Who inspires you?  I am inspired by Steve Pavlina.  Why?

Well, probably first of all because I enjoy reading what he has to say and the ideas he shares.  He strikes me as someone who is being honest.  There are some things that he writes about that I don't necessarily agree with, though I like his approach.  I like how he covers all sorts of different topics like how to get up early in the morning, polyphasic sleeping, diet and exercise, blogging for profit and just in general how to be successful and happy.

Without maybe being able to specifically saying why it is, I would say I can relate to him.  Maybe, because he seems to come from a technical background, writing computer software, and now working in the personal development area.

Let's also be clear that I believe that he is telling the truth when he earns several $100,000 in profit from his activities.  This is also a key for me, that not only is he talking about this stuff, though he is making a good living and able to support his family in a lifestyle that he likes.

Today I read this article.  This is another great article talking about how he failed for 5 years before he was able to start being successful.  This sure seems to be a common story among successful people about how they had to fail before being successful.  A key lesson I take away form this article is that if we focus on what we can get, that it is hard to get that stuff.  If instead, we focus on what we can give, that we will get more than we need.

I admit that in many cases, I do focus on what I can get.  It just seems natural.  If I don't focus on providing for myself, then who will?  Even why I watch successful people, they also focus on getting stuff for themselves.  You don't think that Warren Buffett goes into negotiations and just thinks about what he can give away, I assure you that he also has a clear plan about how he will benefit.  I think the key thing is that instead of thinking 100% about what we get, how about at least think 50% about what we can give?  Or maybe even 60% what we can give others and 40% about what we can get?

Steve's article expresses the idea that you can do 100% giving and the receiving will follow.  For some people, that may work.  I do totally agree with him that we should be passionate about what we are doing and let that drive us.  I can be passionate about writing this blog, like writing this article, I enjoy writing it and thinking about how I can find places to give more in my current projects.

How about changing our money goals from thinking about how much we can make into how we can give value?  So instead of saying, "Why do I make $100,000/yr?" say "Why do I provide $100,000/yr of value?"
 
 
Warren Buffett has said "We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds."

I wholeheartedly subscribe to this advice.  For me, this means that it is important that everyday, I enjoy what I'm doing.  It has always been difficult for me to accept the idea that I should suffer now to be happy at some point in the future.

Now, there are some clarifications about this.  In no way do I think that Warren is saying that you should sit by the pool every day, sipping our favorite beverage.  Hard work and personal challenges are included in this advice.  The key is to try and make sure that these tough periods are moving you towards a goal that you really want.

An example, is when I was younger, I wanted to own a business.  The idea of owning a business was scary to me and I had no idea what to do.  I was lucky to find a class that was specifically about how to run a small business.  I then took small steps every week to work towards this goal.  Some of the time it was uncomfortable and I would have preferred to be doing something else, though I was able to persist because I had a clear end goal of owning a business.  So, was I technically enjoying the process?  At some points, probably not, though I was able to persist because of the clear goal.

I just realized that this advice also could be a little deceptive.  I suggest you go watch this TED talk video by Daniel Kahneman.  The basic premise is that what people experience and what they remember are not always the same.  He says that if someone takes a vacation and you ask them everyday how much they are enjoying the vacation, that if everyday they enjoy the vacation except the last day something terrible happens, it is common for people to say something like "That ruined our vacation."

This idea of ruining something that has already past is a little bit of faulty thinking because once something has past there is no changing what happened.  A more accurate description would be that you had a great vacation up until the last day where something terrible happened, though again, many people will allow whatever happened last to affect the complete memory of the experience.

BTW, the same is also true the other way around, if people have an unpleasant experience over a period of time and in the end something wonderful happens, people will tend to lessen the unpleasant things that came before and remember most strongly the positive outcome.

After reflecting on this knowledge about experience and memory related to happiness, this advice from Warren may be deceptive.  If Warrens proceeds are large enough, it is truly possibly that they overshadow the difficulties of the process.

Darn, I was sure hoping to have some magic advice from the "Oracle of Omaha" that says I would never have to have challenges in my life and I could lead the life of luxury, just like the Rich Kids of Instagram.  I guess it's back to setting goals, taking action towards the goals, reviewing them, and accepting the wisdom of Adam Savage, "Failure is always an option".
 
 
I believe that there are basic fundamental common traits among successful and happy people.

I think a key reason why I believe this is my keen interest in the scientific method.  I can imagine that many thousands of years ago, it was not so clear that there are some fundamental similarities among most things we see everyday.  How could people really understand that all of the animals that we see, from birds, to reptiles, to humans have some very basic similarities.  Thinks like internal organs, circulatory system, and nervous systems.  Even things like rocks and humans have fundamental similarities.  We are both build from atoms.

It was only by the regular application of the scientific method of 1)  Formulate some theory that can be disproved, 2)  Test the theory, 3)  If necessary, revise the theory, otherwise go back to #2.  This is quite similar to the success formula 1)  Choose a measurable goal, 2)  Take some action towards the goal,  3)  If necessary, revise the goal, otherwise go back to #2.

I think there is additional information that is not covered by this success formula.  In particular, I'm not sure how well it might work towards more soft skills, like "being happy", or "being agreeable".  The success formula is powerful for things like business, weight loss and learning new skills.  I think the analogy would be, how well does the scientific method work in the arts?  Is the scientific method critical to produce great works of art?

Emotion is an important part of success and that is an area where something more than the Success Formula is required.  I am inspired by what I know about Neurolinguistic Programming, despite my trusted source Wikipedia referring to it as "unsupported by current scientific evidence, and uses incorrect and misleading terms and concepts".

As an example, I just found an article NLP: A New Way of Thinking About Your Relationships which has five great ideas:
  1. You cannot not communicate
  2. Other people’s models of the world are not wrong
  3. The meaning of communication is the response it produces
  4. Everyone does the best they can with the resources available to them
  5. You are in control of your mind and hence your results
  6. People are not their behaviors

For more information about these principals, head over and check out the article.  Each of those concepts really makes sense to me.

The question for today is, how can we introduce emotion and art into the success formula?
 
 
The title of this post made me laugh and I happened to find it the day after talking about the power of using the words "and" and "but" to either amplify or negate a previous statement.

When I was growing up, I was often told "There is no such thing as a stupid question."  The idea of this statement is that if you really want to learn, you should speak up and ask questions about what you don't understand.  It is a simplification and there are stupid questions, so it is funny to read someone making fun of this cliche.

In the title statement, the speaker starts with agreeing with the premise and then by cleverly adding the ", but", the first statement is negated and the real meaning is revealed that the writer believes there are a lot of idiots out there.

As with many cliches, there is an almost as popular saying that is practically the complete opposite of this one: 
"It is better to be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

It is up to you to decide if you want to risk being thought a fool by not asking what may be perceived as a stupid question, or to go ahead with the question and remove all doubt about your being a fool, or ask the question and possibly learn something.

Asking questions is also a key part of the Socratic method of learning.  I have been told that I naturally employ the Socratic method, without even knowing exactly what that means.  I think people mean that I like to ask many questions.  I'm sure there is more than one time that I've been considered an inquisitive idiot.

What other humorous sayings have you read lately?
 
 
"Birds of a feather flock together."
"You can't fly with the eagles if you continue to scratch with the turkeys."
"If you lie down with dogs you will get up with fleas."

Each of these statements is about checking our environment and seeing how it is in relation to how we want to be.  People often think in terms of the other people they have around then and I think it can also be about the places we hang out and the things that we see and do.

When it comes to where we hang out or the things that we see and do, people tend to be more open about changing those areas.  For example, if you wanted to learn how to speak a foreign language, most people would understand if you decided to move to an area where that new language is spoken.  They would also understand if you started reading and watching material in that foreign language.

A young man that really inspires me is Khatzumoto, he learned Japanese in 18 months, including reading and writing.  What's even more amazing is that he was living in the United States, attending an English speaking college, with a major that was not Japanese.  He did not take classes.

How did he do it?  In short, he made his environment as 100% Japanese as he could.  He spent 18-24 hours per day surrounded by Japanese, as he says he "became Japanese".  He did this all while having fun!

Khatzumoto includes quite a bit of self help advice and mentor information on his site.  He used that knowledge to motivate and educate himself about how to be a great success at learning Japanese.

He took the environment advice pretty much to the extreme.  I seem to remember him telling a story about how in the cafeteria he would not hang out with his fellow English speaking students and they maybe said things about him.  He was not too concerned as his priority was to learn Japanese and speaking English with his classmates would not help him towards that goal.

Now, as word of caution.  Khatzumoto also had an English speaking girlfriend at the time.  He did not immediately break up with her, just because she did not speak Japanese.  There are some relationships that have other benefits besides just contributing to us achieving our goal.

I think you should think very carefully before telling any close friends or family members that you don't want to hang out with them because they don't contribute to your success!  Besides close relati0nships and family members, there may be many other people that are not contributing to your success and you may consider spending less or no time with them. 

Another option instead of trying to spend less time with these people, try and spend more time with people that you think will be a positive influence on you.  A challenge for you can be try try and make a list of people you think would be a good influence on your success and see what you can do to hang out more with them.  These might be people that already have achieved what you want to achieve, or maybe others that are also of a similar mindset, trying to achieve like you are.
 
 
I was thinking the other day about how it is easy to have a great goal, take positive actions and still not achieve the goal.  In other words, fail.  How can that be?  I thought the Success Formula was a secret plan to guarantee everyone will get whatever they want out of life.  What gives?

First of all, you might want to remember that failure is a critical part of this formula.  Every "successful" person I know has experienced some failure.  There do appear to be some exceptions, like Ron Howard.  I mean, here is a guy that was a celebrity continuously from the age of six, married his high school sweetheart at the age of 21, has 4 children and as far as I know has never struggled with alcohol or drugs.

I admire Mr. Howard, and it is difficult for me to compare my life to his.  I have many more wrong turns and times where my life was not going in the direction I wanted.  I accept this and believe that, unfortunately, Mr. Howard is the exception rather than the rule.  Most people, including successful people, are like me and have setbacks and times where their life is going in a direction they would like to change.

This brings us to where I was thinking about a difference between these other successful people and those who have less success.  The successful people realize that even when their life takes an unexpected turn that if they follow their plan and take actions to improve that they can depend on the fact that they can improve their situation.  They may not be able to predict exactly when things will improve, though they can be confident and depend on the fact that it will improve.

Another way to think about it is like flipping a coin.  When flipping a coin it is not possible to predict what will be the result.  Each flip of the coin is a new flip and there should be about a 50/50 chance of either heads or tails showing up.  Although it is not predictable, it is dependable that if you flip the coin 100 times that, on average there will most likely be a 50/50 distribution of heads and tails.  Of course it is possible to flip 100 time all heads or all tails, though that is going to happen extremely few times.

The same goes for being successful.  If you have a quality goal, take positive actions towards your goal, you may not be able to predict if you will receive the results we want.  Maybe you have a 70% chance of getting the result you want.  What is dependable is that if you repeat this activity 100 times, that you can depend on the fact that more than likely you will get the results we want.

Try and keep that in mind when you are feeling down and think you are failing.  Review your goals, check that your actions are moving you closer towards your goal, and assuming these are true, then realize you can depend on the fact that a little failure is OK because even if you can't predict exactly when you will succeed, you can depend on the fact that you will eventually success.
 
 
I used to teach ballroom dance classes.  I was fortunate enough to be learning from a wise and patient mentor.  One thing I will always remember him saying was to avoid using the word "easy".  He said that just because something was simple did not mean it was easy for everyone.

We would always start the very first class with having everyone in class walking in place.  We would then do that to music.  Walking in place, is the most simple movement he could come up with to start the class.  Even though walking in place is simple, it was not necessarily easy for everyone.  Some people coming to class for the first time are nervous and can just barely walk or stand, much less trying to do it to music.  So just because from my perspective it is simple does not mean it is easy.

He also taught me another lesson about if I would put in the time to do the simple things perfectly, then I would be able to do the difficult things easily.  I have looked it up and it looks like this is from a quote by Friedrich Schiller:

  "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily."

As you are reviewing your goals and actions, see if you are doing the simple things perfectly.  You can be less concerned about doing the fancy things and instead make sure you are doing the simple things perfectly.

A questions you can ask yourself is, "What are the most simple things I can do to accomplish this goal?"  Then you can check how well you are doing those things.
 
 
George T. Doran came up with a mnemonic to help you evaluate your goals.  It is SMART.  Each of the letters is meant to remind you of something to consider when making your goals:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Time Bound

Specific - This means that the goal should be clear.  You can ask the questions, Who? What? Where? & Why? to help you clarify the goal.

Measurable - This means that we should have some way to determine that we are getting closer to the goal and that the goal has been achieved.  Usually this means associating a number with the goal.  If your goal is "I want to be happy."  You could try something like, "I will laugh, 3 times this week."

Attainable - This means that the goal is something that is reasonably in our reach.  The irony is that harder goals are often easier to achieve than easy goals because they provider greater motivation.  Be aware that there are goals that may be unlikely for you to achieve.  For example, if your goal is "I want to be able to hold my breath for 1 hour underwater.", it might not be very attainable.

Relevant - This means that that goal should be about something important to you.  Your goals should provide significant emotional response for you, when you think about and work towards them.

Timely - This means that the goal should have an end point.  Try and find a way to limit your goals such that you can be motivated to take action now to achieve the deadline.

When I think about this, I realize that some of my goals are not following these criteria.  I will review my goals and see how I can update them to be SMART.

How about your goals, are they SMART?
 
 
I was noticing the other day how I was starting to receive quite a bit of marketing emails from people wanting to sell me information about how to be successful.  A few years ago, I was learning about making money online and I also started getting flooded with marketing emails from all sorts of people about making money online.  Both of these times, this was because I had been attracted to something these people were offering and had signed up to receive some information and was added to their mailing list.

I can understand how people could think that the online business and success industries are full of scam artists.  I mean it is possible that a person may purchase many products from these people and not get very positive results and make the conclusion that what these people are selling is to blame.  That they tricked you into buying the material.  Instead of getting any results from "self help" it just becomes "shelf help".

Then I started to think about this some more, and tried to figure out of f all of these people really are just trying to trick me.  Is it possible that these people genuinely have valuable information to contribute and there is something that I am doing that is slowing down the benefits I get from this information?

I thougt about traditional universities.  Well known universities offer several thousand classes each semester.  Imagine of the way the university worked was that each professor would send out marketing emails to prospective students and the students just went to whatever class they felt like.  Now, this might be an interesting change to the way universities work, though do you think it might make it difficult for the university to have some control over what they are certifying with their graduation diploma?

How would the university guarantee that someone that says they have studied electrical engineering, really has studied the proper courses?  What if this student just took one electrical engineering course and the rest of the time took athletic courses?  So what do universities do?  They come up with a plan and say that there are certain required courses and then depending on the goal of the student, there are other courses for the student to choose from.

You notice that the student selects the goal, we call it a major, and the university supplies the plan.  The allows the student to focus their choices of classes.  So even though based on the goal/major the student selected they only end up take less than one hundred classes and there are still several thousand classes, this can still mean that these other thousands of classes are still quality classes, they just don't fit into the student's goal.

In the "real world" you don't always have somebody to choose your goal or make the plan to achieve the goal.  If you have a job, then your company and boss usually choose the goal and make the plan.  To truly be successful, you might want to consider being in control and making your own plan.

The marketing emails I receive, are the marketers trying to make the goal and the plan.  Their goal is obviously to sell the product.  Let's turn that around and follow the university example.  First, work on being clear of your goal.  When you are clear of your goal make some plan, even the most simple plan, to achieve your goal.  Now with your goal and plan in hand, you can now find out what knowledge you would like to get to achieve your goal.  When you know what knowledge you are trying to get you can filter through thousands of marketing pitches to find the few that will be the most benefit to you.

Just like in the university example, if you randomly read and try to follow all of the marketing material you receive, it may be difficult to achieve your goal.  Instead, think about just choosing one or two teachers and learn from them.  This just means that these teachers fit your goals at this time.  All of the other people offering to sell you information, may be offering quality product and at this time, you are deciding that their material will have to wait for another time.

As usual, 1)  Be clear of your goals, 2)  Take action towards your goals, 3)  Review how your goals and actions are working for you, and 4)  Persist in your process of continual improvement.
 
 
Part of being successful is reviewing your actions and seeing how these actions are being effective in moving you towards your goals.  When doing this review try and be objective.

I recently was given some straight forward advice from a financially successful person.  The advice is to spend the minimum amount of time to develop a product that can be sold and then to put the vast majority of your effort into selling the product. 

This adviser said that many people that struggle financially, especially the ones that have studied success principals, work hard and still stuggle financially spend much too much time trying to improve their product.  He said that he often sees people improving the quality or content of their website, or trying to make some product a little smaller, faster, lighter or in some way improved.  People may even spend time going to school and learning new skills.

This financial mentor suggested that if these people would take most of the time they are spending improving the product and instead us it to sell their existing product, they would probably be doing much better.  Of course, improving the product, even if the product is ourselves, is important, though even more important for financial success is to find people that are willing to spend money on our product.

So during your review sessions, try and honestly evaluate if your actions are getting you closer to your goals or if you should possibly try a different approach.  This new approach may be quite uncomfortable, and much less fun that what we have been doing.  This is where it is important for us to not necessarily do what feels right and instead try and find out what is the right thing to do and do it no matter how it feels.  I am not advising you to do something that goes against your morals, I'm just suggesting doing something that is uncomfortable because it is outside what you normally like to do.

One way to change your feelings towards a particular activity is to do it enough times.  It has been suggested to me that 100 times of performing almost any activity is enough to dramatically change your feelings towards that activity. 

So, using your best information at this time, try and determine what is a successful action you can take towards your goal, and if that action feels uncomfortable, just do that action 100 times and then see how you feel.  How it was told to me is "Do the right thing 100 times and it will feel right."