human nature and motives.  They believe that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest and that people are out to get their money, their belongings and their reputations.  Cynicism is really just a self-constructed cage which causes a person to reject the world around them, and in many cases, the good that is there as well.  A cynic is the person who’s mind is like concrete; all mixed up and permanently set.  They are the people who reject ideas and opportunities, no matter how good, because their mistrust causes them to be blind to the possibilities.  Some of these people will be so cynical that they might even believe that they are members of the third and final type of person.

The third type of person is the Skeptic.  This person is willing to suspend their doubts because they know that they don’t have all the answers.  This person will approach life in a way which allows them to look at new ideas and new opportunities and learn what they don’t know they don’t know.  They are willing to take in new facts and ideas.  Process them.  Weigh the pros and cons and make a decision based on what they have learned.  Not on previously held beliefs of what they think they know about something.  These people are wary but not afraid.

It seems that every day there are more and more cynics and gullible people out there.  Perhaps it comes from watching a world which seems to be sinking into a well of distrust and lies (credit fraud, banking schemes, Ponzi schemes and rip-offs), that people just don’t trust themselves enough to make good decisions.  Being with people who are forever falling for the joke, or being taken to the cleaners by every con gets tiring.  By the same token, it can be extremely frustrating to be subjected to someone’s constant cynicism.  Especially when you just know that they are missing out on some great opportunities and experiences because of their mistrust.

I would rather spend time with a skeptical person any day of the week.  You can have fantastic conversations with them and even if you don’t agree with what they have to say you might just learn something.  Whatever the case, I’m just glad that I tend to be a skeptic -- at least I’m willing to learn.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Believe It and See It

As is often the case at the beginning of the year people make all kinds of resolutions.  Most revolve around getting into better shape physically.  The gyms are full of people in January, all looking to transform themselves into a paragon of fitness.  By February, most have decided that the shape they are already in (usually something resembling a pear) is fine and they stop going.  Why is this?  I think people are genuine in their desire to get into shape.  Who doesn’t want to look and feel better?  I think this failure to follow through is due to a lack of mental preparedness.  People start out with the desire to change their bodies without making the change in their heads first.

Before people begin to change anything they need to have a plan.  My plans for 2013 are big.  I envision great things for myself and my family.  Will all of these things come to pass?  Maybe not.  But at least I have an end goal in mind.  Too often people are of the “I’ll believe it when I see it”, kind of attitude.  Let’s think about this for a minute.  Do you feel the heat from a fire before it’s lit? No.  Until the fire is lit there is no heat.  You can’t have the end result without the prep work.  What about building a house?  Do builders just pick up some wood and nails and start building?  There is always a plan. A vision of what is to come.  Can you imagine what kind of monstrosities we would live in if builders just started banging away willy-nilly?  The true statement would be more like “I’ll believe it and then I will see it.”

My plan for 2013 is already underway.  It’s still early days, but I am starting to see movement (small right now) toward my goals.  I don’t see them yet, but I believe they will come. So in the interests of helping out those 2 or 3 of you who read this, I will share an outline for developing a plan of your own.  And the greatest thing about this?  It’s never too late to start!

Step 1:  Get A Dream and Dream Big
Dreams fuel your emotions.  Emotions will spur you on to some sort of action.  Maybe it is the dream of seeing the look on your kid’s faces when you tell them you are going to Disney World (having the money on hand for such a thing before you go of course).  Or the look on your spouse’s face when you go on a surprise second honeymoon.  You also need to dream bigger than you currently are.  As soon as you settle for less, you end up with less than you settled for.

Step 2:  Submit to Reality
Anything worth having will take hard work and time.  Whatever your dream is, it WILL NOT happen overnight.  Think long term.  Getting fit will not happen in a week.  Perhaps not even in a month.  (In my case maybe not in a year!) But accept that you have time to get things done.  Take some sort of action in the direction you want to go.  Doing nothing ensures you stay where you are.

Step 3:  Work Hard
There is no way around this.  You have to work to get what you want.  Don’t accept excuses because as soon as you do, it is all over.  Keep at it.

Step 4:  Believe!
You need to believe that whatever it is you are working for will happen.  This step is often the hardest.  The human mind is a strange thing.  Too often we have a difficult time believing in something that we haven’t seen or experienced.  Henry Ford once said “If you believe you can, or you believe you can’t -- you’re right.”  Sometimes we need to borrow someone else’s belief until we develop our own.  Find a partner to work with.  Join a group of like-minded individuals.  Visualize yourself in the position you are dreaming about.  Use your imagination.  Whatever it takes.  If you can’t picture yourself there it won’t happen.

So make this plan your own.  Get a dream and work for it.  You won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lawn Care and Attitude

I've been reading allot lately about attitude and how that affects not just ourselves, but also those around us.  I find it amazing that a person's attitude, basically how they feel or think about something, can affect how our day goes as well.  If you are feeling down and you get around someone who is happy and looks at life with a positive attitude, it can actually help to improve your own mood.  By the same token, the reverse is also true.  We've all met "Negative Nellie".

What does this have to do with lawn care?  Well thanks for asking.  Each year at this time I begin the annual ritual of cleaning up the debris on the lawn from the fall and winter -- leaves, sticks, dirt from along the side of the road, that kind of stuff.  When the job is complete, the lawn looks nice and clean and when it gets warm enough, the grass starts to get green.

For the first few weeks there is a nice green carpet surrounding my house.  If I do nothing else it looks good for a while.  But then my old nemesis returns.  The Dandelion (cue ominous music).  The dandelion, if left to grow, eventually turns into that cute puff ball that kids like to blow everywhere.  Each of those little pieces of fluff carries with it a seed which if left in fertile soil (and sometimes not so fertile soil too), will grow into another dandelion.  If I'm not careful, the whole lawn will be full of them after a while.  But if I work at pulling the stalks before they become flowers, the lawn remains tidy and clear of them.

Now... think of the dandelion as negative thoughts.  We all have them.  The important thing is to remember to deal with these negative thoughts early -- just like the dandelions on the lawn.  If we let our negative thoughts grow they will eventually spread to our whole way of thinking about, and dealing with, the world around us. 

On the other hand, if we can get into the practice of pulling our negative thoughts early and just rethink our position, we can do wondrous things.  Our focus on positive thoughts will affect our attitude and our mood.  Eventually, with enough practice, we will be able to recognize our negative attitude immediately and pull the 'dandelions' so we can have a better attitude.  I'm not saying that by doing this we will never have a bad day.  But if we recognize our attitude towards our life for what it is, a choice, wouldn't you rather choose to be a positive influence on those around you?

The Mental Fitness Challenge

Have you taken the Mental Fitness Challenge?  The MFC is a 90 day program designed to help you improve your life.  Want to be a better partner to your spouse?  Better parent? Need help goal setting?  What about improving your productivity at work? 

It's like a physical, get in shape and loose weight bootcamp -- but for your mind.

It starts with a self assessment in which you answer questions about yourself to gain a picture of areas in your life you may want to work to improve in.  You can then ask friends to take the assessment on your behalf and gain an understanding on how others see you.  You can also ask your friends to take the challenge with you and in doing so, create a community of people who will help each other become better people. This is an exciting opportunity to change your life for the better.  Take the challenge.

If you think you would like to take the challenge, you can head over to my website by clicking here.  From there just hit the Contact Us link and I can help get you started. 

Start Living the Life You've Always Wanted.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Emotion Affects Your Money

Human beings are emotional.  It’s why we cry at movies, cheer for the underdog and fall in love.  Emotion can be a terrible hindrance or a powerful motivator.  Unfortunately when you mix emotion with money you rarely get something good.

Often our daily spur of the moment purchases are made through emotion.  We are in a store and see that shiny new item that catches our fancy.  Because we have been trained through years of commercial advertising  on television and through glossy ads which promote our desire for new things, we often purchase that new item—whether we really need it or not.   If you have the cash in hand the impact on your finances is limited.  At least you’ve paid for it outright.  If however, you put that purchase on a credit card and don’t pay it off within the month you have taken a step back from financial security.  Think about that.  The spur of the moment purchase you made has moved you a step further into debt.  A step further from paying for your child’s education.  Moved you a step further from being financially secure. 

Some of you are thinking, “That’s a little harsh.  It’s only one purchase.”  That may be true.  But is it really?  Chances are, if you have made one spur of the moment purchase on a credit card, then you have made others.  How about we look at a hypothetical situation.  Let’s say for example that you see a good deal on a new television.  Spur of the moment you decide to put the purchase on your credit card.  The total price of the television is $1200.  If you put that on your credit card and made monthly payments of $20 (everyone can afford that without too much trouble right?) and we assume an interest rate of 18%, it would take you 268 months to pay off the balance.  Over the course of the 22 years of the payment plan your television will cost a total of $2531.11.  The interest ($1331.11) alone will be more than the original cost of the item.  Will you even have that television in 22 years?  Did it really provide you with anything?  Not such a deal now is it?  What’s more… that’s only one purchase.

Whenever emotion enters into a purchase we end up on the losing end of the deal.  If you are truly interested in improving your financial situation you need to practice delaying your gratification.  We all know how good it feels to buy that item we really want.  That good feeling we get when we satisfy our desire is why we get into trouble.  By setting up some personal financial rules to live by we can eliminate a lot of spending that is unnecessary and harmful to our future.  Some examples of basic financial guidelines for your spending could be:

-- If you don’t have the cash (not debit card) in your pocket, don’t buy it.  (Debit cards allow for blind spending.  Cash makes you stop and think before you buy.)

-- For larger items, if you don’t have, at minimum, twice the amount of the purchase in your account, don’t buy it.

-- If the item is over $200 dollars, wait 4 days before purchasing it.

-- Set a limit of $200 dollars for purchases on your debit cards.

-- Have only 1 credit card.

-- If you can’t pay off a purchase on your credit card completely within 25 days don’t buy it.

-- Ask yourself “Do I really need this?” and wait a day before you purchase.

-- Don’t buy your fuel at the same place you buy fuel for your car.

These eight rules will go a long way to helping get your finances under control.  Will it be easy?  Nope.  Will it be worth it?  You bet.

Feed the Elephant

I recently read a book entitled The Ant and the Elephant by Vince Poscente.  This book is written in parable form and tells the story of an ant named Adir and an elephant named Elgo.  Basically Adir is riding on Elgo's back and is trying to reach a goal.  Adir cannot reach the goal on his own.  He needs the elephant to get him there.  As the days and weeks go on, Adir learns how to best deal with his elephant and eventually reaches his desire.

As a parable this story is obviously a metaphor for what we do in our own lives.  Adir the ant represents our conscious mind.  Our thoughts and our desires are formed there.  Elgo the elephant represents our sub-conscious mind.  It is in this part of our brain where whether or not we can complete a task or reach a goal is determined.

Our sub-conscious mind is a powerful thing as illustrated by the images of the ant and the elephant.  We all know that an ant is industrious and hardworking and strong.  But when we compare the ant to the raw power of an elephant we see which is truly more powerful. 

What does all this mean?  Basically we have to be aware of what kind of diet we are providing for our elephant.  A good diet which provides positive thoughts and clear indications of what we wish to accomplish will help to train our sub-conscious mind to move in positive directions.  If we are providing our elephant with a negative diet it doesn't matter what our ant says -- we will never reach our goal.  If we can get our ant and our elephant (our conscious and sub-conscious) working together and moving in the same direction at the same time, our potential for success increases dramatically.

It's not always an easy thing to think positively about reaching your goals.  Life often throws up obstacles to bar the way.  What we must learn to do is to see these obstacles as potential for growth and as steps towards something better.

What are you feeding your elephant?

LIFE -- Something Right