Relax- I’m 99% sure you’re doing great (but here’s why that extra 1% makes such a difference)…

Tony Robbins tells a story about the time he took up golf lessons-

At first, he was powering by his instructor. But the following day, he wasn’t doing so well: putting the ball in the water, straying off course and Tony became exasperated because (by his reasoning) he should at least be consistent at whatever mediocre level he could achieve.

Tony asked his instructor “Tell me what to do?”

Now this is where it gets interesting…

His instructor told him he was (in fact) only a little bit off- by a millimetre or two. He went on to explain that when Tony was striking the ball, if he changed the angle just a couple of millimetres, he’d change the arc of his shot completely. One mm could be the difference between staying on the green and slicing off into the water. One mm the other way could make the difference between sinking it in the sand or scoring a hole in one…

Then a couple of days later, Tony sat in the office of a client he was coaching- who happened to be one of the world’s leading plastic surgeons. While he sat there in the spacious waiting room, Tony leafed through a book this guy was putting together in order to teach other surgeons around the world. It featured photographs of the top 100 (supposedly) most beautiful women in the world’s faces, then the same for the men (although Tony wasn’t paying much attention to this!) The photographs had measurements with them- because apparently, what we commonly define as physical beauty really comes down to pure mathematics. But here’s what stood out for Tony-

For this plastic surgeon, all it took to take a woman (or a man) from stone cold average to stunningly attractive was just a few millimetres. For example, on a woman, the distance between the top of the lip and the nose, the measurement if you’re considered ‘beautiful’ is the same size as your eye. 1mm more and you’d be considered “average”. 2mm more and you’d be considered “unattractive”.

So ultimately, the difference between beauty and the beast is just 2mm.

Isn’t that amazing?

But let me turn this discussion over to you now-

When it comes to your business, do you ever get that nagging feeling, like something is missing but you can’t pinpoint exactly what it is?

This could be for a variety of reasons- maybe it’s a case of imposter syndrome or because you’re inherently a perfectionist?

Maybe you’re one of these people who just normally gets that sinking feeling that something, somewhere is wrong?

Or- it could be based upon more than just a hunch. You have the facts at your fingertips and (for whatever reason), you aren’t quite where you want to be. Feeling like this, it can be tempting to overanalyse every little aspect of your business, and wonder if you’re making a grave mistake somewhere?

But let me reassure you right now. If:

a) You’re making a positive difference in the lives of your customers

b) Your team put in the hard yards for you

c) You’re making a profit

Then your business is great!

Although maybe you read those words and it still feels hollow somehow, so let’s examine why that might be…

Truth is, it’s often the small changes we undertake that make a big difference to the results we enjoy. As William Clement Stone says in ‘The Success System That Never Fails’: Little hinges swing big doors.

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In other words- if you’re not quite getting the results that’d make you sit up a bit taller and feel a real sense of pride in what you’re doing, that’s not a reason to fret-

Because chances are, that final piece in the puzzle that’d take you from ‘ok’ to ‘outstanding’ is on the other side of changing what you’re currently doing by just 1 or 2%…

And there’s every chance the answer is found in your business copy.

Now if you don’t believe that yet- then just take a look at the following articles for yourself, where you’ll see for yourself what sort of a difference it makes when any business takes their online copy seriously-

Because it could be to do with your website:

9 Website Copy Hacks (So Easy You’ll Kick Yourself For Not Taking Action Sooner!)

It could be down to simply staying in regular contact with your leads and customers, adding them to your database and keeping them up to date with your latest offers and big announcements:

The 3 Secrets To Sending E-mails That Pay For Themselves

How much is a sale worth to you?

Or (and you’ve got to check this one out for yourself, trust me)- it could be starting a blog that makes all the difference:

The REAL Stats On Blogging In 2020: 5 Numbers That’ll Make You Re-Think Your Content Strategy…

This is why I do what I do- because while having effective copy is a hinge that at first might appear small, that small hinge has the power to swing a big, mighty door in its’ place- and chances are that’s what’s going to make all the difference and complete the picture when you step back and take a look at where your business stands in 2020…

So if you think copywriting is something you’d like to be devoting more time and thought to, then let’s talk

Your Journey vs Your Goal (Or, a word of warning for the ambitious):

“Money doesn’t change you- it just highlights who you already were”…

Let’s go back- many years ago now, in fact…

We’re going back to when I was in preschool- that far. But I remember it still: the wooden pirate ship where my friend and I hid every day when the teachers called us in for nap time- thinking today would be different and they’d miss us. Nap time itself- lying there in the cot, bored out of my brain while they played new-agey music in the hope it would lull us to sleep (and I imagine the teachers looked forward to coffee, gossip and a brief respite from dealing with a classroom of unruly 4 and 5 year olds!). I remember being in the playground one day, the smell of damp autumn leaves covering the ground, blue gym mats laid out, kids playing in a stainless steel sandbox, thinking about how my cousins were coming over to our house tomorrow and looking forward to that…

From my recollections, it was the first time I’d ever thought about something in the future- and that memory itself is now almost 30 years in the past.

But I also remember one of the albums Mum played in the car around that time. And from that album, this famous track was my favourite:

I loved the fast tempo, the aggressive electric guitar riff that underpins the whole song, and the guitar solo at the end that breaks away and fades out with the track. The whole song, to my 4 year old self, just felt badass.

What’s interesting though is when you read the lyrics- because while the song is about chasing a dream, in the timeline of the song we never actually reach that dream. It is, in fact, a “moment in time”, of pursuing that dream, on a journey from a to b.

Then there was the major assignment I had for Year 7 English- we’d read ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’ by Roald Dahl, both autobiographies covering his childhood and then his adult life as well. Our assignment was to write our own autobiographies- tell the story of our lives in the 12 or 13 years of their entirety…

But what I fondly remember most to this day wasn’t handing the assignment in.

It wasn’t getting 50/50 for my efforts either (can you blame me for bragging about this one?)

No, what I remember fondly is getting to take a day off school to write the thing. Mum and Dad were at work, my sister was at preschool- so I had the house to myself. I spent the day channelling memories and the stories of my life, writing them down, then taking a break to go watch TV for a bit or make lunch- before going back to my craft. It was a great day where I wrote something start to finish, and had a lot of fun doing so.

Reading some of my recollections out to the class, everybody laughing at my stories, the top marks I got- those were just the cherry on top!

Just recently, I was at a business get together where a colleague of mine took us all through goal-setting, step by step. We each had to write down a goal, and then take it to pieces to itemise the finer details of achieving that goal- how we were going to do it, what we needed to obtain, how we imagined feeling once we achieved that goal. Upon completion, attendees reported feeling a sense of new-found clarity about achieving their goals, and my colleague really showed his worth in taking us through this exercise.

Yet here’s the important thing to remember about the goals we set-

We can become so fixated on our goals that we ignore arguably the best part of going for said goals: it’s not the achievement itself where you feel the most contentment. It’s the journey itself!

Stop for a second and cast your mind back to something you set out to do, a goal you envisaged. Got it? Now ask yourself this, and be honest: was the point when you achieved your goal at last the most memorable, or was it everything you did up until that point instead?

Time after time- it’s not about the goal, but about the memories we create, the people we meet and the person we become on the way to reaching that goal. This has been the premise of countless best-selling movies and novels, and with good reason.

You see, in my earlier days of business, I made the mistake of imagining a future point in time where I’d have a certain professional profile, drive a certain car, have made a certain amount of money and live in a particular house- and how good it would feel to know I’d “made it”. Understandable sure, because I was just starting out and of course you think about how you want your business venture to end. But then one day, I did something a little out of the ordinary: I sat back and visualised living in that house I wanted to end up in. I imagined having reached those other goals, achieved them, and sitting in the spacious living room looking out over the balcony of my place, every little detail clear…

Then after about 5 minutes, I thought “Ok- now what?”

In just 5 minutes, I’d discovered something about our big, audacious goals: they are not the be-all and end-all. No doubt you’ve had other goals you set yourself throughout your life, then reached them- and guess what? You didn’t suddenly start feeling happy did you? You didn’t suddenly think “Now I can just cut right back and do nothing for the rest of my time here because I achieved X” did you?

I think back to my Fight Like A Pro experience

Sure, Fight Night itself was memorable…but after that one night, it was over. No more training, no more preparation for that big night- it was over, done. I passed (as best you can ‘pass’). But after about a week, I understood why so many guys went back and trained at the gym after their initial Fight Night had been and gone, why more than a few fighters on the card were guys who’d done this several times before as well. Because even now, I fondly remember that 10 week experience- getting fitter, getting better at fighting and learning about myself- the whole journey all the way up to Fight Night. 1 night vs 10 weeks- which do you think contains more fond memories?

We can look at other people in our field or even just in business generally who we think “have it made”, and be tempted to imagine how much better we’d feel overall if we were ever in their position. But here’s what so many people don’t realise before it’s too late-

You’d get there- achieve that big audacious goal- and realise that wasn’t “it”- and be left feeling the same way you did achieving all those other goals you’ve achieved in life:

Is this it?

I wrote more about enjoying the journey, here: This Is What Gratitude Really Gives You

But today I wanted to encourage you to re-think how you regard those goals you have, whether it be on a professional or personal level. Not that you shouldn’t aim for them (as long as your heart is in them, of course) but to appreciate the journey itself- the simple “doing” part of whatever it is you do-

Because one day, it’ll be what you remember fondly- so enjoy it while it lasts!

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Here’s 12 Important Things I Realised In 2019:

When I strategise at the start of each week, I think back over the week just past- did I learn anything of note? Because while you might have a little ‘Aha!’ moment every day, if you don’t make note of them then it’s easy to forget they happened. So I write them down and file them away for future reference.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you know I’ve written about this before: 12 Things That Made Me Go ‘Aha!’ In 2018

So today, we’re looking back on the things that stood out to me the most over the past 12 months, those little ‘Aha!’ moments or bigger revelations that were (in the words of W. Clement Stone) “Little hinges that swing big doors”.

Yet again I’ve chosen one specific lesson from each month and I expand upon what it really means:

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“Too much screen time (even counting smartphone use) narrows the vision and gives me this ‘boxed in’ feeling. Be smart about screen time- where and for how long.”

Have you experienced this for yourself? I remember back in the day they used to say that too much TV gave us “square eyes”- and while my eyes are still round, what I’ve noticed is that being engrossed in your screen (be it your tablet or phone screen) for too long, wrapped up in the information beaming into your retinas- gives this claustrophobic feeling when you look away at last. Real life goes on, and it’s difficult to fully engage. If you’re like me and you do so much of your work online (like writing this article, ironically enough!) then you have to be careful with just how much time you spend looking at a screen.

My advice is to be smart about it- and in your downtime, get active, go find people to hang with, keep your screen time to a minimum and feel your world ‘expand’. Look at everything with new eyes.

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“I don’t do pain, I don’t do fear and I don’t do defeat. I am stronger.”

This one was inspired by the moorish YouTube Red series ‘Cobra Kai’ (which I’ve written about previously): The Truth About Cobra Kai’s ‘3 Strikes’ Policy…

In the Cobra Kai dojo, Johnny (yes, the bad guy from the 1984 original, all grown up and now the sensei) drills the following message into his students as they train:

“Pain does not exist at this dojo. Fear does not exist at this dojo. Defeat does not exist at this dojo.”

The first two are (to some extent) distractions that we can choose to ignore as we focus on the doing part. Fear is a feeling, no more. We can choose to make it irrelevant and just do. Pain is a temporary thing, and it’s something we’ve all encountered in one form or another. But it’s how we respond to pain- and that brings us to the next part: defeat. There’s a difference between losing and defeat. Losing is coming off second best in a battle. But defeat is to give up, and come off second best in the war altogether. Of course you have to choose your battles wisely, but those ones worth fighting are not the ones to do defeat in- to give up and walk away from.

Instead, it’s our choice to be stronger than all of this.

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“We choose our chains- so what do our habits become?”

Back in March, I watched a presentation in a YouTube video, talking about how we develop our nature and how chains of addiction are formed. It outlined the following path:

  1. Choice- choosing to do something
  2. Habit- regularly choosing to do something
  3. Automatic- we do something without even making a conscious choice
  4. Identity- something becomes a key part of our very identity
  5. Nature- to be something is in our nature

You can see where this leads- for better or worse. I’m not naturally an early riser, for instance, but in the past I worked jobs where I had to be on premises by 6:30am. So I made the choice to go to bed earlier and wake up at 6. It then became a 5 day a week habit. Then it became automatic- I’d find myself waking up around this time, even on weekends! 

Momentum is a big thing here- people who are a success, manage to sustain success because the choices that underpin the habits of success seep in until they become part of their nature. They may fail at some things, but they don’t fail for long because success is part of their nature.

If you want to see a better 2020, here are the choices I’d recommend you make: Devote full focus to whatever it is you’re doing. Be mindful of time spent doing any task. Conserve energy for the most productive/ positive outlets. Meditate. Think about working smarter, not harder. Exercise gratitude every day for small but good things. Rinse, repeat, and see what manifests…

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“It takes just as much effort to play small as to play big. So what do we choose?”

Following on from March’s revelation, you should be able to see now how we can choose what becomes our nature. To play small requires compromise and shortcomings, just as playing big does. But one gets better results, outcomes you’ll be far more content to live with. So what are you going to choose?

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“With the right attitude, opportunity can present itself everywhere. So Be Prepared.”

Something you notice when you read or watch the stories of enough successful people, is that a hefty amount of them didn’t enjoy success right away. There’s any number of wealthy business figureheads who started life with worn shoes, a week away from being turfed out of their cramped 1 bedroom apartment and onto the street. Sports stars who were diminutive in size or with physical ailments you’d think would wipe them out of contention. You get the idea. But what took these people to success was the right attitude. Instead of failure being a sentence, they saw it as a lesson, a bump in the road. Then they kept on going. Before the opportunity presents itself, first we’ve got to be ready to take it. It’s one thing to get your foot in the door, another to actually walk through that door- and stay- so first and foremost, we need to have the attitude that matches success, before success itself manifests.

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“Regardless of what else may be happening (or not happening) in life at a given time, getting the important stuff done, crossing off the other outcomes and keeping the wheels moving- that’s the best thing you can do in the meantime.”

This is another mark of success- being able to still devote focus to the key areas and action items that constitute success, and getting them done. A winning team, business or organisation is underpinned by their ability to keep working away and focusing on those major items, regardless of anything else- and this means that sometimes you’re able to achieve success against all the odds. Those are often your most glorious triumphs that reveal far more about yourself than an easy triumph.

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“Boldness is the ability to go ahead and act without being sabotaged by fear or doubt, and to do so believing in a better future.”

In short? Just do it. Feelings are temporary, and often irrational. But results last forever.

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“There is more than one road to the Holy Grail”

I spoke about this last year in my final piece, towards the end: A Tale Of 3 Cities- My Take On The 2010’s, Part 2…

When we recognise that there is not just one fixed path to our ultimate outcomes, it makes us more adaptable, resilient and allows us to think more creatively. In addition, we’re less susceptible to comparing ourselves with others and wasting our time measuring ourselves by what we see of other people, not knowing the smaller details to put it all into perspective. If you adopt a “Whatever it takes” attitude, you open yourself up to opportunities and experiences you wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise.

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“Despite the time you put into preparing something, sometimes deviating and trying something new or different actually brings you better results. Don’t become too set in your ways”

This really follows on from what I shared for August. But it’s good to have a message like this sink in that little bit more, because of how it opens your world up- and the possibilities that lie before you.

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“The value of your net worth is found in your network.”

I’ve often found that meeting great people isn’t entirely reliant on the people you have in your circle- instead, it’s found in the people they have contact with. When it comes to business networking this can be highly prolific because while you might go to an event with 20 other people there, if those 20 people each know 20 other people, you’re looking at potentially 400 people- and how many of those 400 people might be the very type of person you’re looking to connect with.

So it pays to be mindful of your network and finding a few good people to get alongside, because once you make the right connections, opportunity flows on from there.

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“Sometimes if you want to enjoy the view, you’ve got to make the climb first!”

This one came to me while out for a walk one warm afternoon late in the spring. I saw this long, steep grass hill and felt the desire to hike up it. It was a bit of a climb, and by the time I reached the top I was in a sweat! I walked on, along a street that followed the ridge of this hill. Then rounding a corner- I stopped. Looking out before me was an amazing view of the beach, lined by Norfolk Island pines, then the ocean beyond it- a view I’d never seen before. I only discovered it because I bothered to climb a hill I’d never ventured up before.

Here was this amazing view- and yet I wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t make the effort first of all. That’s the thing about enjoying the spoils of success- most things of real value don’t come easily (as I’ve talked about before): Finding True Things Of Value (Or, The Best $50 I Ever Wasted)…

It’s life’s great testing ground. Provided you just do it, keep learning, remain open to opportunities and appreciate that there’s more than one road to the holy grail- you might just get to enjoy that beautiful view after all…

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“Little hinges swing big doors, sometimes even without our realisation that they have”

Ever had somebody say “You’ve changed”? It probably felt pretty good, didn’t it? But what was the best part- somebody noticing a positive change about you, or that you’d (probably) barely noticed any change about yourself, which made the other person’s compliment a welcome surprise?

I’m convinced that the key to achieving this is found in the steps we looked at earlier:

  1. Choice- choosing to do something
  2. Habit- regularly choosing to do something
  3. Automatic- we do something without even making a conscious choice
  4. Identity- something becomes a key part of our very identity
  5. Nature- to be something is in our nature

That little hinge could be just a (seemingly) moderate change in diet, a change in routine, a change in schedule or a change in attitude.

And if you want to see big doors open for you in 2020, then it could be one (or all of) these little “hinges” that make them swing for you at last!

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A Tale Of 3 Cities- My Take On The 2010’s, Part 2…

Previously, I outlined the crossroads I found myself at, right around the summer of 2014/15: 

A Tale Of 3 Cities- My Take On The 2010’s:

Some people seeking direction go and travel to “find themselves”, but what they don’t understand is this: you can go anywhere you want, but if you don’t first change your inner-game, then you just end up in new surroundings with the same old problems. This is what happened my first year back in Brisbane- a continuation of the same problems and mindsets that existed before- and they needed to change.

But in this situation, it turned out the answer to my dilemma of “Where next?” already existed. It was all a matter of the timing. Because here’s 3 things I didn’t tell you about my life at the end of 2014:

a) I was studying part-time down on the Gold Coast, doing my MBA and commuting once a week for class

b) I’d heard about this driver/ rider app called Uber- new to Australia, it gave you the ability to earn money picking up passengers, driving your own car and working whenever you wanted to. I’d joined as a driver in September and made money driving people all around Brisbane. It was the perfect side-gig

c) I’d started attending a business networking group that met in the city, having been recommended by a colleague of mine-  a LinkedIn specialist named Julie

So in February 2015 I’m down on the Gold Coast for 3 days, at an online marketing conference at the Grand Chancellor in Surfers Paradise. Also with me are the Director of my business networking group and a fellow member who specialises in corporate video. Throughout the conference we’re animated- passing notes between us in a mad surge of brainstorming, brimming with great ideas. Then on the second day, during a presentation, the Director leans over and tells me she’s decided to open a new group here on the Gold Coast and she wants me to come on board as assistant to the Group Ambassador.

In a split second it all lines up: I can fulfil that role, and coupled with my studies, it would then make perfect sense to move down here. I can continue driving Uber on the side and if I need to go to Brisbane for anything, it’s just 45 minutes up the road.

In an instant- there’s my answer! I talked more about this experience in my very first article here: To Infinity- And Beyond!

So nearly 5 years to the day since I moved to Brisbane, I packed my belongings into a rental truck, drove down the freeway and spent the first night in my new place. The smell of fresh paint still hung in the air as I crashed out on my bed, surrounded by cardboard boxes from the move.

I quickly adjusted to my new surroundings. It was nice to be somewhere with less traffic, and the beach so close I could ride there on my bike. I could walk to uni when I had class or exams, and our new business networking group was close by.  It was the welcome change I’d been waiting for.

Burleigh Heads 3

In many ways, it felt like a breakout year for me with a sense that I was on the verge of great things- meeting people and making new connections with plenty of potentially valuable business opportunities. I remember the day before I flew back to see my folks for the Christmas holidays, going for a swim down at Surfers Paradise and looking along the beach scape of high-rise apartments, feeling like I’d finished a successful year. I was really optimistic about the year ahead.

But then the year ahead actually happened…

From early on, 2016 turned into a hectic period for me. It was like a hike up the side of a mountain that rose high into the mist, with barely time to catch my breath. Here were just a few of the goings-on:

  • I ended up dropping out of uni because I didn’t have time to juggle the workload any longer.
  • Some key personnel had left our business networking group (including the Group Ambassador), and their absence made a notable difference. In their wake other people followed, we changed venues, attendances dwindled and by May, the Director called time on our Gold Coast group.
  • Coupled with now driving to Brisbane every Monday afternoon for business networking, driving Uber into the early hours for extra coin on the weekends and general duties, I was clocking up around 800k’s a week on average. The only full day off I really had was Sunday- provided I didn’t wake up too late, having sometimes come in from taking fares at 4am.

Yet despite this backdrop, there was a period of time through the winter/ spring that I still remember fondly, when I took part in the 10 Week ‘Fight Like A Pro‘ journey, culminating in not one, but two fight nights at Jupiters’ and The Marriott respectively. I learned about boxing- and some unforeseen lessons about life itself. You can read about the whole experience here- and I strongly recommend you do: Preparing To Fight Taught Me THESE 3 Unexpected Things:

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Those 10 weeks probably summed up 2016 better than anything else could…

Recently, I read back through my journal from that year, and realised that if I’d kept going as I had been, I was probably close to burning out. After a year that began so full of promise, the reasons I’d had for moving to the Gold Coast were no longer relevant, and there was no particular reason to return to Brisbane either. So I made the decision to pack it in and return to the Central Coast for the time being. My family were there, as were old friends, and it was probably just what I needed even if it was a reluctant move.

I finished the year going up to Byron Bay for a few days with a mate from school, and we climbed Mt Warning which (in the end) felt quite fitting considering the 12 months I’d just gone through: What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success

I took some time off, and eased into 2017 picking up the pieces. I held my first ever ‘Stories That Sell‘ workshop, where in just half a day I demonstrate how to write a regular blog just like this one, revealing the easy process I follow that enables you to deliver content like this- and do it consistently.

I attended new networking groups, met new contacts, began teaching myself Spanish, started karate training again (which I’d done in Brisbane and then fallen out of once I moved to the Gold Coast) and just worked away. The year came and went, in 2018 I returned to the gym mid-way through the year (should’ve gone back earlier!) and it was freshly inspiring to see my weight increase by 10kgs in the space of 6 months and build notably stronger muscle definition. I painted a picture and wrote a 60,000+ word story that was based on an old story I’d written but felt could do with a revamp.

This was all backdrop to business growth- new connections, referrals and discoveries through my own research and a brand new website to match- Take a look for yourself

Rolling into 2019 and as I write these words, I’ve expanded further and I’m now the Group Leader for a new business networking group close-by. I spent a few weeks temping for a company in Sydney, and it reminded me of our need for real connection with each other in this tech-saturated age: Where’s our community at in 2019? (A brief observation)…

It also gave me a renewed appreciation for my regular workload- I couldn’t believe the amount of times in this temp job where I was sitting there, left with nothing to do. Waiting on somebody else to approve something before we could send it out, co-workers on the design team going about their business discussing matters I had nothing to do with- and I was left there with hours still to go before the day finished. It was a wake-up call, that’s for sure!

Still, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself just yet. I keep working away, always looking for improvement whether it’s delivering more value for clients or bringing more value into my life. Looking back over these past 10 years, its’ funny to look at where I’ve ended up. I never thought I’d be here!

Before&After

L: New Years’ Day 2010 R: October 2019, Receiving my nomination as a finalist in the 2019 Business xCellence Awards from bX Founder, Matt Alderton

If I had to sum up the biggest lesson I’ve learned since 2010, it would be the one I included in a link from the first part of this article:

Figure out what you really want in life- then decide to do whatever it takes to get there.

That doesn’t mean compromising your convictions or your standards. It simply means to keep on doing. And be careful about using the words ‘never’ when it comes to your future. Because it could notably limit your destiny:

I never thought I’d take up boxing or step into the ring.

I never thought I’d go back and work full-time, even as a temp.

And back in March 2010, I never thought I’d return to the Central Coast.

But here I am- for now. You might have an idea of how you’re going to reach your goal, and if that how doesn’t go to plan you might worry. But as I like to say:

There’s more than one road to the Holy Grail.

You just need to be alert, keep your mind on that end goal and be prepared to make small changes along the way to re-adjust your path.

In the words of W. Clement Stone: Little hinges swing big doors.

Merry Christmas, and see you soon in 2020!

 

A Tale Of 3 Cities- My Take On The 2010’s:

In reality, a decade is simply a period of ten years that could fall between any two points in time you choose. But as it stands, we’re closing the book on a particular period of human history to be forever known as “the 2010’s”. Maybe it’s too early for us to agree what this decade will be especially remembered for (if you ask me, I’d say the increasing influence of internet culture on a political and societal level), but rather than focusing on this, I’m instead going to reflect on a personal level…

See, I clearly remember the beginning of 2010, where I was at, my mindset and what I hoped for the future. I worked permanent part-time in retail liquor, having returned home to the Central Coast at the end of 2008 after 4 years away, doing my bachelors’ degree at QCA in Brisbane. But after about 3 or 4 months back, I felt restless. When you’ve been away for a period of time like that, people inevitably move on and things aren’t as they were.

Truth is, you can’t go home a second time…

Meanwhile, I had plenty of colleagues and friends in Brisbane who I still kept in regular contact with, so I began applying for full-time positions up there in retail liquor. With 3+ years’ experience, it was work I knew well, something that’d take care of financial matters while I continued working towards my desired career in film and TV. Then I landed an interview and, using the opportunity to catch up with some friends, I flew up to Brisbane to meet with a company rep at the Royal Exchange Hotel over in Toowong. The interview went well- so well that later that evening while catching up with a friend and his girlfriend (now wife) for dinner and drinks in town, I got a call offering me the full-time position, starting in a fortnight.

So one sunny morning in March of 2010, my Ford Telstar fully loaded, I merged onto the M1, popped the Empire Of The Sun CD into the car stereo and the opening track began to play, called ‘Standing On The Shore’. Nearly 10 years on, I still remember this moment so clearly with the freeway, the horizon and a new era all out there somewhere in front of me…

“The future’s in my hands, hold it in my palms”…

So I arrived in ‘Vegas. Found a place on the south side. Started work at my new store. Reconnected with old acquaintances and met new ones. In my downtime I didn’t want for social invitations, I was out so often that my two housemates (18 and 19 y/o girls at uni) commented that “We must seem like losers with no life!”

On the surface level if you saw me, you’d have thought I was happy and thought Oh to be young again! But that wasn’t the case. I go into more detail about the slow descent I found myself on- and how I managed to pull myself out- here: The Night It All Lit Up To Me…

TLDR; on NYE at the age of 25 I made a decision that whatever it took, I was going to turn my life around from the rut I found myself in, because I’d had enough.

Brisbane-Fireworks-NYE

2011 arrived and while things didn’t change overnight, the 12 months that followed  ended up being a period of my life I remember fondly. I resigned from my job (one Christmas season in retail was enough for me!), found another job as a driver/ storeman working with a bunch of guys who were good fun, and the hours were stable. I moved from the southern suburbs to a great place in the inner-city with an old friend. With a new friend, we organised a trip to the UK to watch Liverpool play, a bucket-list item I’d had for some time. I was out on the town with mates most weekends, getting amongst it and just enjoying the fact that- for the first time in a long time- I felt genuinely positive about myself and about my future. Even now, I hear songs from back then and I fondly recall those days. It was also around this time when more than one person suggested I should get into copywriting as a side-gig, and (with no idea what that entailed) I looked into what working as a copywriter involved- and I was sold.

The rest is history…

While 2012 turned out to be the step-up I’d hoped for, not everything went as expected, as so often happens. But there came valuable lessons I needed in order to adapt to my pending life as a business-owner. Arguably the biggest turnaround came when I took the time out to listen to the 10-part Tony Robbins series Time Of Your Life, and (despite my initial skepticism) it completely changed a number of things:

  • How I viewed time
  • My appreciation of life for the here and now
  • How I organised outcomes and understood the why underpinning those outcomes
  • How I monitored progress on a personal and professional level, and
  • How effective I was at achieving my desired outcomes.

Looking back now, it was absolutely necessary that I made these changes to my habits, because they were the catalyst for what came next: Why A Powerful Planner Is Your Roadmap To Reward:

TLDR; Listening to Time Of Your Life and following up on the exercises revolutionised how I managed time, organised my goals and measured my ongoing success in achieving those goals. Whatever you think of Tony, if you want to become more efficient at managing your time, setting goals and achieving your goals, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

My Post-30

The year finished with me completing the NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) course (Link Here), getting Scribe registered as a business and printing my first run of business cards. I remember how impressed the NEIS course curator was that I already had cards to share before we’d even finished the course! I had people keen to talk/ work with me in the new year and by the time I’d signed off, I’d completed my first paying client job.

I couldn’t wait for what was just around the corner!

2013 was my first full year in this new life as a business owner. Year dot. What can I say? I discovered a lot! The next 18 months were really about growth, networking and learning, as you’d expect. I realised that carrying out my trade- the actual writing of copy- was only a small part of the job. It also dawned on me that beyond just writing copy or managing a business, doing this was teaching me stuff about life that I’d never comprehended before. Or maybe it was just part of getting older, with my 20’s nearing an end?

It wasn’t just my perspective on a lot of things that changed, but my life circumstances as well. Many of the reasons I’d returned to Brisbane in 2010 were no longer relevant for me. In some ways, my life and my future outlook had been completely different back then. Looking to the future, was this the best place for me to be? Considering the nature of what I did, I could work/ live virtually anywhere. I had no strings tying me in this place anymore.

So if I could go anywhere- where should I go?

Through the second half of 2014, this question increasingly weighed on my mind. By the Christmas break, I knew that one of my big aims for the coming year was to figure out the best place for me to be at this point in my life- and go wherever that was.

In the meantime I did the best I could, waiting for the answer to become apparent…

Find out what happens next- Part 2 coming soon!

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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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?

flat,550x550,075,f.u7

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.

 

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

Napoleon Dynamite Suit

To illustrate the point I’m about to make, come back in time with me now- to the early years of this century…

On the political front, Australia is debating whether the Howard government was right to commit troops to Iraq in support of the U.S war effort. On the sporting front, there’s great anticipation about our hosting of the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with optimism that the Wallabies can win their third Championship on home turf. Entertainment-wise, Coldplay, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, P!nk and 50 Cent dominate the airwaves, and people tune into this new show called ‘Australian Idol‘ in the hope that we discover our next homegrown talent to top the charts here and overseas…

And me?

My high school days are months from drawing to a close when one evening, at a friends’ 18th, I meet this girl. We dance late into the night and despite me being just a little drunk (and a relative novice when it comes to the game of romance) I can tell that she likes me.

A week later she invites me out with her and her friends. In the cinema we sit next to each other. Before the movie starts, I glance at the screen of her Nokia to see that she’s saved my name with love heart emoji’s either side of it (did we even have emoji’s back then? I forget…)

Now, nothing actually happens between us that night. For starters, while I’m flattered by the attention, I’m not really into her. Secondly, there’s somebody else I’m interested in. But none of this seems to matter. A few days later via Messenger (remember that?) she asks me to her formal. I figure sure, why not, and accept her invitation. So a few days afterwards, I hit up a formal hire place and try on a few different suits, before picking out one I like and putting down a $50 deposit.

Even though her formal is still a couple of weeks away, I like to get this kind of stuff sorted early. But then something happens…

She meets another guy. They start dating and like that, I’m sidelined. My role as her formal date is relieved. Now I’m not that fussed by it (remember, I was interested in somebody else at the time), but what does annoy me is when I discover that the $50 deposit I laid down is non-refundable. I mean, $50 was a night out with mates. $50 was still enough for a carton of domestic beer, with change left over for beef jerky. That’s what I’d blown!

Yet from this experience came an important lesson. Had I been wiser or if somebody was around to impart the wisdom upon me at the time, it’s a lesson I could’ve learned right then. Instead, it would take nearly another decade for it to sink in:

Nothing of real value comes easily.

In this case, the person who falls for you quickly will probably fall for somebody else just as quickly- and depart from your life at the same speed they entered it.

A new scheme that vows to make people wealthy quickly, often sends them financially into the red with the smaller details.

How many times have we heard about the lottery winners who pissed away their winnings and ended up even worse off than they were before their numbers lined up?

Last year, in an article I wrote, I spoke more on this concept of delayed gratification, on the sweetness of success that comes after a struggle or a dry season in life: What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success

There are likely going to be times where it feels as if you’re hitting a metaphorical wall- in some particular area you can’t move onward and upward. It’s not that you lack the ability, it’s just that you don’t have any idea what you need to do from here? During these periods in time, it can be difficult to maintain your motivation, I know. Especially if you see friends, family, colleagues succeeding at what they do, while you’re stuck in the same place with no notable improvement.

In times like these, the temptation looms to drop it. To give up. It’s too hard or you’re too dumb or the game is rigged or whatever it is- you think this is it and you can’t go on.

But what if you just keep doing?

If you enjoy what you do, if you finish your days with a sense of achievement, of contribution- then why stop that?

There are plenty of ‘easier’ paths you could choose. Easier workloads, less hours, less to organise, better pay. But these are a slow death of the spirit. Do you want to walk the straight path- or climb the mountain?

Because one is far easier, and you know what you’re going to get.

But the other one is going to demand far more of you. The other one can be unpredictable and wear you down and make you feel as if you’re an idiot for not choosing the easier path.

But what about that view, should you reach your goal?

Every man dies, not every man really lives

William Wallace

A successful business, a great body, an amazing story worth sharing- nothing of real value comes easily. There are plenty of counterfeits, plenty of things that seem great and easy on the surface- but it’s only later you see how fickle and unrewarding it is.

You see eventually, I realised that all along I was better off pursuing the girls I actually liked (risking rejection that meant something) than just going with whoever went for me.

I choose the mountain over the footpath. I choose the rollercoaster over the merry-go-round. I choose to earn wealth rather than get rich quick.

I choose these things because I am obsessed with getting value and giving value. And nothing of value comes easily.

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

If you missed the first half of this article, I strongly recommend you go back and take a look at the types of toxic individuals we’ve already covered: The 7 Toxic People Who Are Fatal To Your Success (Part 1):

Otherwise, let’s move right on to number 5 in this list:

#5. Drama Kings/ Queens

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“It’s complicated”

This may very well be their relationship status and it probably applies to the rest of their life, too. With these people, there’s rarely not something going on, is there? Sure they might be fun to be around- but the nightmare lies in just how much of your time they demand. There’s always a fire they need to be put out for them, always a problem they need you to fix.

Now there’s nothing wrong with calling on a friend, family member or mentor when trouble comes or you want advice. That’s what friends are for, after all. But the thing with the drama kings and the drama queens is that their life is just this black hole of ongoing relationship dramas, family dramas, money dramas, career dramas, health dramas, life dramas etc.

Being the best you can be means respecting your time and your energy and realising that no matter who you are, you only possess limited amounts of both. So it follows that you can only devote so much time to making your own life better OR to helping that person deal with their latest drama- but not both.

So what’s it going to be?

Fact is, unless these people are paying you, you’re not obligated in any way, shape or form to help them. In fact, by helping them you could be unwittingly stopping them from sorting their life out. Without a comfortable crutch, without that person (you) who’s always there to lend an ear or give up your time for them the moment they throw shit at the fan- they might actually realise they need to take some responsibility?

Like I said, sometimes we all legitimately need somebody to listen to us, somebody who can give us advice. So how do you figure out the difference between people with problems and people who ARE problems?

Weigh up how much of the time spent interacting with these people is actually productive or enjoyable (coming up with great ideas, talking about life in general, having good times) and how much is just you playing the part of amateur psychologist or fixing their problems yet again?

If both are 50/50, then it’s a relationship you want to reconsider. Do the pro’s outweigh the cons? If it’s anything more than 40/60 in favour of drama- then it’s a relationship you can do without.

Casting these people off it easier said than done, as they can often be quite needy. They probably won’t just fade into the background. So you’ll have to tell it to them straight: point out that you have enough problems to deal with of your own without worrying about theirs. Tell them that unless it’s a serious issue, they should fix it themselves or get somebody else to help them.

Remember: It’s not written anywhere that you need to be on hand to deal with these peoples’ dramas. You have no obligation to do so. It’s ok to walk away and you shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty for it.

#6. Blabbermouths/ Trash Talkers

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These people love to talk- and usually about other people. You might enjoy listening to their stories about what this person said or what that person did. A lot of what they say about another person may be accurate and funny as well.

But here’s the thing-

What makes you think you’re different from all the other people they bad-mouth?

Chances are that once your back is turned, you’re no longer that person they’re confiding in but just another name they talk about in their gossip. If people act like everything is ok to your face but then have no problem talking about you in scathing tones when you’re out of earshot, what does that say about them?

People like this are dead-weight because either:

a) They don’t have the courage or honesty to give you constructive critiscism, or

b) They don’t give you the respect you deserve. To them, you’re just more fuel to their conversational fire, another person to talk about in place of anything of real substance

You can do without such people.

The same goes for blabbermouths. These are the people who say the wrong thing out loud, time and time again. They’re the people you can’t trust to keep things on the down-low. They speak without thinking. As the saying goes “Loose lips sink ships”.

The problem with these people is the clean-up after they shoot their mouth off again- the bruised egos, the things people can’t un-hear. On a more serious note, the careless words spat out by these people could sabotage your success on a professional or personal level. Or worse still, they could get you directly into trouble because of their careless talk.

What makes these people especially toxic is if their habit for blabbing or trash talking is mixed with Insecurity or the Victimhood Complex (which we both covered in Part 1). Mixed with either of these, a blab or trash talker displays the following traits:

  • Verbally abusive
  • Openly critical of everything
  • Throws you under the bus the moment you challenge or even disagree with them
  • Demonises you to other people in an attempt to gain sympathy
  • Turns people against you thanks to Chinese Whispers they started

It’s one thing to call these people foolish, but it’s another thing to stay around them and let their words continue undermining you and making your life more difficult. If (when) you draw a line and distance yourself from these people, you can bet they’re going to bad mouth you. If these people also have that Victimhood Complex going on (see Part 1) then they’ll ad you to the long index of people who’ve done them wrong and made their life the tragedy it is.

So what?

Let them talk. Soon enough they’ll find somebody else to talk about, and new bridges to burn with their words. That’s their problem.

#7. Critical People

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For people like this, hardly anything or anybody is ever good enough. They might actually be quite productive people- competent, efficient- but it’s their negative and critical attitude that sucks the fun out of everything and makes the world seem like a much smaller, bleaker place than it really is.

These people are damaging to you on a psychological level, and if you’re a person big on the abundance mentality then these people are fatal to your creative thinking. These are the classic “glass half full” types. But rather than going and putting 50% water capacity into a glass and asking them to evaluate it, you can identify them by the following traits:

  • Frequent use of negative words like “never” “can’t” “horrible” “wrong” “rubbish”
  • Frequently put down other people- regardless of whether they actually know them or not
  • Believes at least 80% of the world’s population is beneath them somehow
  • If they’re female: “You can’t trust men, they’re only good for one thing, aside from that they’re all the same”.
  • If they’re male: “Women aren’t loyal, they’re only good for one thing, aside from that they’re nothing but trouble”.
  • Regularly complains about society, the government, big business etc.
  • Exhibits Tall Poppy Syndrome

These people may (emphasis on the word may) be useful professional contacts to some degree. But anything more than that? Forget it. Life’s too short to be dragged down by their negative, black-pill thinking. If you want to live a life open to amazing new opportunity and be standing in line for abundance, these are people who can definitely take a back-seat.

Conclusion:

Skydiving quote

I’ve had periods in my life where I didn’t have many true friends, with a quiet social calendar. But there’s also been periods where near every weekend (and weeknight) I had places to go, things to do and people to hang out with. So over the years I’ve met tonnes of people- and got to know plenty of different types, each with their differing worldviews and attitudes.

But then like most of us, I reached a point in life where I began to fully appreciate and recognise people for what/ who they really were. This coincided with developing a greater respect for my limited time and energy- and realising that if I really wanted certain aspects of my life to improve, then I’d have to be more accountable for how I invested both of these precious, valuable resources!

Like I said at the very beginning, it’s one thing to focus on ourselves and how we can do better as individuals, how we can reach goals and find true fulfilment. But we can’t do this on our own. We weren’t meant to. We were made for community and in a time of increasing individualism, it’s never been more important for us to recognise that.

So if you’re committed to fulfilment, to success (no matter your endeavour) and to enjoying abundance- if you believe the sky is, in fact, the limit- then you’ve got to have the right crew surrounding you. But you have to identify the excess baggage before you can chuck it.

In planting new orchards and sowing the seeds of success, first of all you’ve got to know what the rotten fruit looks like so you can throw it out before you become infected.

I know that taking action from here might involve some conflict. It might mean you’re left with no option but to have some uncomfortable conversations, or even break off existing relationships. Without some people, your life may become quieter for a period, and you may feel a profound sense of being ‘alone’, of being separated from the world, that you haven’t experienced before.  But if you’re committed, and you believe in abundance?

What you lose now in the short-term will well and truly be repaid to you, with interest.

The less time and energy you invest in the toxic people we’ve looked at here, the more time and energy you have for new people. Abundant people. Prolific people. Positively influential people. Great people. I wish you all the best!

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