Checklist your Life

We all want to be organized because not being so is a real pain.  But how can we bullet proof being organized?  

Use a check list.

Use a check list for every area of your life that is in limbo land and needs to get on the Slight Edge train wagon.  The Slight Edge teaches that massive success is the result of repeating simple, key actions every single day consistently and persistently.  The tricky part is that because our days are full of what's urgent, we don't pay attention to what's important - those simple, daily actions.  We need a check list to keep our eyes on those actions.

Your Slight Edge Check Lists can be divided up to cover different areas of your life.  Such as:
- Business
- Health
- Family
- Financial

For each area, identify the key activities that you need to do every day to make the compound effect magic of the Slight Edge work for you.  Here's an easy example:

Slight Edge HEALTH Check List:
1. Drink 8 cups of water
2. Exercise for 30 minutes
3. Sleep for 8 hours
4. Eat healthy
5. Take vitamins

Having to put a check mark next to each of those items will keep you accountable and help you create the HABITS you need to build a successful life.  We know it takes 21 days to create a habit, and that to miss a day means starting over at day 1.  

With a check list, you eliminate the chance missing a day because you simply forgot and you eliminate the annoying feeling of trying to keep track of everything in your head.

Outside of having check lists that cover your Slight Edge actions, you should also have check lists for all the stuff that doesn't rank as slight edge activities but still needs to get done.  I call it the Dump List - the broken door, the unsent letter, the essay for that contest, etc.  Keeping this list checked off is just as important because these are the kinds of tasks that will drain you of the energy that you need for your Slight Edge lists.  

Why is My Life not Changing?

There is a quote on our wall that says, "Progress has little to do with speed and much to do with direction."
These words seem to speak for many people as the year draws to an end.  After blasting through 365 days of constant, never-ending activity, it can be exasperating to realize that in spite of everything, nothing has really changed and you're no closer to reaching your goals than you were before.

I'm happy to say that I can tell a different story of my life this year.  I've reached my 2011 goals (except for one - it's pretty big).  I've made progress.  Does this mean that I worked harder?  No.  I've worked harder in the years prior with much less to show for my efforts.

It's not enough to just go go go.  If you constantly feel like you're busy, busy, busy but not getting any where, then you have a Life Lesson staring you in the face, waiting for you to wake up and get with the new program.  And that new program is: stop running blind and become aware of your direction.

Here's what helped me this year:

1. Made the decision that this year would NOT be a repeat of last year.

2. Said yes to opportunities that broke me out of my routine and challenged me to be a bigger person.

3. Said no to activities that did not challenge me to be a bigger person.

4. Used Darren Hardy's "Design Your Best Year Ever" book program that required me to assess my PROGRESS and DIRECTION every week and month and do specific activities directly related to my goals.  BIG HELP

5. Worked with Jim Rohn's "One Year Success Plan" (this is a program that emails me weekly activities, readings, and audios throughout the year.  It takes you through the "12 Pillars of Success so that you make progress in every area of your life.)

6.  Journaling reflections.

7.  Looking at my goals and rewriting them frequently.

8.  Using a mastermind group.

9.  Reading every day.

10. Listening to positive CDs every day.

Book Review: The Big Leap

I'm in the middle of the audio version of this book.  Basically it's about how we are actually comfortable living our lives in a constant state of not-feeling-so-good . . . and we actually work to keep it that way.  We are so used to feeling "just fine" that we never take "the big leap" into a higher level of being.  In fact, when we do experience a better way of life, we'll unconsciously sabotage everything in order to return to what we're used to.

I was talking to my friend Claire about this book and we agreed that a person's deserve-level has alot to do with taking the big leap into accepting that they deserve not just to be happy but happier.  We have a hard time moving into a higher, happier experience of life unless we feel like we deserve it.  For example, people who are used to making a certain income a year like to think that they would like to make more money, but year after year they make the same income because they have not learned to feel that they deserve more.  As miserable as they are bouncing checks, feeling anxious over bills, and remaining at the same income level year after year, they stay there because they're comfortable with that way of life.  Not comfortable in the sense of floating on a pink cloud - - comfortable in the sense of that's how they are accustomed to living.  Yes, they're comfortable being miserable because misery is what they're used to, misery is part of their comfort zones.

Don't believe it?  Think about the different times you were really taking care of your health.  You were exercising every day, eating really well, and feeling better mentally, physically, and emotionally than you've ever felt before.  What happened?  You pull the trigger on your efforts - almost all at once.  You pig out and stop exercising and you're back to feeling like "blah."  In the middle of feeling so great, why deliberately go back to feeling miserable?  Because your deserve level wasn't high enough.  We feel like we deserve what we are used to more than we feel like we deserve what we are not used to.

One more example.  A study was done finding that people who grow up in small, modest homes will most likely continue to reside in such homes when they grow up.  And a person who is used to living in a large, lavish home will most likely continue to live in such homes throughout his life.  One type feels like he only deserves a modest home and the other type feels like he deserves a big home.

Good things come to those who wait?

Whenever you set a goal, life is going to send you all kinds of situations and circumstances to test you.  It's life's way of asking you if you're serious about what you want.

Most people don't get what they want out of life because they aren't serious enough about what they want.

The people achieving their dreams have a completely different mindset.  When obstacles crop up, they see them as opportunities to strengthen their commitment.  Their actions send the message of "Hey, look, I'm going after this thing and nothing is going to stop me.  Bring it on."  Other people see obstacles as a sign that they should just give up.  Their attitude sends the message of "Well, it's no big deal.  I didn't really want that dream anyway and I'd rather quit dreaming than be disappointed or challenged."

Winners make things happen.  Non-winners wait for things to happen to them.  There's a quote by Emerson (I think) and it goes, "Good things come to those who wait."  You've probably heard of it, right?  No surprise how people love to cling to this they sit on their couch watching tv every day.  But did you know that that is only half of the quote?  Here is the whole thing:

"Good things come to those who wait, but only what's left-over from those who hustle."

What do you want?  The glory or the leftovers? 

OWL ASSIGNMENT: Do some end of the year reflecting

Write down the answers to these two questions:

1. List 10 great happenings from this past year.

2. What are 5 important lessons you've learned this past year?

Rolonda's Podacst - "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!"

This is actually a pretty substantial and useful book!

Raised by working class immigrant parents and exposed to Hollywood's most elite experts in every field, Maria Menounos wants to share her tips and secrets with the EveryGirl, on Everything: her systems to organize life, manage time and ascend the ladder of success, her lazy woman's workout, her method to lose weight (how SHE lost 40lbs and kept it off) and her guide to being your own stylist (how to do hair, make up and fashion as if you had a team of stylists).

Maria shares personal experiences and photos from her life and red carpet journey as well as the various mantras, mottos and philosophies she's adapted from the world's most successful women. Maria gives advice on health, career, relationships, renovations, recreation and so much more. From your carpet to the red carpet, she teaches the EveryGirl, on the "every salary", how to groom themselves like the stars, how to live healthier and happier lives AND how to set themselves up for success.
Buy Maria's Book

OWL Assignment: Finish that book

Pick one book that you're going to finish reading this week. 

The University of Your Book Shelf

I think the world and our education system has gravely underestimated the value of self-education.  The prevalent mentality among people seems to be that significant learning is something you do at a desk in front of a chalkboard with a teacher in a room (preferable air-conditioned) at specific times of the day with people of a specific age.  It is as if somehow the learning you do on your own does not count.  It does not qualify or quantify.  Now, I think this attitude is changing as people become more savvy about where and how to get information, but nobody wants to open their mouths and say it out loud.  So I'll be the brave one and say it:

"You no longer have to go to a specific school to learn things now that we have the internet." - Seth Godin

Okay, Seth Godin said it first - but hey, proof that I believe in being a good student.  Before you go crazy on me, know that I am not against going to college or having teachers or getting a degree.  I'm doing all those things...I'm just a little bit more creative about how I do it.  I want people to know that the way we go about acquiring our education is changing...for the better.

Just compare the attitudes.  This doesn't apply to everyone but it is a reality that the average person who graduates from college never goes on to read another book.  What does this say about the education system?  We have isolated the act of learning so much so that students have mentally placed education in a box - it is something that happens in an institution and not without the aid of someone "qualified" to teach us.

Yes, we need teachers, but we do not need to confine our positive experience of them to grade school or college.  Because of the internet, they are all around us, 24/7.  I can go on youtube and watch video after video of talks by Fulton J. Sheen or the Pope or anybody practically.  I can look up talks on TED of people who are leaders in a myriad of fields.  I can read the insights of entrepreneurs who are freely giving their advice about exactly what I am interested in...exactly what I need to know.  I can go on Oxford University's website and take their online course on Bronte Literature and communicate with teachers and fellow students via chatrooms and email as I sit at my desk drinking coffee on an island far, far away from campus.

The fact is that we are not teaching our kids the deepest, biggest, greatest and most profound lesson that they can possibly learn.  A lesson that has the power to serve them in every facet of their lives for the rest of their lives.  And that is that they have the power to teach themselves.  They have the power to create.  They have the power to be the Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, or Mozart at whatever they want to do.  Why don't we do this?  Maybe we are too busy and consumed with teaching facts.  In an interview I listened to recently, Seth Godin, a popular author who writes about the post-industrial revolution, stripped this problem down to the hard core issue when he spoke of how we are making kids memorize all these facts when we should really be teaching them how to look them up.  Dare we teach in a way that puts the power in the hands of the student?

Once upon a time, memorized knowledge of facts and mass conformity was a valuable asset.  However, that was during the Industrial Age.  The world has changed...but our education system has not.  It is beginning to, yes, but few are the schools and colleges adapting to meet the needs of students today.  Because of the internet and technology, the world and the way it works is changing at lightning speed and the new economy that is rising is in need of people who are brave enough to take risks, make mistakes, find answers, initiate, be creative, innovate, learn multiple skills, take responsibility for themselves and understand the value of life-long learning and self-education.  Is the education we are giving our kids effectively preparing them for such a world?

At the moment, the learning that I am receiving from the books on my shelf, my experience in the marketplace, my roaming on the internet is giving me eons more in value than what I am learning from my textbooks which are still bent on a student's capacity to memorize facts and follow the rules.  And maybe that is the way it should be.

OWL Assignment: Read This

*This comes from Mike Klingler's Facebook status update.
Most of us have a dream (a lifestyle picture... of how we want to live, give/contribute, what we want to experience) -- When you can shift the definition of "living your dreams" to be the literal "daily steps" of becoming that person who can create the environment that inevitably attracts that dream INTO being the definition of the dream itself, you come to realize effortless creating... and the ..."purpose-driven" life. You can start living your dreams now. It's inevitable that the actual outcome you seek will come when you define "living your dreams" as the work that creates it. And it makes the most sense logically--because by the time you reach your "dream lifestyle" externally, it's highly probably based on those who have done it, that you will have a new dream anyway. Start living your dreams today... change the definition and be it, live now now and always.

Be Glad for the Struggle

This is something I've learned from Darren Hardy and Jeff Olson.   Be glad for the struggle.  Darren Hardy points out in his book The Compound Effect that the fact that achieving success is not easy is a fact that he gets excited about.  Why?  Because the fact that it's not easy means that it is that much easier for YOU.

Think about it.  If everyone was incredibly driven, never giving up, never slowing down, then it would be much, much harder for you to make a significant difference, to stand out, to rise above.  It is to your advantage that most people are not driven because while they're sitting on their couches, there is more opportunity out there for the significant few willing to keep on keeping on.  The competition on the extra mile is almost non-existent.

Jeff Olson tells the story of his daughter Amber who was nervous going into an academically challenging school.  He told her that if she just continued to show up consistently to class, she would already be ahead of the large majority of her fellow students.  It was true.  She combined showing up with studying every day a little bit consistently and she came out even more ahead.  She came out on top.

Think about it: most people don't even have the drive to show up!

Be glad success isn't easy, because if it were then it would be so achievable that it wouldn't be would be average.  And then it would only be that much harder to stand out and be significant.

So never underestimate the little bit that you do every day to move forward because chances are that that little bit puts you way, way ahead.

Photo Credit to:

It's not like you're chopping trees!

Are we loosing energy?  Are we becoming weaker?  It's funny the things that make us complain today...that wear us out...laundry that needs doing...emails that need sending...errands that need running...groceries that need shopping (lazy writing, sry!).  With all the rapid improvements that humanity has enjoyed in the last hundred years: cars, planes, decent roads, internet, cell phones, convenient grocery stores, washing machines, dryers, electric stoves, electricity, bathrooms, running water, dishwashers...why are people so tired?  

It's not like we're hauling our laundry to the river and washing it on rocks.  We dump it in a machine and press a button.

It's not like we're gardening and harvesting our own food.  We're pushing a cart in a store with anything and everything you can want or need sitting on a shelf conveniently packaged.

It's not like we're taking care of horses and tying them up to carriages that go 10 miles an hour every time we need to go somewhere.  We get in our cars and put the key in the ignition.

It all begins with your thoughts.  If you are thinking "tired," then regardless of how many conveniences surround you, your thoughts are going to make sure your body and mind manifest that message.
Whenever you feel like you're at the end of your energy...that you're working soooo hard....try to remember: it's not like you're chopping trees!

Chris Guilebeau and The Art of Non-Comformity

"Yes, I should be that guy asking if you’d like to add on an order of fries at the fast-food restaurant, the guy who just kept doing menial work with no purpose because he was never qualified for anything else. 

But for some reason, I’m not. For some reason, I escaped the life I deserved and found a life on the other side.
forget about what you’re actually qualified to do. It’s irrelevant and no one cares."

- Chris Guillebeau

To read ALL of Chris' story, click HERE

It is a Challenge to Succeed by Jim Rohn

It Is a Challenge to Succeed by Jim Rohn

*This article is copied and pasted from the Jim Rohn website.  Click here to view.
It is a challenge to succeed. If it were not, I'm sure more people would be successful, but for every person who is enjoying the fruit from the tree of success, many more are examining the roots. They are trying to figure it all out. They are mystified and perplexed by what seems to be some strange, complex and elusive secret that must be found if ever success is to be enjoyed. While most people spend most of their lives struggling to earn a living, a much smaller number seem to have everything going their way. Instead of just earning a living, the smaller group is busily engaged in designing and enjoying a fortune. Everything just seems to work out for them. While the much larger group sits in awe at how life can be so unfair, complicated and unjust.

"I am a nice person," the man says to himself. "How come this other guy is happy and prosperous and I'm always struggling?" He asks himself, "I am a good husband, a good father and a good worker. How come nothing seems to work out for me? Life just isn't fair. I'm even smarter and willing to work harder than some of these other people who just seem to have everything going their way," he says as he slumps into the sofa to watch another evening of television. But you see you've got to be more than a good person and a good worker. You've got to become a good planner, and a good dreamer. You've got to see the future finished in advance.

You've got to put in the long hours and put up with the setbacks and the disappointments. You've got to learn to enjoy the process of disciplines and of putting yourself through the paces of doing the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. You've got to be prepared and willing to attack the challenges if you want the success because challenges are part of success. Now that may sound like a full menu of activities, but let me assure you that the process of going from average to fortune isn't really all that difficult. Thinking about it is the difficult part. Anticipating all the effort and the changes and the disciplines is far worse in the mind than in reality. I can promise you that the challenges you'll meet on the road to success are far less difficult to deal with than the struggles and the disappointments that come from being average. Confronting and overcoming challenges is an exhilarating experience. It does something to feed the soul and the mind. It makes you more than you were before. It strengthens the mental muscles and enables you to become better prepared for the next challenge.

I've often said that to have more, we must first become more, and to become more, we must begin the process of working harder on ourselves than we do on anything else. But in addition to gathering new knowledge, new skills and new experiences, it is also important to discover new emotions. It is how we feel about what we know that makes the biggest difference in how our lives turn out. How we feel about the chances we have and the choices we have determines the intensity of our effort. Whether we try or don't try. Join or don't join. Believe or don't believe.

I'd like for you to discover some strong feelings about your life and about what you want to do with that life. You probably have much of the knowledge and a lot of the experience and perhaps most of the skills that it takes to become successful. What you may be lacking in are the strong feelings about what you want and what you want to do. You may be one of those who have become so involved in the process of earning a living that you've forgotten about the choices and the chances you have for designing your own life.

Let these strong feelings help you take a second look at your life and where you're headed. After all, you've only got one life, at least on this planet. So why not make it an adventure in achievement? Why not discover what all you can do and what all you can have? Why not discover how many others you can help and in the process how that can help you?
Why not now take the Challenge to Succeed!
—Jim Rohn

OWL Assignment: Make a Brain Dump

Take a sheet of paper and a pen and write down every single task and to-do that's been bugging you.  That's it.  Now you don't have to waste brain energy trying to remember it all because you know it's written down and you can look at that list whenever you need to.

Book Review Snippet on Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie - Chief Shoe Giver, TOMS

*Michelle here: I'm copying pretty much word for word here from the book.

From Chapter 3: Face Your Fears

Effective ways to live with fear until I could overcome it:

1.  I remembered to live my story.  I went back to my core question: Why am I doing this?

2.  I surrounded myself with interns.  The wonderful thing about interns is that they are so enthusiastic and new to everything that they don't waste time being fearful.

Having a group of enthusiastic people around you, all busy working towards the success of your enterprise, gives you confidence, makes you feel legitimate, and, ultimately, helps make whatever idea you are trying to create a reality.

3.  I surround myself with inspirational quotations.  This easy-to-follow piece of advice has played  huge role in my being able to get past my own fears and insecurities throughout my entrepreneurial career.

When I started in business, I was often lonely, so I placed favorite quotes all over my apartment.  They made me feel like I was never really alone.

"Success is the ability to go frmo one failure to another wih no loss of enthusiasm."
- Winston Churchill

 4.  I read biographies.  Because I left college to start a business and never received my degree, much of my education came from books that I found on my own, not the ones assigned to me by professors.  My favorite books have always been biographies of successful entrepreneurs and other inspiring people.
5.  I also remember to think small.  It's best not to regard your next step as a tremendous risk.  Think about it as one small step on  along journey.  Thinking big always sounds good, but it's a common mistake shared by lots of people starting a business.  We started TOMS with 250 pairs of shoes in three duffel bags - that's it.  I didn't quit my job immediately.  I didn't invest tens of thousands of dollars.  I just made 250 pairs of shoes and tried to sell them.

By starting small, you can work through your story, try out your idea, and test your mettle.  There's a Japanese concept known as kaizen, which says that small improvements made every day will lead to massive improvement overall (Michelle here: also known as The Slight Edge).  

6.  I would also write down my fears and look at them.  When fears stay stuck inside your head, your imagination can go wild, torturing you with all the carious negative possibilities and outcomes.  But when you write them down, you clarify exactly what you are afraid of, and soon the power they hold over you will fade. 

7.  My final fear killer is to seek as much advice as I can.

*Michelle here.  Great stuff, right?  Now, I want a pair of TOMS shoes asap!  haha.  Read the book.  It's awesome.

Start Something That Matters - Official Video Trailer

A poem


You are the man who used to boast
That you'd achieve the uttermost,
Some day.

You merely wished a show,
To demonstrate how much you know
And prove the distance you can go...

Another year we've just passed through.
What new ideas came to you?
How many big things did you do?

Time...left twelce fresh months in your care
How many of them did you share
With opportunity and dare
Again where you so often missed?

We do not find you on the list of Makers Good.
Explain the fact!
Ah no, 'twas not the chance you lacked!
As usual - you failed to act!

-Herbert Kauffman

Book Review: the dip by SETH GODIN

In the beginning of another great book by Seth Godin, so all I have are a few words about it. 

Basically, it's a book about knowing when to quit.  Yup!  QUIT.  Why do we need to know when to quit?  Because if you're spending all your time zeroed in on X, then you're not paying attention to Y...and Y is where you need to be focused. 

It's a different concept of the idea of quitting here.  There's more than one type of quitting.  There's I-have-zero-pereverance quitting...there's I'm-gonna-sit-on-my-couch-and-watch-tv-for-the-rest-of-my-life quitting...and then there's the type of quitting you do when you realize that what you're presently doing with your time and energy will only and always give you mediocre results and so you drop it and move on to something that you can be awesome at.

We need to know when to quit ventures that aren't going to give us the results we want.

BIG winners are people who have developed the awareness to know what to quit and what to pursue.

Steve Jobs quit.  He quit college so that he could pursue only that which interested him.  He called that choice: "one of the best decisions that I've made in my life."

Michael Chriton quit a medical career to become a writer and created ER and Jurassic Park.

Sometimes you need to quit what you're okay at so that you can succeed at what you're awesome at.

We don't like quitting because we associate it with failure.  Here's what J.K. Rowling has to say about failure:

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement addres

Don't quit when it's hard.  Don't quit because it's hard.  Quit because you want to succeed at what matters to you.

OWL Assignment: Sharpen your Axe

"Twenty years ago, I read a book that changed my life.  It was called The Magic of Thinking Big.  I actually don't remember anything about the book at all.  What I do remember is that in one quick moment, it changed the way I thought about success." - SETH GODIN
When you're reading success books, it's like you're sharpening your axe.  People who don't read are chopping away with very dull axes and so they work very hard and have very little to show for it.  Don't mistake motion for progress.  Sometimes we have to slow down in order to speed up.  Spend time every day sharpening your axe: read from a success book for at least 15 every day.

OWL Assignment: Give yourself some advice

Today's assignment comes from the book Go for the No! Yes is the Destination; No is How You Get There by Fenton and Waltz

"If the YOU of today, could go back and speak to the YOU of 10 years ago, and give just ONE piece of advice to help yourself, what would that be?"       

Sleeping Geniuses

When I was in kindergarten, I remember my teacher gave us the task of copying the alphabet.  But I didn't want to do that; I wanted to draw a picture instead.  So I did.  The teacher told me to stop drawing and start copying.  For some reason, I continued drawing my picture.  I wasn't trying to be obstinate, I simply felt like it was perfectly okay to carry on with what I was doing.  My teacher didn't share my point of view and I got paddled for disobeying.  For some reason, I still remember exactly how I felt after that: pure confusion.  I still didn't understand what I had done wrong.

This experience helps me remember to be wary of treating children as if they should know better when in fact oftentimes they honestly don't know if something is right or wrong.  But recently my kindergarten experience flashed into my mind under another perspective: I was right and the teacher was wrong.  She wasn't wrong to teach me the alphabet.  She was wrong to punish me for being a child.  Wrong for making me sacrifice creativity for conformity.

But it's not really her fault.  This is how the system of education in schools works, unfortunately.  Everyone must conform to the standard way things are done and leave a large part of their personal talents and interests at the door.  I'm not saying that we need to get rid of having to learn the alphabet, mathematics, or the names of American presidents.  I'm saying its wrong to give kids the impression that in order to succeed in life, they need to always color within the lines...or get an F.  We're "educating" kids on the altar of what makes them creative, unique, and happy.  And now we're really beginning to suffer the consequences.

And what are the consequences?  The economy has made alot of things extremely clear.  It's as if the fog of blatant ignorance of what has been going on for a long time already is finally stripped away.  People are finding that their survival depends on their own ability to take care of themselves, to be self-reliant, to believe in their own personal abilities.  Sir Ken Robinson points out that the very survival of our economy depends on innovation.  And innovation depends on the creativity of individuals.

However, because our schools are actually relics of a system that was designed to support the Industrial Age, people today have been poorly equipped for far too long to handle the demands of the new era.  In spite of all the "Express Yourself!" gimmickry and other efforts tried out by schools trying to satisfy students, the fact is the core of our education is still a system that was built to produce people of conformity and not creativity.  This is why Sir Ken Robinson is calling not for an evolution of education, but a revolution.  The school system excels at producing the type of people who are very good at being employees and that is exactly what is helping plummet the economy into a downward spiral today.  We need more independent-minded people and less dependent-minded people.

How silly it is to wait until students are 18 years old to start taking their personal interests seriously.  It is no wonder that young people are at a loss as to where their talents and abilities and desires lie when their minds have been molded into a standard way of thinking, behaving, and "doing life" from the time when they were very young and impressionable.

How sad it is that most adults in the workforce not only have no idea as to what their talents are, but most don't even believe they have any talents at all!

Albert Einstein said that everyone is a genius.  I highly doubt he said this for any other reason than the fact that this is true.  The problem is that we haven't allowed children to develop any of their innate interests into genius.  There are so many people who get up every day and are unhappy and unfulfilled.  They don't do what they love and so they don't love what they do.  The tragedy is that they feel that this is normal.  How many sleeping geniuses are out there?  How many people have undiscovered talents, potential, and dreams withering away inside them?

When I was about 15, I discovered I had the talent for drawing.  With just a couple lessons I was able to draw better than pupils who had been practicing for years.  It was pretty amazing and this experience propels me to stay on the learning curve, alert for any other hidden abilities, to keep growing, learning, and acquiring more and more skills.  It makes me many people out there are living from childhood experiences of needing permission to explore a creative impulse?  How many adults are out there timidly looking around like a child at a desk checking to see what everyone else is doing and feeling discouraged about doing anything that doesn't resemble the norm?  How many ideas, talents, and dreams are getting buried every day?  How many people are becoming lawyers, accountants, or doctors when they really want to become dancers, missionaries, or open up an ice cream shop with a hundred different flavors?

I refuse to be a sleeping genius.  How about you?

P.S.  In a future blog post, I'll address why following your purpose/passion does NOT equal setting yourself up to be poor or unsuccessful.

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

OWL Assignment: Feel the Fear and do it Anyway

"You don't have to be fearless to face your fears. You may have heard of the book title, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. This is what it means to employ courage and often it is a sign that you are aware of the risks and yet decided the risks of going for it looked better than the risks of settling (and not going for it). If you feel fear, be not afraid... for courage is also powerful." - Mike Klingler (his facebook status update today)
OWL Assignment:  Before this week is over, pick something that you are afraid to do...and do it anyway.  If you get into the habit of regularly identifying your fears and rising above them, you will have mastered the process of constantly creating a truly wonderful and powerful way of life.  Think about how few people there are in the world who will even admit their fears to themselves, let alone face them.  Decide to be a different.  Step away from the masses.  It can be scary at first, but if you keep the ball rolling you can start making a game out of facing your fears.  Soon you will be viewing your fears in the proper perspective - instead of seeing what you fear as a signal for you to run away in the other direction (as the majority behaves), you will see it as a signal for you to take a specific action or learn a new skill.  You will see your fear as the portal into a better life and a better you.

From Robin Sharma

1. Exercise daily.
2. Get serious about gratitude.
3. See your work as a craft.
4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
5. Keep a journal.
6. Read “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”.
7. Plan a schedule for your week.
8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.
9. Say no to distractions.
10. Drink a lot of water.
11. Improve your work every single day.
12. Get a mentor.
13. Hire a coach.
14. Get up at 5 am each day.
15. Eat less food.
16. Find more heroes.
17. Be a hero to someone.
18. Smile at strangers.
19. Be the most ethical person you know.
20. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence.
21. Savor life’s simplest pleasures.
22. Save 10% of your income each month.
23. Spend time at art galleries.
24. Walk in the woods.
25. Write thank you letters to those who’ve helped you.
26. Forgive those who’ve wronged you.
27. Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.
28. Create unforgettable moments with those you love.
29. Have 5 great friends.
30. Become stunningly polite.
31. Unplug your TV.
32. Sell your TV.
33. Read daily.
34. Avoid the news.
35. Be content with what you have.
36. Pursue your dreams.
37. Be authentic.
38. Be passionate.
39. Say sorry when you know you should.
40. Never miss a moment to celebrate another.
41. Have a vision for your life.
42. Know your strengths.
43. Focus your mind on the good versus the lack.
44. Be patient.
45. Don’t give up.
46. Clean up your messes.
47. Use impeccable words.
48. Travel more.
49. Read “As You Think”.
50. Honor your parents.
51. Tip taxi drivers well.
52. Be a great teammate.
53. Give no energy to critics.
54. Spent time in the mountains.
55. Know your top 5 values.
56. Shift from being busy to achieving results.
57. Innovate and iterate.
58. Speak less. Listen more.
59. Be the best person you know.
60. Make your life matter.

Take Reponsibility for your Life - Part 1

So what does it mean to take 100% responsibility for your life?  This post is the first of I-don't-know-how-many articles on this subject.  I thought it would be fun to tackle one fundamental of personal responsibility at a time.
One way that it means to take 100% responsibility for your life is to read books that are written specifically to teach you how to grow yourself as a human being and live happier, healthier, and wealthier.  Such books are basically called personal development books and are usually found under the "Business," "Health," and "Inspiration," sections at your bookstore.

It seems that for some people (or most people!), they would much rather complain about everything that's going wrong in their lives and feel like victims instead of reading a book that has the potential to help them create a new reality for themselves.  When a person comes up with a remark like, "Oh, I don't like reading," then they have lost all right to my humble opinion.  This makes me wonder how in the world such people expect to get answers, to find solutions, to make tomorrow better than today.  It is as if they are waiting around for some one else to drop out of the sky and fix their lives for them.  And this is definitely the opposite of taking personal responsibility.   

Did you know that over 65% of adults never go on to read another book after graduating?  This is...ugh.  Well, if I've had to read the types of books most high school kids have to work through, than I would probably not have an enthusiastic attitude about reading or learning either.  Thank goodness my homework consisted of reading books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and The Magic of Thinking Big.  Most people aren't even exposed to books like this.  Still, there's something quite unsettling about a grown adult who would rather nurse their misery than crack open a book that can add years of problem-free happiness to their lives.

Answers to common objections excuses:

Excuse:  But this book is so expensive!
Answer:  To quote Jim Rohn, "Think not about what the books costs.  Think of what it costs you if you don't read it."  Aside from the fact that you can buy used books on Amazon starting at $0.01, why would you think twice about buying a book that can help you live the life you want?  Are you telling me that possessing the knowledge and power to create your best life isn't worth $14.95?  C'mon, I know you spent more than that at McDonalds yesterday.

Excuse:  But I don't like to read.
Answer:  Mark Twain said, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."  Can you tell that Twain was more than a little irritated with people with such an excuse?  We live in a time when anyone and everyone has access to wisdom that has been accumulated over thousands of years.  People with this excuse are literally choosing ignorance.  And when this is the case, then they probably deserve every one of the problems that they are dealing with.  I do have a measure of understanding and patience for people with this mindset because of the likelihood that their experience with books and study in school was probably far from exciting or positive, but...well...I don't know what else to say other than it's time to grow up!  Read the book and I bet you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Taking 100% responsibility for your life = Reading books for your personal development.

Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.  ~Christopher Morley

 I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.  ~Charles de Secondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu, Pensées Diverses

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What do you do when you feel stuck?

Okay, so you're on the path of personal development and then it happens.  You feel like things aren't really moving fast enough and you're beginning to doubt whether you're even making any progress in your life at all.  You see other people who you know are not putting themselves through the process of personal development and yet they look like they're enjoying more fun and progress than you are.  You're thinking: "What's going on?  I'm putting in all this reading time, doing the daily sacrifices and disciplines, working on my project and business...where's my payday?"  This is when you have to remember the principles of...THE SLIGHT EDGE.
Do you see how the arrows appear to be going along a horizontal line before suddenly shooting out in a vertical direction?  Understanding this will help you realize that as long as you are on the path of personal development, as long as you are reading, growing, and doing the daily disciplines, you can never really be stuck because things are happening...we just don't get to see it right away.

"Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space."

You just have to utterly believe and accept that your "EFFECT" will happen.  As Jim Rohn says, "Keep the faith."  Successful people understand the process of THE SLIGHT EDGE.  They know that if they just stay committed to the daily disciples with no thought about whether or not things appear to be happening, they will reach that point in time when effect kicks in and sky-rockets them into unbelievable success.

OWL Workshop Recap on Failing Forward

Hi OWL team, here is the recap on what we learned at our OWL meeting last night:

OWL Principle #3:
Failing is part of the process of achieving success.

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan

“You always pass failure on the way to success.” - Mickey Rooney

“Failure is only postponed success as long as courage coaches ambition” - Kaufman

“If you're afraid to fail, you don't deserve to be successful." - Barkley *Michelle here: This quote is about people who are so afraid of failure that they won't PAY THE PRICE of success.  There is a difference between being afraid and not doing anything and being afraid and doing it anyway.  Just wanted to clarify because there was some misunderstanding about this quote.

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we often don’t know when we pass it.” - Emerson

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” - Edison

"A successful person is simply someone who has fallen down 7 times and got up 8." 

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Churchill

Then we wrapped things up with an awesome talk by Jack Canfield who is the the creator of The Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of The Success Principles.  

Like any really successful person, Jack Canfield is a product of personal development and the principles of success taught therein.  In this interview with SUCCESS Magazine publisher Darren Hardy, Jack shares his knowledge on goal achieving, taking action, maintaining momentum, and developing the right attitude and mindset about our relationship with money.

I took a truck load of notes, but I'm not going to share them here because I'd much rather you listen to the talk for yourself and take your own notes. 
So sit down, relax, and listen to this great audio.  C'mon, you can do this one thing for your better future can't you?

OWL Assignment: Ask better questions

If you're looking for better answers, all one must do is ask better questions. Think of a problem or challenge (or what you want next in your life)... what question can you ask, that if you had the answer, would solve your problem or bring you decidedly closer to what you want?
- Mike Klingler via Facebook status update

Book Review: Poke the Box by Seth Godin

I'm in the middle of listening to an audio book called Poke the Box by Seth Godin.  It reminds me of the book ReworkI learned the key points of both of these books a few months ago thru the book summaries and interviews that SUCCESS Magazine produced and I'd say both works were highly influential in the development of the OWL blog and project.

Basically, Seth Godin is a big fan of people who start stuff.  Why is this important?  This quote by Seth says it all:
"What would the world look like if more people 
started projects, made a ruckus,
and took risks?"

Don't worry - Seth promotes finishing what you start as well.  Here's my notes so far:
  • Quit waiting for someone else to give you a map.  Draw your own.
  • "The most common way that people give up their power is by thinking that they don't have any." - Alice Walker
  • Everyone is sitting around waiting for someone to pick them.  Stop waiting.  Pick yourself!
  • Poking the box means jumping in and taking action again and again and again.  It means throwing your fears and excuses out the window and just start, GO, and keep going.
  • Soon is not as good as NOW.
  • Does your goal, project, or idea scare you?  Good.  It's worth doing then.
  • "Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn't do.
    If you lived in that world, what would you do?
    Go. Do that." 
  • If you're not failing, then you're not doing, starting, going.  Avoiding failure is counterproductive.
  • Make a habit out of starting.
  • Get off your butt and try something.  Take ACTION.  Go.  Change the world.  ;)
 "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

OWL Assignment

This week's OWL assignment comes from Mike Klingler's facebook update:
When you notice you're procrastinating on the development of your "dreams" - feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or just running on empty. Don't think about EVERYTHING you have to do. Here is what you can do: FOCUS on just the ONE THING, the NEXT THING to do. Do that. Repeat.

A new book is coming to town

The Secret OWL Society is pleased to announce that we will soon be integrating the SUCCESS for TEENS book program into our monthly workshops.  This excellent book is the product of a collaboration between SUCCESS MAGAZINE and Jeff Olson who is the author of The Slight EdgeWe will start the Slight Edge program as soon as the books arrive in the mail - hopefully in time for our next workshop next Saturday.  I encourage all team members to purchase their own personal copy which will be made available at only $4 each!  Let's keep moving forward together! :) -Michelle Rohr

OWL Assignment: Make a Change

This is from Robert Pagliarini's weekly email.  We'll use it for this week's OWL assignment.
Richer Life's Question of the Week

Where have you developed the idea that you, another person, or your problem situation cannot change?  How can you challenge that?

Workshop Recap on Fear

Hi OWL team.  Here is the recap on what we learned at our mini workshop this past Saturday.
OWL Principle #2: 
"Your greatest life lies on the other side of your fears.  
You have to run toward what frightens you."

We reviewed "The Five Truths about Fear":
The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There is no point in
saying, "When I am no longer afraid, then I will do it." You'll be waiting for a long time. The fear
is part of the package.
The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and…do it!
When you do it often enough, you will no longer be afraid in that particular situation. You will
have faced the unknown and you will have handled it. Then new challenges await you, which
certainly add to the excitement in living.
The only way to feel better about yourself is to go out and…do it!
With each little step you take into unknown territory, a pattern of strength develops. You begin
feeling stronger and stronger and stronger.
Not only are you afraid when facing the unknown, so is everyone else!
This should be a relief. You are not the only one out there feeling fear. Everyone feels fear when
taking a step into the unknown. Yes, all those people who have succeeded in doing what they
have wanted to do in life have felt the fear - and did it anyway. So can you!
Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes
from a feeling of helplessness!
This is the one truth that some people have difficulty understanding. When you push through
the fear, you will feel such a sense of relief as you feeling of helplessness subsides. You will
wonder why you did not take action sooner. You will become more and more aware that you can
truly handle anything that life hands you.

 We listened to (and took notes on) Robin Sharma's excellent podcasts on fear.  Check it out:

Podcast #7:  Run to Fear
Podcast #22:  You are Caught by what You Resist

Notes from listening to podcasts:
  • What we'll regret the most on our death bed are the things we didn't do.
  • Always run toward what you fear.
  • Acknowledge your fears; befriend your fears.
  • Name your fears (write them down) to develop awareness of them.
  • Your fears are governing you and limiting you.
  • You are caught by what you are running from.
  • What you resist persists.
  • Take responsibility.  Show up at your best.
  • Own your fears; climb your limitations.
  • To see new things in your life, you need to take new actions.
  • Speak your truth.
  • When you change, your world begins to change.
  • Awareness -> Choices -> Results -> Lifestyle
We answered these questions:
1. What are you afraid of?
2. What are you resisting?

Get Over Yourself! Learn This Secret to Boost Your Confidence

So neat that Robert Pagliarini sent out this video today.  My friend and fellow OWL member, Sirena, and I were talking about this same topic recently.  How it's such a normal thing to put so much weight on other people's opinions - especially negative opinions - when in fact people don't really care.  It sounds harsh, but it's true and the truth will set you free.

Okay, okay - here's an example:

You've tentatively decided on a certain path that you want to explore in your life.  It's a bit different from the normal way of "doing life" - hmmm, an example may be that instead of going to school and living in a dorm, you want to do an internship program in Ireland and work toward your degree thru an online college.  Woohoo!  You're taking the road less traveled and all that jazz.  And then someone tells you you're making a bad decision and your enthusiasm goes south.  The self-doubt creeps in along with the life-debilitating thoughts such as, "Oh well, I guess dreams just don't come true."  And so we talk ourselves into changing the whole trajectory of our lives.  Meanwhile, where is this person who you have allowed to have so much power and authority in the decisions that shape your life?  As soon as they've given you their input - guess what?! - they've already forgotten about you.  They've moved on with their own lives and their own problems.

This is where "the truth will set you free" comes in.  Imagine - the next time you've decided on something that you believe is going to be a positive benefit in your life and somebody offers their not-too-encouraging opinion...imagine thinking that instead of allowing this person's words to take root in your mind and infect you with so much anxiety and doubt, you choose thoughts like this: "Hmm, I know this person says they care about me and to a certain extent that is true.  But this person has their own problems and their own cares and they care, but they don't REALLY care because it's not their responsibility to care about me.  It's mine.  So I'm going to do what I have to do."

Now, this does not mean to go thru life like you don't need help or advice from anybody.  If I believed that then I wouldn't be such a believer in personal development.  In personal development, we're basically seeking out and learning from other people's advice on how to live abundant lives - mentally, financially, emotionally, etc.  But the key in personal development is that we are always (hopefully) hearing advice from people who are QUALIFIED to give it.

For instance, if I want advice about how to create financial freedom in my life, I'm going to seek out the advice of David Bach (the author of Smart Women Finish Rich).  I'm not going to take financial advice from my broke co-worker, neighbor, friend, whoever.

Sometimes knowing when to accept or not to accept someone's advice is really difficult - especially when they really are smart, experienced people who we look up to.  When this is the case, take the time to get more information, write down your thoughts, pros and cons, etc so that when you make your decision, you know you're coming from a place of self-awareness instead of self-doubt.

To read Robert Pagliarini's article that goes with his vid, click here.

Your Life, Your Map - Part 4 (final segment)

"Be open to discoveries. Don't have too fixed a notion of the path, but rather have some idea of the kind of things that most appeal to you."

So here's the final part of Your Life, Your Map.  So far, this is what we've covered:

1. set a goal/point B
2. write it down
3. accept that you must reprogram the way you think
4. recognize the power of taking baby steps
5. work on yourself and your reality will rise to the level of the new you

This is the part where I know you might be waiting for me to explain exactly how to identify the specific steps you need to take in order to reach your goal.  After all, this post is about mapping out your life, right?  And aren't maps supposed to make the course from point A to point B perfectly clear?

The Greatest Lesson is to Learn Your Lesson

"Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

Recently, I asked a fellow personal development enthusiast to tell me what is the best book that he's ever read in the personal development field.  He told me Follow Your Heart by Andrew Matthews.  As corny as the cover and title of this book may seem, it's really good and it has taught me something that is probably one of the best things I've ever learned.     
Are you ready to hear it?!  Here it is:


I know, I know.  You know this already so where's the epiphany?  Well, there's another part to this principle that doesn't get as much attention.  And it is:


Here's an excerpt from the book to illustrate this fact:

We are continually being presented with lessons.  Unless we learn the lessons, we get to take them again...and again...and again. 

If we are miserable, it's likely we've missed a lesson.

We are not here to be punished.  We are here to be educated.  Every event has the potential to transform us, and disasters have the greatest potential to change our thinking.  ACT AS IF EVERY EVENT HAS A PURPOSE, AND YOUR LIFE WILL HAVE PURPOSE.  Figure out why you needed an experience, conquer it, and you won't need it again. 

Once we have learned the lesson, we move onto the next one.

What are some examples of this?  Well, you know your friend who always has the same relationship issues no matter how many times she finds someone new?  And the co-worker who keeps getting into debt?  And the relative who loses weight, gains it back, loses weight, then gains it back?  These are examples of people who are not recognizing the lesson that life is teaching them.  So every year they must repeat the same lesson again and again.

The thing is, at first when our lessons come to us, life is subtle about it - sending us little messages and nudges.  If we are living in consciousness and awareness, then we can pick up the lesson quickly, conquer it and thereby uplift our mindset and experience of life to a higher level as we move onto the next lesson.  But most of the time, we're not living in awareness.  We're too busy trying to make it through the day, trying to survive and keep our heads above water.  I think that moving into a place of awareness is like thinking "Hey, I've been treading water for a long time and my legs hurt.  I'm expending all this effort and I'm getting nowhere.  In fact, pretty soon I'm going to drown if I keep doing this.  Hmm, I should try something different.  I should swim!  Wow, now I feel like I'm making progress."
In other words, it's worth it to stop and think, "What is life trying to teach me right now in my life, in this moment?"  Life is always sending you a lesson.  Ever feel like the current year isn't too different from the year before?  That's a surefire clue that you haven't learned your lesson.

At first, the lesson, as I said, is subtle.  But if we're not awake to it, not only do we have to repeat that lesson over and over, but as time passes life stops tapping on our shoulder and starts whamming us over the head because our lack of receptivity is telling life that we need a huge, disastrous wake-up call in order to pay attention.  Think about it.  All of the big, messy parts in your life didn't just attack you out of the blue.  I'm sure if you look back, you could probably identify hundreds of little hints and clues signaling you that there was something you needed to learn...but didn't.

So carve out time - a minute, a day, a whole weekend even - and face your lesson.  How do we do this?  A good start is to ask yourself, what are you resisting in your life right now.  What are your fears?  Make this a regular self-examination practice and you'll be sailing thru the lessons that life gives you.  This is such an amazing thing to achieve when there are so many people out there who are still struggling with lessons that they simply refuse to learn.  You know these people.  They're the ones who never move on, who are always complaining about the same problems year after year, who are behaving like victims in their own lives.

Do you want next year to be better than this year?  Are you tired of dealing with the same issues, the same fears?  Decide to quit treading water in the same stupid spot and start swimming toward a better life.  Learn your lessons!

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