Yesterday, I turned 38 years old. When I was 17 and my dad was 38, I thought he was ancient, and it’s funny that now the roles are reversed, I see how wrong I was about just about everything. In the 38 years, I’ve spent on this planet, I have realized two things: 1. I don’t know half of what I thought I did when I was 17 and 2. Wisdom only comes from making mistakes. I’m fortunate enough to have made enough mistakes, been around enough great teachers and kept good enough notes to put together a list of 38 things that I’ve learned that I want to pass along to my children. I wrote this list yesterday for Jack, Caroline, and Kate but I’m sharing it on my blog with the hopes that others can learn from my mistakes. It’s nowhere nearly complete, but it’s a start.  38. Soft skills are more valuable than hard skills.  37. How you treat wait staff says more about you than anything you will ever post online.  36. Grandparents don’t live forever.  35. Learning to pack a suitcase is one of the most important skills to develop 34. ZZ Topp sang All The Girls Are Crazy About A Sharp Dressed Man. It’s true but it works on everyone else too.  33. It’s better to eat for performance rather than for pleasure. 32. No one takes it well when you tell them they’re wrong. If you want them to believe you, you have let them get there on their own.  31. Everything great is hard and it’s the hard that makes it great.  30. We should celebrate small wins because often times, they’re the only ones we ever get. 29. An hour of quiet every week in a church is a blessing in and of itself.  28. Reading is more important than eating.  27. Caring too much is just as dangerous is not caring enough.  26. Save apologies for when you actually do something wrong and they mean much more. 25. It’s better to not eat than to eat garbage.  24. Interested is interesting. 23. When in doubt, favor action. 22. Hire personality, train skill. 21. Credibility is everything. Do whatever it takes to keep and never do anything to lose it.  20. Experiences are more valuable than things. 19. The book might be better than the movie, but the movie lets you feel the emotion faster.  18. The right words make all of the difference.  17. Follow your dreams, but pay the bills.  16. The Reds will always break your heart, but it’s worth it.  15. Hot dogs taste best at the ballpark. 14. Coca-Cola tastes great, but it’s not worth it.  13. Sometimes People Suck. Love them anyway. 12. Flattery can get you everywhere.  11. Always carry and handkerchief, a pocket knife and good pen.  10. A smile can change someone’s day. 9. First impressions are everything. 8. You never have to take back something you never said.  7. It’s best to think on paper. 6. The best days start early. 5. Consistency will always trump talent. 4. People like people who are like them.  3. Discipline = Freedom 2. Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will work itself out.  1. Greatness is a choice we have to make every day.  In 38 years, I’ve learned a few things. Most of it took more than one lesson to get there, but I’ve survived to be a better person because of it. I’d love to know additions that others would make to my list. Drop a comment or two and let me know what I left out. ]]>

A couple of weeks ago, I shared something on Twitter that I had run across one morning that really intrigued me. It was before and after photos of someone who underwent a 72-hour water fast. Yeah, you read that right, some guy didn’t eat or drink anything but coffee and water for 72 hours. The pictures were pretty amazing and I knew I wanted to try it. 

Not For The Vanity

Although I couldn’t help but be impressed by the transformation this gentleman underwent in just three days, my main motivation went deeper than wanting to look nicer. Sure, if I could drop some fat in the process, that would be great, but my biggest reason for wanting to try it was because I saw it as the ultimate test of discipline.  I have a good friend and mentor who has been to several of Tony Robbins live events and has, on multiple occasions, walked across burning coals barefoot. I’m still not interested in doing this, but what Steve said to me years ago about doing that has always stuck with me. He told me that after walking across the coals, he got the feeling that if he could do that, there was nothing that he couldn’t do.  It destroyed every limiting belief he had. That’s what I’m hoping will come from my fast. It’s hard. It’s not something that I ever thought I could do, so if I can stick it out, there really isn’t anything else I can’t do either. 

Making It Work

I’m pretty good at not eating. On most days I’m pretty comfortable going about 16 hours without eating. On certain days, It isn’t much for me to go up to 20. When I’m busy, I don’t really get hungry. From this experience, I knew that busy was going to be the key.  I planned to start my fast on a Sunday night. This meant that I could sleep through the first part and be at work on Monday, through the most difficult stretch. What also helped, was that I picked a couple of days when my kids would be away with their grandparents which took away the added pressure of eating a family meal with everyone. And then I got busy. I filled my calendar down the minute from 5 am until 10 pm. I drank two cups of coffee in the morning and a ton of water throughout the day and I never got hungry. Later in the evening, before one of my meetings, I added a third cup of coffee, decaf this time and my mild appetite was blunted. I know this sounds strange but the only time that I got really hungry was driving home at the end of a pretty long night when an old habit of thinking about popcorn crept into my head. It didn’t last long though, and I was fine.  When I woke up the second day, I wasn’t hungry at all. I drank my usual saltwater and lime cocktail and went to the barn. I felt great all day and found that not eating is actually easier than not eating bad stuff. Once I fell into a pattern, it became easier and easier to maintain. 

When I’m Done

As of right now, I’m 12 hours away from my first meal. I’m planning to go easy on food and choose the ones that will be easiest on my gut. From research, I’ve settled on watermelon, hard boiled eggs, and some ground beef in butter. I want to ease back into eating and make sure that I don’t undo all of the good that I just did. Because I’m not too hungry, I don’t think this will be too hard.  When I started, I really didn’t think I could pull it off. Now that I have, I wonder what else I might try. If you’re interested in developing your discipline muscles, I highly recommend trying it. Trust me, it’s much easier than it sounds ]]>

You never know when you’re going to get a piece of life-changing advice. I’ve found that when it comes from an unexpected source, it’s usually the most profound. That’s certainly the case with the words of wisdom I picked up after a keynote speech I gave a conference. After my talk, I was hanging out with the attendees and generally enjoying their company. In had just finished talking about dealing with stress by finding something to look forward to, which I know isn’t profound, but it’s rarely talked about anymore. One gentleman tapped me on the shoulder to tell me how right I was. It doesn’t happen often and I appreciated the compliment but what he told me next rocked my world. He told me the story of George, an old man in a shop where he used to work. He told me how George always kept to himself but was also always in a good mood. It was especially surprising because George had worked on that shop floor for 40 years and while he smiled and was friendly, didn’t say much. It was on the day of his retirement when the owner of the company threw a little party to honor him and asked him to say a few words that George shocked everyone with his wisdom. He said: “You hear all the time that people need three things to survive. They tell you it’s food, shelter, and water. But it’s not. The three things everybody needs are someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. If you’ve got those three things, you’ve got a great life.’ At that conference, listening to this story, I knew I had just heard something profound. We all need someone to love. We all need something to do. We all need something to look forward to. These words from George, passed on to me from a total stranger have been some the best words of advice I’ve ever heard. Breaking this down, finding someone to love isn’t difficult. If you don’t have a family, a significant other or someone special in our lives, we can still love ourselves. Finding something to do isn’t difficult because even if we don’t have a job, we can find something small to tackle. It might be as simple as making our bed or taking walk but we can find something to do. Jordan Peterson has a great line about aiming low enough because there’s always something to do but most of us discount the small stuff. It’s interesting though that when we find something to do, we can find reasons to love ourselves which helps us find someone to love us. Finding something to look forward to might be the most difficult thing of all, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look. I always find that the best cure for a down feeling is pulling out my calendar and looking for what’s next in my life. Sometimes it’s small, but those small things count too. Finding anything to look forward to can be a magical cure for stress. Sometimes great advice comes from unexpected places. Finding someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to might not be earth-shattering, but it is profound and it’s the recipe for a great life.  ]]>

Through my work as a trainer, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with thousands of people in the last year who are looking to improve their communication skills. People from all walks of life, in every industry who want to be better understood and have their message received. Some of these people have some really big issues in their lives and come with detailed questions. Others not so much, but they’re all looking to improve their relationships with people. That’s why its so surprising to me how few are actually willing to invest in themselves to do it.    My reason for saying this is be46cause at every seminar I’ve ever done, I’ve suggested the same book to every audience; Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People. It’s simply the best book ever written on the subject of effectively dealing with people and I believe that everyone should read it. Out of the thousands of people to whom I’ve suggested the book, the number of people who have actually gone ahead and purchased the book is incredibly small. My best guess is that it’s somewhere around 10% and I can’t help but feel sad about it.  Before I go further, let me tell you that I make nothing off of promoting the book. I promote it because it’s simply the best tool that I know of for improving our relationships with others. I don’t sell it, I recommend it and still very few people actually buy it. Why? It’s not because it’s hard to find. Amazon sells it and you can get shipped to you for free with one click. It’s not expensive Amazon sells it for as little as $6 – most people spend more on ice cream every week than that! If they don’t want to buy it, I’m certain that every library in America has a copy. They can read it for free. It doesn’t get much easier than free! Yet people still don’t take the time, spend the money or make the effort to buy the book that will improve the most important aspect of their lives.  To take it one step further, I’ve had the opportunity to have three assistants work for me and I’ve asked everyone to read the book. Not one has invested the time to read it when I’ve handed the book to them. They fall into the 90% of the people I’ve met who refuse to invest in themselves enough to improve. If you’re looking for the point of this post, here it is: WALK AWAY FROM THE 90%.  Join the 10% who are dedicated enough to improve their skills that they invest in themselves. Buy the book. Buy the Audible subscription (all the audiobooks in the world at your fingertips for $15/month? why the hell not!). Go to the seminar, get the gym membership. Invest in you. Not only are you worth it, but your future self will thank you.]]>