Discovering Your True Purpose (The 5 Questions Every Young Entrepreneur Must Ask Themselves):

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it”– Oscar Wilde

If you’ve been reading here for a while now, you’ll know that when I was a kid, I wanted to become an F1 driver when I grew up. I talked about it here: No More Excuses! It’s Time To Make Your Shot NOW…

I imagined how awesome the future would be when (instead of having to waste my time with school or boring homework), I’d be paid paid mega bucks to race Formula 1 cars and win races, win Championships, be one of Australia’s top sportspeople and widely considered one of the all-time greatest F1 drivers. Maybe the best of all time?

That was the dream…

RIAS

But more than just a boyhood dream, I thought it was my destiny:

Because whenever I raced people in karts that were (virtually) equal, I’d beat everybody- including adults who’d been driving cars since before I was even born.

One kart might have a loose brake pedal, another could have slower pick-up from acceleration or stiffer steering, but I never felt uncomfortable behind the wheel. I could quickly adjust for these differences and drive consistently fast laps

Strangers would see me race and comment on my speed (like the guy who told Mum I had “the gift”), and even if she’d made that bit up to make me feel good, there were other people I’d race against who’d later comment on how I’d flown past them and ask me for driving tips?

Then, on a spookier level still-

There was the latest issue of National Geographic Mum had bought when I was born, to keep as a memento. On the back cover was an ad for Olympus Cameras. It just so happened that they also sponsored the Lotus Formula 1 team at the time, so the ad featured a big picture of the Lotus F1 car at speed- driven by Ayrton Senna. To my knowledge, that month/ year issue was the only issue of National Geographic to ever feature this ad…

Surely it was all meant to be?

Faze 3

But then I went through my teens. Didn’t have the money to race competitively at the level I wanted and so originally planned to take a couple of years off, save money and then have a new crack at it. Then I decided instead to pursue cartooning (something else I enjoyed and was good at) and pursue racing later. Then life turned out how it did, and still I’d never even heard of copywriting!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world was a guy the same age as me, who also dreamt of becoming an F1 Champion. Who also raced go-karts, just like I did. Who also had people take notice, like people did with me.

The name of that boy was Lewis Hamilton.

Skip forward to just recently and I read an article about Australian F1 driver, our own Daniel Ricciardo, that made me sit up and take notice:

It was what he said about Lewis Hamilton- the reigning Formula 1 World Champion, the instantly recognisable celebrity sportsman who’s just as much at home with Hollywood A-listers and rock stars as he is on the race track, winning another Grand Prix behind the wheel of his all-conquering Mercedes.

And yet despite all this, Ricciardo had the following to say:

“(Lewis) reached a high level at a young age, and there is the fame that comes with that. He was exposed to the celebrity lifestyle and naturally that can have an effect.

He has admitted, too, that he is trying to find his own feet. He put on his Instagram account that he is trying to find his purpose in life so there are times when, I guess, he is trying to figure himself out.”

Link

I read this and got a kind of surreal feeling. Why was that?

Like I said, I am the same age as Lewis Hamilton, so his career in some ways is like seeing an alternate universe where that boyhood dream of mine actually became reality.

Two boys growing up with the same dream. For one, it came true. For the other, it didn’t.

He’s won everything there is to win in Grand Prix racing, with a few records left to beat, financially well and truly banking it for life doing something he always wanted to do- all well before the age of 40. And yet he wonders about his purpose?

Meanwhile here I am, doing something I never gave a second of thought to back when I was at that tender Primary school age. If you’d told me back then, as a 12 year old, that I’d never even make the grid (let alone win a race or a Championship) I’d have felt completely worthless. Yet if Will Smith’s genie popped out of the lantern right now and said he could make that dream come true for me?

Obviously I can’t say with absolute certainty I wouldn’t take him up on it. Yet when I think about it…

Well sure, racing the cars would be fun, and it’d be cool to have my name go into the history books as representing Australia on the F1 circuits. If I got paid it’d be handy to have that kind money put away too for the business…but I’d wonder what about Scribe in the meantime?

To turn my focus away from this business I started from scratch, that I’ve kept building and growing, that’s taught me so much about myself I didn’t expect when I went in- to leave all that behind to go and race?

I don’t know if I could walk away…

Senna Quote

I’d hear the above quote as a kid and find it baffling. How could you think that when you were living the dream I wanted to live? How could you miss having to be in school and do whatever boring exercises the teachers gave you, then go home and live by the unfair rules of your parents?

But then, as you know- you get older. And you realise:

It doesn’t matter what life you lead, how successful you become at it, how much money you make or what sort of people you meet- there’s always going to be problems and frustrations that are unique to what you do. So what do you choose?

There were problems when I had my paper route back in high school that I never have to worry about now. There are problems to deal with in this current role that I barely considered when I was delivering those papers or working in retail a decade ago. But I’m definitely glad I don’t have to endure another festive season hearing the same 15 Christmas carols at work day after day, week after week and I’m sure you can think of instances like this with jobs you’ve worked as well!

But in order for those problems and frustrations to be worth it, there has to be a purpose behind what we do. We’ve got to believe in it. It has to answer some need or desire in us that goes beyond stuff we can show off to our friends or post on Instagram. There have to be valuable lessons we learn along the way, and (no matter how unexpected) they should reflect positively on more than just on our ability to do a job well or to get paid for it. They should manifest in the quality of our lives as a whole and how content we are…

For some of you, maybe as we wind down this year and this decade, it’s time to have a think about what you want the next 10 years to look like? Maybe it’s time to do something incredibly selfish and take some time out just to focus on you?

This may be the best time to think about your job, your craft, your skill, your mission- and ask yourself these 5 big questions:

#1. What needs does it fulfil, beyond just paying bills?

#2. When you stop to think about it, does the money you make/ the holidays you take feel more like a bonus on top of your job, or compensation for your job?

#3. If this was always your dream job growing up- why was that? When you work out the underlying reason (or reasons), are they still relevant now?

#4. If you’re not quite “there” yet, what defines “there”, and what are the real reasons you want to be “there”?

#5. Understanding that no matter what you do brings problems and frustrations, do you really get something valuable out of doing whatever it is you do? Again- are the perks of the job a bonus, or compensation?

Taking the time out to truthfully answer these questions might feel uncomfortable and even confronting, but it could just save your life- figuratively now, and literally further down the track.

I can’t speak for Lewis, can’t give him the answer he maybe needs? Perhaps winning yet another World Championship has revealed to him that purpose he seeks? Or maybe he’s still searching for it?

I imagine if my dream had come true, and I was a top F1 driver. For all the perks of that- I’m not so sure I’d be truly content? It was my boyhood dream, but looking back now I can see the underlying reasons I wanted it, beyond simply enjoying that feeling of driving fast and racing against other people-

I wanted the recognition.

I wanted the respect.

I wanted to feel as if I’d done better than my peers.

I wanted to know that I hadn’t settled for mediocrity, surrendered to the comfort of working an “ordinary” job.

I wanted the prestige and the success to rid me of the insecurities I discovered when I was 12 or 13, and reassure me that I was a “somebody” who amounted to something worthwhile…

Waterf16

Maybe I could’ve been a multiple Formula 1 World Champion and a popular Australian sports identity, followed by millions around the world?

Yet it still couldn’t have given me what I was looking for. I could’ve spent years- decades- chasing that rainbow’s end- but never reaching it. Then realise I’d sacrificed so much time and effort in so many areas- only to discover the rainbows’ end was an illusion.

And for me, that would’ve been the second one of life’s two great tragedies.

Because to find all those things I was really searching for, I had to look within. Eventually, I found it…

So here I am now, sitting on my bed and it’s nearly 1am on Tuesday morning and I can’t drag myself away yet even though I want to sleep, because I just have to get this out and finish it.

But I’m perfectly content to do so. My purpose has (in many ways) been further realised by this entrepreneurial journey- yet I know there’s still more to be discovered on the road ahead…

So I’m going to keep pressing on. And whatever path you take- whether you reevaluate the one you’re on and recognise it’s where you want to be headed- or whether you have to back-track or abandon the mission, it doesn’t matter-

Just so long as you can recognise chasing a rainbows’ end vs. aiming for a solid, concrete purpose- and go headlong for the latter, regardless of what anybody thinks or what your younger self thought was your dream or what your parents expected you to do- instead recognising your purpose and setting off in pursuit of that-

Because that’s the greatest reward of all.

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These 34 Articles MIGHT Just Transform Your Business- And Your Life…

If you write and share articles consistently, there comes a point where you look back at a post you shared and you think “Oh yeah- I forgot I wrote that!” Because that’s where I am about now…

I take a look back through everything I’ve shared over the past 6 years. And in the most humble way possible, I’m left with one realisation:

“Man, I’ve written a LOT!”

But today I’m not interested in going on a self-indulgent, multi paragraph ramble about my “journey” and the adversity I’ve faced- I’ll allow you to find those articles for yourself!

Instead, what I’ve done here is compiled a list of the articles I’ve written over the past few years that (if you ask me) contain the biggest potential to transform your life in 3 distinct areas: 

  1. Your ability to write engaging copy
  2. Your ability to market your business and sell to your leads- consistently and effectively
  3. The mindset you need to master both the above areas AND be as content with your life as possible

Those are some big promises, I know-

But as you look through the 34 articles I’ve highlighted below (which I’ve divided to tie in with these 3 categories), click on any of the articles that grab your attention- and see what you think?

#1: Articles To Improve Your Copywriting Skills

 

 

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Firstly, these are articles in which I share the stuff I’ve learned and the exercises I’ve undertaken that have (without doubt) made me a more consistent and a better writer. When it comes to writing professionally OR personally, in my experience the steps below are key to seeing constant and notable improvement in the content you produce:

How To Avoid Disastrous Dialogue (And Start Conversations That Convert)

Here’s How To Make Your Next Post An Epic:

5 Words That Give Writers’ Block The Sledgehammer:

How To Make YOUR Story Sell- A Demonstration:

The Macklemore Guide To Pumping Out Stat Busting Blog Content

The 3 Secrets To Sending Emails That Pay For Themselves…

3 Ways To Sharpen Your Writing Game

How To Write Unique, Memorable Blog Articles That Stand Out

Before Every Blog Article You Write, Stop And Ask Yourself THIS:

Why There’s Hidden Treasure In Those Trashy Headlines…

#2: Articles To Master Your Marketing Skills

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Whether you write your own marketing/ sales copy, devise your businesses’ marketing strategies or are your companies’ “foot soldier”, going door-to-door, event to event and meeting one potential connection, referral and lead at a time- then an understanding of these marketing principles is essential to the scope of your success. Because time and time again I’ve found it not’s what you know that clinches that clinches the sale- it’s how you share what you know:

The Most Powerful Call To Action Known To Man…

5 Things You Need To Master Your Marketing:

3 Reasons You Should Absolutely Bother Too Blog…

Some Real Numbers To Make You Re-Think Blogging:

Spotlights, Fluros and Fireworks (Or How To Shine Like A Beacon To Your Leads):

How Much Is A Sale Worth To You?

The Secret To Winning The Sale: A Tale Of Two Experts…

Why Your Most Valuable Leads Don’t Trust You (A Tale Of Two Kitties)…

#3: Articles That Unlock The Mindset To Master Both Of These- And They Might Just Change Your Life

Arnold Schwarzenegger

“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in the pockets”- Arnold Schwarzenegger

To get the most out of your abilities at whatever you do, you have to enjoy what you’re doing and be in the most positive, productive mindset possible. Be able to spot opportunities and go all in. Never becoming so engrossed in tomorrow that you completely miss the reasons to enjoy what’s happening right now.

If you’re not just concerned with the how but the why, looking not just to get the most out of your writing and your marketing, but the most out of life itself- these articles were written with you in mind:

The Reward Of Just Turning Up:

Preparing To Fight Taught Me THESE 3 Unexpected Things:

Your ‘Made In Japan’ Guide To Success (Or, how to make every day a win):

What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success:

The Night It All Lit Up To Me…

No More Excuses! It’s Time To Make Your Shot NOW:

Here’s The ONE Voice You Need To Start Listening To- Above All Others…

Why A Powerful Planner Is Your Roadmap To Reward:

This Is What Gratitude Really Gives You:

The 7 Toxic People Who Are Fatal To Your Success: Part 1

The 7 Toxic People Who Are Fatal To Your Success: Part 2

Finding True Things Of Value (Or, The Best $50 I Ever Wasted)…

Achieving Your Desired Outcomes: The Truth About Cobra Kai’s “3 Strikes” Policy…

In Search Of Your Holy Grail (Or, The Adventures Of A Late-Night Treasure Hunter)…

12 Things That Made Me Go ‘Aha!’ In 2018…

Where’s our community at in 2019? A brief observation…

So there it is for you to check out either right now (and I’m flattered if you do) or in your own time (and I’m just as flattered if you go and schedule a time to sit down and read anything that I’ve written!)

What you see above are not all of the articles I’ve shared over the past 6 years, but an overview. If you want to get every new articles just like this one as soon as it drops, that’s very easy to do. Just Click Here and stay connected!

 

 

Where’s our community at in 2019? (A brief observation)…

PhoneZombies

For the last few weeks, I’ve been doing something I never thought I’d do when I first opened for business…

I’ve been working a temp job for another company. Plain and simple reason was that in this gig (as I’ve said before) you can spend a lot of time working solo- and I was keen for a change up, keen to get out and work amongst a team for a while instead.

So I applied for a bunch of positions online, and here I am- for the moment.

Since I started, there’s something I’ve especially noticed- not at the job itself, but on the daily commute-

It’s just how many people are tuned out- engrossed in their screens, their music, unaware of anything or anybody around them. Life goes on, but they’re a million miles away…

Now I’m not going to complain about the current state of society while wistfully reflecting on “the good old days”, because I’ve seen enough of those photos from the 40’s and 50’s of commuters on the train, suited up in their work attire and engrossed in their daily newspapers. Technology and social standards might change, but basic human nature doesn’t- good or bad.

But what strikes me about this- since doing the commute for this temp job- is just how easy it is to be “together alone”. In public, but tuned into our private universe. In the crowd, but locked away with just our own voice going around in our heads…

I see this, and I wonder is it a surprise that so many people report feeling lonely? Because I’d thought about this long before I started working at my current posting- I thought about it last year when I read this article that (while not solely focused on loneliness) does a great job describing the effects of the daily grind and of being “together alone”:

Corporate Man’s Search For Meaning

We want friendship, we want love, we want connection, we want to feel noticed and appreciated- yet when in close proximity to people who want the same thing we do, we instead shut ourselves away. We go to work, we tune out on the way there, we tune out on the way back, we get home and order in and watch a few more hours of TV or browse cyberspace or play video games to unwind. Then we wash, rinse and repeat.

And we wonder what happened to our sense of community, of belonging?

I understand many of you have family at home and the responsibilities, time and energy those things require…

But still: don’t cut yourself off. We weren’t made to work for hours and hours with little meaningful interaction and then cut ourselves off in our down-time.

Because while we live in a golden age of material wealth, technological convenience and easy indulgence, I’d argue that we’re running the risk of descending into an age of spiritual and relational poverty:

Is being able to access 5G anywhere and stream our favourite TV series, play our favourite game or set up a date for tonight on an app using the latest device an addition to our lives?

Or is it really an inferior compensation?

When was the last time we started a conversation with a stranger, maybe paid them a genuine compliment, read an actual book, went to the park, kicked the ball around with friends or went to an event centred around a particular professional/ sporting / spiritual/ lifestyle/ or recreational interest because “you never know who you might meet there?”

When was the last time we reflected on the fact that it’s often not what you know but who you know- and instead of lamenting how it’s an unfair advantage that benefits other people, that it also provides a fantastic opportunity that benefits us?

Neglecting a sense of community doesn’t just impact how we interact with each other and sever our sense of connection- it negatively impacts how we work and our attitude-even towards those work pursuits that mean something to us.

So get along to your nearest business networking events- and join them. Join a social or sporting club. Organise to hang out with friends- even if it’s just to catch up for a couple of hours on a weeknight. Community comes in all shapes, sizes and names- get involved and get connected.

And instead of tuning out to your phone screen or your music on the commute tomorrow, why not take a look around instead, and watch the world outside? It’s funny what (and who) you notice…

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In Search Of Your Holy Grail (Or, The Adventures Of A Late-Night Treasure Hunter)…

Like a lot of kids, I played a fair amount of video games when I was younger-

Then sometime in my mid to late teens, I just stopped playing. No longer would I go into games stores to check out the new releases. Like sure, I was happy to play together with friends or against one another, but that was it. There were other demands on my time, and I no longer saw the point in playing by myself for hours…

Skip forward to my first full year in business, and an old flatmate of mine gets a copy of the Playstation game Lego: Pirates Of The Caribbean. He begins playing it by himself, while I tend to whatever takes up my time of a particular evening. Then, after just a couple of days, he says I should join him in 2 player mode. At first I figure he’s just being friendly, but he persists in trying to convince me to join him in this quest.

In the end, I figure there’s nothing to lose. Maybe this game won’t really be my thing, or I might actually enjoy it? So I sit down on the couch, pick up the free controller and press that ‘Start’ button…

Lego_Jack_Sparrow

Now the basic premise of the game (for those who don’t know) is that it follows the storyline of Disney’s hugely successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise- except the characters are all in Lego form. The aim of the game is to explore the islands, caves and ships while doing battle with pirates, monsters and all kinds of characters, collecting treasure and acquiring new characters.

In a short space of time, I was hooked…

Rugged up from the bleak winter nights outside, we’d fire up the game and embark on missions, ad new characters to our list of available players and use their unique skills to pass challenging levels, unlock special stages and accumulate treasure, on our lengthy quest to complete the game.

Now one feature of this game increased the value of all the coins and the treasure you collected. For a certain price, you could unlock a special feature that ensured all the treasure and coins you picked up increased by the incremented value. So for instance, if you activated Treasure x2, everything you collected from there on would be worth double the amount.

Early on in the game, we came upon a chest that would enable us to activate Treasure x 3. We could afford to unlock it, too! I suggested we unlock this feature, but my friend wasn’t keen…

Reason being, he’d seen a chest that would unlock Treasure x10. 

But just one thing: the cost to unlock it was astronomical- far greater than our booty to that point. Saying that…if we went back through all the stages we’d completed and searched for more hidden treasure, plus took the time to unlock new secret stages throughout our journey, we could unlock that Treasure x10 in the long run…

“Ok, let’s do it then”, I said…

The Mission

So what followed were many nights of frustration, having to backtrack. Feeling as if we were going around in circles, meticulously searching for more coins and treasure items to ad to our booty- all so we could afford to unlock Treasure x10. On a few occasions we both sat there, dumbfounded: Where could more treasure possibly be lurking in this game? It felt like we’d searched every corner already!

Yet all the same, on we pressed…

Lego_Pirates_Will_Jack

By trial and error (and error, and error, and more error), we found hidden treasure that often would’ve been impossible to discover without unlocking new characters who had that one special tool, weapon, size/ weight/ height advantage or skillset that made it achievable. It was ingenious how the game developers had designed it like that. And after countless hours, countless nights- at last, we’d acquired enough currency to unlock our eagerly-awaited prize. We returned to the vaunted treasure chest and finally, unlocked Treasure x10.

The Payoff

After briefly celebrating this long-awaited milestone, on we pushed. We had just one mission now: to clock the entire game. With Treasure x10 activated, the difference was unbelievable! The number indicating our wealth at the top of the screen blurred every time we collected more coins- 10’s of thousands, 100’s of thousands- millions- in next to no time at all. All that time we’d spent tediously retracing our steps, backtracking through every level of the game and every part of the island felt so insignificant compared to now, as we effortlessly racked up the kind of fortune that left me dearly wishing I could transfer it into my bank account!

In hindsight, I was so glad we took the time to fight and save for Treasure x10. It well and truly proved to be worth the struggle.

The Revelation

At this point, I had something of a revelation:

Much like life, here was an example of patience, persistence and long-term thinking being rewarded.

Of ignoring the short-term fix and instant gratification for the long-term payoff.

Of putting up with dejection, frustration and feeling like progress was happening at a snails’ pace, in order to (now) be racing, jumping and diving through levels, hauling in a fortune virtually every time the screen changed.

Sure, Treasure x3 was available to us fairly early on and was relatively easy to enjoy. But the payout from that wouldn’t have been even half as satisfying as what we enjoyed from Treasure x10!

Lego_Pirates_Treasure

We clocked that game long ago now. Watching the credits roll, the end felt oddly disappointing for my old flatmate and I. There were no more levels to beat. No more monsters, pirates or skeletons to defeat. No more special stages left to discover and explore. No more characters to collect- be it skeleton Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard or an obscure henchman of Davey Jones. Completing the game signified the closure of a small window in time that lasted just a couple of months in the middle of winter. Yet the lesson I learned while playing that game stays with me to this day…

Like anybody else, there are times I feel weary about my current situation in some form or another. There are easier destinations out there and I could go down that path instead (as I talk about here: What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success).

But then I think of the short-term fixes and compare them to the rewards that come with working away steadily, being persistent and keeping my eyes on bigger prizes.

I think “Well, I could take that path and activate Treasure x3 or Treasure x5 now…or I can keep on going here and aim for Treasure times TEN. Just flashing back to Lego Pirates and the feeling of power and satisfaction as our characters ran about, racking up millions after toiling away for weeks on end…it puts the present back into sharp focus for me, I breathe a little easier again- and I keep on going.

It reminds me again that patience truly is a virtue…especially if (like me) you’re driven to find all kinds of treasure that’s waiting to be discovered in life if you put yourself to it.

Who’d have guessed kind of revelation would come from sitting down to play a video game featuring Lego characters? Not me…

Lego_Pirates_Characters

The Path Ahead

There are plenty of people out there who (for one reason or another) settle for Treasure x2 or Treasure x6. They enjoy the fruits for a while…but then are left wondering what might have been?

Now I don’t know exactly what your version of Treasure x10 is- but I do know that should the day come where you find your Treasure x10 and unlock it, you’re going to fully enjoy those rewards and have a new level of respect for the kind of person you became on that journey. I talk more about that journey, here: Preparing To Fight Taught Me THESE 3 Unexpected Things:

Besides the prize you aim for, the reward of this journey is being able to look in the mirror and recognise a person who endures. A person who doesn’t give up. A person willing to learn. A person patient and disciplined enough to avoid the short-term perks because they’re committed to seeking that much greater reward ahead.

So, in parting?

Keep hunting for your treasure!

Don’t miss a single new article when it drops- click here.

Achieving Your Desired Outcomes: The Truth About Cobra Kai’s “3 Strikes” Policy…

Early last year, I was watching Youtube when an ad came on that was unlike the other 99% of ads I see before a video. Because this one, I watched right to the end. It was a preview for an upcoming series on the new subscriber-only channel, YouTube Red. The name of this series?

Cobra Kai.

If you’re like me, you loved the original Karate Kid movies, watching Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) take on various bullies and bad guys under the guidance of the wise and distinguished Mr Miyagi (played by the late Pat Morita). Well here, 34 years after the original movie hit cinemas, was the follow-up series. All the same actors and the same characters- but grown up. What’d happened to Daniel since then? What had become of Johnny, for that matter? This new series aimed to reveal all- and show that the story wasn’t over. I knew straight away I had to get myself a free one-month subscription to Youtube Red and check it out for myself. So I did- and hoped that this series would do it justice…

You bet it did!

I enjoyed season 1 so much I watched all 10 episodes in about 3 days- and by the following week I’d watched them all back again! If you enjoyed the original Karate Kid trilogy, then I can’t recommend you check out Cobra Kai highly enough. They’ve taken the characters from the original, and put them in a modern day scenario that does perfect justice to the theme of the original movies. They haven’t missed a beat. Cobra Kai is now onto its’ second season- so check out season 1 before somebody spoils season 2 for you and do yourself a favour.

Now, why am I raving about this series?

I don’t want to spoil it, but there was one thing that stayed with me after watching it. It was a motto the Cobra Kai students lived by, printed on the wall of their dojo in bold, black letters- and in the original movie it earned their dojo a bad reputation. But the more I dwelled upon it, the more it occurred to me:

The motto itself wasn’t teaching bad values. It was how certain students interpreted the motto that had made it a destructive force. The motto itself is actually killer- and in just 6 words, is one that could have a huge flow-on effect to the results you see in your life, if you look at it the right way. So what is this motto?

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Let’s break it down one-by-one, shall we?

#1: “Strike First”

Griffith University Gold Coast

Growing up, I thought this was effectively giving licence to be a bully. But what it’s really encouraging is to take action. Let me give you an example of how failing to ‘Strike First’ can cost you, and take you back to when I’m 20 years old. I’m on the Gold Coast for a few days so I can move the remaining stuff out of my flat in the student complex to a friends’ place for the summer. In addition, I have a group interview to attend at the Griffith Campus, for a course I may enrol in if I don’t get into my first choice for next year. It’s a Creative Writing course, and the interview takes place in a small classroom on campus. There’s the curators, a few girls and myself. Of the potential students, I’m the only guy there. But there’s one girl sitting just near me, and while I’ve forgotten her name, I still remember her. She’s 19 and from Childers. Porcelain skin, longish raven hair, dark eyes. Definitely pretty, with a nice manner about her. The interview finishes and now I face the prospect of having to walk half an hour back to the student flats. I get talking to this girl, she mentions that her mum is coming by soon to pick her up, and I can get a lift with them if I want?

Well, why not?

Soon enough, her mum’s beige Toyota Camry pulls into the carpark, and I hop into the back seat. It’s a fairly short drive to my place from the campus, so I don’t get the chance to chat at length with either of them, although her mother seems like a nice lady. Then we pull up out of the front of the student apartments there in Brown Street, and as I hop out this girl says “Hopefully see you next year!” I don’t recall what I said in reply, but fact is that more than anything, I hoped to get into my first choice course- which was in Brisbane. Anyway I thank her mum for the lift, say goodbye and then go through to my flat, where I spend the rest of the afternoon clearing out the last of my stuff before sleeping there one last night in my (now empty) room…

The following morning I head out somewhere on foot (I don’t remember where)- and at one point as I walk through the neighbourhood, I see a girl coming towards me along the street. I glance at her momentarily, like you do when you’re not sure if you know the person or not- is it that girl from yesterday or does she just look a bit like her? I don’t want to stare, so we pass each other like strangers. But after walking another 5 metres or so, I glance over my shoulder to get another look. As I do, she swings her head back around to the front- she’d been checking me out, too.

I’d like to say I called out to her, or that I high-tailed back after her to say hi, see what she was up to and did she want to hang out for a bit and maybe exchange numbers?

But I thought the moment was gone, and I was too proud to call out to her or have her think I chased after her like a dog- so I kept on walking…

About 5 minutes later, that sinking feeling of regret began to seep in. I was kicking myself for a while afterwards, because she was nice. You know how you can just tell with some people? Oh well…I hope whatever she’s doing now all these years later, life turned out for her in a good way and she’s content.

But you can put away the violins- because what’s the lesson here?

Strike first.

Sure, it pays to do your research and evaluate a situation before you leap in if there’s a notable sum of money, time or energy to commit. But otherwise- don’t hesitate. Be bold. Take action. Don’t miss out, or cede a limited opportunity to somebody else.

This is what it means to ‘Strike First’.

#2: Strike Hard

“He was never a brilliant kart driver- very good but not as a young man so good that you’d say he would become a Formula 1 driver.”

These were the words of a German sprint kart-racing official, in regards to a young driver who raced at his club. But even if he didn’t blow everybody away as a youth, that didn’t stop Michael Schumacher from setting new records in his illustrious Formula 1 career- most drivers’ world titles, most race wins- records that still stand, more than a decade after the last of his 91 Grand Prix victories.

While Schumacher was quick, throughout his career drivers like Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Juan Pablo Montoya were considered to be faster. While he was a driver not afraid of a high-speed tussle with a competitor, on several notable occasions he was rattled under pressure and attempted a desperate manouver, coming off second best and even being disqualified from the race as a result:

But what made Schumacher such a formidable opponent for over a decade (amongst a number of factors), was his ability to make sound, calculated decisions. He would always be trying to out-think the other drivers, strategising any possible way he could gain one small advantage that would make all the difference between winning and losing. Former F1 team manager Trevor Foster went into further detail about this mentality:

“We’ve seen awesome drives from Michael in the wet. He’s got both cars sitting in the pitlane. Nobody knows what the weather is going to do, so he has one car on a full wet setting, while the other car is on a dry trim. He goes out and does a lap in one car, comes in, and does a lap in the other car. Then he stands there looking, and just two minutes before the pitlane opens, calm as you like, he says ‘Okay, it’s going to rain- I’ll take that car'”. 

(‘Superthirtysomethings’, F1 Racing Magazine, January 1999)

I still remember some years back, going to a Christmas warehouse with an old flatmate to pick out some decorative lights to put in our windows for the festive season. I took my time looking around the aisles at the different lights that were in the size and the budget I had. I went back and forth a few times, evaluating them all. Then, mind made up I turned to my flatmate, pointed at the two sets of lights I’d decided on and said “I’ll take that one and that one”. This woman looked over at me, smiled and said “Mmm, I like it when a man knows what he wants!”

Christmas lights display

“Most of us are timid. We want to avoid tension and conflict and we want to be liked by all. We may contemplate a bold action but we rarely bring it to life. We are terrified of the consequences, of what others might think of us, of the hostility we will stir up if we dare go beyond our usual place.”

(‘The 48 Laws Of Power’, Chapter 28, Robert Green).

Once you decide to act- go all in. Don’t do it half-hearted and don’t hesitate. People are attracted to decisiveness, boldness. You’ve made your decision so unless a red flag pops up and means you have to abort, commit yourself to it. You may fail, but that’s something you can think about after it happens- even if it does happen. You’ll earn a reputation as someone who can lead, someone who makes decisions- and sticks by them- giving your best chance at achieving the outcome you desire and also making you an attractive player.

The wrong decision is still better than no decision.

#3: No Mercy

Of the 3, this one is the most controversial. It can be seen as permission to be needlessly ruthless, even cruel. But it should be looked at as a follow on from #2: once you strike hard, seek to finish what you start, without ceding. See your plan through to the end, and don’t allow adversity or complacency to get the better of you. Those are things you should show no mercy towards. Coincidentally, after Chapter 28 on Boldness in ‘The 48 Laws Of Power’, Chapter 29 follows and discusses seeing your plans all the way through until the end with the right motivations:

“So much of power is not what you do but what you do not do—the rash and foolish actions that you refrain from before they get you into trouble. Plan in detail before you act—do not let vague plans lead you into trouble. Will this have unintended consequences? Will I stir up new enemies? Will someone else take advantage of my labors? Unhappy endings are much more common than happy ones—do not be swayed by the happy ending in your mind.”

Conclusion:

While these three steps may sound like the unofficial bad guys’ code, when applied in the right manner, they can be acted upon to ensure you’re a do-er as opposed to simply being a dreamer- and should you follow them until the conclusion of your plans, you will come to be regarded as an outcome achiever and develop one of the best habits you can pick up: The habit of success.

 

This Is What Gratitude Really Gives You:

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“You never know just what you’ve lost- until it’s yours and then its’ dust”– Paul Kelly, ‘Standing On The Street Of Early Sorrows’

I have a memory of being around 4 years old, sitting in the living room of my old place one morning and watching this ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’ video we had. It was the final episode on the video and as I watched, I got this sinking feeling…

Because I knew that after this episode finished (with The Fat Controller deliberating over whether to keep Donald and Douglas after they’d destroyed a spiteful break van), it was off to preschool for the day. I had friends there and I loved playtime- but I couldn’t stand having to come in for nap time in the middle of the day. I wanted to keep playing outside! No matter how many times my friend Garth and I ran and hid in the wooden pirate ship each day when we’d all get called inside, the teachers still always found us! So it was inside, to lie on one of the cots, bored out of my mind while they played some new-agey music to try and lull us to sleep. To this day, the smell of bed linen takes me back 30 years to those nap-times. I couldn’t wait to be grown-up, not have to go inside and lie down on a cot and do what the adults told me. I couldn’t wait to be able to drive a car, go to work as an engine driver every day instead of going to preschool, and get to choose what I ate for dinner. It felt like a lifetime away…

Skip forward 9 years- and I’m sitting in Year 7 maths class. Bored. Gazing out the window. For some reason, this Paul Kelly song comes into my mind:

It was from his album ‘So Much Water So Close To Home’ and Mum used to listen to it in the car back when I was in preschool. I thought about those days nearly a decade ago, when nobody expected anything of me. When I didn’t care what my peers thought of me or (more to the point) whether girls found me attractive or not? Starting high school had been an unexpected awakening because suddenly I’d become self-aware, full of doubts and insecurities I didn’t know I had. Continuing to gaze out the window, how I yearned to go back to more innocent days- when everything was so easy. I ached for it like a past lover I still carried a flame for…

Let’s go forward again now- I’m 30 years old. Out for a walk one Sunday afternoon- my one day off for the week. On my iPod, I’m listening to a playlist I’ve just created, that is (song for song) a copy of a mixtape I had back in Year 7. It brings these flashbacks to early adolescence…the new feelings I had, the fresh discoveries I was making, how hopeful and optimistic I was about my future…and as much as I enjoy my life in its’ current state- I want to go back, to feel things as I did back then. I want to go back to that time when so much of the world still felt new and fresh and exciting (and intimidating) in equal measure. In some ways, it seems cute when I remember some of the things that were such a big deal to me back then, that just didn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things. So I play the tunes, grab a beer on my walk, sink a cold one in the spring sunshine- and drift back…

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You see what’s happening here?

I have an unusually sharp recollection for times that many people my age have forgotten by now. The benefit is that I remember enough not to fall into the trap of imagining “things were so much better then”. If I’m headed down the path of viewing the “good old days” through rose-tinted glasses, I then remember the not so great things-

I remember the frustration of being preschool age and having to go where the grown-ups told me to, eat what was put in front of me and do what I was told…

I remember the awkwardness and lack of self-belief that clipped my wings and (unfortunately) stopped me from enjoying my adolescence in the carefree manner I could have- and I can’t get those days back…

I remember even a few years ago, the things I still didn’t see clearly and the realisations I hadn’t discovered yet that would’ve given my life more substance…

I bet this all sounds familiar to you. You hear one song, catch a re-run of one show, smell just one scent, run into just one familiar face from your past- and remember a time that you just want to go back to:

No bills!

No jobs outside of house work and school work!

So many problems you didn’t have to deal with!

So many life problems you didn’t even know existed!

Can I get an amen?

In the moment, we take so many things for granted- and we don’t actually appreciate them until they’re gone. Dead. Lost. Left behind in a life we can’t return to. To quote Bill Bryson: You can’t go home a second time.

How did we not recognise these good times when we lived them? Well…

We were too busy.

We were too absorbed in chasing “the next big thing” that was meant to make us finally stop, relax and go “I’ve made it”. Or we were engrossed in nostalgia for other times past!

Contentment isn’t a destination we reach, like a town on a map. The plane doesn’t land into Gratitude International Terminal where even though the aircraft eases down out of the sky, our spirits soar to levels we’ve never felt before. The train doesn’t pull into Gratitude Central with a rainbow breaking out across the bright blue sky.

The journey is within. It’s a state of mind. It’s a conscious decision. I mean, in terms for the world’s population, the fact you’re reading this article right now via the internet from your phone, tablet, PC or laptop means you’re pretty fortunate as is.

But instead, I complain about people I don’t even know personally. Or you envy somebody who appears to have “more” than you. Or we find ourselves wistfully reflecting on a nicely edited version of “the good old days”.

I try not to take anything for granted. I don’t take today for granted. I don’t take tomorrow for granted. Without meaning to go down a morbid path, tragedy is often so because it strikes out of nowhere, without any time to prepare. Just driving on the wrong section of road at the wrong time, boarding the wrong flight, walking along the wrong pedestrian mall or even climbing aboard the wrong ride at a fun park at the wrong time can change the trajectory of our life and rob from us in a way we didn’t foresee.

So there are just two options we have: we can live in a constant state of worry. Or, we can live in a state of gratitude

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I miss my 10 week Fight Like A Pro journey back in the winter and spring of 2016. Not just the fight night itself- but everything that led up to that moment. The sparring sessions at the gym, the 5:30am starts running laps at Currumbin Alley as the sun came up, the sessions on the beach afterwards, the guys I met- everything. BUT-

During the whole time, I made sure to appreciate the moment. I made every effort to be present, and take in everything as it happened. Because I knew that soon enough, it’d be over- so I made the conscious effort to enjoy it while it lasted. To be grateful for the whole experience. And whenever I reflect on those 3 months now, while I miss them?

I’m grateful that I was grateful.

Just recently, I made a new playlist- ‘2010- 2019’. It’s all the tunes I’ve liked from this decade nearly over. Listening to it brought back a lot of great memories- vivid flashbacks to going out on the town in my mid 20’s; fond memories of the Uber days on the Gold Coast when I lived there- and that night I saw ‘The Bennies’ for free at The Shark Bar with the people I picked up; that winter when an old flatmate and I would stay up late, clocking ‘Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean’. All good times, most of which won’t come back. But that’s ok. Because I’m grateful for the journey, and I know that if I’ve still got some time in front of me (Lord willing), then there’s plenty of other memories yet to be made that I’ll recall just as fondly.

But in the meantime?

We might as well be grateful for what’s here and now. I can think of plenty of things, and I’m sure you can, too:

Who are the people we have in our lives that we appreciate?

If you’ve turned your small business into a larger company- aren’t you grateful for what you’ve managed to build so far?

Big family or small family, young or old, single or taken, start-up or established business owner- you can definitely take some time out to go “I am grateful for…”

What does your life situation look like and what are the good things about it?

Your feeling of well-being, frame of mind and appreciation for the small things you might have otherwise missed- they all change noticeably the moment you begin regularly exercising this attitude of gratitude. And when these “good old days” have passed, at least when you look back you’ll know you enjoyed the ride while it lasted.

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Here’s The ONE Voice You Need To Start Listening To- Above All Others:

My Post-27When I was a younger bloke- right up to my early 20’s- I was never quite what you’d call a casanova. Sure, I could talk easily with pretty much anybody but…I had a terrible habit for over-thinking. As it turns out, like a lot of people I was too absorbed in my own shortcomings (real or imagined) to see the forest because of all the trees in the way!

But in spite of this, I could still often sense if a girl liked me. She didn’t have to throw herself at me or flirt in conversation- in fact, she could be one of those “quiet ones”. But it’d be little things I couldn’t quite identify. It was this presence they’d have. The fact they were quiet almost emphasised there was more going on beneath the surface. Like even if I lacked the practical knowledge, time and again I could just tell…

You know what I mean?

Yet in our modern society, we’re conditioned to be skeptical towards anything that can’t be “proven” or stated as a “fact”. Just how we “prove” something is true or claim it as “fact” warrants an argument in itself- but that’s one for another day. Point is, anything that can’t be broken down and tangibly analysed, we’re encouraged to disregard altogether.

So whether making professional or personal decisions, it seems logical that we follow this method of thinking:

Analyse.

Research.

Check.

Double check.

Compare.

Do some more research.

Then act.

When it comes to decisions I’ve made over the years, I’ve usually been a cautious person. In fact, a number of times I’ve been too cautious- and I’ve missed out because of it.

I’d meet people and get a notable impression of them, quicker than you could boil a jug of water. But of course- how could I pass judgement so quickly? I had no factual, logical basis for my impression of that person. I figured I was being too judgemental, allowing my own biases to colour in the large, vacant gaps of information about them.

So instead I’d hold off and rely on cold, indifferent logic and deduction while allowing the other person to show that my initial optimism or hesitancy was hasty prejudice on my behalf and completely inaccurate.

And yet…

The vast majority of times?

That initial feeling I’d had, that first impression of a persons’ character or attitude or their life- it would turn out to be right on the mark.

This is what we call ‘instinct’. Some species of animal possess it in great abundance. I’ve heard of businessmen who won’t do a deal with somebody until they introduce the person to their dog. If the dog likes them, they go ahead with the deal. But if the dog barks and behaves in a hostile fashion to them? The deals’ off.

My Post-28

So “instinct”, this little voice- I’ve come to trust it early on, no matter what it might suggest- even if I happen to like the person. For instance there was a girl I met once, and it was clearly mutual attraction. It was like we had this unspoken understanding between us that went beyond words. We’d just met, but it felt like I’d known her a long time. I had fun with her, our conversations on the phone could easily go longer than an hour and I am NOT (by rule) much of a phone talker. Yet…

From the first time we went out, I sensed an indecisiveness about her. An unsteadiness I couldn’t quite nail down. I spent time away interstate and when I came back, we hung out again. This time, it only came through more clearly than before- and there were things she said that further backed up my initial hunch. I drove home that evening with a bittersweet feeling. I knew ultimately, nothing could eventuate between us. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. I could’ve shown her the water- but I wasn’t so sure she’d drink it. She’d probably end up resenting me for trying to ‘push’ her, and in turn I’d resent her for making the same choices as before- and it wouldn’t end well.

So sure, I was disappointed (especially when there aren’t too many people I’ve genuinely been attracted to like that), but I trusted my instinct- and the more I discovered in terms of actual facts, the more I knew I’d made the right call.

Mind you, we can’t base all our decisions upon feelings. An alcoholic might feel like a drink. A smoker trying to quit might feel like lighting one up. A problem gambler might feel like he wants to play King Of The Nile until the sun comes up- but in these cases, only the facts can save them from ruin.

I should also stress (in case we meet and you wonder what my impressions are) that this doesn’t happen with everybody. There are plenty of people I meet where nothing is apparent early- and the key details only come out later. But- I’ve learned to trust those instincts, that little voice, like I trust what’s in the mirror.

You know the ironic part?

I only came to this realisation through experience and learning. I reached a conclusion about a non-logical form of decision making in a logical way.

So when you meet somebody new, stay open to a particular impression you might get of them- and don’t overthink it. Just be open, let it come if it does. It could be a character aspect like warmth, hesitancy, arrogance, energy, tiredness, competency, understanding, passion- even aspects of their character you can’t put a word to. It could just be a particular feeling

Does a person give you this sense like you’ve walked into a room where the windows have been closed a long time, like a stale feeling? You might want to hold back with that person, unless they conclusively prove your hesitancy wrong.

Do you get an energised, up-beat feeling about somebody you meet? Chances are they’re the kind of person to keep around if you want to make stuff happen.

Does a person give you this hesitant feeling- like regardless of what they say, something doesn’t line up? It helps to proceed with caution.

Do they give you a radiant, pleasant feeling like a warm summers’ breeze? Delve deeper- take the time to discover what it is about that person- and you’ll probably be glad that you made the effort.

So I encourage you to avoid over-thinking. Just relax.

Let your guard down.

Trust that little voice inside.

Trust your instinct like you trust what’s in the mirror.

You might find something great, or you might have to miss out- for the time being. But litening to that little voice will save you time and time again. It’ll save you time, save you money, save you stress, save you bad partnerships, bad relationships- and in return it’ll bring you the abundance you’re looking for.

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What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success:

 

So just recently, I compiled all the figures for my tax return for the most recent financial year…

Doesn’t sound like the most interesting topic for a post, does it? But stick with me-

As I entered all the figures into an Excel spreadsheet to send on to my accountant and I added it all up- something occurred to me-

The financial year just gone had been the most successful for income derived solely from my business to date.

But here was the thing- during that year, there wasn’t a point that I secured a new client or signed off on a project and thought “Well this- THIS guarantees my best earning year so far!”

It wasn’t until I stopped, laid it all out in this document and added it up that I realised the fact.

It reminded me of one day in the middle of summer just a couple of years ago, when an old friend and I climbed to the summit of Mt Warning. We set off in the morning, beneath the tall canopies of rainforest trees, partially sheltered from the sun. The ascent was reasonably gentle- besides sections where there were loose rocks underfoot, it was a pretty easy climb and I was surprised how quickly we were making ground.

But then- the rainforest canopy ended. In front of us was a sheer climb up a rock face- so steep that there was a line of chain for hikers to pull themselves up. This incline stretched on as far as I could see, lined on either side with high scrub. So following my friend, we made our way up this steep, uneven rock face. I climbed with steady caution. You didn’t want to look back because you may lose balance and go tumbling down the sheer drop-off. Then about halfway, I realised it was quicker to clamber up the rock face on all fours, like a spider monkey!

At last the steep rock face ended. Beyond that was a gentle incline, a path that wound around a few corners- and then we were there. We’d reached the very peak of the mountain, 1,100 metres up. In every direction, you could see over the tops of mountains and landscape stretching all the way to the horizon. Only now could I appreciate just how far we’d climbed, how high up we were and why we’d had to hike for the last 2 hours…

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Then skip forward to this week just gone, where in just a few days I saw two articles that addressed this (sometimes) challenging journey from different perspectives.

Neither of these articles necessarily reflect my thoughts on Gary Vee, but it’s interesting they both primarily reference him. Here’s the first one:

The Horror Pitchfest: An Honest Review Of Gary Vee, Success Squared And Success Resources Australia

It came as a reminder that many people ignore one of the great truths about life itself- and keep searching for that “quick fix”. They think it’ll just take this course or that program and the zeros in their business account will automatically follow! Unfortunately, there are people who gladly capitalise on this misguided idea, and I could never endorse it-

Because almost nothing of real value comes easily.

Even the names who immediately flash to mind when you hear “successful entrepreneur”, didn’t get there within a single week or because they signed up for some program that made them rich. People might aspire to be like them, but would that still be the case if they had to climb their mountain to enjoy the view? This brings me onto the next point-

While the notion of getting rich quick is harmful to those who buy into it, neither should we glorify the struggle to achieve success. I decided some time ago that I wouldn’t throw away everything else there is to enjoy in this limited lifespan just to climb a mountain. Which is why this second article resonated with me:

No More “Struggle Porn”

I see this so often- people who go on about “the hustle” (which has to rank up there with “building an empire” as the most over-used modern entrepreneurial cliche!). These people take some kind of war-wounded pride in the hardship they encounter (mental, physical, financial) as they expand their business. It’s almost like they believe that without this struggle, they aren’t the real deal- like they’re not worthy of whatever fortune they may reap?

If extra zeros in your bank account, if recognition, more expensive holidays and nicer houses were a goal worth sacrificing all else in life for, those who’d achieved it would be the happiest people around.

But are they?

If achieving my ultimate business outcomes meant I disposed of all else (family relationships, friendships, health, overall well-being) then it’d be a hollow achievement. And I would pity anybody who aspired to be like me.

I think of that mountain climb with my friend, and (like my recently completed tax return) it wasn’t until the very end, with everything laid before me, that I could appreciate the difference made by every step forward, every metre upward, every sale.

I think also of a Paul Kelly song that’s become part of Australian folklore. It’s a ballad in which he tells the (true) story of Vincent Lingiarri and his persistent campaign for the land rights of his people throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Vincent didn’t pay thousands for a ‘Get Your Land Rights In A Single Month‘ program. He didn’t glorify the sacrifice or the “hustle” to get what he wanted. It didn’t happen straight away. But after persistent meetings with people of influence, steadily going after what he believed in, and nearly a decade of waiting- one day PM Gough Whitlam touched down in Vincent’s community and, iconically, poured a handful of red dust into the palm of his hand.

Vincent-Lingiarri

Some of us are happy to work through the night. Some of us need our sleep. Some of us go for a run first thing in the morning. Some of us prefer to go to the gym when our days’ work is done. We all have different ways of working, different approaches- but we need to make sure we’re in tune for the long haul.

This journey isn’t a sprint.

It’s not even a marathon.

It’s a mountain climb.

Sure, we might trek a wrong path more than once. We’ll need to take a break. We’ll need to find other people who want to reach the same peak as us and have more experience than us. Along the way, remember that we often can’t fully appreciate our progress until we reach a certain milestone- and only then do we see our real achievement laid out before us.

Persevere, and remember, (as Paul Kelly sang): From little things, big things grow…