Good news – I have been very very busy lately.

Bad news – I have been very very busy lately.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed when it feels like I don’t have an extra minute to think and/or put things in perspective.

Every time I turn around another deadline or obligation is staring me in the face.

Will I meet all those deadlines and uphold all my obligations ?

Most likely yes.

That is the rational me thinking.

The irrational thinking me is convinced that I will not.

If you are also feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis, I feel your pain.

Hang in there.  We will all get through this/these hectic time(s) together.

This too shall pass. ~Scott


Courtesy of www.oprah.com

Questions to Ask Yourself If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

You skipped breakfast, your boss moved your deadline to the end of the day and you forgot to wear deodorant (again!). What do you do when it all feels like too much? Start by taking a deep breath and asking yourself a few of these questions. 

Why Am I Overwhelmed?

“Overwhelm” is increasingly common as demands on human attention increase exponentially. The human brain just wasn’t designed to handle the environment we inhabit. For the vast majority of world history, human life—both culture and biology—was shaped by scarcity. Food, clothing, shelter, tools and pretty much everything else had to be farmed or fabricated, at a very high cost in time and energy. Knowledge was power, and it was hard to come by; for centuries, books had to be copied by hand and were rare and precious. Even people were scarce: Friends and relatives died young (as late as 1900, life expectancy in the United States was approximately 49 years). This kind of scarcity still rules the world’s poorest regions. But in the developed world, hundreds of millions of us now face the bizarre problem of surfeit. Yet our brains, instincts and socialized behavior are still geared to an environment of lack. The result? Overwhelm—on an unprecedented scale. –Martha Beck

Am I Really Busy or Does It Just Feel This Way?

Most of us judge how busy we are by how much we have to do. When there are too many things to do, we think we’re busy, and when there isn’t much to do, it feels like we’re not busy at all. But in fact, we can feel busy when there isn’t that much to do, and we can feel relaxed even when there’s a lot going on. The states of “busy” and “not busy” aren’t defined by how many things there are to do. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as multitasking; the brain can tend to only one thing at a time. Being too busy or not being busy is an interpretation of our activity. Busy-ness is a state of mind, not a fact. No matter how much or how little we’re doing, we’re always just doing what we’re doing, simply living this one moment of our lives. –Norman Fischer

What’s the Priority Here?

Think about it: Humans are the only creatures in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow. We want the sun to shine all night, and when it doesn’t, we create cities that never sleep. Seeking a continuous energetic and emotional high, we use everything from exciting parties to illegal chemicals. But natural ebbs—the darkness between days, the emptiness between fill-ups, the fallow time between growing seasons—are the necessary complements of upbeats. They hold a message for us. If you listen at your life’s low points, you’ll hear it, too. It’s just one simple, blessed word: Rest.–Martha Beck

What If I Don’t Have Enough Time?

There are two problems with time. The first one is that after a certain number of hours fatigue inevitably sets in. After that, you make more mistakes, you get into more conflict with co-workers, you’re less creative and you’re less efficient. The second problem with time is that it’s finite, and most of us don’t have any of it left to invest. Our dance cards are full. For example, in an effort to get more done, one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice is sleep.

But consider this disturbing fact: Sleeping even a single hour less than our bodies require reduces our cognitive capacity dramatically. Much as we try, we can’t fool our bodies. Consider this statistic: Even a single hour less sleep than you need to feel fully rested takes a significant toll on your capacity to think clearly and logically when you’re awake. Sacrificing sleep is self-defeating. So, what’s the solution? It’s not to manage your time better. It’s to manage your energy. –Tony Schwartz

Am I Surrounded by Energy Suckers?

Energy Suckers (a.k.a Negative Nancies, Debbie Downers and Sad Sids). These are the people who find the cloud around every silver lining. If you can’t cut them out of your life entirely, turn your interactions with them into a game. When my neighbor says, “I hate this horrible weather!” I say, “Isn’t horrible weather great? It means I don’t have to wash my car!” –Donna Brazile

Do I Have to Do It All by Myself?

Insisting on doing everything yourself burdens you and prevents others from feeling valuable and needed. Delegate more at home and at work, and free your time for things you love and excel at. –Julie Morgenstern

What Would It Take for Me to Just Say No?

Most people claim they give in to sudden requests because they hate letting others down. I say it’s more about not disappointing ourselves: We’re hooked on feeling needed. If we take a hard look at ourselves, we might see that we unwittingly encourage people to come to us for every little thing. Interruptions can also be a welcome distraction. Faced with an unpleasant task, we’re more than happy to turn our attention elsewhere. Finally, we often don’t say no because of simple disorganization. In a choppy and shapeless day, we handle disruption immediately because we figure, if not now, when? While it’s important to be reasonably accessible to the people you live and work with, you don’t want to spend most of your waking hours in helper mode at the expense of completing your own critical tasks. Even if you’re in crisis management or, for that matter, if you’re a stay-at-home mom, you need to prioritize requests. Otherwise you get trapped in a whirlwind of multitasking where you start many things and finish nothing. –Julie Morgenstern

Is My Stuff Taking Over My Life?

Every single person I have met tells me not only about their own clutter problems but about those of a family member, or those of a friend. Nobody seems immune. The stories are not dissimilar—papers and magazines run amok, garages overflow with unopened boxes, kids’ toys fill rooms, and closets are so stuffed that it looks like the clothing department of a major retailer is having a fire sale. The epidemic of clutter, the seeming inability to get organized, and the sense that “the stuff” is taking over affects us all. We are at the center of an orgy of consumption, and many are now seeing that this need to own so much comes with a heavy price: kids so overstimulated by the sheer volume of stuff in their home that they lose the ability to concentrate and focus. Financial strain caused by misplaced bills or overpurchasing. Constant fighting because neither partner is prepared to let go of their possessions. The embarrassment of living in a house that long ago became more of a storage facility than a home. This clutter doesn’t come just in the form of the physical items that crowd our homes. We are bombarded every day with dire predictions of disaster and face many uncertainties—some real and many manufactured. Think about the perils that we’ve been warned about in the last decade alone—killer bees, Y2K, SARS, anthrax, mad cow disease, avian flu, flesh-eating bacteria…the list goes on and on. We are also faced daily with reports of war, an unstable economy and global terrorism coming very close to home. Surprisingly, this endless barrage (its own kind of clutter) inspires many of the families with whom I work to finally take control of their own clutter. In an unpredictable, dangerous world that is out of their control, they look to their homes for stability—to get some degree of organization back into their closets, their garages, their home offices, their lives. This quest for organization is a deeply personal response to the feeling that the rest of the world is out of control. –Peter Walsh

But, I Want So Much. Will I Ever Be Enough?

When we are busy focusing on what we don’t have, we don’t pay attention to what we do have. Wanting is different from having. Wanting is in the future. It is based on an idea of what might make you happy in five minutes, tomorrow, next week. But having is here, now. Most of us don’t let ourselves have what’s in front of us, so we’re always wanting more. When you don’t let yourself have what you already have, you are always hungry, always searching, always restless. –Geneen Roth

Is All Stress Bad?

Short-term stress triggers the production of protective chemicals and increases activity in immune cells that boost the body’s defenses; think of it as having your own personal repair crew. “A burst of stress quickly mobilizes this ‘crew’ to damaged areas where they are likely to be needed,” explains Firdaus Dhabhar, PhD, director of research at the Stanford University Center on Stress and Health. As a result, your brain and body get a boost. A quick surge of stress can stave off disease: Studies suggest that it strengthens the immune system, makes vaccinations more effective, and may even protect against certain types of cancer. Small amounts of stress hormones can also sharpen your memory. In 2009 University at Buffalo researchers found that when rats were forced to swim—an activity that stresses them out—they remembered their way through mazes far better than rats that chilled out instead. The key, of course, is balance. Too little stress and you’re bored and unmotivated; too much and you become not just cranky but sick. “It’s important to pay attention to your stress thermometer,” and to stay below the boiling point, explains life coach Ruth Klein, author of The De-Stress Diva’s Guide to Life. –Melinda Wenner Moyer

Is It Better to Fight Anxiety or Is It Okay to Be Nervous?

Accept that you’re having an anxiety moment—trying to squelch or deny it will only make it worse—and just focus on what’s in front of you, says David Barlow, PhD, founder of the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. If you’re at an interview, meeting or party, listen intently to what the other person is saying. Make eye contact. When it’s your turn to speak, be conscious of every word you say. If you’re at your desk, respond to overdue e-mails or tackle the pile in your in-box. Whatever you’re doing, take a few deep breaths to help let the anxious thoughts and feelings float on by. –Naomi Barr 

How Do I Stop Focusing on the Clock?

The elimination of time from your consciousness is the elimination of ego. It is the only true spiritual practice. Here are three exercises to help you move in this direction:

Step out of the time dimension as much as possible in everyday life. Become friendly toward the present moment. Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future whenever they are not needed.

Be present as the watcher of your mind—of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react.

Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be. Listen to the sounds; don’t judge them. Listen to the silence beneath the sounds. Touch something—anything—and feel and acknowledge its Being. Allow the “isness” of all things. Move deeply into the Now. –Eckhart Tolle




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Eighty percent of success is showing up. ~Woody Allen 

Human beings ARE NOT as reliable as they used to be.

I compose that blanket statement for three reasons.

I am old.  Old people make blanket statements comparing the old days with modern times.  Modern times rarely come off well in these comparison statements.

I hang out with a lot of creative people.  Creative people are notoriously unreliable individuals.

It is true.

I have a million faults and shortcomings.  Being reliable is not one of them.

Even though I am a very complex person in general on some topics I am very simple.

Reliability is one of those topics.

What I expect from people is that they will be where they indicate they are going to be when they indicate that they are going to be there.

And if they are not.  They need to communicate that fact with me in as timely a manner as possible.

It’s just that simple with me.

Unfortunately, the world that I/we live in is not quite that simple or accommodating.

And don’t even get me started on punctuality.

If you are unreliable, do your best to become more reliable in as quickly as a timeframe as possible.

Trust me.  You (and the human beings who count on you)  will thank me for that advice. ~Scott


Courtesy of www.artofmanliness.co

Why Be Reliable?

Being reliable.

The word reliable has its origins in relier, Old French for “fasten” or “attach;” the reliable man was an immovable pillar of strength on which you could hang your hat, someone you could lean and depend on, a man you could trust.

Compare that image with its opposite: the flake. Floating, drifting, fragile. Melting as soon as it meets any resistance.

We’ve all known reliable men, and we’ve all known flakes. We admire the former, and avoid the latter. To become the kind of man you’ve grown up trusting and counting on, read on.

 “Only recently a prominent public man was criticized throughout the newspaper world as one not having enough character to keep his promises. He had not the stamina to make good when to do so proved difficult. He hadn’t the timber, the character fiber to stand up and do the thing he knew to be right, and that he had promised to do. The world is full of these jelly-fish people who have not lime enough in their backbone to stand erect, to do the right thing. They are always stepping into the spotlight in the good-intention stage, and then, when the reckoning time comes, taking the line of least resistance, doing the thing which will cost the least effort or money, regardless of later consequences. They think they can be as unscrupulous about breaking promises as they were about making them. But sooner or later fate makes us play fair or get out of the game.” –Orison Swett Marden, Making Life a Masterpiece, 1916

The reliable man forges deeper relationships. Relationships are built on trust; without it they wither and die. Being reliable builds that trust – your friends and loved ones know that they can count on you to keep your word, be there when you’ll say you’ll be, and do what you say you’ll do. They can also feel secure that you’ll be the same man day after day, no matter what happens. That you won’t be capricious with your warmth, blanketing them with affection one day and then withdrawing into prickly remoteness the next. That you won’t sometimes be patient with their foibles, and other times fly into a rage at the slightest provocation. Without this steady reliability in your mood and behavior, your loved ones will begin to withdraw from you, and feel they must walk on eggshells in your presence.

The reliable man receives greater opportunities. When people see that you can be relied upon, they will give you more challenging tasks and responsibilities that will in turn allow you to grow, learn, and become a leader. A boss promotes the reliable employee to higher positions; the professor offers research opportunities to the reliable student; the team picks the reliable man as its captain.

On the other hand, the flakier a man is, the lower people’s expectations become of him, and this easily becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, destining him to stay a follower, a bit player in every sphere in which he half-heartedly participates.

The reliable man is given more freedom. The unreliable young man must always be watched; he’s kept on a short leash. His boss has to constantly look over his shoulder to make sure he’s doing his job and hasn’t made another mistake. His parents check in on him even after he’s left home to offer reminders to take care of his car, thank his grandma for the birthday money, and make an appointment with the dentist.

The reliable young man receives much less supervision and is given greater responsibility over his time. His boss, his parents, and everyone else knows that if he is simply given the roughest outline of what needs to be done, he’ll find a way to do it – and do it well — in his own way.

The reliable man gains a reputation for integrity. The word integrity is related to the roots of words like “integrate” and “entire.” In Spanish it is rendered “integro,” meaning whole. Integrity thus implies the state of being complete, undivided, intact, and unbroken. Such a state contrasts with one that is scattered, fragmented, and incomplete. When a man has a reputation for integrity, others do not wonder what fragment of him they will get that day, and which fragment they’ll be dealing with the next. They know he is a rock of strength on which they can rely.

The reliable man lives with confidence and a clear conscience. In always doing his duty, keeping his promises, and fulfilling his obligations, the reliable man is free from the pangs of regret that haunt less dependable men. Not only can other people count on the reliable man, he knows he can count on himself. This breeds the courage and confidence he needs to take on greater challenges and adventures.

The reliable man leads a simpler life. When you’re the same man each day in every situation, when you don’t have to think up excuses for breaking your promises, when you don’t have to live with the regret of letting others down, you can enjoy a type of simplicity that goes way beyond decluttering your closet.

15 Maxims for Being a Reliable Man

“A disregard of promises, finally, is like a fungus, which imperceptibly spreads over the whole character, until the moral perceptions are perverted, and the man actually comes to believe he does no wrong, even in breaking faith with his warmest friends.” –William Makepeace Thayer, Ethics of Success, 1893

1. Keep your promises. Being a man of your word: this is the cornerstone of reliability. If you tell someone you’re going to do something, and do it in X amount of time, you better move heaven and earth to fulfill that promise. This is often easier said than done because of the so-called “Yes…damn” effect: when looking ahead to when a promise will need to be fulfilled, we predict we’ll have more time in our schedule, and say yes….but when the day of reckoning finally arrives — damn! — you’re just as busy as you always were.

But even when you don’t feel like doing something, even when more desirable opportunities arise, you still have to make good on your word.  Which is why you should make such grudgingly fulfilled commitments extremely rare by not overextending yourself, which brings us to our next point.

“Never affect to be other than you are—either richer or wiser. Never be ashamed to say, ‘I do not know.’ Men will then believe you when you say, ‘I do know.’

Never be ashamed to say, whether as applied to time or money, ‘I cannot afford it.’—’I cannot afford to waste an hour in the idleness to which you invite me—I cannot afford the guinea you ask me to throw away.’

Learn to say ‘No’ with decision, ‘Yes’ with caution; ‘No’ with decision whenever it resists a temptation; ‘Yes’ with caution whenever it implies a promise. A promise once given is a bond inviolable.

A man is already of consequence in the world when it is known that we can implicitly rely upon him. I have frequently seen in life a person preferred to a long list of applicants for some important charge, which lifts him at once into station and fortune, merely because he has this reputation—that when he says he knows a thing, he knows it, and when he says he will do a thing, he does it.”  — Lord Bulwer Lytton, from the Inaugural Address of the Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, 1856

2. Don’t overpromise. The promise of the reliable man is an enormously valuable thing, since it will unswervingly be fulfilled. For this reason, you will find yourself being asked by others to take on more responsibilities and will be offered more opportunities than the flake. Some of these will grant to you valuable chances for growth, learning, and leadership. But some will simply overextend you and take you further away from, not closer to, your goals and priorities.

Thus, being reliable does not mean saying yes to everyone — quite the opposite. The reliable man must use great discretion when making promises to others. The “yes…damn” effect has two main causes, 1) an overly rosy forecast of how busy we’ll be at a future date, and 2) the desire to please others. To counteract these causes, you should:

Ask yourself whether you could do it tomorrow. If you feel like there’s no way you could do something tomorrow because you’re too busy, and you wouldn’t rearrange your schedule to make room for it, then you can bet that you won’t feel any differently a month from now, and will come to regret making the commitment.

Double your estimate for how long you think it will take. Part of our overly optimistic forecast for the future is thinking an event or task will take less time than it actually will. When weighing whether to commit to something, double your knee-jerk estimate of how much time it will require of you, to make sure it will really fit in your schedule. Better to over deliver than over promise.

Give yourself a day to think it over. It can be hard to say no in the moment — you’ll feel pressure to please the asker. So just tell them that you need to look over your schedule, and that you’ll get back to them the next day. This will give you time to really think it over instead of answering on impulse and regretting it later. If you decide to decline, it also usually gives you a chance to make the “no” less personal, by simply shooting them an email the following day.

Learn how to say ‘no’ firmly but politely. This is one of the most important skills a young man can master. Don’t hedge your no with some “I’ll have to see’s,” and “maybe’s” — be direct and clear. We often feel like turning others down isn’t “nice,” but it’s much more impolite to commit to something, and then bow out later at the last minute, or to come, but to fulfill the commitment in a half-assed manner.

3. Manage expectations. When you make a promise or take on a job, be careful to be realistic about when and what you will deliver. If you’re a salesman or a freelancer, you understandably want to make the thing you’re offering seem enticing to attract customers and clients. But inflated expectations can lead to big-time disappointment  — sinking your chances of repeat business with the current client and damaging your reputation for potential future ones.

4. Don’t leave other people hanging. If you do make a promise that truly dire and unforeseen circumstances prevent you from fulfilling, let the person know as soon as possible. Bite the bullet and don’t wait until the last minute to tell them you can’t make it. If you’re running late, call ahead to let the person you’re meeting know instead of letting them wonder where you are.

Always strive to be prompt in your responses to online communication as well. Try your best to reply within 24-48 hours of receiving a text or email, even if just to say, “I can’t give you an answer right now, but will look into it, and get back to you as soon as I can,” or “Got it. Will get to work!”

“You are now a man, and I am persuaded that you must hold an inferior station in life, unless you resolve, that, whatever you do, you will do well. Make up your mind that it is better to accomplish perfectly a very small amount of work, than to half do ten times as much. What you do know, know thoroughly.“  — Sir Fowell Buxton, from a letter to his son

5. Whatever you do, do it well. The maxim: “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well,” has been around for a couple of centuries, and is just as true today as it ever was. Do your best work whether the task is fulfilling and important, or menial and mindless. Some young men feel that it’s alright to half-ass work when it’s a task that’s “beneath” them, saying that they’d put in a real effort if the work was commensurate with their talents and abilities. But it’s the man who takes pride in his work, whatever it is, who moves ahead; he who cannot be trusted with little things, will never be trusted with big things.

“In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are.” —Nicolas Chamfort

6. Be consistent. Consistency is a huge part of reliability. The guy who gets pumped about an exercise program, works out every day, and then after two weeks falls off the wagon for several months; the student who sometimes churns out A+ papers and sometimes doesn’t turn them in at all; the friend who hangs out with you every day but disappears when you ask for a favor; the boyfriend who apologizes for his temper and callous behavior and swears he’s going to turn over a new leaf…for the tenth time. These men lack consistency, and thus fail to gain the trust of others, and build faith in themselves.

The reliable man develops consistency by setting goals for himself that stretch and challenge him, but are doable day after day.

“I hate a thing done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly; if it be wrong, leave it undone.” –Bernard Gilpin

7. Finish what you start. A boy picks up one toy or craft or game after another, leaving a trail of half-finished projects through his childhood. A man carefully decides what projects he will begin — he does not rush into things in the heat of blind emotional enthusiasm — and then sees them through to the end.

8. Pull your weight and shoulder your own responsibilities. When you’re on a team or working on a group project, other people are counting on you. When you don’t fulfill your role, you imperil their success, and unfairly increase their burdens. For example, when you call in sick to work, when you really just want to loaf around, you make your fellow employees work much harder or force someone to work on what was supposed to be their scheduled day off.

“There is nothing like a clean record, the reputation of being square, absolutely reliable, to help a young man along. There is nothing comparable to truth as a man builder. Nothing else will do more toward your real advancement than the resolve, in starting out on your career, to make your word stand for something, always to tell the truth, whether it is to your immediate material interest or not. Truth and honesty make an impregnable foundation for a noble character.” — Orison Swett Marden, Making Life a Masterpiece, 1916

9. Be honest. If a news site frequently got a story wrong, readers would soon reject it as unreliable. We also offer “news” and opinions to others, and if they contain falsehoods, people will stop looking to us as a source of enlightenment. We can deceive others in very straightforward ways — lying, cheating, stealing — but in more subtle ways as well — in a look or a gesture, in silence, in telling only one part of a story and leaving out another, in passing along gossip, and so on. Anything that leads people to believe something that isn’t true is dishonest.

Another part of being honest is always saying what you mean. Don’t tell an acquaintance that you’d love to hang out and you’ll give him a call every time you run into him, if you have no intention of following-through. Don’t tell a girl you want to stay friends when you break up with her, if you’d really rather go your separate ways altogether.

10. Pay back money and return things in a timely manner. Whether you borrow $100 or a hammer, return the money or item as soon as you can. Your friend will remember that you owe him, but won’t want to ask, which can cause a rift in your relationship.

11. Be punctual. If you tell someone that you will meet them at a certain time, you have essentially made them a promise. And if you say you’ll be there at 8:00, and yet arrive at 8:15, you have essentially broken that promise. Being on time shows others that you are a man of your word.

We wrote about the importance of being on time just last month, and also offered some concrete tips for how to always be punctual. Check out these articles if this is an aspect of reliability you struggle with.

12. Be fair and consistent in rewards and punishments. A reliable man makes very clear what requirements must be met to earn a reward, and what kinds of behaviors warrant punishment. When those standards are met or violated, he doles out rewards and punishments without regards to favoritism or his current mood. People know exactly what to expect from him, and this builds the resiliency of those under his leadership.

A man who showers one person with praise, and is stingy with another for the exact same accomplishment, or sometimes punishes punitively and sometimes leniently for the same transgression, breeds apathy and “learned helplessness” — a feeling of “what’s the point?” — among those he leads. Being consistent with your rewards and punishments is especially important if you aim to raise resilient children. Esquire Magazine called this “parenting like a video game.”  The rules of a video game are predictable — do this and get docked, do this and move ahead. When your kid does something wrong, you dispassionately dole out the agreed upon punishment, and hit the reset button — time to try again. When they do something right, you consistently give the agreed upon reward, and let them level up in your trust of them.

“While, then, the stubborn facts may not be altered, we can…make them serve our ends. He who thus adjusts himself to circumstances makes them his friends that hasten to help at every turn, while he who fails so to do is surrounded by enemies that continually annoy and attack.” –William C. King, Portraits and Principles of the World’s Great Men and Women, 1898

13. Don’t let circumstances dictate your behavior. Your values, ethics, morals, purpose, and so on should not be contingent on the circumstances in which you find yourself. A man who chooses to be happy can be happy anywhere, while the man who wishes to be morose will find reason for complaint in even the most favorable of situations. The reliable man is the same man no matter what befalls him and makes the most of whatever hand he is dealt.

14. Don’t collapse in emergencies. Your reliability will be most tested during a crisis. Plenty of men can be there for others and do a job when the sailing is smooth. But when the crap hits the fan they fold like a lawn chair. Fair weather reliability is no reliability at all. The reliable man practices and prepares for emergencies so he knows just what to do in a crisis. And he cultivates the virtues of courage and hardihood, so that when everyone else is running away from chaos, he digs in his heels and starts running towards it.

15. Show up. It is often said that 95% of life is just showing up. I don’t know how accurate that number is for life as a whole, but it’s certainly spot on when it comes to reliability. Show up to work on time. Show up to the party you promised to attend. Show up to your friend’s play, even if he only has a bit part.

Even when you haven’t promised someone that you’ll be there, if they need you, show up.

I was recently talking to a friend whose mother had just died. She said how surprised she was to see old friends of hers and of her family — some she hadn’t seen in two decades — show up at her mom’s funeral. She said she hadn’t realized how much their presence would mean to her, and how grateful she would feel to see them there. She had previously wondered how well you should know a person to attend their funeral, but now felt it was always a good idea to show up.

Being reliable means that when a friend needs support, he does not even have to ask you or wonder if you’ll show. He can say with certainty, “He’ll come.”

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Stage Fright…



There is a very famous study of the top ten fears of human beings.

The number two fear is death.

The number one fear is public speaking.

So, some people would rather die than speak in front of others.

Another name for the fear of speaking, singing, performing, etc. in front of a crowd is stage fright.

I have never experienced stage fright over all the years that I have performed in my various roles (acting, hosting, public speaking, teaching, etc.)

Don’t get me wrong, I get nervous before any of my performances. 

But that usually is due to a number of other business related factors, not the performance itself.

My speculation of why many people get nervous in front of a crowd is that they think that it is a “me vs. them” situation.

I could not disagree more strongly with that thinking.

I believe that audiences are always pulling for those who are entertaining and/or teaching them unless the performer(s) and/or teacher/public speaker give them a reason(s) not to.

Much like any personal and professional relationship, if you treat the object of your attention with respect, they will reciprocate the guesture.

So, if you are speaking/teaching/acting/hosting in front of an audience in the near future, prepare, relax, enjoy yourself, and treat your audience with respect.

Follow my suggestion and your odds of success and a pleasant experience will rise dramatically. ~Scott


Courtesy of http://garyguwe.wordpress.com


Tips & Strategies to Help You Speak Effectively to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime


Do butterflies attack your stomach each time you’re about to speak? Tired of standing on stage, gripped by fear and paralysed by nervousness?

How would you like to be able to go through the entire presentation, or speak before a crowd with fear firmly at the back of your mind?

In this very first edition, I’m going to share with everyone some tips and strategies which I employ to calm those frayed and frazzled nerves.

The following are 10 tips to help you overcome stage fright.


F - Focus on your most powerful Experience

Think about the your most memorable and powerful experience. Was it the day your wife agreed to marry you? The day your kid told the world that you were the best mom/dad in the whole wide world? The day your partner agreed to go out with you?

Or how about the day you pulled off that great project – a project that few believed you could pull off?

Relive your most powerful experience and feel the confidence and power flow through your veins again.

Speak with this power in your heart.

E - Energize Yourself

You’ve adrenaline pumping through your veins. Your heart is racing and your muscles are all tensed up. Your eyes are shifty and you are unsettled. You are ready to bolt for the door… or are you?

An adrenaline rush is a built-in defence mechanism for human beings. It is a natural response mechanism that allows us to fight or take flight in the event of danger. That explains the heightened sensitivity we have when we are nervous and excited.

My suggestion for handling this adrenaline rush anxiety involves harnessing this nervous energy and make it work for you! You see, many people tend to suppress this nervous energy and bolt themselves to the ground instead of running away. This suppression causes them to shake and tremble because they are consciously fighting against their subconscious tendency to run away!

So, how can we harness this nervous energy for the benefit of our presentations?

MOVE AROUND! Is there really a need to bolt yourself to the ground? I’ve found that walking around the room and gentle gesticulating from time to time allows me to dissipate my nervous energy.

A - Acknowledge Your Fears

I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Fear is here to protect us, not paralyse us. Don’t run away from being afraid! Acknowledge it as being part of you… use it to identify the possible pitfalls, then work to plug those loopholes that may most likely (you can’t plug all… can you?) go wrong during your presentation.

Being prepared and the knowledge that you’ve covered most angles will prepare you and leave you assured that things will go to plan. And if they don’t, then at least you’re all ready to execute Plan B anyway!

R - Relax… BREATHE!

Take deep breathes and Regulate your breathing! Let the breathing regulate and calm your heart rate!

B - Believe in Your Value!

You’ve got to believe in the value of your message!

Know that your presentation has the potential to change lives! Your words are powerful and can impact lives in more ways than one!

This best works together with Point T below.

U - Understand the Audience

Understand that the audience are here to hear you succeed! They’re here for value and they want you to succeed! They’re not here to sabotage you, or poke fun at you… they’re here to listen to you speak!

You have something they want! You are the god for the moment. Their leader and source of information… and only you can satisfy them. You can make them laugh and fulfil their deepest desires…


S - Smile!

Studies have proven that changing one’s physiology will have a pronounced impact on one’s mental state.

These means that, if you slouch and look down and drag your feet most of the time, chances are you’ll be feeling depressed and low most of the time.

Conversely, if you were to quicken your pace, dig in your heels and run around (like your two year old nephew/niece), chances are you’ll be feeling on top of the world!

Smile and pretend that you’re enjoying yourself. Soon enough, your body will tell your brain that you’re happy… and before you know it, fear will be drowning at the back of your head by Little Miss Sunshine! =)

T - Talk to Yourself

Many people will begin telling themselves how they can’t do it and various reasons why they will not be able to speak properly.

Counter that.

Tell yourself that you will be able to do a good job and let yourself in on the reasons why you can.

One of the best ways you can find reasons of why you can succeed is by asking yourself questions like:

“What do I know that they don’t?”
“Have the audience got my experience?”
“What can I offer these people that my competitors can’t?”

Know your niche and build it up. Then share it. You’ll be amazed how many people will pay to learn from you those specialised skills, knowledge and experience which you’ve built up over time!

E - Enjoy Yourself!

Get out on the stage and seek to have fun! Let your hair down and allow your mischievous side to rule for awhile! This will be a great strength if you’re preparing yourself to take up the role as Emcee for a Dinner and Dance event.

R - Rejoice!

Many people begin visualising their worst case scenario as they ready themselves to speak.

Well, I’m ready to counter that!

I want you to visualise yourself victorious at the end of the presentation. Think of the amount of gratitude your audience will have for you sharing such important information with them! Think about the smiles and laughter which you would have created?

Hey, if Mr Negativity can get you to think about the worst case scenario, then I will implore you to summon Mr Positivity to provide you with images of encouragement!

Granted it, the outcome may not resemble 100% as depicted by both Mr N and Mr P, but if you’re going to think about these things anyway, I’d suggest you think about something that EMPOWERS YOU, not Paralyses you!


Well, there you have it! My first edition of 10 tips to help you overcome the fear of public speaking!

Try it out and let me know how well they work for you!

Live with passion!

Speak with life!

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The Grudge


I grew up in a family of grudge holders.

I have a very strong personality, a tiny measure of authority, I hang out with artistic people, I have a very loud voice and I often don’t think out what I say as carefully as I should.

These add up me being very familiar with people holding grudges and having grudges held against me.

I think I have broken the cycle of grudge holding in my family.

I am too old, too tired, and have too many other things on my mind to hold grudges.

Nobody recently has done any so egregious to me that I curse them “dead to me.”

I’m just not that angry any more.

But I am in the minority.  All around me people are waiting for the most minor of infractions to blow up and vow that they will never forgive me or the grudge-holding object of their ire.

I believe that life is too short (or too long) and I make too many mistakes to condemn anyone being cut out of my life due to a single (or sometimes even multiple) mistake(s.)

I am doing my best to spread the gospel of forgiveness.  Please help me spread the word. ~Scott


Courtesy of http://psychcentral.com

8 Tips to Stop Holding a Grudge


Associate Editor

I loved these bits of advice from Beliefnet’s Renita Williams.

We all have experienced hurt and pain in our lives. Sometimes we are exposed to experiences so painful that they leave marks that are difficult to heal-especially if we feel somone has wronged us or harmed us.

1. Acknowledge the problem

Figure out what it is that’s causing you to hold a grudge. You have to know what the problem is in order to solve it. When you allow yourself to see the real issue you can then make a choice to move forward from there.

2. Share your feelings.

A grudge can form when an issue isn’t fully confronted. Without being judgmental about yourself or another, clarify your feelings on the situation. Then, decide if this is something you will work on in your own heart or by contacting the other person involved. Only when you are ready, communicate with the other person about the issue. Whether you work it out on your own or involved the other person, you may feel more relieved by releasing that built up tension and all involved can have a better understanding of the situation and able to resolve the issue.

3. Switch places.

To get a better understanding of the other person, try putting yourself in their shoes. This will give you a better understanding of their point of view and behavior. Maybe the person in question was in a lot of pain. This doesn’t justify their negativity, but it will help you understand it. The more you understand the other person and their behavior, the easier it is not to let go of a grudge.

A natural response may be to develop a grudge, or even a hatred of the person who has caused us pain. But the person who holds the grudge always suffers more!

The longer we hold a grudge the more difficult it is to forgive and move on. You can begin to free yourself when you begin to forgive. Here are eight ways to get a grip on the pain and find the strength to let it go.

4. Accept what is.

Choose to create your own healing, with or without an apology. Don’t wait for the person you are upset with to come around. For all you know they are already past the issue and not putting as much thought into it. Even if they don’t offer an apology, it doesn’t mean they are not remorseful. Some people are unable to apologize or may not fully understand that the person they hurt may need to hear one.

5. Don’t dwell on it.

Once you have decided to move on, keep on moving. Don’t put too much thought into the situation or continuously discuss it. It will only make things worse and harder to get over. If ever the issue is brought up in conversation, change the subject or just look at it as the past and leave it there.

6. Take the positive.

For every negative situation there is a positive. If you take this as a learning experience, you will benefit from knowing more about yourself and the other person. Choose to learn a valuable lesson or walk away with a better understanding that can help you let go of the issue and not resent the other person.

7. Let it go.

Letting go allows room for peace and happiness. A long lasting grudge will only drain you physically and emotionally and can surely affect your health. You will use more energy than you can imagine by holding a grudge than you will by letting go.

8. Forgive.

Of course forgiving doesn’t mean you will forget the issue. It’s just acknowledging your differences and accepting that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes we should learn from. Forgiving isn’t the easiest to do especially when you’ve endured a lot of hurt and pain, but it’s the only way to truly let go and have peace.

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I’m Too Old For This Sh…Stuff…



I love my parents and my family.

That being said they drive me crazy in a multitude of ways.

The two quotes that I hear quite often from them that I absolutely, positively vehemently disagree with are, “I am too old to…” and, “I can’t change.”

I used to let these quotes just go in one ear and out the other.  I don’t any more.

In fact, I verbally joust with them whenever I hear those words (and, unfortunately, I hear them quite often.)

I used to buy into these myths.  I don’t any more.

Just like my beloved improv, life gives us both a multitude of “rules” and allows us to break these “rules” at our own risk or to reap our own rewards.

However, the rules that we create (or break) for ourselves (at least in my case) have made the biggest differences/changes in my life.

It is my deepest intention to never utter the words, “I am too old to…,” and/or “I can’t change” for the rest of my life.

I will find out soon enough if I break that “rule.” ~Scott


Courtesy of www.tinybuddha.com

You’re Never Too Old to Follow a Dream

By Genevieve Maxted-Tidy

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~C. S. Lewis

Oh no, I’m too old for that. Not at my time of life. That ship has sailed.

I wonder if this sounds familiar to you. It does to me, and I’ve only just reached 30 years of age.

For many years now, as I have approached the big 3-0, I have imposed unrealistic goals, limiting beliefs, and unfair rules on myself, generally based upon how those around me have wanted me to be at my age.

I’ll provide you with an example here:

Having run several businesses and worked in corporate jobs in lots of different sectors, I never really settled in to learning my true role until this past year and a half.

I told myself that leaving my well-paid office job to pursue my dreams was, because of my advancing years, the absolute last chance I had to live the life I wanted to live and to become the success I had always wanted to be.

I put so much pressure on myself that burnout and fatigue were foregone conclusions, and I even made myself believe that if I didn’t do it this time around then everyone around me would suffer and I would never be able to redeem myself.

I paid far too much attention to what I supposed others around me were secretly thinking of my latest venture. This nearly made me feel afraid to even give it a go, let alone put in the effort that would either make or break my dream.

I know that certain members of my family believe that I should be working in a full-time corporate job with benefits, and that I should, for the want of a better phrase, suck it up and accept a life of limitation.

This is something that I have tried with all my might to do in order to please others. What I didn’t realize is that in trying to make others proud of me to satisfy their own beliefs and values, I had completely overlooked my pride in myself, my values, and my dreams.

This, I believe, is a life lesson that for the most part can only be learned and utilized after a certain amount of life experience.

I feel that, at 30, I am almost there and ready chase my dreams with a more mature outlook on what I truly want from my life and, while I still value the opinions of others, I certainly do not let them influence my intuition and the passion I have for what I am I trying to achieve.

The age at which you start to feel like this will vary I guess, but for me, 30 always held that glow of promise.

At 21, I was not afraid of starting my own business and I dove into it without much thought or care at all. Six months later, I had moved on.

At 23, I tried again, in the same way and with the same outcome which I then had to pay for for several years to come.

From each attempt I grew, I learned lessons, and as I got older I gradually started to gain some clarity about what it was I wanted from my life.

I then became a parent and automatically grew up by years at a time. I discovered a resolve, power, and dignity that had been lying within me, an untapped resource.

With age comes responsibility but it also brings with it new outlooks on life. It brings with it feelings of self and of clarity that may not be there in our earlier years.

I also believe that our dreams and desires can take many years to truly form into something that resembles our true path, and I’m not sure that this process ever really ends unless we allow it to— which would be such a terrible shame.

Each of our life experiences forms our perception of the world around us, and this in turn forms our vision of what we want our future to hold.

It is imperative that we never become too old to dream and that we have the confidence to act on those dreams to create the lives we most covet, at any time along our journey.

I have found that a life well-lived is a life lived fully and without dilution.

This concept does not end when we reach a certain age. It is essential maintenance for the human spirit to be constantly in a time of growth and challenge, in whichever form this takes, at whatever age we are.

Even if that challenge is to learn how to do nothing, which is actually much harder than it sounds, if we have always been busy, living a life of stress and overwork.

If we have nothing to aspire or look forward to in life, we end up feeling like we are going nowhere, and we stagnate. I have already felt this way even though I am still considered younger in years.

I believe that these limiting thoughts of age hold us back from living the truly miraculous lives we deserve and are fully able to cultivate if we take good care of ourselves.

Age, if anything, is on our side. 

When we grow older, our goals and dreams should really, by virtue of our life experiences, seem more attainable.

It is a pity that age is seen as something of a restriction; and that we adopt this belief through our own perceptions of what other’s view as acceptable for us at a given time.

It’s time to take full responsibility for our own existence and to have complete respect for our dreams, at whatever stage of life we are in. 

The responsibilities that come with age needn’t be all doom and gloom, mortgages and money matters. We should allow the autonomy that we hold in our lives as we get older to be a source of power and confidence, to push us forward into a life well-lived.

It takes time to learn how to own our lives, nurture our goals, and realize our dreams, but fortunately we have time if we’re willing to s

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Joy to the World…


I make a living off of attempting to bring joy to others.

How ironic is it that I often have a hard time finding joy in my personal and/or professional life ?

Most of the time that I am not joyful is a direct result of not living in the moment as my improv training has attempted to teach me.

Sometimes I add unrealistic expectations to upcoming events which, not matter how much fun they are, cause them to be “dampered” before they are even experienced.

I will be participating in a couple of events this weekend to which I am very much looking forward and experiencing them with someone whom I love very much.

I will do my best to enjoy every moment. ~Scott


Courtesy of www.accidentlcomic.com

15 Ways to Put More Joy in Your Life

by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant


One of my favorite old songs is “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. The

refrain goes like this: “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the

deep blue sea, joy to you and me.” The song always makes me think about how much

better the world would be if we tried every day to bring joy into each other’s lives.

Joy probably isn’t something you think about most of the time. I’m pretty sure

“Be joyful” isn’t on your list of things to accomplish today, even though it is a basic

human need. Unfortunately many of us think joy is something we can only experience

when things are going right in our lives – when we have our first child, finally get that

promotion, or move into the house of our dreams. But joy is an experience we can invite

into our lives even when things are not going as well as we like, even when we feel sad

and frightened and confused. In fact, our ability to find joy when life seems unfair and

uncertain is a measure of the strength of the human spirit.

Now more than ever we need to reach out and find joy in the world and teach our

children how to do the same. Here are some tips for how to do just that:


1. Give yourself permission to be joyful. Most of us have a little voice in our head

that pops up in certain situations and whispers “It’s wrong to be happy now.” The fact is

we humans are complicated beings, capable of many emotions at the same time. You can

feel sad and happy at the same time. To deprive yourself of joy in any circumstance is to

deny yourself a complete life. So write yourself a permission slip: “Dear Self: I hereby

grant myself permission to be joyful whenever I feel like it!”


2. Find joy in nature. We usually get so caught up in our “to-do” lists that we forget

to make time to let in the beauty that is all around us. Watch your dog the next time you

let her outside – chances are the moment she gets out, she’ll sniff everything in the yard,

her tail wagging a mile-a-minute. To a dog everything in the natural world is interesting

and worth exploring, everything has the potential to bring joy. Cultivate that behavior

(the curiosity and enthusiasm, not the sniffing) in yourself and your kids.


3. Search for joy. If you sit at home watching TV, how likely do you think it is that

there’ll be a knock at the door and when you open it someone will hand you a dozen

balloons and announce that you’ve won the “Joy Sweepstakes”? Not too likely, right?

You have to seek out the things that will fulfill you and make you feel that you’re living a

life with purpose. That’s where you’ll find joy. Imagine you’re writing a personal ad

and making a list of all the things that delight you and bring pleasure to your heart.

Perhaps you’d put down some of the following: feeling loved, raising happy healthy

children, maintaining strong friendships, being the kind of person others turn to in times

of need, volunteering for causes you believe in, mentoring a child, etc. To find joy,

simply do more of the things that give your life meaning.


4. Heed the call of joy. Many of the world’s most joyous people are those who

believe they have found what they were meant to do in life and are doing it every day. If

your work fills your heart and you know that what you do is leaving the world a better

place, joy will seep into every day.


5. Teach your children well. Have you ever asked your kids “What brought you joy

today?” Why not make that a question you ask every day. Just ignore the funny looks

your kids (and possibly your spouse) may give you at first; they’ll get over it. By asking

the question, you remind your kids (and yourself) that we should be grateful for the

things that make us happy and focus on them instead of the things that irritate and annoy

us. You can also pass the joy lesson along by helping your kids to choose activities that

truly make them happy, as opposed to those that might look good on their records or may

get them a scholarship down the road.


6. Experiment with your power to create joy in everyday things. Every moment has

the potential for joy if you choose let it happen. Folding laundry can be a mundane chore

you can’t avoid or it can be an opportunity to find bliss where you’d least expect it. My

dog Maddy Lou will stop whatever she’s doing when she hears the dryer finish its cycle

because she loves to burrow down under the warm clothes and take a nap. You too can

find joy in all the everyday tasks you do: shoveling snow can be an opportunity to revel

in the crisp white beauty of the landscape and the wonder of seeing your own breath,

your daily workout can provide you a chance to admire the strength and resilience of

your own body, even paying the bills can be joyful if you think about it as reflecting your

ability to provide for your family. Remember: you have the power to make anything



7. Make a joyful noise (Part one). Most of the noises we humans make aren’t really

joyful, are they? We whine, we complain, we dwell on past wrongs. For years now, I

have lived by a simple rule: for every one thing I complain about, I must say something

good (out loud) about three other things. This focus on what’s positive in my life

increases my awareness that even in tough times, there is joy to be found everywhere.


8. Make a joyful noise (Part two). Sing an uplifting song. Giggle with delight and

pleasure. Applaud the accomplishments of others. Whistle your approval. Do whatever

you can to add your voice to those expressing gratitude and appreciation for life. I live

one block from an elementary school and every day at recess I hear the squeals of delight

from children on the playground. No matter how bad my day might be going, that sound

always reminds me that there is joy to be found somewhere. And sometimes, it’s just

around the corner. (Although I will say the last time I tried to join in at recess, I got stuck

on the slide!)


9. Spread the joy. We all know that happiness is multiplied many times when share

it with others. You don’t have to have good news to be able to spread joy, however. One

of the other rules I follow in my life is that in every interaction I have every day, I try to

make the other person laugh. This means that I am conscious of all times of what I can

do to add some happiness to their lives. One of result of my rule is that I have fewer

negative interactions, not to mention much more laughter. I’ve found that it is just as

easy to add joy to someone’s life as it is to add misery, even if your interaction is about

fixing a problem or registering a complaint. Here’s an example: one day at the grocery

store I purchased one can of soda. Price: 47 cents. The clerk accidentally hit the wrong

key, however, and it rang up as $4,700! Rather than getting angry, I told her “Wait a

minute, I think I have a coupon for $4,699.53 in my purse!” We both laughed as she

corrected the error.


10. Jump for joy. You don’t actually have to jump (although if you feel like it, why

not?), but by demonstrating unbridled enthusiasm for those things you care passionately

about, you achieve the same result. Enthusiasm is joy in action. An enthusiastic person

will make all those she comes in contact with want to share in whatever it is that

stimulates that kind of passion and bring that level of ecstasy.


11. If joy isn’t in the picture, refocus your lens. If you can’t find joy in the big things,

look at the small things, or vice-versa. I am an avid gardener and that means that I often

look at my yard in terms of what needs to be done: weeds to be pulled, trees to be

pruned, holes the dogs have dug in their search for life underground to be refilled, etc.

I’m also an amateur photographer and grabbing my camera and focusing in on a flower

or a leaf and looking closely at it, changes my perspective. Through the camera lens, I

see the beauty not the chore. On the other hand, sometimes we need to step back and

look at the bigger picture to find the joy. By stepping away from your troubles and

focusing on a beautiful sunrise or the loving support you have from family and friends,

you’ll be able to refocus on joy.


12. Go for a joy ride. Sometimes the path we’re on is pretty joyless and it doesn’t

matter how slowly we go or how hard we look, we just can’t see any joy on the horizon.

This is a sure sign that it’s time to take a new path. You don’t necessarily have to take a

huge detour (like quitting your job); sometimes small side trips are all it takes. Ask for a

new project at work that excites and motivates you. Take a new route home from work

and explore neighborhoods you’ve never driven through. Try a new spice in dinner

tonight. Take the family out to a foreign movie to learn about other cultures. Learn a

new language or skill. Make friends with someone who is much older or younger or

thinks much differently than you do. There is no single road to joy, so you need to be

willing to go wherever it leads you.


13. Wake up joyful. First thing in the morning, think about at least one thing that

brings joy to your life. Now smile. A simple smile can make you feel more hopeful

about the coming day. It can also improve your resistance to stress by bolstering your

immune system. And once you’ve arisen, do something that delights you before you

begin to get yourself and your family ready for the coming day. It can be as simple as

snuggling with your spouse, burying your face in the soft fur of your cat, or listening to

the birds singing outside your window.


14. Plan for joy. If you have something to look forward to, it helps fill all the days

until the event with happiness. The event doesn’t have to be a big one like a wedding or

class reunion, it can be as simple as a family picnic, a concert in the park, or lunch with a

good friend. You should have at least one joyful event on your calendar every three

weeks so you can experience the joy of anticipation.


15. Bring joy to the world. A truly joyous person looks outside herself to see how to

make the world a more joyful place. Now more than ever we need to start thinking about

our role in the world and what we can do to reduce suffering and increase happiness

outside ourselves and our own communities. Whether by adopting a starving child,

working to save an endangered species, volunteering for an international organization,

you can be a beacon of hope and joy in the lives of others you’ll never even meet. It

really is just one planet and the more we work to bring joy to everyone (human and

animal), the more we’ll each feel truly enriched and joyful.


Cultivating joy when the world around us doesn’t seem very joyful can be

difficult. But as Carlos Castaneda said “We can make ourselves happy or we can make

ourselves miserable. The amount of work is the same.”

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No New Ideas…


I continue to tie myself in knots as new competition enters the same business universe as myself/my business.

What a tremendous waste of time and energy !

As our world becomes more elderly, the original, universe-changing business ideas become rarer and rarer.

Most successful businesses/business ideas are slight or major variations of existing ideas/businesses.

Successful businesses/business persons are successful because: they market better; they service a customer’s needs better; and/or they figure out their target market and focus directly at them.

So, instead of wringing my hands over my competition, I need to buckle down and do a better job of any/all of the goals above.   

Perhaps you need to do so as well. ~Scott


Courtesy of http://yourstory.in

How does an entrepreneur respond when someone says, “This is already being done!”?  by Jubin Mehta

Startups face this question a lot- “Someone is already working on a similar idea! Why are you pursuing it?” Especially with the number of startups increasing in this age of the internet and information disseminating at speeds previously unheard of, the earth has become a small playground. And there are bound to be others who’re working or already have worked on the same idea as yours.

This question firstly touches upon competition and at a deeper level, is a disguise for the question as to how do entrepreneurs size up risk.

Let’s take up competition first- Tony Stubblebine has written a great compendium on everything there is to know about competition which, if summarized, would say, “Do your thing, don’t worry about competition.” Exploring further, people are still hesitant about sharing a startup idea or something they’re building for the fear that someone will steal it. If this is the thought process, the startup is anyways not going to work because if someone can steal it just by listening to the idea, there’s no real IP or differentiator we’re talking about. As they say “Ideas don’t matter, execution is everything” (more on that here).

And now going deeper, when someone tells you, “I know a few people who’re already doing this”- What do you say? What do you think? As an entrepreneur, you sometimes want to close yourself from the external noise and just focus on the task at hand but such voices become bothersome at times. I decided to consult Sai Gaddam, a computational neuroscientist who has studied psychology and is himself an entrepreneur (developer of MakkhiChoose). He says that for entrepreneurs, this is actually a disguised question about risk: ”Why will you be the ones to win this race?”  Almost all startups have competition — companies trying to solve the same or very similar problems– till they discover a niche, pivot, or simply outrun all of them.  This is inherently risky, which is why so few succeed. Risk is at the heart of the entrepreneurial venture.

So how do you, the entrepreneur, size up risk?

Sai suggests that you must avoid confirmation bias so you don’t discount genuine concerns about your product. If multiple people think the product isn’t a great enough improvement to warrant a switch, but your roommate thinks it’s awesome and his are the only words you pay attention to, congratulations, you have put on your confirmation bias blinders!

That said, you must also try and see what makes the naysayers different. Most grownups would have dismissed the idea of a website where you pour out your hearts and hold them up in drinking pictures — but Zuckerberg knew they weren’t his audience. So, on the other end, you must also learn to overcome risk aversion. Objectivity doesn’t come naturally; you must question irrational confidence, and you must also ward off unreasonable dejection.

So try to answer that question in the most sunny optimistic fashion and also the darkest fatalistic manner. The right answer will be in the middle. To put it in simpler words, there will always be competition and others in the space and people will point fingers. But if you believe in what you’re doing, and you have the confidence to convince a handful of others, there’s no reason to feel paranoid. Just go out there and do it!



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Napoleon Hill…



I am a solopreneur.

I have been a solopreneur for almost five years full-time and almost nine years part-time.

When you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder constantly to “check your work,” it is very easy to slack off or take the easy way out.

When you do that enough times, it becomes a habit.

The only voices of reason in those circumstances are: family members; other loved ones; trusted professional and/or personal mentors/advisors; and/or your conscience.

Most of us like to give ourselves credit that if we have a tough choice to make that we will always take “the high road” and make the most moral choice.

In a perfect world that would always happen.

None of us live in a perfect world.

Napoleon Hill wrote a seminar business/motivational/self-help book a long time ago called, “Think and Grow Rich.”

Below is a quote to which all solopreneurs (and perhaps all businesspersons, professionals and human beings) should aspire.

If you are a solopreneur also and look into the “mirror” of this quote and see yourself, congratulations.

If not, perhaps it’s time to make some very important decisions and/or changes.

I know that I am/will. ~Scott


Courtesy of Napoleon Hill, from his best-selling and groundbreaking book, “Think and Grow Rich”

I fully realize that no wealth of position can long endure, unless built upon truth and justice; therefore, I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to myself the forces I wish to use, and the cooperation of other people. I will induce others to serve me, because of my willingness to serve others. I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealously, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude towards others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and in myself. I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory, and repeat it aloud once a day, with full faith that it will gradually influence my thoughts and actions so that I will become a self-reliant and successful person.


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I Like Dreamin’


A few days ago the Powerball Lottery was $425 million.

Many, many people were dreaming of what they would do with their winnings from the Powerball Lottery even though the odds of doing so were astronomical.

The majority of us have dreams.  Some are more realistic than others.

What constitutes an realistic vs. unrealistic dream ?

The internet and books (remember them ?) are full of dreamers and the realization of their unrealistic dreams.

Are dreams usually easy to fulfill ?  No.

Is there one way to guarantee that your dream(s) will never be fulfilled ?  Yes.  Never do anything to attempt to achieve it/them.

If you do take action, does that guarantee success ?  Certainly not.

Although it is usually two steps further followed by two steps back I am attempting to live my dreams.

I invite you to do the same.

Even if you/I don’t succeed it will be an interesting journey full of even more interesting stories to tell. ~Scott


Courtesy of www.thedailylove.com

When we start contemplating living our dreams, we first bask in the possibility of what could be; we sit back and daydream about a better kind of life, a life of creative freedom, of starting our own business and being able to do what we want when we want. We see how big our ideas can be and then we come back to reality.

As we actually start to consider taking actions TOWARDS our dreams, that is where the fears, insecurities and doubts come up. And the biggest block of all is the need for security and certainty.

You see, you can’t been a Seeker on The Path and value certainty over the adventure of creating yourself. We have to learn to let go of our attachment to what’s comfortable, easy and safe and learn to become strong enough in our Faith to not avoid or prevent uncertainty, but to be solid within uncertainty.

The Path is one of uncertainty, of stepping out into the unknown and of being able to remain solid even when we don’t know what the next moment will bring.

So many people will never realize their dreams because they place certainty so high in their lives that they never break free and dive deep into the unknown. It’s a rare individual who feels the fear and does it anyway. It’s an uncommon person who steps out into the unknown and goes ALL IN with their dreams.

I’ve come to believe that when I personally take risks on behalf of my dreams that there is great certainty, not through facts, figures, metrics or physical proof, but through the faith I place in The Uni-verse. I have come to know that no matter what I will be taken care of, I will meet the perfect people at the perfect time and that right before huge breakthroughs are moments of big time doubt.

The goal for us is not to shy away, no, our goal is to step out even though we are terrified of the unknown. We are journeyers, we are travelers, we are Seekers on a Path into our own Highest Potential. We are not promised certainty from the world, but rather from our Faith. It takes a strong person to step out into the unknown, day in and day out, to risk being wrong, to risk making huge mistakes when the stakes are even bigger and to be willing to fail. It takes an even stronger person to fail and then to pick themselves back up and realize that failure is only failure if we give up. Instead, this strong person sees failure as a lesson, as an education and as a test of how much we truly believe in ourselves.

You see, success on The Path comes in two forms: the first is being able to keep going when you would normally quit (this is a HUGE win), the second being self-realized enough to be free from or at least understand your fear. These two things do not guarantee a huge financial pay off, but once you have these two things it makes it much easier to be a savvy entrepreneur because you will not only be fearless, you will choose a path that is based on the right livelihood. As Russell Simmons says, “Money doesn’t make you happy, but happy can make you money.”

The key is to not give up, but to keep going.

Do you have what it takes?

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Locus of Control…


I used to be a person that life happened to.

I often threw up my hands in frustration because I didn’t think that I had any control over any aspects of my life.

Recently I have come to better understand that, although I will never have complete control over every aspect of my life, I have enough control over the important things that shape my personal and professional destiny.

That transformation in my thinking has lessened the overall fear and helplessness that had gripped me for decades.

It is my fervent hope that I can continue to be a person that happens to life.  ~Scott


Courtesy of www.getrichslowly.com

You Are the Boss of You: How to Find Success with Life and Money

Posted: 01 Aug 2013 04:00 AM PDT

Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. It marks his return as a contributor to this site. J.D.’s non-financial writing can be found at More Than Money.

“What do you think is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people?” an interviewer asked me earlier this week.

“Well, I don’t like to make generalizations,” I said, “but I’ve thought about this question a lot. While there are certainly exceptions, I’d say that successful people believe they control of their destiny and unsuccessful people do not.”

“What do you mean?” asked the interviewer. And from there, we delved into a deep discussion about fate, responsibility, and locus of control.

Locus of Control
The term “locus of control” sounds complicated but the concept is actually easy to understand. Locus of control refers to how you ascribe responsibility for the things that happen to you.

  • If      you have an internal locus of      control, you believe that the quality of your life is largely      determined by your own choices and actions. You believe that you      are responsible for who you are and what you are.
  • If      you have an external locus of      control, you believe that the quality of your life is largely      determined by your environment, but luck, by fate. You believe that others      are responsible for who you are and what you are.

This isn’t an either-or proposition, obviously. Locus of control exists on a continuum. But many people tend to favor one side of the continuum over the other.

For years, my locus of control was primarily external. I was overweight, in debt, and unhappy. On some level, I knew that my state was a result of my choices, but most of my time was spent rationalizing reasons I couldn’t change: I didn’t have time to exercise, my car broke down, I didn’t get the job I wanted. Nothing good ever happened to me. (Notice that phrase: “happened to me”.) I thought most things were outside of my control.

It wasn’t until my locus of control became more internal that my life began to improve. Once I realized that nobody cares more about my money than I do, I was able to get out of debt, start a business, and save for retirement. Once I realized that the only way to get fit was to, well, get fit, I began to do the hard work of eating right and exercising every day.

And that’s the thing: Accepting that you’re in control of your own life is hard work. It takes time, and it takes effort. Most of all, it takes owning your decisions and admitting your mistakes. Ultimately, however, the rewards are worth it.

Bad Examples
In my interview last week, I made a generalization: “Successful people believe they’re in control of their destiny and unsuccessful people do not.” Let me give you some specific examples. (Since I’ll be discussing friends and family, I’m changing details in the anecdotes that follow.)

  • One      of my friends owns three vehicles. Last Monday, he had an appointment. He      couldn’t go. One car was out of gas, another had a flat tire, and his      mother had borrowed the third. So, he missed the appointment. To hear him      talk, this was outside his control — as if he couldn’t have walked to the      nearest gas station or installed a spare tire. (A few months ago, the same      friend considered renting a car to drive to the beach because his car’s      tires were worn and he couldn’t afford new ones.)
  • Another      friend has no health insurance. One of his clients works at a clinic and      offered to provide some free medical care to his family. He accepted. But      then he and his family didn’t make the appointment because “something came      up”. Now, one of the kids is sick with a condition that could have been      caught and treated several months ago. This friend too blames forces      beyond his control.
  • I      also know a woman who owns a nearby business The business is always on the      brink of collapse. She believes her store struggles because of onerous      city codes and an unresponsive landlord. Yet, other businesses around her      thrive despite similar circumstances. She doesn’t see that the problem      could be with the way she runs the place: the store’s odd hours, its poor      condition, the way she treats her customers.

This list could go on and on. Since I’ve become aware of this distinction — between folks who believe they’re in control of their lives and those that don’t — it’s been like waking from the Matrix. I can’t help but see the patterns everywhere I go. (And can’t help but see the same pattern in my past life.)

I hate to admit it, but it’s often tough to talk with folks who have an external locus of control. Nobody wants to lecture (or be lectured by) their friends, yet sometimes it’s hard to watch friends repeatedly make poor choices. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to spend time with people who don’t let life get them down.

My girlfriend Kim is a great example. She never lets anyone or anything hold her back. If something goes wrong, she finds another way to achieve her goals. She had several thousand dollars saved to buy a new car, for instance. But then her health insurance didn’t cover all of her shoulder surgery, she received an unexpected tax bill, and her boyfriend (a.k.a. me) decided to take her on a three-week trip to Europe. Her savings vanished.

Rather than complain about the situation, she got to work. She picked up extra hours at the office. She offered to help me sell my comic books (in exchange for a cut of the proceeds). And she’s in the middle of starting her own business. Already, she’s recovered a good chunk of the money she lost. Kim has a strong internal locus of control.

Turning Anger Into Possibility
On Monday, Mr. Money Mustache responded to some complaints about an earlier article on his site. “You can spare us both the outrage,” he wrote. He continued:

It’s almost a law of the Internet these days: if somebody comes up with an idea or does something, there will be an immediate nationwide chorus of whining and rattling keyboards as a large number of people hasten to complain and express outrage about what they’ve just read.


Instead of boiling up a pot of anger based on your perceived inability to do something, why not throw it on the other burner – the one that gets you fired up about new possibilities about which you knew nothing before?

I dashed off an email praising the article, and I mentioned the notion of locus of control. In his reply, Pete pointed out that he first heard of this concept nearly twenty years ago in the classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Long ago, when the world was young, I also read Seven Habits, but I remember almost nothing of it. Based on Pete’s comment, I picked up a copy from the public library. Sure enough. The very first habit is “be proactive. Essentially, to take control of your own life, to be the be your own boss:

BE PROACTIVE. Between stimulus and response in human beings lies the power to choose. Productivity, then, means that we are solely responsible for what happens in our lives. No fair blaming anyone or anything else.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. You are responsible for your own health. You are responsible for your own wealth. You are responsible for your own happiness. You are responsible for all of it, big and small.

Note: For those unaware, Mr. Money Mustache and I will be two of four presenters at a retreat in Ecuador next month. (Okay, officially this is a “chautauqua” and not a “retreat”. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.) There’ve been a few last-minute cancellations. If you’d like to come hang out with us for a week, go here. I’ve already had fun getting to know some of the other 20 attendees.

Obviously, shit happens. But you know what? Shit happens to everyone. Ultimately, who we are and what we become is determined not by what sort of shit happens to us, but by how we respond to that shit. End of story.

This idea isn’t original to me, obviously. (Nor to Stephen Covey.) It’s been around for centuries. It was eloquently expressed by Victor Frankl in the classic Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camps. The experience served as a crucible for his theory of personal development, which he called logotherapy. Frankl’s philosophy, in a nutshell, is that:

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

This may seem like a lot of high-falutin’ talk for a financial blog. Some of you might not see how any of this is related to saving and investing. But it is. In fact, I’d say this concept — the idea of agency, of personal responsibility — is the root of financial success.

Yes, bad things happen. Be ready for them (have an emergency fund, take out adequate insurance, save for retirement), and when bad things happen look for ways to overcome them instead of letting circumstances overcome you. Remember Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous “serenity prayer“:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Simple — but powerful too.

You Are the Boss of You
Here’s the bottom line: You are the boss of you. You don’t need anybody’s permission to get out of debt or to buy a house or to ask for a raise. And nobody’s going to come to you out of the blue to explain investing or health insurance or your credit card contract. Instead, you need to take charge of that stuff yourself.

I spent yesterday morning with my friend Andrew, whom I’ve known since first grade. For an hour, he and I sat in the park watching his three-year-old son swing and slide.

“Isaiah’s not afraid to take charge,” I said.

“Yeah,” agreed Andrew. “He’s strong-willed. As a parent, that can be frustrating. But his pediatrician pointed out that it’s a good quality for a kid to have, especially in the long run. Independent kids aren’t afraid to try new things, and they don’t let things bring them down. ‘I wouldn’t have made it through medical school if I’d let all the crap get me down,’ he told us.”

To achieve financial success, you can’t let the crap get you down. You must be independent, must develop an internal locus of control.



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