Survey: What People Are Saying 2021 Has In Store For Us…

How often this year have you heard people refer to “these uncertain times” we’re living in? I’m not that old, but I’ve already lived through 9/11, the War On Terror, the GFC and the unexpected shifts in the western political landscape of 2016. All these moments in history were referred to in the same terms. The reality is, we’re always living in uncertain times. It’s only the daily, routine of our immediate world and the one presented to us by the news networks giving us the illusion of certainty, that “business as usual” will keep on keeping on, that life is comfortably predictable. We begin to think that the existing status quo will always run government, our local area will always be a slice of heaven untouched by greedy developers and the Melbourne Storm will always get away with playing grubby football. But it takes just one changing of the guard, just one clandestine handshake deal in an underground car park or just one star player/ coach/ referee calling time that causes the music to change. And then people get kind of worried, because they don’t know what song is playing and they don’t like not knowing what it is straight away. They’d rather hear Barry Manilow again for the 1,000th time than hear Billie Eilish for the first time.

But I digress…

Last week I posted the following question in several business groups I’m an active member of:

Your 3 biggest business predictions for 2021 are?

And then I waited to see what people would say. Here’s just a selection of what people responded with:

Increase in vegan products. Push for local manufacturing. Crypto boom.

ASIC turn back on the insolvency tap and the house of cards tumbles. Out of the ashes of bankruptcies will be innovation.

  1. Cashless systems
  2. Gaming industry dominance
  3. Working from home
  1. Change in spending habits and bigger divide between people being more conservative buyers and crazy impulse buyers (Especially in the online space)
  2. Big Tech getting in to Education business…Apple and Amazon go towards health. Google will go more towards education. Facebook will have more data breaches.
  3. The Invention Company will come up with a viable alternative to big-tech with end to end encryption, absolutely no data collection, with a subscription model for all tech needs. Starting with is for phones with internal basic internal communication apps and no ads!
  1. Global economic crash
  2. Spectacular real estate crash
  3. New financial order
  1. Same
  2. As
  3. Usual

Thinking back just 12 months ago, what ideas did you have in regards to how 2020 was going to turn out? Looking at them now with hindsight (which is 2020 Vision, no pun intended) how close (or far-off) were you?

Today I’m giving my 2 cents AND inviting you to share your own bold predictions about what 2021 holds in store, from a business perspective. I’m opening it up to you regardless of your industry because I’m genuinely interested to see how different our forecasts are!

So as I take a moment to think about what the new year might hold in store for us, here are 3 things I’m predicting, and as you’ll see, each one is connected to the other. I’m calling it ‘The Chain Reaction Of 2021’:

#1: The Commercial Real Estate Market Will Overflow

In his bestseller ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad‘ Robert Kiyosaki claims that the end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of the Information Age coincided with the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In that single year, 10 former Communist countries opened up to the west, bringing about the fall of the Iron Curtain. This also coincided with the dawn of the internet age and then there came the dot-com boom 10 years later, meaning that (with one or two exceptions) the entire world was now connected like never before in our history.

Similarly, I’m convinced that one carry-over from the Industrial Age, 30 years on, has drawn to an end with the COVID pandemic and the new restrictions it introduced to how businesses oprated-

See, one thing various lockdown measures made people realise in 2020 was just how much work they could achieve at home or in a designated office space besides their traditional work station. For some years leading up to now, the idea of people commuting more than an hour each way 5 days a week to go and work in a communal office space seemed archaic to me. Like having to wear a tie at work, it’s a leftover from the 20th century business model and (for various reasons) has carried on up until now.

But as our cities become more crowded, so it forces real estate and rental prices upwards- especially in our larger urban centres. Unfortunately it’s now too often the case that people can’t afford to live in the same city they work in, leading to traffic-jammed highways, packed commuter buses and trains, plus hundreds of hours wasted each year just travelling TO or FROM work.

It had to change sooner or later. The upside to the COVID lockdown and upheaval of standard work practises is that it forced many people to stay at home instead of going to the office- and as a result, businesses are going to look at the figures and realise that their employees still managed to get the work done- but remotely. Just because you can’t see your staff doesn’t mean they’re not doing the work, and this is something many bosses have struggled to adapt to!

But conversely, if your team can work just fine remotely, why bother paying rentals for office space? Allowing people the freedom to work remotely and (maybe) catch up once a week for meetings in a communal work space equals great savings on rent, but also on the time spent commuting, better wellbeing, less stress and a more productive team.

I forecast many businesses seeing the future and changing their work model, leading to a flood of office spaces for lease in the commercial sector for traditionally white-collar jobs. This is going to be an uncomfortable adjustment for people in commercial real-estate, but (to paraphrase a former PM) perhaps it was the adjustment we had to have?

#2: There Will Be A Surge In Demand For Business Hubs

Not everybody who stops going to the office every day will necessarily work from home, however. Especially those who are the one working member of their family and might want some peace and quiet to work away from the yapping neighbours’ dogs or the screaming kids!

I expect there to be a surge in demand for business hubs, where people can find a desk/ office, work in their own hours, enjoy direct access to 1st class facilities and do what needs to be done with human interaction from other professionals or work staff always close by. I know of one such hub not too far from me, and I can vouch first-hand for the facilities they offer: https://www.nexushub.com.au

The interesting thing about this scenario coming true is how it would impact the dynamic of the traditional office space…

#3: An Increase In Cross-Business Collaboration

Think of it this way: Instead of the traditional office space, where you might have different departments all working for the same company, in a work-hub you have people working for all different companies in direct contact with each other: They might be friends outside of work, maybe they chat in the dining area or play friendly games of table tennis or strike up the traditional “water cooler” conversation standing around the microwave.

Yet instead of talking inwardly, about their own company, they’re talking outwardly- about each others’ companies and about the companies of other people in the work space.

What this leads to is more opportunities for a diverse range of businesses to communicate with each other not just at a senior level, but at a staff level as well. There are more open channels (and more channels) for new concepts, strategies and ideas for partnerships to be traded where traditionally it came down to random discussions on public transport during the commute, or in the pub for the after-work drinks.

On top of this, internet access means that these ideas can be exchanged with decision makers in the company in near real-time. A simple email or video call to discuss a possible new concept or partnership is much easier. The end result of this is more widespread collaboration between businesses and greater room for innovation as the ideas marketplace opens up.

With the opportunity comes new risks, however: businesses are more likely to have good team members “head-hunted” and company confidentiality is easier to compromise either accidentally or on-purpose. How exactly businesses counter these risks remains to be seen, however the bigger picture holds far more advantages for companies looking to modernise their working environment than it does threats.

Wrapping Up:

So as you can see, my top 3 business predictions heading into 2021 are all connected. If #1 happens, then #3 is the logical conclusion. But over to you- do you think I’m onto something with these or is there an important detail that I’ve missed completely?

Either way, tell me what you reckon and remember to share your predictions for the coming 12 months!

Never miss another article again- subscribe here and get your FREE copy of ‘The 3 Posts People Stop Everything To Read’: https://www.scribecopywriting.com.au/stay-connected

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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Why A Powerful Planner Is Your Roadmap To Reward:

My Post-30

As a business owner, as somebody who runs my own show, what’s it like in my world?

Well…

It’s a life that carries both the weightlessness of personal freedom AND the burden of personal responsibility every single day. Like take right now for instance-

Nobody’s making me write this. If I wanted, I could take the rest of the afternoon off and go down the rabbit hole of YouTube. I could go for a walk. Or I could bring forward tonights’ planned gym session by a few hours.

I have nobody to report to, and I’m free. Yet (to paraphrase Uncle Ben from ‘Spiderman’), with great freedom comes great responsibility. That’s how it is when you’re a business owner or a professional at your craft- you’re stuck in that ongoing battle of “What needs to be done now?” vs “What can I get to, later?”

Over time, I’ve learned something:

A great week is a planned week.

I’m sure you’ve got a schedule or an organiser of some sort- and I imagine you probably fill this in, mostly with the ‘To Do’s’ and important tasks that relate to your profession and your finances. I’m not here to talk specifically about those. What I want to talk about are the other areas that so many people aren’t itemising- and if they did, they’d discover not only would they enjoy their week more- but they’d become more productive. All this would (in turn) have a positive flow-on effect to their work and their wealth.

So, you want to discover how this is done?

I’m assuming (like most people) you said yes- so here it is:

First of all, I suggest you get rid of your ‘To Do’ list and transform it into a weekly planner. There’s a difference between the two of them. Let me explain:

I first got the idea for keeping a weekly planner after listening through the Tony Robbins 10-Part series ‘Time Of Your Life’– and I highly recommend it so you get a thorough understanding of how to craft your weekly planner and how it ties in with your ultimate goals and aspirations. It follows the principles of living a life of ‘One Putt Foward’, which I discussed here:

Revealed: The Success Formula That’s Made In Japan…

I won’t get bogged down with all the details here, but for over 5 years now, each Monday I sit down with my laptop (wherever I am) and organise the week ahead of me. Sure, all the career and financially-related ‘To Do’s are itemised- but it’s much more than that. I also set goals designed to improve my physical state, my relationships, further explore my interests and those other things that make life a more complete experience. So in my weekly planner, besides the Career and Financial goals, I also have items listed under the following categories:

Physical

Emotional

Spiritual

Family

Relationships

Interests

Setting it out like this sets up a week where I’m not just getting the important stuff done- but I’m getting real fulfilment personally, as well. Now, if you go ahead and put together your own planner, you might want to ad other categories- but the most important principle that should back it up is this:

Get the work done, get your affairs taken care of- but appreciate your life for each day that comes, too- and have some fun.

There are online programs like Trello that you can use for this (although personally, I can achieve the result using just a simple Word document)- but the most important thing is to get your weekly planner up and running.

In tandem with approaching life by the principle of that little putt forward every day, you discover a new level of enjoyment from life- and this (best of all) leads to a sharper mind, better health, a better work ethic, better results- and better value for the work you put in- and what’s not to love about that?

So throw out that beige ‘To Do’ list- get your weekly planner set up- and ad some colour to your life!

‘Time Of Your Life’

 

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

April Blog Image #1

Let me start with a confession: Not all that long ago, e-mail marketing was something I didn’t bother with. I just didn’t see the point?

Because I’d open up my inbox each day and there’d be a tonne of new e-mails and rather than bothering to unsubscribe (let alone read them)- I’d just click the ‘Delete’ box next to them and they were gone. I couldn’t be bothered to read these e-mails, so why should I expect anyone else to? It seemed like a waste of valuable time to build a database, craft an e-mail and send it out to that list on the regular. Just more ‘filler’ to be deleted…

But then over lunch with a business mentor of mine one Friday afternoon, we were going through the tools I used to connect with new leads, when she asked if I kept in contact with them regularly via e-mail? I told her no, I didn’t, and she strongly advised I change that ASAP. She even came up with the heading for my first e-mail:

“The confessions of a copywriter with no e-mail list”.

That was where it all started, and I’m pleased to say that in the years since, not only has the content and the presentation of my e-mails improved somewhat- but so has the engagement. I especially notice this in the clients I write e-mails for- the regular messages to their database get twice, in some cases nearly 3 times the standard open rate for their industry.

I also get this kind of feedback- from people on my list and cold-contacts alike:

gaby response

e-mail feedback

^ Ahh yes, that time I forgot to BCC the group e-mail. D’oh!

But still…

Having a regular e-mail database is a fantastic way to promote yourself, build a relationship your new leads and get repeat business from the 20% of your existing customer base who drive 80% of all the money that comes in.

But how do you get your foot through the door? How do you craft an e-mail that stands out and doesn’t join the other average ones getting sent to the trash bin daily by your subscribers?

We could spend an entire day going through all the smaller details, but here’s the main things you want to remember:

 

#1. Get The Right Heading

You’ve got to put together a heading that relates to the content inside, but also makes your subscribers curious to click through and see what you have to say. It has to arouse their desire to know more, to find out what your unbelievable new offer is or what that little known secret about _____ is that could save them thousands? Whether your open rate blows them away or bombs all hangs on the heading- so it’s crucial you get this one spot-on (or as close to spot-on as you can). A handy tool for this is to use Headline Analyzer and that’ll tell you how effective a proposed headline is in regards to its’ length and the buzzwords it contains.

 

#2. Give Them Something To Look At

My first couple of e-mails didn’t have an image to go with them- big mistake! Because if you manage to convince your subscriber to open the e-mail, and all they see is a wall of text, chances are that’s as far as it’ll go. They’ll close it down. Don’t let them get overwhelmed by a lengthy essay. We’re visual creatures- so give them an image at the very top of your e-mail to break up the text. Find something that relates to the content of the article, and the more creative and intriguing you make this, the better! I’ve had a lot of fun with this over the years- everything from pictures of burning $100 notes, to Batman Welcome mats, to golden tickets (like in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’) to stills from movies like ‘The Usual Suspects‘- and ALL of them related to the copy that followed, in some way or another.

 

#3. Make It Easy To Read

How long should your email be, in regards to word count?

Look- it’s not important. It can be as long or short as you want- the objective is for the reader to have the best chance at clicking the link/s you include, or taking the action you want them to. So this doesn’t matter too much.

What IS important is that you make it easy for them to read. Don’t let the copy be in small text, with long paragraphs. Break it up like this:

Start with your opening line, you know what I’m talking about-

Make it bold so they want to read the next paragraph. Be careful with long-winded sentences- now isn’t the time to show off how wide your vocabulary is. You know what you need to do?

KISS!

In other words-

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

And make sure the text is slightly larger than usual, really easy for them to read. Keep those paragraphs short because they could turn and leave at ANY moment…

Be generous with your line spacing, because remember-

Your objective is to get them to click where you want them to.

Or take the action you want them to-

Call you or your team.

Submit a contact form.

Send an enquiry.

Got it?

Like I said, there are plenty of other subtleties that go into pumping out eye-grabbing headlines and e-mail content that keeps them hanging on until the very end. But to start with, if you follow these guidelines then you should see a much better click and open/ action taking rate from your subscribers than a lot of the other e-mails clogging up their inbox. You’d be surprised just how many people get it wrong with this.

Don’t believe me? Just go through all the e-mails you get today from regular contributors, and see if they’re NOT guilty of at least ONE of the following:

a) No header image

b) Small text

c) Large chunks of text

d) No bold sentences

e) Call to action not clearly highlighted (like a big ‘Contact Me’ or ‘Read More’ button)

So take this on board, and I wish you luck in building your list and reaping the rewards that follow. It’s definitely worth doing in the long-term!

But it always takes time to do this- even for me- and I’m a professional at this! So if you’d rather get your time back to do what you do best, and let someone else take care of your regular database e-mails- somebody with a track record for creating content that stands above the masses flowing into your subscribers’ inboxes every day-

If you want content that actually gets opened, read AND acted upon?

Let’s Talk

 

 

Revealed: The Success Formula That’s Made In Japan…

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When you buy electronic goods or a car and you see it’s made in Japan, what does that make you think about the quality of your purchase?

What if I told you that, less than 50 years ago, the general response was quite different when people saw that ‘Made In Japan’ sticker? It signified cheaply made goods, the same way people react to the ‘Made In Taiwan’ label today…

So how did this turnaround happen?

No doubt, an insistence on restoring national pride after the decimation of World War 2 played a considerable part. Honour and pride in your work are two characteristics that form the backbone of the Japanese identity. Yet there’s another concept that transformed Japan’s standing on the world stage, and turned a World War 2 enemy into a firm ally of our modern, Western civilisation.

It’s a single word, known as kaizen.

This word features constantly in their language and can apply to any number of pursuits- kaizen in their relationships, kaizen in their martial arts training, kaizen in their business ventures or their production line. Essentially, it’s the principle of getting a little better in some way, every day. The idea is that if you don’t see a man for three days, when you see him on the 4th day you should be able to notice a subtle change in him.

Tony Robbins loved the idea of this concept so much he coined his own term for it: CANI (short for Constant And Notable Improvement). Business, like life itself, should grow following this concept.

It’s like being on a golf-course: If you aim to get a hole in 1 and settle for nothing less, how many times do you think you’ll have to swing at that tee with your wood until you pull it off? How much time will you waste trying to achieve it? Good luck getting that hole in 1 before dark!

The real goal is to move forward, 1 putt at a time. Make just one little improvement each day. It may not feel like real progress of any sort after just one day- or even a week. But after a year? You’ll definitely notice an improvement…

 

All through Highschool, I was a skinny streak of a guy. I remember in Year 11, some (then) friends of mine found the time to draw a picture of a guy with a body like one of those malnourished African kids- ribs sticking out- but they depicted my head on it. This at a time when I thought girls were only interested in guys with the buff surfie/ footy player physique. So needless to say, my self-esteem around that time was already pretty low. I was 6″1 with no chest and while it wasn’t hard to build definition if I exercised, in terms of actual mass I remained stagnant. Throughout my 20’s I’d weigh in around the early 70’s on the scales, and during a hectic 2016 I weighed in around 67kg at times.

I began to figure maybe this was just something I’d have to live with…

But last winter, I returned to the gym after a 5 year absence. I’d regularly go for walks, ride my bike, do floor routines at home- but I wanted to push myself further, see what was capable and if long-held fitness and weight goals could be realised with a change to my training and my supplements. So I joined the local gym, found the protein supplement that suited my needs- and off I went.

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The first week training, I was sore in a whole bunch of places. My ribs tingled, my arms ached constantly. I expected as much. Looking in the mirror, no notable difference. On through the rest of the winter, right on throughout spring and into the summertime I went, training 3 times a week, usually at night when it was cooler and less crowded. The aching vanished after that first week and slowly I could lift heavier loads, ad more weight to the equipment I used. The scales told half the story- soon my lightest weigh-ins were still heavier than I’d ever been until a couple of months earlier. People would comment on how I looked different. Pants felt tighter around my waist, and when peeling off t-shirts I had to be careful not to rip them!

But it didn’t really hit home until one night in December when I snapped a selfie while I was training, to show my progress to an old friend from interstate. I snapped the photo-  looked at it- and stopped a moment.

Have you ever seen a photo of you and not recognised yourself? Like obviously you know its’ you- but looking at that photo, it feels as if you’re looking at another person. Because that’s how I felt in that moment. It was a surreal feeling- to see this guy with a shaved head, well-kept facial hair and solidly defined arms who looked like other blokes I’d seen over the years-  guys I once would’ve thought of as “one of those gym junkie douchebags”- and to realise the guy in that photo was me

All those individual sessions, those supplements I’d take before training- and here was the result after just a few months. What could the results be after a year?

To get the big results, maybe ones you’ve dreamed of for years but never quite managed, the real goal is to move forward, one putt at a time. Just one small improvement each day. It may not feel like much improvment, but give it a year and you may have a life you barely recognise when you look in the mirror- so choose wisely!

Whether it’s in your finances…

Or your career…

Or in your relationships…

If you can improve in some small way each day, then that’s success.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step, and the game of life gets better with just one putt forward per day!

 

 

 

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

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I’ve got something to confess-

I’ve never really warmed to cats. Dogs are great- alway happy for a pat or a cuddle on the couch, when you come home after just a few hours away they act as if they haven’t seen you in a month. Plus you can play all sorts of games with them and teach them a bunch of tricks to perform.

Cats on the other hand?

They come and go as they please. Sometimes they’re happy for you to scratch their belly or cuddle on the couch- but then they up and leave, back to their own world. I’ve seen videos of dogs howling on their owners’ graves, but you could keep a cat 10 years then die, and all the cat would care about is who’s going to provide it with its’ next meal? I really don’t get the “lonely cat lady phenomenon”- surely if you have that yearning for a regular companion round the house who shows you affection, you’d get a dog, right?

But there’s a cat in my neighourhood I’ve grown rather fond of. She’s a little black cat with yellow eyes, named Kasey, and most times when I’m out for a walk and I pass her driveway, out she comes to greet me. She meows, rubs herself against my legs and purrs to such an extent it’s like she’s a battery operated toy. I’ll stop to run my hand along her head and her soft back, and when I set off again she follows after me for several houses. I actually bought a packet of cat pellets, and whenever I set out on a walk I take some in my pocket to give Kasey a treat when she leaps up to her feet to see me. She knows I’m good news and I bring treats- and responds accordingly.

But over 20 years ago, I knew another cat who was very different from Kasey- and it wasn’t until long after I last saw him that I realised he’d taught me a critical lesson  about selling…

Kenny was my late Grandmothers’ cat. He was a tortoiseshell with big green eyes, a rescue cat found in a gutter by the RSPCA, and my aunty gave him to my Grandma as a house companion. Nobody knew where Kenny came from- whether he’d had a previous owner, whether he’d been neglected or abused- but he was such a timid creature! We’d rock up to my Grandma’s old house and he’d peer through the mesh of the screen door- then scamper away through the living room, down the hallway and retreat to his hiding place- under my Grandma’s bed in her room at the back of the house. The hallway was dark and it had that musty, decades old smell to it. And in the shadows you could just make out those big green eyes, shining in the darkness with the little mouth bared wide.

Hisssssss! Hisssssssss!

Yet this didn’t deter me. Instead, it only made me more determined to bring him out of his shell and to realise that an 11 year old boy wasn’t a threat to him, regardless of his life before he found a new home with my late Grandma. But how could I win his trust?

Then I got the idea-

I scooped up a handful of cat pellets from the bag in the laundry. This particular day, Kenny had retreated under Grandma’s bed. He saw me as I eased into her room.

Hisssssss! Hisssssss!

I laid a pellet on the carpet, just out from beneath the bed. Then another one about 20 centimetres away. I laid out a dotted trail of pellets that led from the bedroom, halfway down the hallway and out of the shadows. And it was enough to lure Kenny out from under the bed. He gobbled up the first pellet. Moved onto the next one. Ate that. Saw the next one and moved onto that. Crouched down, I let out long, slow, silent breaths as I saw him make his way down the hallway, munching each pellet that brought him closer to me, aware of my presence. Eventually he was right there, less than a metre from where I knelt. If he kept going, he would get not just one pellet- but a whole cluster of them.

But to get the jackpot, he had to do one thing-

Those pellets were in the palm of my hand, fingers resting on the linoleum floor of the hallway. To gobble up those tasty treats, he’d have to reach my hand and make physical contact with me- put his faith in this stranger and make the final connection. He saw the pellets right there in front of him…

…And I felt his whiskers nuzzling the palm of my hand as he claimed his reward, his teeth making a tiny crunching sound. I carefully reached out to run my hand along the top of his head- and he let me. Instead of fleeing back to the familiar shadows under Grandma’s bed, he stuck around after the pellets were gone and didn’t have a problem with me patting him.

Success!

Unfortunately, next time we came around he seemed to have no memory of our previous exchange. So again I had to coax him out of his hiding place with more pellets. Again he made it to the end. This time, he even lay back on the cool floor of the hallway, let me scatch his belly and playfully nipped at my fingers. But then my 3 year old sister came noisily clomping down the hallway, causing Kenny to leap off down by the ancient wooden radio and hiss loudly.

“Mary- you wrecked it!”

And I’d been going so well…

So what do a couple of cats I’ve known, 20 years apart, have to do with the art of successful selling?

While you have leads like Kasey- happy to give you attention, pay up and get on board with what you’re selling- you’ve also got those leads with the potential to deliver a truckload of money and referrals to your door. But they need to trust you first. They need to know you’re one of the good ones. If you try selling to them straight away, they get cold feet and you’ve missed a golden opportunity with what could’ve been a top-value customer.

Think of it like the girl who’s been hurt before. You know these girls- you like her, she likes you and it should be a beautiful romance between the two of you BUT- she got her heart broken by an ex who treated her badly. It had nothing to do with you, you’re nothing like that guy- but she’s been hurt and she’s wary of the same thing happening to her again.

A lot of your leads are the same. They’ve been misled in the past by smooth talkers and snake-oil sellers who made big promises but didn’t deliver once they’d paid up in good faith. Even though it had nothing to do with you and you know for a fact you’re one of the good ones- it’s a harder task to win them over. Stories like this make my blood boil because these operators don’t just wreck it for the person buying- they wreck it for people like us, further down the line:

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I know, it sucks- but that’s the unfortunate reality of selling. If you’ve been the one burnt in the past, then you appreciate how difficult it is to trust the next person who comes along- especially if they’re selling a similar product or service to the one you got stung by.

So, how do you convert those prospects with cold feet? How do you show them you are, in fact, “the real deal” and get them to trust you enough to go all in and show you the money? Here’s how you do it:

  1. Social proof. Let them see testimonials from happy clients or customers of yours, let them hear raving referrals. This is especially effective if the people singing your praises are similar to them in regards to age, demographic, industry etc. Few things sell you better to somebody than when other people say great things about you!
  2. Share your nuggets of wisdom. Let them discover what your business is about and who you are- give them the full tour. If they trust you, then they trust your business as well. You can achieve this by regularly sharing blog articles (like this one) or videos in related industry groups on social media pages. Impress them with your knowledge and your expertise- and let them see that you’re “the real deal”.
  3. Invite them to join your database. What you achieve with blog articles or videos in the above point, you can also achieve with a regular e-mail. Provide links to your latest articles, videos, presentations and your site.
  4. Erase their doubts head-on. Sometimes you can just point out that you’ve heard the horror stories from other people who’ve got their fingers burnt. Explain the worst case scenarios and then tell them why you’re different. This is a fantastic way of demolishing that trust obstacle, because they feel like you truly understand them. This makes it MUCH more likely that any resistence vanishes- and they’ll reward you for bothering to understand.

I understand that to create regular content that

a) Sets you apart

b) Earns their trust and,

c) Generates new sales-

is a time-consuming affair. That never changes, even for somebody like me (and I do this for a living!)

So if you want to convert your “cold” leads into happily paying customers, then let’s talk- and get your content needs taken care of- while you simply keep doing what makes you “the real deal”: Contact Me

Why I Don’t Care About This “Next Big Thing”…

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Late last year, I read an article that left me with that feeling you get occasionally- where it’s like a few loose ends finally tie together, the last remaining pieces of the puzzle slot into place and at last, you can see the full picture…

For me, this hunch had started sometime in 2013, and over the 5 years since it gradually took form at the back of my mind, just beyond full grasp, like that childhood lolly jar on the high shelf. Then finally, here was the answer, laid out clearly in one article:

On the infestation of small-souled bugmen

If you read this piece later (and I strongly recommend you do), what it says is (essentially) that we’ve ridden ourselves of a sense of community or an identity with an underlying culture- instead replacing it with watered-down conformity and a reliance on consumerism and entertainment to define ourselves. It’s made us hollow, lacking a real soul or identity, susceptible to marketing fads and crafting an identity we think is unique, but has (in fact) been planned by clever marketers and advocated by media.

This, apparently, is what we call “progress”. Now, I was aware of all this to some degree before I read the article. I’d observed it, felt something curiously “off” about the type of person described in this article, but couldn’t quite explain why (which is some feat when you write for a living.) But now, seeing those final pieces slot into place, I realise that it’s the underlying reason why I’ve long held the conviction that newer aint necessarily “better”. Let me get one thing straight, though-

I’m not what you’d call a “technophobe”. I’m writing this post from my Macbook, I’m grateful for the gadgets on my iPhone and the opportunities the internet has provided to myself and millions of other people like me, worldwide. Were it not for at least two of the  three things I mentioned just then, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now!

So my skin doesn’t prickle at new technology, and like I said, I’m truly grateful for all the developments and innovations in communication technology over the last century. In many ways, we’re living the dream. But

I just can’t understand our society’s widespread obsession with acquiring the newest, latest, shiny thing? Like sure, a great marketing campaign works wonders, and I get the appeal of more convenience (even if in many cases, convenience is actually a bad thing for us- but that’s for another discussion altogether). I don’t get the mentality of people who give up a day of their lives to camp out, just so they can be the first person in their social group to own Apple’s newest gadget.

Why?

Does it give their life or their sense of identity something it would otherwise lack? Is it all dependant upon the output of a billion dollar corporation in Silicon Valley for their sense of purpose?

This widespread obsession with the next big thing, with “progress” and automatically assuming progress is a good thing- it sets us on a dangerous path. First of all, it leads us to believe we never have enough, and to never be content. We lose our sense of gratitude and the abundance mentality. If you’re reading this right now and using internet to do so then congratulations- you have abundance in your life. Of course, there’s always room for improvement- I’m glad I don’t need to write this on a typewriter and disconnect my landline to use the internet. But…

Often, an established system or product is there for a valid reason. There may be legitimate reasons to tinker with what we’ve got, but throwing it out completely for the new thing often leaves a bigger void than we think. And it creates more problems that a little patience and foresight might have avoided:

We build faster cars and then require more stringent safety features.

We introduce new lock-out laws and then the Police have to deal with hundreds of drunken people all taking to the streets at the same time.

We develop more personalised internet accounts and communication devices that offer us more widespread use and convenience if we just enter our details- then have to ramp up our security measures to deal with the hackers and scammers.

Basic, obvious truths have to be sugar-coated or suppressed altogether in case somebody takes offence- and then we wonder why there are so many “keyboard warriors” and why simple exchange of ideas and theories has become such a complex, frustrating process.

We want the manual work all done for us by automation and the sweet taste of sugar with everything- then wonder why we’re lacking in motivation and the teeth meant to last a lifetime are falling out of our heads?

And this is “progress”?

We live in an age where we have instant communication with one another, no matter where we are in the world. I could not just talk to my sister and my brother in-law from the UK and hear their voices in real-time. I could see their faces too, see the weather from outside the window of their place in Bath, see the state of their house and the colour of their clothing. We have easy access to gratification of all 5 of our senses, on a near-instant basis. All our basic needs are met. All the information we could want can be found through a simple device that fits in our pocket.

And yet…

We’re more disconnected, disillusioned and misinformed than ever before. In an age obsessed with “equality”, there are increasing lines that divide us into micro tribes based on factors that go far beyond our political, religious or ideological leanings. Respectful debate and the art of listening has become an increasingly rare commodity. Who has the patience for that, when it’s much easier to imagine your moral and intellectual superiority to a caricature?

In short- we may live in an age of material wealth, but it’s also an age of spiritual and emotional poverty.

So obsessed are we in our drive for more “progress”, for more financial and material currency, that we’ve neglected interest in our social and spiritual currency. We turn to the personalities on TV for our social guidance and the manifestation of billions of dollars spent by advertisers to validate us, instead of relying on our family, friends and community. In place of religions we’ve apparently out-grown, we now rely on sports fandom, pop-culture obsession and shifting, empty tribalism to give us a sense of belonging and destiny.

What’s the achievement in clocking the hottest new console game if we remain a slave to our most basic impulses and desires?

What’s the point of opening Tinder to find 10+ new matches if we’re clueless and panicky at the thought of approaching that attractive stranger at the train station or the supermarket and engaging them in conversation?

What do we gain from sharing every little detail of where we go, what we eat, what we’re watching or how we’re feeling on social media if we don’t bother to catch up with our friends regularly for a barbeque, golf game, picnic, road-trip or even just to sit on the porch with them, esky at our side watching the storms come in of a summer’s evening?

Like I said, I’m absolutely grateful for this information age we live in- it’s literally provided me with a living and the opportunity to start a business and build up every rung how I want it to be.

But in spite of this?

I refuse to accept “progress” for progress’ sake. I refuse to hand over my identity or sense of purpose to marketing firms or media organisations to shape how they see fit. I refuse to imagine myself a “free-thinker” while demonising anybody simply because they disagree with me.

It’s a journey we must take for ourselves, beyond outside influencers. We listen to those we trust most along the way, and that’s how we find our own true identity, our soul, our sense of purpose.

It’s only then that we find true progress…

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

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I’m 9 years old, and before the discovery of girls, I have just one day-dream-

It’s to become the next Australian Formula 1 World Champion. I imagine a day where in Australian motorsport, my name is recognised on the same level as names like Jack Brabham, Alan Jones, Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Mick Doohan. I imagine the races I’ll win, the inspiring come-from-behind victories I’ll achieve, the praise from the commentators after another amazing drive, how proud my classmates and everybody who knew me growing up will be to say they knew me before I was famous. I imagine how it’ll feel to be considered the best racing driver in the world, to be seriously compared with Grand Prix legends like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. There’s just one thing:

I haven’t even raced a go-kart once in my life!

But that changes at the start of Year 4, when a friend at school tells me about an indoor kart track nearby where he’s gone and raced. He shows me his licence when I doubt him. He’s younger and shorter than I am- so surely I could drive as well? I go home and draw pictures of myself racing in a go-kart, wearing my custom helmet design, drifting around a corner sideways with smoke coming off the tyres. I have to check this place out!

The next day after school, Mum has a change of clothes for me in the car- we’re going to the indoor go-kart track. Today is the day it happens! I don’t know what your wedding day or the birth of your first child is like, but I imagine it’s similar to the feeling of anticipation I have, riding along in the passenger seat that summer afternoon…

We arrive at the go-kart centre. Hopping out of the car, I bound up the steps and inside to the fluroscent lights of the brick building. The smell of petrol, the thrum of puttering 2-stroke engines and the shrieking of tyres fills the air. Out on the track, guys older than me race past. They screech around the corners so rapidly, wildly, almost losing control. If I ever want to race Formula 1 cars one day, I have to drive these first…

What if I swerve all over the place and crash into the barriers?

Maybe today, my dream will be exposed as nothing more than a starry-eyed delusion?

My legs shake like they never have before. For a split moment I think of turning around and telling Mum not to bother, that we can just go home. But I know if I do that, I’ll hate myself 5 minutes later when we’re driving back. So instead I stick around, get my licence laminated, get measured and wait for the current session to finish. The karts all divert into the pit lane and pull up with a sputtering halt. The place falls silent. I pull a helmet on and walk through the gate, up to the very first kart in the line as my shoes thud on the polished concrete. I ease my way into the booster seat. The attendant buckles me in…

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I’m 26 years old and out on the town one Saturday night with my mates. We’re at the casino, a few beers in and having a good time as usual, when in that crowded gaming room, a girl across the floor leaps to my eyes…

She’s a raven-haired beauty in a red dress. No wonder I spotted her right away! But, there is a term called Hanker Sore, and it describes the feeling of finding somebody so attractive that it actually kind of frustrates you. That is how I feel right now, because I know if she leaves here and I don’t talk to her, I’m going to hate myself for missing the chance. But…she’s with a whole group of people- girls and guys. What if one of them is her boyfriend? So I’m feeling this intense frustration as I realise that no matter what I do, there’s a good chance I’ll end up feeling like shit. But I have to find a way to talk to her somehow. All I do is say a quick prayer, that somehow I’ll get the chance to talk to this mystery girl in the red dress…

I don’t recall what happens for the following minute or so, but next thing I know, one of my mates is off, talking to this very girl and one of her friends. Here’s my chance! So I go over like it’s no big deal, introduce myself to this girl and her friend, find out their names and ask how their night is going? I’m talking to her, probably gazing into her eyes unintentionally and I’m getting no signs from her as I ask what she does with herself? She’s studying criminology, which leads to me asking what particular field she hopes to go into once she’s finished her degree, relating how I was interested in that stuff when I was younger and did a weekend forensic science course back in Year 6. The conversation doesn’t last much longer than that, and then we’re separated again…

Back with my mates, I glance across at this girl and curse under my breath because I wanted to give her my number- but I can’t “because she’s with all her friends and there’s those guys there”. These days it wouldn’t really matter to me, but back then I was less confident, and things like that still seemed like a deterrant.

The same mate who struck up the initial conversation with them goes “So? Why not? Just go over there and give her your number! If any one of those guys tries to fight you I’ll back you up, ok? Just go down in a blaze of glory and do it! So what?” He nudges me in the back. I decide to put my faith in him. I find myself walking right over towards this girl as she chats with her friends. As I approach, they look at me. She looks at me. I hand her a scrap of paper with my name and number written down. “This is for you- give me a call and we’ll go grab a coffee sometime, hey?” She takes the piece of paper from me and I give her a wink as I turn back around. Retreating back across the floor to my mates, I can feel eyes staring into my back, but thankfully I’m distracted immediately by a pretty, bubbly brunette who comes over and starts chatting with us. I ask how her nights’ turning out and I joke about how she’ll be giving me her number in a minute- and she does, too…

I come home in the early hours with the boys, we stay up for a nightcap and recollect the stuff that happened throughout the night. I mention the girl in the red dress and how I’m glad I at least gave her my number. I’m not hopeful I’ll hear from her, but hey- I gave it my best shot…

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I’m 31 years old. I’ve spent the past 10 weeks in the Fight Like A Pro program, training intensively for Fight Night- and now here it is-

I’m waiting in the wings, the second bout of the night. Then the announcer reads out my name. I take the stage and shadow box as my theme song booms through the auditiorium (‘The Touch‘ by Stan Bush, for your information- a reminder of everything that rocked about 80’s power ballads). I walk through the crowd to the ring, which feels so far away. I climb up through the ropes and pull myself back onto my feet, bouncing up and down and pacing around. Before the night got underway, Gavin (who runs the whole thing) gathered us together in this very ring and said “If you go out there tonight and you’re not scared and wondering what you’re doing here, then there’s something wrong with you”.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me?

I feel no fear. But everybody is watching me, sizing me up, as my opponent strides out. I’m younger than Glenn and I’m fitter than him. I’m quicker on my feet. But his punches are like sledgehammer blows. If I’m not careful, he could smash me and wear me right down, game over. There’s no second chance. I have to remember everything I’ve trained for over the past couple of months, remember everything Tony (my trainer) and my cornermen have told me tonight leading up to this moment- but I only get one shot. There’s no turning back now. Glenn steps into the ring. In our corners, we get strapped up, then brought together in the middle. The referee tells us the rules of the bout, we bump fists and return to our corners.

Then the bell tingles. Round 1:

Fight!

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Maybe you dream of expanding your business- taking on more staff, going into coaching, launching a great idea for a side venture and funding it from start-up. Maybe you want to become the #1, nationally or worldwide- but:

You dread the idea of getting up to give a presentation in front of a crowded room.

The thought of attending workshops, seminars or networking events and having to chat to a room full of people causes your heart to race.

Or you’re hesitant at the idea of going bust and losing tens of thousands on something that (ultimately) doesn’t pay off in abundance like you hoped it would.

In order to get there, to live that dream- you have to do this confronting, uncomfortable, risky thing first. Ugh!

But as much as we might hate that obstacle for standing in the way of our true desire, as much as we risk making ourselves completely vulnerable- sometimes there’s no other option. So what’s it going to be?

…That first lap in the go-kart, I’m surprised how easy it is. I turn the wheel, the kart goes where I point it. I hit the brake, it slows right up. I put my foot down, it putters away- and I’d be comfortable if it took off faster! I complete the session only crashing once, just exiting a corner too wide and slipping the front under the barrier. The attendant pushes my kart out, and I’m on my way again. He tells Mum how well I’m doing. I must rave about it when Dad comes home, because we go back that same night. This time I race against Dad and a bunch of adults with their drivers licences- and I beat them all. Nothing feels uncomfortable, and I go faster, faster, faster…

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…I’m headed out one night with some other mates to a Latin party at a club in town. Near the station, my phone rings. I don’t recognise the number, but I pick up. On the other end is this girl- the one I dared give my number to, in front of all her friends at the casino a month back. Funny, I’d nearly forgotten about her! She had my number in her handbag, she says. She’s out with her friends, she tells me the venue they’re at and says to come and find her- she’s wearing a red dress. But I already have plans, so I tell her we’ll catch up next week maybe? I later find out (from her cousin no less) that she’d been talking about me, had “loved that I was talking to her about her degree” and (apparently) she liked what she saw, too…

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…3 rounds later, and despite Glenn having the weight advantage over me, I got more hits in. At last the final bell came, we were brought together- and my hand was raised- winner! It was then Tony told me how proud he was, because I’d gone and done exactly what he and my cornermen had told me to do, the whole bout. Despite fatigue, despite the punches I copped- I stuck with the plan- and it paid off. Trophy in hand, I did the only thing you could expect and went off to grab a beer or 3…

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So why do I share these three scenarios with you?

Because in all of them, there was something I desired. I really wanted it. But to have a chance of getting it, I first had to risk being found out, I had to risk failing publicly and my ego copping a hiding. I had to put myself in a vulnerable position. And I felt tempted to take the easy path, to hold back and not take the risk. But regret hurts much worse in the long term than failure. Because unlike the bruise of failure, regret kills you slowly inside, like a cancer of the spirit. And I won’t live with that.

Sure, if you try enough new things and take enough chances, you fail some of them. I’ve flipped karts over in races. I’ve been openly shut down by girls. I’ve lost bouts in the ring (to guys I’d given tips to, no less!) But even so, I’ve never felt regret about taking the shot to start with.

When you fail, the feeling doesn’t even compare to that feeling when, despite your greatest fears or doubts- you ask yourself “Why not?”, do it anyway- and succeed. Maybe you do even better than you’d hoped for?

I don’t know exactly what that “one thing” is for you- or if there is that “one thing”. But I know that, right at the top of another year- now is the time to ask “why not” and go for it. If you go down, at least you go down in a blaze of glory.

To borrow from an old quote I heard in this motivational playlist I used to have: “The man who says ‘I failed’ is 10 times more of a man than the one who wonders ‘What if?’ Because ‘What if?’ never went to the arena!”

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

Every Monday when I sit down to organise my week ahead, I also take account of anything notable I learned over the previous 7 days. Whether it’s in the professional or the personal realm I list it, then copy it into a Word document I’ve created to note all of the “Aha!” moments I experience throughout a given year.

Because it’s one thing to learn something new- we’re always learning new things. But what makes the difference is if we remember what we learned. If you can do this, you may save yourself making the same mistake over and over!

So now here we are- coming to the end of another year. And for my last article of 2018, I’ve chosen one revelation from each of the 12 months just gone- something that really stood out to me along the way- something that just might be of great benefit to you in the coming 12 months…

 

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“There are circumstances beyond my control, granted- but aside from that, if I focus first on my own attitude and output, push emotions to one side and face each day with stoicism and a “get it done” attitude- then this year will make itself great.”

It was a typically muggy New Years’ Day and I was down at the beach, walking along the rocks- then it occured to me: How often do people wonder aloud what the coming year is going to be like for them? It’s like they’re just a passenger, and whether 20 – – ends up being a good year or not is entirely out of their hands. But instead, why not do the best we can with what we’ve got and keep aiming to do a little better each day? If we focus on that instead, chances are the next 12 months are going to contain a tonne of highlights- in spite of the unforeseen challenges. Meanwhile, the year will take care of itself, just as it always does…

 

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“Push your feelings aside and just do it!”

Working in a creative field, there can be a temptation to put too much emphasis on getting “in the zone” before you work. In other factors of life, you can avoid doing something because you don’t feel like doing it right then. But how reliable are feelings? So I decided that instead of procrastinating, I’d do what needed to be done and my feelings about it would be irrelevant. And I’m glad I did- because (surprise surprise) more stuff got done- and then I didn’t have to think about doing it anymore!

 

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“We can choose the bottle of wine- it intoxicates us but leads us nowhere and leaves us thirsty and with a headache, or we can choose the bucket that contains the water of life- much more subtle and it has no intoxicating effect, but it gives us what we need and ultimately it satisfies us.”

As I explained in this article (What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success), things of real value rarely come easily. I’ve found that doing what’s difficult or dull (but constructive) often leaves a subtle but longer lasting pleasure than doing what’s easy and feels ‘better’ in the short-term.

 

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“We accept the love we think we deserve”.

Not just love, either. We also accept the friends, clients and opportunities we think we’re deserving of. I’d rather aim higher and travel light a while, instead of settling for lower and paying for it with the frustration and “what might have been” that follows. If getting what I think I deserve means having to improve, look inward and learn more? So be it.

 

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“In order to be a leader, live as if you already are one and setting an example.”

On a long enough time frame, people are going to come to you for guidance- and if you dream of leading people one day, it’s pointless waiting for that time of “When I become that person”. Why wait? Start living it now, do what’s required to be in that position- and it all comes much easier…

 

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“We learn to fight and win the smaller battles in order to conquer larger battles later on in life- and to show others how to win them.”

I think of this like martial arts training: If you want to get a higher belt, you have to first learn the basics. You move up through the belts, learning new skills and more difficult techniques- and behind those challenges and the frustrations, you become a better fighter who’s capable of winning bigger battles against better opponents. Bigger tasks and bigger opportunities wait on the other side of mastering smaller tasks and opportunities- and you can then show others how to win the fights you’ve already won.

 

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“Meditation is a small thing that causes subtle (yet notable) changes to well-being and our state of mind”.

I first delved into meditation a couple of years ago, but didn’t follow on with it. Looking back, I wish I had! It’s like working out- you may not see a difference in the mirror after one session, you might not remember every time you train- but give it a few months and you start to notice real transformation. It was the small things that occurred to me after meditating for periods of time- that’s what made me realise why it’s such a valuable habit to get into. But try it for yourself, be consistent- and see what manifests…

 

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“Expecting and preparing yourself (mentally and physically) for good things to come, even when they’re not (yet) present in your life, has great power for them to show up. So: act and attract!”

This is NOT some easily digestible “Just think of it and you shall have it” mantra. This is about being it until you become it. Yes, you must act towards the outcomes you seek- but you also need to think towards those outcomes. In order to achieve and receive, we first have to be aware and prepared.

 

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“When deciding on a course of action, all I need to remember is what I would do if I was somebody I aspired to be.”

Sometimes the decision we make turns out to be the wrong one- it’s an inescapable fact of life. But even so, those wrong decisions won’t feel so regrettable if we look back knowing we made the best choice with the knowledge we had. There are times it’s best to play it safe, then other times where you should aim big- even in spite of the risks. But whatever you choose, consider the future and ask yourself “Regardless of how this turns out, would I be proud of the decision I made? If I was (insert the type of person you look up to) what would I do?”

 

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“When we step to a new level or find ourselves in a great situation we haven’t experienced before, don’t get flustered by the occasion and act based on excitement or nerves. Instead, keep calm, be steady and persistent and keep doing as you have done up to this point in time even though the setting or situation may be a new one. But be prepared to keep learning. A team wins the Grand Final not through doing things differently or letting the occasion dictate how they play- a team wins the Grand Final with the same mindset and doing the same things that brought them there to begin with.”

As Pete Godfrey put it “It’s one thing to get your foot in the door- it’s another thing to walk through that door altogether.” Same reason so many people win the lottery and then blow it all. They have the money they dreamed of, but they don’t know how to handle it when they get it. Or think of the quiet, nerdy guy who lands that beautiful girl with plenty of admirers- if he’s too insecure and won’t dare to rock the boat for fear of losing her, any attraction she had for him fades out pretty quickly! If you’re aiming for a new level or a particular goal- make sure you’re ready to handle it first- before it comes…

 

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“Life’s too short to waste it being a grouch or waiting for things to happen. Be positive, be present- and make it happen.”

“Life is short”, people say. In fact, life is literally the longest thing we ever experience in this world! Like I said back in January, waiting to see what happens to you is the passive approach. Grumbling about what happens to you is the passive approach. Instead, we have to be positive about our future. Enjoy the time, the moment for whatever it brings- and do whatever it takes to bring the good things into our present!

 

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“We control ourselves and set our own boundaries, or somebody else will control and set boundaries for us. Our choice.”

Self-discipline is saying a lot of small ‘No’s on your way to a much bigger ‘Yes’. To enjoy true freedom and peace of mind, we also have to limit ourselves and stick to boundaries. To welcome new opportunities into our life, we have to say ‘No’ to some things. Ignore our feelings and just do it. If you can do this, then you’re on your way to being the one in full control…

The Last Word:

There were plenty of other realisations I had this year- but the ones I’ve shared above are the ones that really hit home. Some of them have served me well already, while others I await to show their true worth in the years to come. Feel free to tell me what ones stand out for you in particular- otherwise I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

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The Night It All Lit Up To Me…

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Come back with me- to a time not so long ago…

It’s the final evening of 2010 and I’m standing on the apartment rooftop of a mates’ friend, down near the Storey Bridge in Brisbane. All around me, New Years’ Eve revelers wait for midnight to strike, for the fireworks to bang and shriek and crackle across the city skyline.

Amidst the laughter and chatter and the echoes of music around me, I look up at the starry night sky and think of where I stand, and the 12 months that have lead me to this moment in time…

I did 4 years at uni, put the work in, enjoyed the student lifestyle that’s typical of your early 20’s and graduated with my Bachelors’ Degree. But now I find myself working full-time in a retail job where I put in the hours, do what’s asked of me and get paid each week for doing so. Beyond that, I have no desire to move a single rung higher in the company. The hectic Christmas period has left me worn out, mentally drained and fed up- and I never want to hear young Michael Jackson’s rendition of ‘Frosty The Snowman‘ ever again for as long as I live. I worked until our store closed at 10pm tonight and arrived at this party late- but even so, less than 10 hours from now I’ll be back there, doing an open for the people who want grog at 10am on New Years’ Day. That’s who I’m cutting my night short (and missing sleep) for the sake of…

But it’s not just my job that I’ve grown weary of. I have plenty of friends and opportunities to go out every weekend, even most weeknights. Yet that happy, often drunken face in the group photos from this party or that gathering hides the real story. Truth is, I feel like an underachiever on a number of fronts, with little to show for all the potential I apparently have. Alcohol distracts me from this feeling and it numbs the anxiety- but I never really escape the situation. It’s always just around the corner again when I sober up…

I went through a period in Winter where I’d be stirred from sleep hours earlier than normal, a knot in my gut and a weight in my chest. I’d lie there, wondering if things got better- or was this how the rest of my life would be- an underwhelming existence, just another case of “what might have been”? What if this was something I just had to get used to? Maybe this was the life I deserved? Maybe the only way to get out of this was by putting on an act and playing the part of someone else every waking hour? Because maybe the real me didn’t have what it took to get where I wanted to be?

But standing here, looking across the Brisbane River at the office buildings and high-rise apartment blocks of the CBD, I’ve overcome the worst. The last few months- more or less the time since my birthday- has brought a few reminders that I am better than my circumstances, and neither am I too far off the path leading where I really want to go. Just a few small steps, in fact. So I’ve worked my way back, Christmas has come and gone and now here I am- waiting for midnight to strike, for this year to join every one before it and become history at last…

Soon enough, a few people begin counting down out loud:

10…

9…

8…

Straight away voices from everywhere join them by the second-

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

The sky lights up. Fireworks boom and shriek, high above the riverside. I get this sensation as if I’m on the very edge of something. Like tuning a radio and through the static you think you hear a voice. I think back over the past 18 months of my life just gone. I recognise how far it’s been from the life I really want, at heart.

Why should it be this way?

Whatever I have to do, whatever it takes these next 12 months to get where I want to be- I’ll do it. I’ve had enough of life how it is, I’m done with this. No more… 

I think this to myself and make the decision right there, standing on the rooftop as people celebrate around me. I feel free and uninhibited. As if despite what came up until now, from here anything is doable. Suddenly, I feel like from this point, I can take any direction and achieve whatever I seek.

I still drove home in the early hours. I still got to the store at 9:30am to open. That part didn’t change.

My life didn’t transform into a highlights reel overnight- but in the 12 months that followed, steady, definite changes took place:

I quit my job and started a new one.

I got serious about starting a business where I utilised my writing skills.

I met new people and formed stronger bonds with those I already knew.

I moved house.

New ideas, realisations, and opportunities manifested into my life.

Since then, so much else has changed in addition to all that-

The state of my life

How content I am

What I stop to appreciate and recognise

The quality of my thoughts

How I spend my time and how I feel each day

And of course, taking the step to found this business and build it up from there

Like I said, it didn’t all happen straight away, but the entire journey started that New Years’ Eve in the middle of Summer, nearly 8 years back…

This is just one example of what manifests in life when you make a firm decision. In doing so, there’s a weight behind it that has far more power and momentum than we might realise.

There are things we’ve dreamt of that can translate into reality with startling accuracy- things that once seemed like only fantasy can become so common-place in our lives that we nearly begin to take them for granted.

Opportunities, ideas, experiences, people, connections- all waiting somewhere down that line, on the other side of you making an absolute decision.

Whatever you dream of, whatever your heart goes out to- now is the time to answer that yearning, that desire that won’t sleep.

As soon as you know what it is?

Make a decision.

Make a decision, so clear and absolute that you remember it. You won’t believe the journey it takes you on…

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