I recently asked a friend to receive an electronic payment from me.  My friend was afraid to give out financial information online because it might lead to the emptying of all their bank accounts.

As a long time online consumer, this fear is irrational and I wanted to just tell them that it was safe and get over it.  Then I thought a little more and was wondering what is another common irrational fear?  I would say fear of flying would be one of them.  The web is full of websites and statistics that say things like you are more likely to die of a bee sting than from an airplane crash and yet people are still afraid of flying.

Why irrational fears do I have and what can I do about them?  Let's start with the second part of that question, what can we do about irrational fears?  As I think about that, I think a person with an irrational fear is looking for an external power to comfort them and then if things don't go right, they can blame the external power, instead of themselves.

Let's say I was able to convince my friend to do the online transaction and everthing went well, would that solve their fear?  Nope, no more than someone flying on a plane will miraculously cure their fear of flying.  The next time they fly, they will most likely still be afraid.  Now the idea of exposure can work and might take a long time.  It is possible that if someone were able to fly in an airplane twice per week, every week for 10 years that their fear may be less, though it is also possible that it will always be there and that if something ever did go wrong they would say "See I told you so."

For me, I'm pretty sure that if I am ever involved in a plane crash I will consider it an unfortunate accident and may be afraid to fly in the future, and that is something I would have to deal with then because statistically, the chance of getting in another accident is still as low as the first crash.

OK, so exposure is one way to get over fear and it may take a long time.  Another way is to find some technique to get over the fear.  To understand the situation rationally and then use some techniques to allow you to control your emotions during the event.

One idea I'm trying to expand on in my thinking is the idea of desperation.  Imagine if you have to jump a wide opening with a long drop.  In the first situation it is your friends pushing you to make the jump and assuring you that you can make it and nothing will go wrong.  You may continue to resist and then if you make the jump and hurt yourself, will blame your friends for forcing you to make the jump, despite the fact that you jumped on your own, they did not "force" you, they pressured you, though you voluntarily jumped.

Now think of another situation, you are running away from some danger, be it a forest fire, dangerous animal or human and the same jump must be made.  How much time would waste thinking about the jump and even if did get hurt, would your thinking be different?  Would you think "Well, I had no other choice, this was my only option.  Now what can I do?"

For me, I feel a big difference from being desperate to achieve a goal versus being afraid of the risks of the goals.  It sounds like it is the difference of focusing on the rewards versus the risks.  All activities have risks and rewards.  So, it's about increasing the rewards.

How could I have shown my friend about the rewards of doing the online payment?
Recently, I had two experiences that were tons of fun.  The both were over lunch having conversations with co-workers.  Now, maybe what energized me was that I selected the topic and maybe did much of the talking.

It is similar to what I imagine what public speakers feel.  With a receptive and engaged audience, who wouldn't like talking about topics that interest them?  It's the same idea of watching a TV show that I really enjoy.  It is difficult to imagine that other people wouldn't also enjoy the program or even that they might hate it.

So, instead of trying to convince other people to like the same TV programs I like, how about just trying to find those people that already like that program?  In the same thinking, instead of focusing too much on trying to convince others, how about just focusing on finding those that already want what we have.

Now, I think it is a little of both.  It is somewhat finding those that are already interested and also about changing the way we present ourselves to be more acceptable to others.  I'm not sure if this is really  a productive thought pattern.  How do successful / influential people behave?

Through history, how do leaders behave?  At some point, they definitely take a position and use various methods to influence others to go with them.  One way, is to start with small steps.  Yes, this is a key.  If we can always get people to do something where they think it is already something they want to do.

OK, so if I went to a stranger and said, would you pay me $100,000 for my services, or asked a pretty strange woman to marry me, the chance of success is probably low because these are not things that they have considered in their reality and not what they want.  Instead, what if I asked either of them to share a cup of coffee/tea with me, or even to ask them for the time of day?  These are small enough requests that they are probably more open.

I can see how this can be a lot about what prospecting and leading are about.  It is about using time as an ally to allow us to develop small requests into gradually larger requests.  Now one thing to figure out would be how quickly can you go from a small request to a larger request.  It is probably faster than you might think with the proper system.

One rule of thumb I have heard is 7 hours of quality contact time should be enough to convert a prospect into a customer.  This would mean if someone is not willing to exchange money for some service I offer, than it might be time to start focusing on other prospects.  This is simply a benchmark, though if you are spending 3 times or 5 times as much as this without any results it might be time to seriously consider changing your methods.

So the idea is take baby steps and get them saying "Yes" as much as possible and gradually moving more and more in the direction you want.
In business, cash flow is the movement of cash in and out of the business.  This is closely related to the idea of liquidity which is a measure of the ability of a debtor to pay their debts as and when they fall due.  What the heck does this have to do with personal development?

Just like a business, I think we can look at ourselves as having a spiritual cash flow and spiritual liquidity.  During our day to day activity, there will be things that happen that charge us up and make us feel good, and there will be things that wear us down.

There are some things that may charge us up like a new relationship, achieving a goal, winning a contest, having good luck, or just watching the sun rise.

There are also things that may drain us.  A basic example is that gravity is pulling down on us all the time, eventually causing our skin to sag and sometimes adding us to hunch over as we age.  It takes effort for us to offset this pull.  Then there are more severe things like major losses like disease, death, financial trouble or natural disasters.

Part of personal development is developing strategies to maintain a positive energy flow, or at least to how such a strong store of positive energy that when we are unable to offset the negative events we can draw on our energy store.

What are some ways that we do this?  One way would be to increase the value and input of each positive event and decrease the value of the negative events.  So, really appreciate each positive event.  The sun raises and sets every day, though people might appreciate it once or twice when they are on the beach and notice how it slowly sets into the horizon.  Do we really appreciate the people and loved ones around.

The next is to lessen the value of the negative events.  Many negative events will pass and it is probably helpful if we let them go so as not to drain our spiritual cash flow.

In business, it is possible for a company to fail even though it is profitable because it is too little cash flow.  I propose the same for us.  It is possible for someone who has many positive things going on in their life to have major difficulties because they are unable to maintain a positive spiritual cash/energy flow.

How is your spiritual cash flow?
I enjoy listening to George Carlin.  This is a guy that is far from being positive.  I just listened to a great piece by him about self-help and how it's pretty much crap.  Think about it, if you are reading somebody else's ideas to help yourself then by definition it is no longer "self" help, it is that other person helping you.  OK, so let's call it personal development to make him happy.

I think George has lots of great points.  I especially liked a bit he did about hats and why certain people believe it is important to wear hats and others believe you shouldn't wear hats, or sometimes men should wear them and women shouldn't and vice versa.  Sometimes we should wear not wear them inside and other times we must wear them.  It just doesn't make sense, and he's right because it all just made up.

What is the most important lesson I learn from George?  The most important lesson is to question everything.  Don't assume what books tell you, or the government, or movies, or TV, or the news, or the government, or your friends, or your parents is the way things have to be.  Use your own judgement.  Make your own choices and be willing to be wrong.  That's right.  It's perfectly possibly that you might agree with somebody else and lo and behold they were right.  That's OK.  Now you have learned.

Once trick is that it is difficult to always question things.  Are you really going to question the fact that the sun will rise and set every single day?  Are you doing to question that when you breath in each time that there will be enough oxygen to keep you alive?  Are you going to question the fact that the earth below you is solid?

Just like it might be hard to function if you had to question these type of questions everyday, I suppose it would also be difficult to function if you were questioning more fundamental questions like religion and politics everyday.  People also need to have energy to have a life and have fun.  With that in mind, I think it is realistic for people to only think about these more fundamental issues occasionally.

A key thing would be that people are open to considering them.  Maybe once every 10 years or so.  Sort of like during a life crisis moment people will tend to think about these issues.  We can also speed up the process by consciously thinking about these issues, by taking some course or listening to speakers that are expressing views that may help expand our knowledge of these subject.

This would be one of the key goals of personal development would be to get us to listen to different ideas about how we might run our lives.  Is it possible that by changing the way we look at the world around us, we can actually improve our attitude and improve the world around us?  Is it really possible to achieve our dreams and wishes?  Does thinking it make it so?  Can we smile our way to happiness?  Should we join a group and use their support to reach our goals?  Should we go out on our own?  Who should we listen to?  How can we be happy?  How can we be wealthy?  What is the truth?  What is reality?  How can I have as much as others appear to have?  How can I be as happy as others?  How can I control myself?

These are the types of questions I expect to get better answers to.
The idea of being able to sit at home in my underwear, watching whatever catches my interest on TV and occasionally checking my bank balance and watching as it automatically keeps increasing is the fantasy sold by many internet marketers.  Who doesn't want to be able to make money be doing nothing?  It's just like the Ron Popeil Rotisserie Oven "Set it, and forget it!"

Unfortunately, I think this is more fantasy than reality.  Unless you were born to wealthy parents and you have an irrevocable multi-million dollar trust fund, chances are that you are going to have to put in lots of effort to get that bank balance to increase.  Notice, I don't say "work" because I have an adverse reaction to that word.  Effort, can be fun, or at least not something that you have to dread doing.

I'll give you a quick example.  In 2011, I was traveling weekly for business and staying 3-4 nights a week in a hotel.  Because of this, I joined the airline and hotel's loyalty programs.  Then I signed up for the hotel branded credit card.  Then, as I tend to do, I started researching and reading about how these loyalty programs work, because I had heard stories of people flying around the world for practically free.  Previously, my belief was that these loyalty programs were more work than they were worth.

I spend many hours learning about these programs such that now I have pretty advanced knowledge of them and receive at least $8,000 of real value from participating in the program last year and will receive about $5,000 of value from them this year.  This money is practically free.  I didn't have to go to a desk and do mind numbing work to make this money.  I did have to spend quite a bit of effort, though the effort was fun.  It was a hobby, versus a job.  Notice, this is not passive income.

The same is when you think about some artist that sits at home and collects royalty checks.  The only way they could do that is by taking lots of action.  I read that Samuel L. Jackson makes something like $300,000 in residual income each month, and he is also one of the most prolific actors who has put in lots of effort to produce this residual income.

So, what activities can you and I do that have a chance of producing residual income?  Instead of thinking want can I do less to make more money, think about what can I do more that will continue to produce income.
On September 26th, 2012 I had some swelling in my right foot and within a few days this developed into a debilitating illness that prevented me from moving my neck or even walking so I eventually was bed bound, well actually sofa bound.  I stopped working and doing any of the success activities that I have been doing over the last several months.

At some point, I had guessed that at worst this would go away after 2 months, though during that period I did start to lose confidence that it really would resolve in 2 months.  It is almost 2 months and I am still experiencing pain, though I think it is possible that I am close to finding a combination of vitamins, supplements and medication that will allow me to continue with most of my previous activities.

This is a perfect example of Carl von Clausewitz's saying "No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy."  In this case, I the enemy would be this pain affecting my body and the plan are the goals and activities I have been doing to be a successful person.

The good news is that I believe that all my previous work provided me enough momentum that I was able to rest for over 1 month and still able to achieve my goal.  This shows that being 100% healthy, I'm able to achieve even more.

Now that I fell off the bicycle, I'm ready to get back on and get back to living and being what I can be.  During this rest period, I have been watching quite a few episodes of Dog WhispererThat show really convinces me the power of having a deep understanding of the primal nature of animals and humans.  Cesar Milan is able to go into almost any situation with animals that don't listen to their owners, attack their owners, destroy property and within a few hours he has the dog acting calm and submissive.

Part of his belief system is that all dogs want to be calm and submissive.  What allows them to be calm and submissive is if there is a strong pack leader that allows them to be calm and submissive.  If there is no strong pack leader, than the dog will be forced to assume that role and that produces this undesirable behavior.  A key thing also is that he talks about how humans treat dogs like humans instead of treating them like dogs.

I think there are so many lessons to be learned here about being a parent, husband and human.  Children should be treated like children, customers should be treated like customers.  This is being helpful to all parties.  This is allowing them to be calm, submissive and happy.
Earlier this week I wrote "How do you agree with that which you know to be wrong?"  I understand one of the fundamentals of human nature is that most people prefer to feel as though they realize the truth of something rather than having this truth shoved down their throats.  By disagreeing with someone, we are trying to force our truth on them, even if our truth is the "correct" truth, it will most likely be rejected by the other person.

I like to believe that I am a rational person and can weigh the evidence and when presented with compelling evidence am able to change my opinion.  I still think this is mostly true.  In that case, I'm going to go against the initial idea of this article.  Even though I am human, I think my thinking is quite different than most people.

My point was going to be that I have never been a coffee drinker.  Despite having "grown-up" and in American, it is a sign of being an adult male to drink coffee.  It goes hand in hand with drinking alcohol.  What type of "real man" does not drink coffee or alcohol or coffee?  I consider them both drugs, not much different than cigarettes, marijuana or heroin.  They are just the socially acceptable drugs.

Recently, I have been having serious joint pains, so much that I have been mostly sitting on the coach for the past month.  I have seen 3 doctors and I think the first doctor had the right idea and he was a small clinic doctor and didn't want to make the serious diagnosis he suspected so I suggested I go to a big hospital.  Unfortunately, neither of the second two doctors suggested what the first one did, so I ignored his suggest for about one month.

The first doctors indirect suggestion was that I might have gout.  It is not a 100% fit for my symptoms, though it is the best guess I have.  For the past few days I have been aggressively treating my condition as if it is gout.  What does that mean?  Well, according to a recent medical study, it seems that people who drink 5+ cups of coffee per day have a 40% reduced chance of getting gout.  Sounds pretty convincing to me.

Therefore I have been aggressively drinking coffee these last few days.  The good news is my condition seems to be improving.  I understand this is not a scientific conclusion.  I could be getting better just because it has been 5 weeks.  Either way, I will keep drinking 4-5 cups of coffee for the next month.  I'm not sure if this will be a new habit as prevention or if I will just use it as a treatment if the condition returns.

The point is that if you had told me 1 month ago to drink one cup of coffee, I would have refused and now I'm becoming a heavy drinking.  Maybe the point is that circumstances can change and it is not so much that a person doesn't agree with me today and they will never agree.  Their circumstance just might change.  They might have different needs, wants or knowledge that would change their position.

The fact that someone has a different opinion than me is because they view the situation different than I do.  Am I strong enough to see things from their point of view?
I just had one of those "Wow!" moments.

If you have been following this blog, you might pick up on the fact that I like simple explanations and solutions.  A big fan of Occam's Razor and the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  So when it comes to trying to solve the puzzle of success and happiness, a simple solution that makes sense to me is to take small actions on a regular basis over a long enough period of time and success and happiness can be ours.

Don't get too discouraged by the idea of a "long enough period of time".  People tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in one year and underestimate what they can accomplish in 10 years.  10 years may seem like a long time, though even in 5 years, you will probably be able to accomplish more than you may think.  What this tells me is to be persistent and patient.

One of the small things I have been doing on a regular basis is to write out my goals and questions about how I am what I want to be.  Some of these are 5 year goals and seem unreachable at this time, though I keep them out there at markers to head for.

Out of curiosity, I went back and checked out the first goal session that I wrote on June 20th this year.  One of the goals I had was to take a business class trip to America in February 2013.  I had forgotten that this was one of my goals and had not been reinforcing this.  I'm sure that at the time I wrote that down, I did not have the money to take such a trip and couldn't imagine how it would happen, it was a dream.

It turns out that just 2 weeks ago, I figured out that I have enough airline and hotel points to take my wife, son and I to Hawaii in February 2013, flying business class.  The tickets are purchased and hotel reserved.  It's truly amazing.  4 months ago I had a goal that I planted in my mind and then with some time it was able to show up.

I'm excited to see how my 5 year goals show up.
Agreeing with people when they expose ideas with which I strongly disagree is a huge challenge for me.

I was raised to formulate my own opinion and to be able to defend that position.  That by defending the position and listening to other's reason's for their position, it would help me to find out if my position is accurate or not.  Maybe someone else will show me some fact that I was not considering in my position that would allow me to change my opinion.  At no point do I have to agree with the other person until they have convinced me that their position is superior or equal to mine and then I can consider what they are saying.

An example of this would be Ron Paul's position on the death penalty.  From what I now of Ron Paul, he has maintained a pretty consistent position on the role of government.  He has been able to keep this position for many years because he has a solid basis for his position and nobody, as yet, has given him a superior argument for him to change.  One area where he admits changing is his opinion of the death penalty.  Previously he was in for and now he is opposed as he says he has heard convincing arguments to encourage him to change.

The advice from Dale Carnegie and Howard McDonald is to agree with everything other people say, even when they are wrong.  The idea is that, we might be wrong, so by saying they are wrong we might be the one's who are wrong.  Sort of like the idea of it's better to set 100 guilty people free then put 1 innocent person in jail.  Also, by resisting the person, they will resist us and be less open to hearing our position.  People, including me, seldom like being told they are wrong, they prefer the idea that they found out some truth on their own.

I guess that is a key, that people, including me, prefer the idea that they found out the truth on their own, rather than being forced to see the truth.

My reaction to that statement is something like, "But with all the wrong thinking in the world, how are they going to know they are wrong if I don't tell them?"  As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working for you?"  How many people are convinced of my positions by me telling them how wrong they are and how right I am?  I would guess very few, if any.  It does feel good to show how many holes people have in their positions.  I am valuing my ego boost over the good will I could generate by being agreeable.

What tool can I use to allow me to not only bite my tongue, but to agree with opinions that really get my dander up?  Best I can think of is just to tough it out, bite my tongue and if I can't think of a way to agree, then just keep quite.
You heard it right folks, there is absolutely nothing you can do about your current situation.

If you are happy with your current situation or not.  If you are rich or poor, healthy or sick, positive or negative mental attitude, confident or timid, rational or irrational.  There is absolutely nothing you can do about your current state.

The only thing you can control is the future.

Do you get that?  Wherever you are right now is where you are.  It is already too late to make any changes.  Let's not even get started about the past, if you are a person that believes they can change the past then I don't know how we can have a reasonable discussion.

Anything that happened yesterday, a week ago, a decade ago, a millennium ago and where you are right now are equal in your ability to  change them.  These are events that are done.  I would suggest spending maybe 1% of our time contemplating the impact of these events, unless you are trying to learn an lesson to change your future.

I suggest we spend 99% of our time, effort and thoughts on the future.  What is going to happen in the next hour, day, month, and years.  This is the area where we have the ability to make changes.

For those technical minded, it is the same thing as flipping a coin.  If you flip a fair coin that has a 50/50 chance of landing heads or tails and you flip it 10 times and they are all heads, what is the chance that the next flip will be heads?  Of course, it is 50%.  It wouldn't matter if there had already been 100 heads in a row, the next flip is always 50%.

I do realize that we aren't coins and our past actions will impact our future potential.  If you are uneducated and then decide one day to enter a profession that requires a high level of education, you will probably have to exert more effort than someone who is already educated.  If you are obese, don't expect tomorrow to run a marathon.  The key is that just because you were one way yesterday, or right now, it doesn't mean you have to be that way tomorrow, next year or in 10 years.

People often overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year and underestimate what they can accomplish in 10 years.  Leave what has happened in the past, in the past, and think about where you want to go and how you are going to get there in the future.