Surround Yourself Within Your Vision

My Vision

If you have seen my Instagram post from today, you will know that I am writing this post from James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

You may think that I am travelling; however, that assumption would be incorrect. I am not here as a traveller, but instead, I am at the airport as a visionary.

You see, my vision for the future is to travel the world as a writer and speaker. Where do people need to go to travel the world? THE AIRPORT!

I have purposefully planted myself within the realm of the destination that I have for my life. I am at the airport. Sure, I don’t have a ticket YET, but one day I will. As I sit at a cafe, next to the “Domestic & International Flights” departure gates, I am consumed and engulfed within the environment and context of my future. This is where I want to be. No…this is where I WILL BE.

 

Why?

For the most part, I write my articles for this website at a local Starbucks. I love Starbucks coffee, and enjoy the environment. But, I don’t want to simply consume my environment. Instead, I want my environment to WORK FOR ME.

I can attest that as I sit here, and write at the airport, I have a feeling of excitement within my spirit – and yeah, as I said, I don’t even have a ticket anywhere! The excitement is because this setting…my goal…my dream…is activating the confidence and belief that I have for my future. My goal of travelling the world is becoming more real…like I can actually reach out my hand and touch it.

I am convinced that when you place yourself in the environment of your goals and aspirations, the excitement of the moment will inspire you to reach new levels.

Sure, I could still write the same articles at Starbucks, and probably get the same hits and views, but Starbucks doesn’t fuel my spirit like the airport can. The airport is a tangible representation of my vision. My vision is possible. Check that…my vision is my destiny.

Airport!

Jim Carrey

I love the story of Jim Carrey and how he took a piece of his vision and applied it to his current situation.

As a struggling comedian/actor in the late 1980’s, living out of his van in Los Angeles, Jim wrote himself a cheque for “acting services rendered” for the amount of $10 million dollars, and placed it in his wallet. He even dated the cheque for a specific time in the future. By doing this, he gave himself a deadline. For the next few years, whenever he opened his wallet, he saw the cheque. Although he was broke and homeless at the time, whenever he saw the cheque, a passion was refuelled and ignited on the inside to accomplish his vision. As fate would have it, within weeks of his deadline, he received a $10 million cheque for acting services rendered for the movie Dumb and Dumber.

By placing a cheque in his wallet, Jim Carrey was activating his vision. Instead of just dreaming about being a rich movie star, he took an extra step, and gave himself something tangible and real to remind himself of where he would be. Jim Carrey made his vision real before it was real.

Here is a short clip of Jim Carrey on the Oprah Winfrey show telling his story.

 

Application/Challenge

I remember a few years back, I had a vision to teach at two different schools near my house. Instead of just wishing that one day I would be hired, my wife and I would go to the school, park in the staff parking lot, and walk around the perimeter of the property (after school hours, of course).

I remember as I was walking around the perimeter of the school, I could feel my vision becoming activated. Even though at the time, I was employed at a different school in a different district, the simple act of placing myself within the environment of my vision, like the airport today, gave me an inspiration and excitement for my vision that nothing else could or would equal. Guess what? Within a five-year period, both schools hired me to be a part of their teaching staffs.

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Is there a particular university that you want to be enrolled in? Then I challenge you to go the university! Sit in the cafeteria. Walk around the bookstore. Walk around campus. Place yourself in the environment already, before it’s  even “real”.

Is there a particular job you want? Like me, go there, walk around the property, and make it REAL to you, instead of a far-off wish.

Do you want a 90 average in school? Like Jim Carrey, write yourself a visual of the future. Go on a computer, and begin to draft a report card that you envision for yourself, full of high 90’s in difficult courses; then place it somewhere that you will be reminded of it often.

Whatever your goal or vision, begin to surround yourself with tangible evidence that you can see, feel, and touch right now, today! Your vision will become activated in ways you never saw or felt possible.

Get better.

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Be True To You & Your Inner Circle

Be True To You

There have been many different studies based on the life regrets of dying people. Over and over again, however, no matter the study, there is one regret that is consistently near or at the top of each list, and that is: “I wish I would have lived a life true to myself, and not the life expected of me by others.”

This article then, is simply an encouragement and plan for you to chase YOUR dreams, and live YOUR purpose and vision, so that you may reach YOUR destiny.

For you to live true to you, it is absolutely essential to cultivate the biggest factor in living a life of no regrets; and that is…

Your Environment

I have learned that the environment you CHOOSE to place yourself in is the single biggest factor in whether or not you will accomplish the dreams and goals you have for your life.

Your environment is the circle of people that you choose to spend the most time with. Essentially, your environment is your INNER CIRCLE of family and friends.

For you to live true to yourself, it is essential that your inner circle be comprised of people that share the same values and beliefs as you.  When those in your inner circle share the same values and beliefs, they will understand YOU. They will understand your goals and dreams. As a result, they will lift you up and encourage you, instead of distracting you or tearing you down.

Your Inner Circle

Here are some thoughts on selecting and evaluating your inner circle:

  • The bigger your dreams, the smaller your circle. Let’s get this out of the way right now: if you have HUGE dreams, I guarantee you will need to immediately remove some people from your inner circle. Why? Because when you have huge dreams, fewer people will be accepting and understanding of those dreams. You will make people uncomfortable. However, when you have mediocre dreams, you don’t have to be as selective because most people can accept and welcome mediocrity much easier than they can excellence or greatness. When people chase excellence, mediocre people get scared and intimidated, and respond by tearing you down. If you have heard people say, “You can’t do that” or “That’s impossible”, please, do yourself a favour and begin to remove those people from your inner circle. Today. I have heard it said that sheep flock together, while a lion walks alone. Be very selective!

 

  • Have a  common GOAL and VISION. Just like how a championship level sports team will be made of people who share the same goal and vision, your inner circle needs to be modelled the same way. As a teacher, nothing discourages me more than watching a student with ‘A-Level’ aspirations allow a peer with ‘D-level’ aspirations into their inner circle. Why? Because PEOPLE GENERALLY FALL TO THE LOWEST LEVEL OF EXPECTATIONS ALLOWED BY THEIR ENVIRONMENT. That means the student with ‘D-level’ aspirations will drag the ‘A-student’ to their level, instead of the other way. Sadly, in time, the ‘A-student’ will no longer resemble a person with high aspirations. Instead, they will begin to be late, make excuses, do just enough to get by, and hide from challenges – the student with high aspirations will no longer be distinguishable from the lower level. It’s a sad story.

 

  • Never allow ‘outer circle’ people to creep into your inner circle. In the example above, where a student with ‘A-level’ aspirations was dragged down to the lowest level of their environment; there is a simple solution to avoid the pitfalls of a mediocre environment: STOP SPENDING SO MUCH TIME WITH THAT PERSON!! If you are unable to completely cut a ‘D-level’ person out of your life, because they are a close family member or life-long friend, simply begin the process of moving them into your outer circle. Slowly but surely, begin to spend less and less time with that person, until their expectations of you are no longer significant. They may say that you are dreaming too big or working too hard, but it wont matter because they will be out of your inner circle. Instead, those in your circle will be encouraging you to keep working and chasing your dreams.

Conclusion

Evaluate your inner circle immediately. If you have a gut feeling that someone shouldn’t be there, that’s an excellent sign that they shouldn’t, and you should begin the process of removing them right away.

You might be thinking to yourself, “What if I hurt their feelings?” I say back to that, WHAT IF YOU MISS YOUR DESTINY? Is it worth it? Well according to study after study, living for others is not worth the price. I challenge you, don’t live a life of regret. Stop living for others and begin living a life true to you. It may hurt today, but I promise, you will be celebrating tomorrow.

“Life’s too short to spend it trying to keep others happy. You can’t please everyone. To fulfill your destiny, stay true to your heart.”

Get Better.

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Trust The Process

No, this isn’t a Philadelphia 76ers fan page. However, there is a lot of wisdom in Philly’s mantra: Trust The Process. In basketball terms, it means being patient, to allow your young stars to develop, and instead of focusing on today’s results, focus on the process of daily learning and growth, and eventually, success, in terms of wins and championships, will be a reality.

What’s notable though, is that the wisdom and results of trusting the process can be applied to everyone, in any walk of life – not just athletes on a professional basketball team.

I will now explain how I have applied the process very recently, and how you too, can apply this tool to get better as well. Let’s go…

The Process Applied

As a basketball coach, I had the opportunity this past week to apply the principle of trusting the process very directly, much like the Philadelphia 76ers would. Let me warn you though…THE PROCESS REQUIRES PATIENCE! AND…A LOT OF IT! If you are not willing to be patient, trusting the process will not work for you. Much like the children’s story of The Tortoise and The Hare, slow and steady will win the race.

Anyway, I help coach a varsity basketball team. As a trained instructor for PGC Basketball, one of the top basketball education programs on the planet, I am acutely aware of team culture and environmental dynamics.

Most athletes on my team were determined to be a part of league play. Being in the league though, wouldn’t be trusting the process; it would be focusing on the results. Champions are more concerned with the details of the daily grind than winning or getting the promotion. I am more interested in being a champion than a participant.

League play, at this point in time, would be too difficult for my team. The majority of the roster is composed of inexperienced athletes who are just now being exposed to the game. The process, instead of challenging teams who have played for years, would mean organizing exhibition games with other teams who are more at our level. Exhibition games aren’t very glamorous, but are needed for OUR PROCESS. Exhibition games take patience. At the other side of patience though, is a process that will eventually translate into far greater success than being results oriented ever would.

The Process And You

I remember being a high school student and having the goal of getting 90% in math. It never happened. Not once in four years. Why? I truly believe it was because I wasn’t process-oriented. Instead, I was results-driven. I wanted the result of 90% – nothing wrong with that goal. But instead of focusing on the 90% grade, I should have focused on the daily process of earning 90%. My daily process should have included asking questions, working hard in class, and studying every night at home. If my process would have matched my vision, the 90% would have been earned.

Here are some other examples:

  • While the promotion at work would be fantastic, focus on the daily process that will eventually get you there. This might mean arriving early and staying late. It could mean taking extra courses. It could mean be more sociable to your boss and coworkers. Write down the process that will translate into a job promotion. Don’t just focus on the promotion itself. The process is far more important.
  • Getting accepted into the university of your dreams is an awesome goal. Plan the daily process that will get you there. You will probably need to volunteer, study every night, ask questions, avoid parties, and get a lot of sleep.
  • Quitting an addiction would be life-changing. Instead of focusing on the destination of actually quitting, focus on the daily process that will bring you there. Be in the moment. You will need to avoid triggers at all costs, have accountability partners, a strong support system, and get inspiration from those who have already won the battle.

Trusting the process includes having an incredible focus on the MOMENT. Enjoy where you are NOW. Enjoy the journey…and always be patient. Those who are impatient will have the same misfortune as the hare, and will not live up to their potential. Those who are patient and are willing to trust the process, like the tortoise, will accomplish more than expected.

The Challenge

We all like instant results. But instant results are often less than what could have happened if we would have been patient and trusted the process. Like my 90% in math, identify an area where you are results-driven. Use this week to develop a process-driven plan that if followed, could achieve your desired result.

I have learned that the most successful people work hard every day, and enjoy the process and journey more than the destination. The process will catapult you to a destination that being results-focused never could. The process is like flying in a jet, while being results-oriented is like riding a bike. It will take longer to learn to fly and pay for a jet, but like the tortoise, you will eventually win the race.

Get better.

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The Importance of Self-Care

The Crash

I was flying high – tonnes of energy, happy, positive, loving life, fulfilling my purpose – then, BANG! In perfect harmony, like a well choreographed dance, my mind and body joined forces and yelled, “STOP!”

Without announcement, like a bolt of lightning, I became weak, dizzy, irritable, frustrated, and angry, all in one glorious ten-second frame. My mind and body began to shut down. Since I wasn’t taking breaks, it was like my brain said, “Okay, Jon. Since you’re not stopping to rest, I am going to make the decision for you!”

My “crash” happened on Thursday, November 1st.

As I battled an intense amount of guilt, I made the decision to use the next four days to take care of myself – “self-care”. My journey would no longer be about others. Instead, like a spoiled child, my thoughts, emotions, and energy would be entirely focused on my needs, fulfillment, and enjoyment. Hesitant at first, I have to say, I am loving the journey so far…

My “Self-Care” Journey

Self-care is all about doing things for you – planning and experiencing events that bring YOU joy. As a highly motivated person, thinking about “ME” was difficult, as I like to accomplish goals and tasks, and inspire others to achieve excellence. Nevertheless, I have noticed that self-care is easier to pursue once you accept its value and begin the journey. I will use my journey as an example for you…

Friday, November 2nd

I booked a room at a local hotel next to my favourite shopping mall. For those that don’t know me, I am a “sneaker head”. I love sneakers – particularly Air Jordan’s. I treated myself to not one, but two pairs of retro Jordan’s. Oh yeah, I also ate out three times. I despise cooking. I love convenience!

Yes, Friday cost money. I have learned however, that investing in yourself from time-to-time will keep you happy and healthy. I would rather spend to maintain my mental and physical health, than not to spend, and have medical bills later on.

Saturday, November 3rd

I’m at a hotel, so I slept in! During the work week, I generally wake up around 5AM, then journal and workout. I DIDN’T DO ANY OF THOSE TODAY! In fact, I purposefully left my workout clothes and journal at home. Instead, I laid in bed and rested, then rested some more. I didn’t checkout of the hotel until noon.

When I arrived back home, I watched WWE and YouTube videos. I cuddled my dogs. My schoolwork is still in my backpack. Untouched.

Sunday, November 4th

I love to write. I have committed to write weekly blogs every Sunday morning. Writing is part of my self-care. WHERE I am writing, however, is a little different than normal.

I usually write at a local Starbucks, not too far from my house. This morning, however, I am writing at Tim Horton’s in Morris, Manitoba. Why? When I am done writing, I will continue three hours down the highway to Fargo, North Dakota, where I will watch the Packers vs. Patriots game at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I will wake up tomorrow at my hotel, and spend the day resting and driving, all the while relaxing, and not thinking of work or tasks that need to get finished.

I will go back to work Tuesday morning, no doubt, feeling refreshed and energized to serve, and give my best once again.

What I Have Learned

Self-care is extremely valuable. I will now plan self-care as a part of my daily routine. I will use weekends to relax and shut my brain off. I will plan extended vacations where I can refuel and recharge.

If I wish to give my best to others, my tank needs to be full. I have learned that I cannot give what I don’t have. I have committed my life to bring and give infectious energy, while encouraging and inspiring others. I cannot give energy to others, if I don’t have energy myself.

Challenge

Take a rest. I am committed to spending at least ONE HOUR PER DAY just for me – doing something that I enjoy, that will build me up, and give me energy. I will no longer let my mind and body shut down, and tell me to rest. I am going to take my control back, and take better care of myself.

I challenge you to do the same. If you are feeling overwhelmed and overworked, like me, spend at least 1 hour of your day being “selfish”, living for you. If necessary, say “no” to somebody, and say “yes” to you. Enjoy your life. Take care of yourself.

Get Better.

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Mental Fitness Plan

Mental fitness is an incredibly important factor for living a full and productive life. If you are not mentally fit, you will not have the inner strength to battle stress, depression, sadness, and anger. Just like how a physically fit person has a strong immune system that is able to stave off infection and disease, a mentally fit person is able overcome problems, issues, stress, and tension.

Many people practice a physical fitness plan. Weight training, running, stretching, eating well, avoiding recreational drugs, and getting a good night’s sleep are all important factors when considering a plan to create and maintain a healthy physical body.

But what about mental fitness? Do you have a plan? You should…

Components Of A Mental Fitness Plan

Treat the mental fitness plan as you would your workout routine or meal plan- with absolute precision. When you go to the gym or prepare a meal, you know the EXACT process ahead of time – what exercises will be completed, with how many sets, and how many reps too! When you prepare a meal, you not only know the ingredients, but you know how much to add, when to add it, and how long to cook the recipe for.

Treat EVERYDAY like a workout day for your mind and mental health. The more you train, the more fit you will become.

1. Inspirational Videos/Books/Quotes – 10 Minutes/Day

Surround yourself with inspiration.

Mentally fit people spend time every day energizing their mind. Energy comes from inspiration. My favourite YouTube channel is Goalcast. I watch Goalcast videos at least 5 times a week to re-energize and prime my mind. When I watch inspirational videos, I can’t help but feel better. Of course there are many other inspirational channels out there, but I do encourage you to check out Goalcast.

If you spend time on Instagram, search for motivational pages and people to follow. Sometimes all you need is a quick pick-me-up, and an inspiring quote can do just that.

Inspiration is contagious. When you start reading, watching, and surrounding yourself with inspiration, you will never know how you lived without it.

2. Daily Affirmations – “I am Statements” – 3/Day

Who do you want to be? Strong? Popular? Brave? Wealthy? Happy?

Mentally fit people fearlessly state every day who they are, even if in reality, they aren’t that person YET. In fact, the key to an awesome ” I am statement” is to proclaim things that aren’t “real” yet.

For example, if you are battling depression, your I am statement could be: ” I am confident, content, joyful, and happy at school, work, and in all of my relationships. I am a conqueror. I am gifted.”

Although the depressed person probably doesn’t see those attributes in them, it is necessary to proclaim them as if they already were. When you proudly proclaim who you are, you are training your mind subconsciously to achieve your vision.

Every day I proclaim that I am impactful with my words, actions, and conversations. I also proclaim that I am awake, energetic, and healthy.

Place your I am statements in high-traffic areas where you can see them and be reminded often – like your mirror, phone, bedroom, office, desk, and all over your house. When you speak them, speak them with BOLDNESS and CONFIDENCE.

3. Practice Gratitude – 3/Day

Mentally fit people are thankful for who they are and what they have. They don’t preoccupy their thoughts and minds wishing for what they want and focusing on what they don’t have. Mentally fit people don’t compare themselves with others either. When you negatively compare yourself with another person, you aren’t thankful…you’re resentful.

If you haven’t read my post on the importance of gratitude, I strongly suggest you do so.

Quickly stated here, I challenge you to speak (preferably upon waking) at least three things that you are thankful for every day. It is key to realize that you NEED TO BE THANKFUL FOR THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE. For example, this morning, I wrote that I am thankful for my Keurig, my dogs, and that the Milwaukee Brewers forced a game 7 in the NLCS.

Gratitude doesn’t need to be winning the lottery or a job promotion. Mentally fit people are thankful for the little things.

 

Challenge

Physically fit people train their bodies with intense workouts and strict nutrition plans. Mentally fit people train their minds with a daily dose of inspiration, I am statements, and gratitude.

I challenge you to live the Mental Fitness Plan this week. You probably spend at least 30 minutes of your day getting ready in the morning, working on your “outer self.” Why not spend 15 minutes working on your “inner self”?

Get Better!

 

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Attitude of Gratitude

It is important to be thankful and have a spirit of gratitude more than once a year. This Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to program your mind to ALWAYS have an “Attitude of Gratitude”.

The Power of Gratitude

I heard a statistic that America has only 8% of the worlds’ population, but is the leader by a large margin in the use of tranquilizers.

Tranquilizers are prescribed to people to reduce tension and anxiety. Instead of tranquilizers however, what if people simply developed a heart of gratitude? What impact would gratitude have on depression, tension, and anxiety?

It is a proven scientific fact that it is impossible to feel gratitude AND anxiety, sadness, tension, and depression at the same time. Our brains cannot process both emotions simultaneously.

When we express gratitude, a chemical called dopamine is released in our brains. Dopamine is a “feel good ” chemical that is related to pleasure. The more dopamine that is released, the more pleasure we feel. Therefore, the more gratitude we express, the happier we become.

Dopamine is extremely addictive. Expressing gratitude is a healthy way of releasing dopamine. However, our society has been using extremely negative practices to release dopamine in our brains; stimulants such as nicotine, cocaine, and methamphetamine also promote increased levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the main factor as to why those drugs are extremely addictive – people desperately want to feel pleasure, even if it requires destroying the body.

The good news is, just like how nicotine or cocaine releases dopamine, so does gratitude! The more gratitude you practice, the more “addicted” you will become. The more addicted you become, the happier you will be!

Make Gratitude A Daily Habit

In my Instagram account, I have expressed the importance of “paying yourself first”. Paying yourself first is a financial term that is used to express the importance of paying yourself the first 10% of your pay cheque into a savings account.

I have developed the notion of paying yourself first into different practice as well…that is, when you wake up, instead of showering and running off to work or school, pay yourself first by waking up early to do something that will energize and strengthen you for the day.

One of the best methods of paying yourself first is TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE. My favourite author, Jon Gordon recommends taking a “gratitude walk” every morning. Whatever you decide to do, I strongly encourage you to begin your day by simply speaking things you are grateful for.

Most people are thankful for the big things – job promotions, their new car, winning a prize, etc. But very few take the time to express gratitude for the small things as well. Be thankful you woke up alive and healthy! Be thankful you have a warm bed to sleep in. Be thankful you have a water heater so that you can have a warm shower!

So many times we focus on the negative and don’t realize just how fortunate we really are. When we begin to practice gratitude and focus on the positive, heavy amounts of dopamine will be released in our brains. We will feel happier and become healthier.

Gratitude In Action

I have witnessed, first hand, the power of expressing simple, daily gratitude.

Gratitude has been a major factor in changing the culture of many negative classrooms that I have encountered in my career. I have witnessed countless depressed, anxious, sad, and worried students change their entire mindset with the simple practice of speaking daily gratitude.

I have seen depression and sadness melt away. I have seen gratitude and joy take root and grow in the most harsh environments.

I challenge you to practice gratitude this week. Say THREE things every morning that you are thankful for. Remember, being thankful doesn’t mean winning the lottery or getting 100% on a test. Being thankful is being alive, enjoying the sunshine, and having a strong body and a sound mind.

Focus on the positive. Be thankful. It is not necessary to destroy your brains and body with  drugs when you can activate dopamine in a healthy way! Be thankful! Practice gratitude!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Get better!

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Flip The Switch

Flip the switch. What does it mean to “flip the switch”? Flipping the switch means to IMMEDIATELY shift your attitude and mindset to the opposite of your present state of mind. Just like flipping a light switch immediately creates light out of darkness, I believe we are all capable of flipping our own switch when we want to – that is, immediately creating positivity and energy out of negativity.

Is Flipping The Switch Possible For Everyone?

As I have written in a previous article, I want to be known as a consistent person. In order to be consistent however, it is absolutely necessary to be able to flip the switch. The good news is that I believe every single person has the inborn ability to do so.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I would love to be able to immediately flip the switch and drop my negativity. But I can’t. I am depressed. Nothing is going right. I can’t pay my bills. My parents are getting divorced. I just got fired from my job. I am a negative person by nature.” The list of negativity and doubt goes on and on in your mind.

Let me ask you this: if someone had a gun to your head, and demanded that you immediately stop complaining, and instead start expressing cheer, happiness, and gratitude, would you be able to do it? I think you would. Actually, I know you would. We would all find a way to stop complaining.

I believe flipping the switch comes down to the basic element of desire: do we want to flip the switch bad enough? Often times, we don’t. It is easier to complain, so we continue. The cycle never breaks.

The cycle of negativity will only end WHEN YOU DECIDE IT IS TIME FOR THE CYCLE TO END. It’s always up to you if you want to flip the switch. When a room is dark, we always prefer light, so we flip the switch. In the same way, when your attitude and mindset is dark, go ahead…flip the switch.

My Experience

I have a long history of living in a dark place in my mind. For years I allowed negativity and self-doubt to rule my mindset. If I felt sad, I would act sad. If I felt angry, I would act out in anger. If I felt tired, I would act tired. I was a slave to circumstance.

When you flip the switch, you are no longer a slave to circumstance. Instead, you are the ruler and dictator of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. What a great place to be!

Here are some simple ways I flip the switch every day:

  • When I am tired at work, I flip the switch to ENERGY. Instead of acting tired, yawning, and speaking negative to others, my energy switch allows me to carry on with enthusiasm, hustle, and spirit. Guess what eventually happens? When I flip the switch to ENERGY, eventually my brain believes it, and I forget I was ever tired in the first place!
  • When I am frustrated, I flip the switch to PATIENCE. My students will never know when I am frustrated because long before my frustration boils over, I have flipped the switch to PATIENCE. Being patient allows me to talk calmly, sincerely, and respectfully.
  • When I feel unmotivated, I flip the switch to SERVE. Laziness cannot live within an environment of servanthood, and is quickly defeated. When I feel unmotivated, I ask myself “Who can I serve, and how?”

Challenge

All of us give into our feelings and circumstance at one point or another. The key is to SLOWLY begin to change the process…instead of giving into your feelings, your feelings will give into YOUR MINDSET.

To begin slowly…here is this weeks challenge: PURPOSEFULLY FLIP THE SWITCH AT LEAST ONE TIME PER DAY.

My advice to you is to LIVE OUT A SINGLE WORD DURING THE WEEK. When you live out a word, you are required to act like it, even if you don’t feel like it. For example, if you want to be KIND this week, you will need to flip your switch to KIND even if you feel like telling someone off.

Think of a word that you want to be known as. Then, at least once a day this week, flip the switch to that word when you don’t feel like it. Slowly you will trick your brain and begin to rule your feelings.

GET BETTER!

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Ho Do I Succeed In School? Part 5 – No More Excuses!

Enough with the excuses already! If you are an excuse-maker, I promise you, unless you change, YOU WILL NEVER REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL. Excuses take ownership off of you, and place them elsewhere so you don’t have to be accountable. Excuses are the calling card of the AVERAGE.

Story Time

When I was in school, I ALWAYS used excuses for failure. But, I had one excuse that I used more than any other…just like MJ and his fadeaway and AI’s crossover, this excuse was my GO-TO move.

LACK OF INTELLIGENCE! Yup…my patented “fade-away”. I failed a test? Not smart enough! Did poorly on an assignment? Not smart enough! Low grades on my report card? Not smart enough! Enrolled in summer school courses in back-to-back years because I failed? NOT SMART ENOUGH!!

You get the idea. In my young eyes, failure was never my fault. Instead, it was the fault of my genetics! For whatever reason, I told myself, I wasn’t blessed with intelligence. I was cursed with a low IQ…a crutch I convinced myself I would have to bear for the rest of my life.

Why?

Why do we invent excuses? Because the excuse makes us feel better about ourselves…even if the excuse isn’t based on reality! As a teenager, I was able to justify my poor grades and academic average on my perceived lack of intelligence. I graduated high school having never taken ownership over my poor performance…a regret I live with to this day.

For whatever reason, excuses allow failure to seem more understandable. But what most don’t realize yet, is that failure is a necessary component for growth and success (more on that in a future article).

The Truth

What is the real reason that I didn’t achieve high grades in school? The answer is very simple…I didn’t try. At all. To be completely honest, I can count the times I did homework on one hand – this includes studying for tests, exams, finishing projects, or reviewing lessons.

But…my excuse of low intelligence set me free from my laziness and poor work ethic. The excuse made me feel better about myself. It was my REASON for being lazy and not achieving.

Ownership

Ownership is another characteristic that separates  average people and excellent people. Like me in my high school days, average people don’t want to hear the truth about WHY, instead they fabricate stories (excuses) that justify and place blame elsewhere on their failure.

Late? “It’s because of the traffic.” “It’s because my alarm clock ‘didn’t go off’.” Stop making excuses, and take ownership. Leave earlier next time, and don’t let it happen again.

Didn’t finish your homework? “It’s because I had to work.”  “It’s because I had chores to do.”  “It’s because I didn’t know how to do the assignment.” Stop making excuses, and take ownership. Make time in your schedule, ask more questions, and don’t let it happen again.

Side note…If you don’t make time for something, it just means it’s not important to you. The time excuse is the lamest of them all.

It’s only when you begin to eliminate excuses and take FULL ownership over your failures that you will begin to reach your full potential.

If you are satisfied with mediocrity and never realizing what you truly are capable of, then by all means, FIRE THOSE EXCUSES OFF! However, the fact that you are still reading this article is probably an indication that you aren’t satisfied with average. Keep reading…

Are Excuses Ever Valid?

I have learned that YES, excuses can be valid! Woo-hoo!! How do you know? Here is the rule…

The next time you have an excuse, look around and check to see if anyone else has ever succeeded despite being in the same situation you are in. If nobody has ever succeed, your excuse is valid! However, it is rare.

Example…you are rude and condescending to people because you are tired. Being tired is your justifiable excuse for being a jerk! It’s not YOUR FAULT. Your rudeness is the fault of your tiredness. Phew! All good, right!!?? Nope. Why? Because there are thousands of people everyday, in locations all over the world, that are able to be kind and respectful to others despite being tired. Excuse failed. It’s lame. If others have succeeded anyway, your excuse needs some work.

Example…you cannot be successful after high school because you grew up in a low-income household and have few resources to succeed. Let me think…Jay-Z, Jim Carrey, and Shania Twain all grew up in low income families that struggled financially for years. Jim Carrey even spent a period of his life living out of his van. Shoot. I guess that excuse isn’t valid either.

Stop using your excuses as a crutch! Which brings me to my last point…

Reaching Your Full Potential

To reach your full potential, you have to eliminate excuses. It’s 100% essential to do so.

If I was honest with myself in high school, I would have had a 90 average. But instead, I chose to believe I wasn’t smart and blamed my laziness and poor grades on my intelligence. As a result, I wasn’t successful in school, and never realized my full potential.

What is your “GO-TO” excuse? I challenge you to be completely honest with yourself. Reveal your excuse, then trash it forever. It is the only way to climb higher.

I have learned that “GREATNESS IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR EXCUSES.”

Use this week to get rid of your excuses forever. The best already have. Get better.

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How Do I Succeed In School? Part 4 – Be Consistent

Be consistent. I’ve always believed that consistency is one of the greatest attributes of success. During my first week of school, this belief was confirmed to me more than ever. Let me explain…

The experiences one faces at school are very dramatically inconsistent from day to day. Some days are great, some days are horrible, and most days are forgettable and average. You don’t have homework, your classes were interesting, and you have plans to go out with your friends after school – great day. Your partner broke-up with you, you failed your test, and your shift at work got cancelled – horrible day. You arrived to school on time, completed most of your work in class, and enjoyed volleyball practice – average day.

The key is to speak and act the same to others, no matter what type of day you are having. This is was separates the average student from the excellent student.

It may seem odd to say, but I realized this week, that as a teacher, there are actually some students that I am afraid of. I don’t necessarily mean “afraid” in the literal sense, but I am definitely unsure if I want to approach them sometimes. Why? Because of their inconsistency. Just like a rollercoaster, forever moving up and down – to new heights and lows, and everything in the middle – their words and actions also make dramatic shifts depending where life’s path is taking them on any given day. Basically, their feelings are their primary source for how they communicate with others.

 

What Type of Ship Are You?

The reason many people are inconsistent with their actions and behaviour is because they allow storms to get inside of them, and destroy their peace.

A ship can be cruising in the middle of the ocean, with water surrounding it for miles in all directions. It will be fine, serving its purpose, until a storm blows in its direction and begins to allow water on the inside. Because of the water, the ship will eventually sink once it can’t handle the weight. It will be destroyed.

Consistent people, however, don’t allow water to get on the inside. They have  an incredibly strong foundation that will not allow a storm to have any substantial impact. The wind can blow from all directions, and be surrounded by violent waves crashing all around them, but the consistent person will stay strong. Water has no way of filling the inside.

This simple analogy is the same for life. Those that are able to keep problems on the outside will be happier, stronger, and more successful. Just like the ship, the ACTIONS of consistent people will remain unaffected – they will remain strong, steadily cruising the same course as they were before the storm.

Those that allow problems to attack and destroy their inside, will eventually sink once the weight of the water becomes too great. The symptoms of allowing too much water on the inside manifest themselves in anger, depression, isolation, low resiliency, and quitting. Unfortunately, in a sea of ships at school, I have witnessed far too many sinking. When too many ships are sinking at the same time, there aren’t enough lifeboats to save them all.

Consistency and Success at School

It’s actually quite simple to see why consistent people are much more successful than those who aren’t…

  • Inconsistent people daydream in class when the lecture is boring. Consistent people take notes.
  • Inconsistent people escalate problems by screaming at their friends when they are upset. Consistent people speak calmly and resolve issues.
  • Inconsistent people are rude to others when they are upset. Consistent people earn trust and respect by controlling their feelings and always responding kindly.
  • Inconsistent people don’t study when they don’t feel like it. Consistent people study anyway.
  • Inconsistent people skip class when their friends influence them to do so. Consistent people attend class, ready to learn, leaving their friends in the hallway. It won’t take long for those same friends to stop asking you to skip, because your consistent refusals will train them to stay silent.

Aspiring to be Consistent is the Mindset of the 1%

Consistency is very difficult to achieve. Why? Because most people are inconsistent. Most people associate exclusively with inconsistent people, and most people allow their moods and feelings to dictate how they act. However, consistency requires the opposite: your thoughts, words, and actions need to be in control – then your feelings will comply A consistent person cannot be a slave to their feelings. It also really helps if you surround yourself with consistent people.

You are angry because your teacher went back on their word? Speak positively to him/her anyway. You’re upset because your friends cancelled on you, talk to them kindly anyway. You’re angry because you failed a test that you studied hard for? Speak softly to your teacher anyway. Accept responsibility.

When your thoughts, words, and actions are in control of your feelings, welcome to the 1% club, my friend. You are now consistent. You are now one of the most trustworthy people in your school. Probably in your community.

Conclusion

Get into the habit of reminding yourself to be consistent. I once had the word “consistent” as the wallpaper on my phone. When you wake up, remind yourself to be consistent. Post it in your locker. Write it on the back of your hand.  Get others to remind you. Do what you need to do to to be successful.

I challenge you to act differently this week. If you haven’t already done so, begin to chase consistency by taking control of your thoughts, words, and actions. Post it somewhere highly visible so you will be reminded of it often. Be that strong ship that stands out in a sea of mediocrity.

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How Do I Succeed In School? – Train Your Mental Toughness

As a teacher, one of the biggest tragedies I see students consistently make is that they give up too easily. In fact, many students give up after failing just once! I am confident that if you are able to triumph and persevere through setbacks and difficulties, you can easily separate yourself from your peers. Why? Because when your friends and peers are quitting, you will be breaking new barriers. The tool you need to develop is mental toughness..

I purposefully train my mental toughness often. It isn’t fun, but when I am able to complete tasks that others won’t, I will be able to accomplish what others can’t. There lies the separation of excellence and mediocrity…

When your peers are daydreaming in class, your mental toughness will be locked-in to absorb all of the information being taught. Yes, we teachers try to make all lessons fun and engaging, but sometimes we miss the mark – I admit, the lesson could be boring! It is incredibly important to LIVE-OUT your words. It’s been said that you shouldn’t judge a person by their words, but instead, you should judge them by what they do. So when I suggest to you that you should train your mental toughness by engaging in tasks that aren’t fun, I will do the same to prove my point.

Right now, I am blogging from my gym in Winnipeg. It’s 11:30 PM. I arrived at 8:45. I am currently on a mission to complete 1000 pull-ups in 10 hours. Oh yeah…I am completing this mission THROUGHOUT the entire night. I am not leaving here until 7 AM. Why did I choose to do this at night? Simple…it takes more mental toughness to complete the task.

 

Here is  my journey…

I have found some time in my workout to blog my progress. I have scheduled myself to complete 100 pull-ups every hour for 10 hours. I have currently completed 250 pull-ups in the first 90 minutes, so I have an hour.

How am I feeling? It’s human nature to focus on the negative…I am worried that my hands are starting to blister and are becoming extremely painful. I am worried I won’t be able to finish. I am reminded of a past world-record holder, David Goggins, who completed 4030 pull-ups in 17 hours – he had 3rd degree burns on his hands and had to stop in one of his first attempts. I don’t want that. I am fighting negativity right now.

However, my mental toughness, which I have consistently trained for years, is beginning to defeat my negativity. I am getting energized because I know that when most are getting ready for bed, I am still grinding. Overcoming challenges, huge challenges, will increase positivity and renew your mindset! I guarantee it!

Update…it’s 12:42 AM. Progress is being made: I have completed 400 pull-ups. My hands are still sore, but the pain isn’t progressing. Why? Instead of focusing on the negative, I searched for a solution: I googled a CrossFit technique for how to grip the bar properly to avoid blisters and rips. Bring on the remaining 600!

Update 2… it’s 3:19 AM. I have stopped at 676 pull-ups – kind of a weird number I know, but my body and mind needs a break. I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle to get through the 500’s and 600’s. I wanted to go home. The thought of doing another 500 pull-ups AND staying here for another five hours is beginning to torment my mind.

However, I have two choices: to remain mentally tough, keep going, and become more confident having defeated a huge challenge, or go home, get comfortable, and sleep only to wake up feeling frustrated and weak because I didn’t stick through with the challenge. The thought of the finish line is keeping me going. I don’t want to waste 676! 324 more and I am home baby!

Update 3…it’s now 4:48 AM, and I am beginning to slow down. I was doing sets of five pull-ups, now I am doing sets of 2 or 3. I am at 850 pull-ups now! The frustration I was feeling earlier is completely gone. All I see now is the finish line. It’s amazing the power that grinding through mental and physical exhaustion can have on your mindset. The feeling of accomplishment is going to be awesome!

Update 4…its exactly 6:00 AM. One hour to go to meet my deadline, and I have completed 950 pull-ups. I have a huge problem though…my right elbow is beginning to seize when I flex it. I can’t physically do anymore pull-ups right now. My plan is to rest another 20 to 30 minutes and see if somehow I can pull off the last 50. I am determined to be mentally tough, but not at the price of sacrificing the physical health of my body. I need to be smart here.

Update 5…it is 3:44 PM!! I finished all 1000 pull-ups by the time the clock struck 7 AM. What an unbelievable feeling of accomplishment. I went straight home, and fell asleep for 6 hours. My body is sore and aching. My hands are blistered up, and it’s very painful and difficult to bend my right elbow. Not a problem though, as these aches are temporary…the feeling of achievement is going to last a lifetime. The trade is well worth it.

As I reflect on those crazy ten hours of both mental and physical exhaustion, I cannot help but think of the intense struggle that I experienced. Between about 2 AM and 4AM, the urge to quit was incredibly real and powerful. I honestly felt I was going to stop. Probably more so than physically, the struggle was incredibly intense mentally. My mind was pleading with my body to stop and drive home to the comfort of my bed.

How did I get through the struggle? Two things: I focused on the joy and celebration of meeting the end-goal of 1000 push-ups, AND I spoke positively to myself all night..”You can do this!” “Go to the bar and do 5 more!” “You are more powerful than your feelings.” I refused to let negativity enter my mind…but that is a lesson for another time.

The next time I encounter a problem or a boring task that I’d rather not do, I can simply pull from my experience of 1000 pull-ups to guide me through to success and completion. For example, I really dislike marking assignments and preparing report cards. Both can become very tedious and boring. Next time I need to mark assignments or prepare report cards though, I am going to remember standing underneath a pull-up bar for 10 hours – if I can complete 10 overnight hours of physical and mental exhaustion of pulling my body over a bar 1000 times, certainly I can grade assignments for two hours! The confidence that I have earned through incredibly hard work will lead me to achieve greater success in other areas of my life later on. Now that I know I am capable of great things, minor challenges or annoyances will be easy to defeat.

You want to have an extremely successful school year? You want to achieve higher grades than you have ever achieved before? Then you need to train your mental toughness! Don’t worry though, it isn’t necessary to do so in such an extreme way as staying up all night at a gym and completing 1000 pull-ups; but you can study for an hour every night, can’t you? You can tell your friends you won’t be going to the party this time. You can review notes during your lunch-break and spares. You can workout when your friends are playing video games.

When you diligently practice mental toughness you will be ready for the boring lesson. You will be ready to study for hours in preparation for a major exam. You will be ready to complete your shift at work with diligence because you have been strengthening and conditioning your mind to stay mentally tough. Your peers? They will be quitting. They will be going to parties. They will stop when their mind tells them it isn’t fun anymore.

You tell me who is going to have the more successful school year: the student who quits when times get difficult, or the student who perseveres through challenges. I think it’s pretty obvious.

As you can see, the joy of triumph was worth the pain and agony…

                        

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