How Instagram Became One Of My Strongest Spiritual Teachers

I did the socially progressive thing. That thing your friend does when they delete a social media account.

But usually they post about it to appear like they’ve got life together. I didn’t do that, but I thought about it. I want to seem to have it all together.

It’s deep and dark though: the goal behind those kinds of actions. When we feel a dramatic pull from the interiors of our heart to remove culturally-instilled systems to recollect sanity.

Each day was the same: a fresh morning with motion-blurred blue light competing with inviting amber rays.

Complacent scrolling was demolishing any hope I had of starting something new.

More than that, I was starting to feel a wash of loneliness that was only present when I was connecting “socially” online.

The Intention Was Right

I deleted Instagram because I was exhausted with how much I compared my life with others.

A mental tally was skyrocketing with the uncountable events that should be a part of my life because they were a part of someone else’s life.

And the VSCO 06 filter made it all look like a dream.

It’s as if the muted aesthetics of peach skin tones and dulled greens truly sought to fragment what was left of my fragile ego.

And a stream of 500 people’s Wednesday afternoon made a stark contrast against my day.

It’s amazing how I created this fictional superstar out of an amalgam of everyone I followed.

I don’t know if you’re the same way, but my brain treated 500 people as if they were one superstar person I was specifically supposed to out live.

Comparison was killing my drive, my joy, and my energy.

Everyone seemed to be doing better than me. Everyone had better lives.

How am I supposed to keep up when everyone keeps getting more than me?

I deleted my Instagram account with the right intention of silencing my envy and longing.

But, deleting my Instagram account didn’t change the deeper issue I had with scarcity and goodness.

Abundance Doesn’t Have A Limit

So often we carry around the idea that goodness is limited. And you better hope that you can find more and more of it and store up what you get before it’s gone.

How often have you seen someone else with part of the life you think you deserve and are filled with contempt and envy?

This is the scarcity mentality. The scarcity mentality tells us that there is a limit to joy and prosperity and hope and love and resource.

Only a few and select get to benefit from it.

But, this scarcity mentality is a lie we tell ourselves because we’ve believed that abundance is limited.

We’ve believe that we don’t deserve goodness. Or that that we don’t deserve love and joy.

I Started Discounting The Abundance In Other’s Lives While Crushing My Own

The scarcity mentality had me believing that if someone else was receiving goodness, then that meant I wasn’t getting my share.

It created a frustration and hopelessness that immediately caused me to everything about someone in a desperate hope to cling on to my own pride.

Someone would receive goodness and I’d list in my head everything that proved to me they didn’t deserve it.

I squashed the goodness that others received and expected goodness would come to me because of it.

See, when you criticize the very thing you want, you’ll never receive it.

You’ll only continue to squander the little piece of goodness you have left in yourself.

About A Friend And Money

I have a friend who absolutely despises “rich” people. Not even crazy wealthy multi-millionaires. Simply anyone who receives goodness.

At the same time, he would talk about how beneficial a resource like money could help him accomplish his goals and help others as well.

As I started considering his mentality, I realized that he was condemning the very thing he wanted…

He wanted resource. But, whenever it came to someone else, he cursed it.

How do you expect anything to flow to you without first considering that thing a gift, no matter who receives it?

The Truth About Giftedness

The flow of giftedness and resource and goodness will never run dry. 

Richard Rohr brilliantly says it like this:

“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others.”

Abundance is a flow channeled by what we cultivate inside of ourselves.

If you’re searching for peace, become peaceful.

If you need love and affection, treat others with overwhelming love and grace.

Nothing you desire is limited. The divine doesn’t serve fixed quantities of hope and joy and the like.

All that is required of you is the willingness to cultivate within yourself what you’re searching for.

Instagram, The Teacher

Social media has taught me much about myself.

It showed me the deeply rooted pride and ego that was systemically controlling my life.

It taught me how to express my deepest fears and insecurity through jealousy and hatred and ego.

Ultimately, it left me with the shockingly cold realization that I am simply how I react to what’s around me.

Now that I’ve had time to process and grow, I’m welcome the things in my life that show me my faults. I’m thankful for the things that cause me to grow through the unhealthy patterns.

Are You There Too?

Maybe you’re right there with me. Are there things in your life that are causing jealousy and frustration and contorting your view of goodness and joy in your life?

What’s causing you to believe that goodness can only exist when you get your share?

I see so many people delete social accounts or throw away damaging things, but they never deal with the underlying issue of what they believe about joy and fulfillment.

See, social media isn’t inherently bad. But, the relationship I had with it was.

It led me to believe lies about myself and others and the world.

You’ll start to gain freedom and joy when you can break down the limiting beliefs you have about the goodness you can find.

And it isn’t this mystical idea that goodness is swirling around you and you have to catch it…

It’s the idea that goodness exists in your life when you willingly choose to create it.

But it’s going to take work on your part.

You’re going to have to forgive your parents. You’ll need to work past the abuse and manipulation you experienced.

You’ll never to recover from the lies you’ve been told.

Ultimately, what you cultivate inside of yourself will champion you through the rest of your life.

Don’t let accounts, or people, or giftedness, or tragedy control how you react to events. Don’t let poor circumstances control what you create.

What are you choosing to cultivate inside yourself that will lead you into a life of joy and inclusivity for others?

8 Powerfully Potent Communication Techniques

What Are Communication Techniques?

Communication is vital to thriving in any environment. Without communication, we simply exist on our own, entirely subject to our self-positioned distance from others.

Learning how to communicate clearly will allow you to find freedom and joy in life by inviting others into a conversation that has movement and clarity.

When you Communicate clearly, you create:

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    Less conflict
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    Avoided misunderstanding
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    Quicker results
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    Improved organization success
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    Developed productivity
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    Far-reaching influence

Communication is defined as “the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules”.

In other words, communication is the process of taking intent and clearly translating that into understanding.

The Major Roadblock In Most Communication

Definitions:

Noise: the obstacles that interrupt the flow of communication

Intent: the message the communicator desires to convey

Understanding: full and accurate decoding of a communicators message

Noise

Communication is something that seems fairly simple. We’re just taking our ideas or thoughts and using different techniques to convey those to someone else.

But, communication is riddled with obstacles that are constantly tripping up the flow from one person to another.

For example, when someone says they’re fine, but you absolutely know they aren’t…

Or how the translation of the Pepsi slogan: ‘Come alive with the Pepsi Generation’ came out as: ‘Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead’ in Taiwan…. I think there was some miscommunication there.

Communication is plagued with noise: influences on our understanding of communication that shift the intent of our message.

When there is a mismatch between someone’s intent and another’s understanding, there is communication noise.

Communication noise has single-handedly been destroying relationships and influencers for years.

Instead of considering if the message is being understood correctly, noise makes us continually believe that the other person's intent is wrong.

We immediately assume that the problem is with the sender rather than with the way the sender communicated.

So many relationships and organizations would be saved if we all learned how to communicate with more clarity and care.

To become a more influential speaker, thoughtful parent, considerate caretaker, empathetic friend, successful worker, etc. start to leverage the power of clarity in your communication to cut through the noise that clouds your intent.

Communication Techniques Definition:

Communication techniques are simple ways you can begin to add clarity and care to the message you want to share with others.

These techniques and tools will help you effectively communicate your intent so others can understand your message in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved.

Why Have Influential and Effective Communication?

Clear communication is the only solution to eliminate discrepancies between intent and understanding.

Effective communication also helps us become more powerful influencers in every aspect of life.

Even if you’re not trying to merge companies or present a groundbreaking idea, clear communication is necessary to your success wherever you are.

Clear communication will help strengthen your relationship with your spouse. It will help you feel more joy in your friendships. And it just might help your kids get better at cleaning up… well, let’s not get too optimistic.

On the other side, a mismatch between intent and understanding will lead to communication and relationship failure.

poor communication results in:

  • Failed relationships
  • Suffering productivity
  • Decreased joy
  • Lasting confusion

Clear Communication Can Cause Massive Culture Change

Effective communication is not only vital to your own success, fulfillment, and productivity, but it also is vital to the growth and movement of organizations and cultures.

“Organizational change has widely become an area of focus in management literature. Despite the growing significance and research, many of the attempts to generate organizational change fail. Recent studies reveal that change efforts often suffer a dismal fate…. The empirical picture appeared indicated that organizational change and communication process are inextricably related processes” (Husain, 2013)

Organizational change is statistically difficult. Most initiatives fail.

But, studies have shown that clear and powerful communication help organizations enact change with more potency and success.

This doesn’t just apply to businesses. Any culture (e.g. your family, friends, work, political party, etc) can be changed effectively with proper communication.


Types Of Communication Techniques

Ready to get started having powerful conversations?

We’ve outlined powerful communication techniques that will help you overcome the noise that separates intent and understanding so you can begin changing the cultures you’re in.


1. Copy The Body Language Of The Person You're Talking To

“Social synchrony underlies the development of affiliative bonds and, thus, its detection in social contexts may be important for bond formation and, consequently, for adequate social functioning.”  -  (Atzil, Hendler & Feldman)

You’re strolling through the park and suddenly someone gets smacked in the face by a rogue frisbee. Immediately you wince at what just happened. And probably laugh.

This is because mirror neurons allow us to understand and feel what other people are experiencing.

They’re responsible for us shuddering when someone else gets hit or crying when we binge watch military homecoming videos.

And they’re responsible for social synchrony: when people unknowingly mirror body language as a way to show understanding, support, and respect.

For example, when a close friend leans in to tell us a vivid story, we unconsciously lean in too.

This is because mirror neurons allow us to understand the intentions and feelings behind physical actions. And social synchrony allows us to socialize and empathize deeper with these mirror neurons firing.

Scientists used to think that analytical thought helped us understand other people’s motives and actions, but research has found that we understand each other through emotions… namely the reading of body language and automatically understanding the emotions behind them.

Mirroring, or social synchrony, is quite common in stronger relationships. But, sometimes we struggle to develop a conversational rhythm with people that develops trust, empathy, respect, and rapport.

Without mirroring, studies have shown that relationships are not as sociable and lack trust.

The easiest way to create the social synchrony that demonstrates trust is to simply mirror the person you’re talking to in subtle ways.

If they lean in, lean in too.

If they sit back and have a low tone of voice, do the same.

You don’t have to copy every small movement or make it obvious what you’re doing.

The ultimate goal is to become aware of mutual body language, and then allow yourself to naturally follow the other person with your body language.


2. Learn To Read Simple Body Language

Body language is key in understanding how comfortable someone is in a conversation.

You don't have to be an expert, just look for signs of comfort and discomfort.

Some comfort signals look like: leaning in, moving closer, turning to face you, a tilted head, a head rested on a hand, a genuine smile, and physical touch.

Some discomfort signals look like: neck/face touching or rubbing, turning away, crossing arms, pointing feet away, and little eye contact.

“The trick is to start superficial, and then slowly go more intimate while keeping an eye on the other person’s comfort level. If you find that they start giving signs of discomfort, then you should ask less intimate questions. But if they are giving you consistent signals of comfort, then you can consider that a green light to continue digging deeper… this progression from superficial to intimate is something that happens over the course of a relationship, not over the course of one conversation”  - Daniel Wendler

All you’re looking for is a general understanding of comfort and discomfort so that the person you’re talking to feels welcomed and understood the entire time.

For example, if you notice someone is rubbing their neck frequently, then maybe back off on the topic you're on.

Or, maybe they show calm body language, then, you can continue asking questions and sharing about yourself on the same level

Want To Learn More About understanding body language? get the book improve your social skills here


3. Open-ended questions

The Two Types Of Questions

Closed-ended questions: questions that seek a fixed answer with little thought. “Did you finish the report today?”

Open-ended questions: questions that illicit deep thought and a formulated answer. “What’s been the biggest challenge for you today?”


Closed-ended questions don’t communicate the value that you have for someone else.

To become an effective communicator, start by asking open-ended questions.

Closed-ended questions make you assume you know part of the answer. They limit the possibilities and potential of someone else.

Open-ended questions allow you to explore the thoughts and ideas of someone else and will help you gain trust and rapport with others.


3. Stare To Invite Someone Else To Go Deeper

“A gazer may invite interaction by staring at another person on the other side of a room. The target’s studied return of the gaze is generally interpreted as acceptance of the invitation, while averting the eyes is a rejection of the request” - Adrian Furnham

Our eyes are subtle, yet powerful communicators of emotion.

And subconsciously, we’re able to understand conversational cues simply through the cadence of eye contact and direction.

Often, the first thing someone says isn’t the only answer. And it usually isn’t the best answer either.

To help someone continue to explore their ideas and thoughts, simply return a gentle and engaged gaze when someone stops talking.

This small glimpse of silence might seem uncomfortable for a moment, but you’ll be amazed at the detail and depth people will share after you open up conversational space for them to communicate well.

To foster relationships with depth, it's your responsibility to invite someone to speak about the things they truly want to talk about.

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4. Silence

Silence goes a bit hand-in-hand with staring for depth as you’ll want to remain silent while you wait for the other person to continue speaking.

Talking seems like the only way to actively communicate, but silence is one of the most powerful communication tools.

Silence does two things:

1. It forces us to become active listeners

2. It encourages others to talk more

When someone is speaking, or telling a story, and pauses, it’s easy to want to share our side of the story, our thoughts, and ideas.

But, when we interject, we miss the critical depth someone else might be wanting to share.

Instead of interjecting, simply create an environment that people feel welcome to express their ideas in.

If someone is holding back in conversation, your silence encourages others to talk more.

Silence subtly prompts the other person to continuing speaking as your attention becomes an invitation for depth and meaning.


5. Scaling Questions

Scaling questions are perfect for effective communication in the workplace, but they also work in other communication environments well.

A scaling question simply helps you take an inventory of where someone is at so you can help them find the next step in their growth or productivity.


Here’s an example of how this might work with a writer who is struggling to communicate emotionally through her work:

You: “Ok, you want to communicate more emotion in your writing. If you were to rate how much emotion is in your writing on a scale from 1 to 10, where would your audience place you?”

Writer: “I think they’d give me a weak 4.”

You: “Why would they give you a 4?”

Writer: “Because they can’t connect with me. I don’t think I share as much on paper as is in my head.”

You: “So, if you’re at a 4 today, what would you need to do this week to bump that up to a 5?”

Writer: “To move up to a 5, I could start by adding at least one vulnerable story or anecdote into my writing.”


Scaling questions simply seek a starting point so you can help someone find the next step in their journey.

Far too often we try to fix people and their problems. Which is way too large of a task. People often have an idea of their best course of action, but they need you to gently and graciously direct them to it.

Effective communicators can use scaling questions to gauge where their audience is at and collaborate on a game-plan for sustained growth.

Want To Learn More About Scaling Questions? Grab the book 1001 Solution-Focused Questions here!


6. The AWE Question

“So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments” -  Dale Carnegie

Influence is found in the question you ask rather than in the knowledge you speak.

Most people think that to be influential and wise, they must constantly speak at people and have a response to anything that arises.

However, people already know what’s best for them. You are not more of an expert on someone’s life than they are of their own.

So, your influence will be found in guiding questions that help people explore themselves and environment rather than what you say to them.

Any time I’ve had someone say I’m wise or thoughtful I have to laugh a little bit inside. Mainly because I only did 10% of the talking and most of that was just asking thoughtful questions.

So, how do you ask inspiring and profound questions? Three words…

“And What Else?”

The AWE question.

Start off with those three simple words and you’ll unleash a depth of conversation that will have true impact.

Questions that continue to generate depth will always revolve around “and what else”… and you can change the way the question looks.

It can look like:

“how did you manage to do that”

“how did you accomplish that”

“how did you know that’d help”

Tailor your questions to the context.

Master The AWE Question And Develop A Coaching Habit. Get the book The Coaching Habit here.

7. Be Vulnerable With Others And They’ll Be Vulnerable With You

Vulnerable conversation

“It’s true: if we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.” - Donald Miller

Effective communication can only happen when communicators choose to be vulnerable and safe in their messaging.

Vulnerability fosters trust and deep connection that will help improvement fulfillment and joy in whatever you do.

And creating an environment where people feel safe to be vulnerable will all you to become much more influential and begin caring for the actual needs people have instead of just their surface needs.

For the longest time I wanted to have vulnerable relationships with people. I was so confused why I didn’t have any super close relationships.

I realized that if I expect others to be vulnerable with me, I must first be vulnerable with them.

If you want to foster vulnerable and protected relationships, start by be open and transparent with the people you communicate with.

Openness and honesty will greatly contribute to lasting joy and satisfaction.

Ready To Drop The Act And Find True Intimacy? Get The Book Scary Close Here


8. Show Empathy

Brené Brown is an expert on empathy.

Influential leaders and communicators must be empathetic.

If you choose to eliminate empathy from your communication, you’ll end up becoming a self-seeking and authoritarian leader.

Powerful communication can only take place when a communicator is distinctly in tune with the listener’s emotions and desires.

Want the courage to be vulnerable ? get the book daring greatly here

You're Only As Good As Your Communication

Influential communicators and influencers understand the power of effective communication and the techniques required to translate a message well.

Communication seems simple from a quick glance, but as you begin to examine communication more, you'll begin to see new layers and areas you can improve in to become drastically more influential.

If you're looking for deeper relationships, more fulfillment, and lasting influence, start using communication techniques that help you translate you message's intent in a clear and concise way.

Continually challenge yourself to improve and through the process you'll discover monumental growth that comes from small changes built up over time.

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The Top 5 Motivational Videos for 2018

Motivation is the driving force behind why you do what you do.

And motivation ultimately ends up shaping the action or inaction that causes peace, destruction, harmony, and conflict.

To find true, lasting motivation, we must search inside of ourselves to find the values that drive every action we take.

Instead of hyped-up anecdotes with dramatic music in the background that only energize you for a couple hours, here are the top 5 motivational videos that show depth, creativity, and research that will help you live a full and energetic life.

1. What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From The Longest Study On Happiness - Robert Waldinger (12:46)

How do you imagine a happy life? With money and fame? This video inspires by showing exactly how futile chasing after happiness is. Happiness is something created by the relationships we foster. Robert Waldinger walks through the fascinating, 75-year study into happiness and motivation. The study, which continues to this day, reveals something most of us already know: relationships are the ultimate creator of joy. But, this study highlights the scientific support behind how relationships carry and health and wellness through every event in our lives. Life isn’t about wealth, or fame, or working hard. Life satisfaction and joy is simply about the relationships we develop that bring satisfaction and fulfillment. This study proved that scientists could predict the health and vitality of someone later in life by looking at how satisfied they were in relationships in middle age by saying, “the people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50, were the healthiest at age 80”.

“The clearest message we get from this 75 year study is this: good relationships keep up happier and healthier, period… loneliness kills”

2. If You Want To Achieve Your Goals, Don’t Focus On Them - Reggie Rivers (10:40)

Focus on your behaviors, rather than your goal. Reggie Rivers walks through how to focused intently on the things you can control. How often have you set up a goal for yourself and begin immediately checking to see if you're on your way to accomplishing it? Reggie argues that when we focus on completely goals, we'll never accomplish them because we'll lose sight of the process. To find motivation and drive, we must set a goal and then only focus on the behaviors that will drive us to accomplish that goal. If your goal is to write a book, focus on writing 500 words per day. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, focus on going to the gym 3 times per week.

“Goals require you to have the participation of other people, therefore, they are outside of your control. If you spend too much time focusing on your goals, you'll never achieve them. Behaviors, by contrast, are things that you alone can do.” - Reggie Rivers

3. The Secret To Self-Motivation - Mel Robbins (22:10)

Mel's fascinating talk outlines the root problem of our lack of motivation: hesitation. Mel Robbins struggled to figure out why she could never do the little things that would dramatically improve her life. It wasn't until she discovered how small hesitations signal stress in our brain and cause us to turn away from action.

“Motivation's garbage. You're only motivated to do things that are easy. Our minds are designed to stop us from doing anything that might hurt us. We all have a damaging habit of hesitating.”

4. Empathy - Brené Brown (2:53)

To be motivated and influential, you must understand the "why" behind what you do. And the "why" is always saturated with empathy for other people and what they're experiencing. Brené Brown outlines the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy says, "I've been there before". It creates a sacred, safe space where people can feel and connect together and ultimately end up thriving. Buy Brené Brown's Daring Greatly here.

“Empathy is feeling WITH people... It's a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something inside myself that knows that feeling” - Brené Brown

5. The Puzzle Of Motivation - Daniel Pink (18:36)

Most workplaces try to incentivize or motivate employees through a direct reward system. e.g. if you make more sales, you make more money. Research shows that rewards don’t work to motivate employees. In fact, rewards actually decrease productivity. Rewards dull thinking and block productivity because they narrow the possibilities of performance. So, when you’re looking to motivate yourself or other people, don’t start with a reward system. To motivate yourself and others, you must understand the core desires that actually move people towards action. Motivation shouldn’t have to be pumped into everyone to see a world full of motivated and inspired people. Motivation is instilled in our core desires and values. The job of an influencer or leader is simply to tap into the desires that light people up and foster them. Buy Daniel Pink's book Drive here.

“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. The motivators we think are a natural part of business only work in a narrow band of circumstances. If/Then rewards, often destroy creativity. The secret to high performance is the unseen intrinsic drive: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.” - Daniel Pink

Don’t Check Your Phone The First Thing In The Morning

If you’re like me, you struggle to not look at your phone the first thing in the morning… I had to start finding a way to break this pattern.

Checking your phone in the morning will immediately limit the rest of the day. It will often make you play the comparison game with the highlights of other people’s lives. Let’s explore more about this trap and how to get out of it quickly.

(more…)

The Importance of Motivation – How To Get Out Of Your Rut: Motivate And Inspire Anyone

Great leaders and influencers understand the value of motivation.

They understand their effectiveness as a leader is directly proportional to their ability to inspire action amongst the people they work with.

Everyone from moms to business leaders needs to understand the importance of motivation

Most people go through life feeling stuck. They become overwhelmed and paralyzed by the actions they should be doing.

They spend their time chasing after the next thing they think will bring inspiration and energy instead of spending time simply starting to take action.

Motivation is important because it sets up a culture around us that will accomplish more than we ever could on our own.

And when we learn to tap into the inspirational power of true, internal motivation, we set others up for liberation and success that will propel generations forward.

What Is Motivation?

“As a man thinks, feels, and believes, so is the condition of his mind, body, and circumstances.” - Joseph Murphy

Motivation is simply the desire to do things. It’s a word used to describe the driving force behind our actions.

Every action in our life has an obstacle in front of it… motivation is the driving force that challenges us to push through the obstacle and accomplish a goal.

For example, when you need to mow the lawn the main obstacle between you and the mower is usually just laziness. Sometimes the obstacle is a lack of time. Maybe the obstacle is you simply forgot to refill the gas can again.

To push past that obstacle, you might be motivated by the 6 inches of grass that make your yard look like a jungle causing embarrassment. Or, you might be motivated by your spouse telling you to mow for 8th time.

Motivation is the internal reason you have for pushing past an obstacle and taking action.

Everything we do requires some form of motivation, something that creates a desire, for us to want to do something.

Our actions are a direct reflection of the thoughts and desires we have.

Many of us go through life thinking motivation is difficult to come by. We watch videos and clips of people saying gorgeous sentences, but we still suffer without taking action.

We’ve commoditized action. We’ve started to believe that to have action in our life, we have to pay for it with a burst of motivation. And that there is no way we can start a project unless we “feel like it” or are “energized enough”.

To find lasting and endless, distraction-free motivation, we must push beyond external bursts and discover the values that drive our actions.

Quick Tip: Rewards Don’t Work (Watch The TED Talk)

“Higher rewards led to poorer performance… This is one of the most robust findings in social science and also one of the most ignored” - Daniel Pink

I love this TED Talk. Daniel Pink talks about how workplaces still view motivation from an outdated perspective.

Most workplaces try to incentivize or motivate employees through a direct reward system. e.g. if you make more sales, you make more money

Research shows that rewards don’t work to motivate employees. In fact, rewards actually decrease productivity.

Rewards dull thinking and block productivity because they narrow the possibilities of performance.

So, when you’re looking to motivate yourself or other people, don’t start with a reward system.

To motivate yourself and others, you must understand the core desires that actually move people towards action.

Motivation shouldn’t have to be pumped into everyone to see a world full of motivated and inspired people.

Motivation is instilled in our core desires and values. The job of an influencer or leader is simply to tap into the desires that light people up and foster them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

So, how do we find the values that drive and motivate us? Here’s a structured view of motivation…

In 1943, Abraham Maslow proposed a theory of motivation. He said that certain human needs take precedence over others. He said that for someone to be motivated, they need their needs to be met in a specific order.

For instance, Maslow proposed that for someone to be motivated in Love and Belonging, they would need to have their Safety and Security needs met first.

This was revolutionary at the time because Maslow proposed a structured way for influencers to motivate themselves and others.

See, you can’t expect someone to be creative and find purpose (Self-Actualization) if they don’t have their Self-Esteem needs met first.

Great influencers and leaders recognize how important it is to provide for the needs at the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy first. Then, they slowly work their way up, fulfilling more needs so they can partner with others in self-actualization.

Maslow’s Hierarchy allows us to examine the core behaviors and drives that make up motivation.

Through the hierarchy, we can see how a simple monetary reward wouldn’t be sufficient if someone was longing for friendship, family, and intimacy (Love and Belonging).

Maslow's Hierarchy for the importance of motivation

To motivate ourselves and others, we must understand the core values that ultimately end up shaping our actions.

It is important to study motivation so we can partner with others in the process of self-actualization.

The Two Types: External and Internal Motivation

Daniel Pink talks about two types of motivation: external and internal.

External motivation is the "carrot dangling from a stick" approach. It's all about rewards and hype and dramatic YouTube clips and eloquent phrases.


Internal motivation is the underlying values we carry that shape the decisions and actions we make every day.


Most influencers and leaders attempt to create an environment that runs on external motivation. The problem is that external motivation rarely works.

The rewards and punishment approach only causes a lack of creativity and stifles productivity.

Rewards (i.e. external motivators) narrow our focus and limit our possibilities.

Internal motivation creates an environment that is open and free. It’s an environment that fosters creativity and connection and lasting energy that doesn’t fluctuate depending on how epic the background music is.

In your home, workplace, or relationships, start to identify internal motivation within yourself and others.

You’ll foster an environment centered around internal motivation when you choose to see the people around you as infinitely complex. Begin creating true relationships with people and understand the values that drive them.

As an influencer, it’s your job to foster the values that help actualize others. Not simply for your benefit, but because you cherish the people you’re with and their prosperity.

The 3 Elements Leaders Must Foster

To allow others to enter into self-actualization, Daniel Pink suggests 3 elements leaders must foster.

Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives

Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters

Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in something bigger than ourselves


In every aspect of your life, begin to evaluate these 3 elements.

How can you build and incorporate autonomy, mastery, and purpose in your workplace, home, and relationships?

Let’s take a coffee shop for example. We’ll walk through each element and see how we could motivate baristas and champion their self-actualization:

Autonomy: Baristas are usually creative people. Most of them are artists in some band and half of their music sounds terrible (or good? Maybe my music taste isn’t as refined). Instead of creating coffee recipes and forcing people to follow them, the coffee shop could create a rhythm when baristas get an hour each week to experiment with new drinks and recipes and presentations. Giving autonomy and ownership to others allows them to enter into their own liberation and become more motivated in the workplace.

Mastery: When I worked as a barista, my manager asked me, “what’s an area in coffee I can help you grow in?”. I was so taken back by that question. I thought it was so thoughtful that he was interested in my growth. From there, he helped me work on my latte art every time we worked together. He was a guide in my progress and because of that, I was motivated more and more to work better.

Purpose: Coffee is a great drink, but it’s really a cultural phenomenon that is largely about people. A coffee shop could motivate employees by exploring different ways the company could begin impacting community and culture through coffee. For example, my friend is currently pursuing his counseling degree while working in a coffee shop. He’s been exploring ways to incorporate meaningful conversations and relationships with coffee. Creating a space for purpose inside of work, or any environment, allows people to achieve self-actualization much quicker than simple rewards.

How To Become A Better Motivator

The importance of motivation is found in our direct ability as influencers to help other people enter into their own liberation and actualization.

We all have core values and drives that shape our actions and behaviors.

External motivation simply just stirs up the drives that have always been there. We will have endless energy and become powerful motivators when we can help others tap into the core values that exist within them.

Once you help others foster their inner motivation, you will see the extraordinary capability people have when they become self-actualized.

3 Steps You Can Take To Become A Better Motivator:

  1. Begin by listening and understanding the core values of the relationships around you.
  2. Reduce external motivation and start fostering internal motivation in other people.
  3. Explore and create environments of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Motivation Isn’t About What You Say… It’s About What You Ask

“On the other hand, when you’re asking questions, you might feel less certain about whether you’re being useful, the conversation can feel slower and you might feel like you’ve somewhat lost control of the conversation (and indeed you have. That’s called “empowering”). Put like that, it doesn’t sound like that good an offer.” Michael Stanier

Wisdom is found is in the questions you ask rather than in the words you speak.

External motivation is all about talking at people. It’s about trying to convince them to take action. This rarely works well.

Internal motivation is about starting a dialogue. It’s about asking questions that help people realize their potential and the future they want to create.

Great influencers ask great questions. They ask questions that allow others to take responsibility for their own growth.

Understanding the importance of motivation requires you to become an active listener. One who is empathetic and understanding. One who truly desires to see others flourish and prosper.

Great influencers are interested in coaching others towards development, not simply coaching others towards performance.

Book Suggestions To Become A Better Motivator

Drive

Drive details the 3 elements of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Pink covers exhaustive scientific detail about what truly motivates people and how we can create environments of influence and creativity.

1001 Solution Focused Questions

1001 Solution Focused Questions explains the process of Solution Focused Brief Therapy. Essentially, it’s a form of motivational therapy that helps people understand where they’re at with goals and where they want to go. Even though it explains ideas in therapy, it includes great tools that will help you motivate others and help them stay on track with their goals.

The Coaching Habit

The Coaching Habit will help you understand how to ask great questions that lead other people to success. The author identifies 7 essential questions that work great as outlines for helping others become more motivated and creative.

The Motivation Process – How To Find Endless Distraction-Free Motivation

I’m not going to yell and cuss at you. Or give you a quick pep talk that will only energize you for the next 25 minutes. I’m simply going to show you how I find the motivation within myself to master my energy and become motivated beyond external bursts.

Reliance on external motivation only causes noise that continues to cloud our productivity.

(e.g. intense speeches, pep talks, inspirational songs with epic choirs saying latin words, random self-help teachers who just want to cuss at you)

When you’re tackling work or a project, the most difficult part is getting started. It’s so easy to feel like our projects and goals are overwhelming.

Defeat feels like it already happened even though we haven’t started yet.

And the possibility of future regret constantly stifles our attempts to even get started.

Motivation shouldn’t be a battle between willpower and external stimulation.

Motivation shouldn’t need to be pumped into us all of the time.

Motivation should be a way of life that flows from what we value.

Once you learn how to find motivation within yourself, you’ll allow energy and productivity to flow. Your values and drive will empower you rather than external sources.

Motivation flows from what you value

Most people think that motivation is something they have to find. So, they spend their time searching for motivation outside of themselves rather than cultivating it within themselves.

True motivation isn’t something that occurs outside of you. It’s found within yourself.

Sure, an inspirational video might give you a good nudge, but ultimately, that video is simply stirring up the values inside you already had to begin with.

So, how do you find and cultivate the motivational values within yourself?

First, recognize what you value. Then, practice those values and make them crucial to a life well lived.

It’s that simple.

I’ll walk you through an example of myself:

I need motivation for writing. So, I first need to recognize why I want to write. Why do I want to communicate with people in this medium?

A value I recognize within myself related to writing is growth.

I value growth within myself and within other people. So, writing for me isn’t actually about writing at all. It’s about sharing growth with other people.

It’s about a communal challenge to enter into a better humanity with each other.

If I spent hours trying to become motivated to write from external sources, they would never help me arrive at that conclusion.

Instead, all I had to do was take 5 minutes to recognize the values that are underlying my desire to work on a project.

I had to recognize that what I value is crucial to a life well lived. Fostering that value inside myself allows me to transform writing from work into a gift.

This is how you find true motivation: by cultivating the values inside yourself that drive you beyond the norm.

Try this for yourself… what values are behind your drive to accomplish a task? Find those values and foster them.

Lasting, determined motivation comes from your ability to translate values into action.

“Over-motivation interferes with reasoning processes. The automatic reaction mechanism is jammed by too much conscious effort—trying too hard. Something akin to ‘purpose tremor’ develops and the ability to think clearly is lost. “ - Maxwell Maltz

Andy Stanley says that “direction, not intention, determines destination”.

Your intention might be to get started on your project, but unless you put action and direction towards your goal, you’ll never get to your destination.

Simply willing something to happen won’t work.

Once you find the values that are behind your desire to start and complete a project, you’ll need to get started.

You can get started in a small way… begin by creating an outline of the work you need to do and a simple timeline of when you’ll get it done.

Direction will move you towards your destination. Intention will only cause stalling.

Resolve the tension of open loops

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” - Neil Gaiman

Our lack of productivity and motivation mainly comes from the unresolved open loops in our life.

Open loops (called the Zeigarnik effect) are the reason why we remember uncompleted tasks more than completed ones.

This is why all the little errands and tasks you have to do slowly add up and completely destroy your emotional energy.

Our brains crave completed tasks and ideas. The biggest function our brain has is to figure out how to complete things through logic.

When we have a myriad of unresolved tasks, our mind will spend its processing power trying to accomplish them.

This is detrimental because we use up precious energy and time thinking about ways to solve things without completing even a single one of those tasks.

Learn how to resolve open loops here.

Learning to resolve open loops will free up your mental and emotional energy so you can have deep focus and motivation without distraction.

Stop consuming so many low-quality things

“A person cannot rise above how he sees himself” - Maxwell Maltz

Buzzing notifications will never serve you well.

I love staying connected to people. I want to know when people get engaged, or how their Christmas was, or even the snarky face their cat made, but continual low-quality consumption is devastating to productivity.

We willingly choose to allow ourselves to become distracted by things that don’t provide value to us. And don’t get me wrong, it’s great to stay connected and to have times where you can relax and watch TV.

But, rest and relaxation have a time and place of their own.

A majority of your motivation-block my be coming from your choices to distract yourself away from the fear of getting started.

I’m an avid reader. And I think everyone should be. So, I try to tell everyone I meet to start reading because I believe it has the power to greatly change someone’s life.

But, most people I talk to argue that they don’t have enough time to read…

This is fascinating to me. Usually, because they were talking about the last Game of Thrones episode they watched.

I don’t read a lot because I have more time than other people. I read a lot because I choose to value it over other activities that are low-quality.

If you spend your life only choosing low-quality activities, you’ll never find the motivation to starting doing high-quality activities.

Motivation to start your goals and projects will never be found in low-quality distractions like social media and TV. They might serve as great periods of rest and relaxation, but only after you spend more time choosing to invest in high-quality activities.

So, start toning down your consumption of low-quality things. Choose to fill your time with high-quality activities that will serve you well and usher in motivation.

Practice in the open

"A lot of people believe in talent. I don’t think something like talent exists. I think the only way to get good at something is to do it over and over again. In front of an audience of people so you can get immediate feedback.” - Yann Girard

You’ll gain a remarkable amount of motivation by publicizing what you’re doing.

Even something as simple as telling a couple of friends what you’re doing will introduce an unparalleled level of accountability and encouragement.

Also, practicing in the open will allow you to gain valuable feedback about what you’re doing.

People will be able to help you in ways you never thought possible when you become inclusive with your projects and goals.

When you share what you’re doing with other people, you open yourself up to the possibility of people knowing if you failed. And that’s ok.

No one expects you to be perfect except for yourself.

You’ll create a vulnerable community that lasts for years when you can begin to trust others to see what you’re building.

Don’t rely on external motivation. Find it within yourself

“Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it.” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Don’t become affected by your circumstances… or merely reactionary to your environment.

Cultivate the values within you that will allow you to master your energy and become motivated beyond short, external bursts.

Getting started is tough… I used to search for motivation everywhere until I realized that motivation has always been inside me.

The values for the life you want to live are the only things that can truly empower you.

Once you recognize that, motivation will flow out of practicing your values.

Find the deep values behind the work and goals you have for yourself. Make them crucial elements of a life well lived.

When you begin to recognize the power that values have on your motivation, you’ll never have to search for it.

External motivation will only give you a temporary burst of energy.

Motivation cultivated within yourself, based on what you value, will create endless, distraction-free energy.

Feeling Confused? 4 Easy Steps To Gain Clarity And Focus

Are you confused about what your life direction is? Maybe you’re trying to decide a major. Or maybe a career. Maybe you feel lost and distanced from community and fulfillment. I struggle with feeling like I’m on a solid direction so much… I think it’s because I lose myself in the destination rather than the process.

Finding clarity and direction in your life isn’t difficult. You first have to accept that growth will always be found in progress instead of the destination. Then, we can leverage our skills and mindset to find a clear direction.

4 Easy Steps To Gain Clarity And Focus

  1. Slow Down And Relax
  2. Close The Open Loops
  3. Leverage Your Core Values
  4. Start A Project

You’re Not Alone

” We suffer more in imagination than in reality”

Seneca

It’s so easy to feel like you’re facing confusion about your relationships, or career, or just life in general, alone.

We imagine that our struggles are singular and unique only to us. And we close ourselves off to the community around us who are the only ones who can help.

This spiral of confusion and doubt affects so many people. I talk to people every single day who feel lost or hopeless because they don’t have an exact map of the future.

And that’s perfectly ok! You don’t need a detailed destination and map to live a free and fulfilled life. All you need is a little guidance that will clear the fog and set you on course.

This idea of “having our life together” stems out of cultural perceptions that have been instilled in us since we were kids… “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

We were taught to look towards the future so much that we forgot how to find true peace and connection in each moment.

A Lack Of Clarity Creates Chaos

Transforming confusion into clarity is more about the process than the destination.

A fulfilling life will always be about the perpetual progression that leads you and others towards growth.

The big struggle is that most of our lives are filled with chaos. Everything in our life is begging for attention. Relationships, work, chores, senseless notifications…

Until we can begin to discern what is valuable from the chaff, we will never find clarity and remove confusion.

This 4, step confusion-to-clarity plan is broken into 2 parts:

Remove the distractions

1. Slow down and relax

2. Close the open loops

Practice in the open

3. Leverage core values to dramatically change your life

4. Start a project to gain momentum and vision

Our lives are plagued by distractions. Most of the time our confusion actually comes from distractions instead of a lack of direction.

Clear direction is usually right in front of us, but so many distractions keep us from following a defined path.

1. Slow Down And Relax

Presence is experienced in a participative way, outside the mind. The mind by nature is intent on judging, controlling, and analyzing instead of seeing, tasting, and loving.

Richard Rohr

First, realize that life isn’t going by as fast as you think. You have plenty of time to continue to discover who you are and what you want to do.

Nothing will be lost if you don’t figure out what you want to do soon. You will still have the ability to enjoy relationships. And you will still be able to do crazy dangerous things you shouldn’t tell your mom about. 

Your life won’t all of a sudden get better once you find a direction. Your life will get better when you can seize the present moments before you and make the most of them.

I used to struggle with slowing down. And I still struggle with it. I was so consumed with what I wanted to do in the future that my relationships suffered because of it.

If you become consumed by confusion and finding direction for the future, you will only neglect the presence in front of you.

You will miss out on opportunities for growth, community, development, peace, and joy.

So, take a deep breath. Relax.

You have plenty of time to figure out what your future direction looks like. 

Don’t allow the future to destroy how you interact with the present.

Take time away from work. And take time away from obsessively thinking about why you’re confused and what to do about it. Take a walk, have dinner with a friend, get lost in a story.

Take a break from worrying. Slow down and relax in the present moments around you.

In this process you’ll find refreshment and fulfillment that was lost in confusion and worry.

Slowing down will give you a platform to begin finding direction in your life.

2. Close The Open Loops

“The mind wants a job and loves to process things. The key to stopping this game is, quite simply, peace, silence, or stillness.”

Richard Rohr

An open loop is a psychological phenomenon discovered by Bluma Zeigarnik. Open loops (called the Zeigarnik Effect) state that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

Open loops are the unresolved tasks that replay themselves over and over again in our minds.

The laundry needs to be done. The kids need to be picked up. I have a meeting tomorrow. I still have to pick up a wedding present.

We carry these open loops throughout our days and weeks. And they pile up. They consume all of our mental and emotional energy until we’re drained and exhausted.

We carry so many open loops with us that they cloud our vision and create confusion and chaos. And then we shape our actions and decisions off of a false sense of reality that is being choked out by unresolved tasks and storylines.

Open loops can be exhausting!

The key to removing them is to expose them for what they are and let them air out.

I’ve created a note on my phone that contains all of the open loops that present themselves throughout the day. If something I need to do comes to mind, I write it down. Then, I begin to plan how I’ll tackle it.

I either set a reminder or a calendar date of when I’m going to get it done.

Then, these small tasks aren’t piling up and consuming my mental and emotional energy.

I used to constantly feel confused and unmotivated until I realized that I had hundreds of open loops constantly replaying themselves in my mind. And those small tasks were causing incredible frustration for me until I started to write them down and tackle them one by one.

The chaotic power of open loops is found in their ability to constantly repeat themselves as they float around our thoughts and are continually unresolved.

Start writing down the open loops and small tasks that keep replaying themselves. Develop a game plan to tackle a few each day.

This will help you remove the confusion that is being created by distractions.

Learn more about tackling open loops.

Practice In The Open

3. Leverage core values

4. Start a project

Once you’ve taken the steps to remove distractions, you can begin the last two steps. These steps are about finding energy and practicing your values in the open (i.e. practicing with other people).

Most of us have closeted dreams. We’re afraid to tell people our goals and are scared to start because we realize we might actually have to follow through with them.

You’ll begin to live a clear life when you can move past your fear of what others think and begin practicing what you’re passionate about in front of other people.

3. Leverage Core Values To Dramatically Change Your Life

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target – the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensure, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself” – Viktor Frankl

Core values are the foundation that we base every single decision off of. Throughout our life, we begin to discover aspects of life that we truly value.

For example, growth is a huge core value for me. I value growth from all aspects of life. I constantly challenge myself and others to grow.

Core values are what you believe is required to have a life well lived. Core values are what you believe to be meaningful and treasured beyond yourself.

Here’s the disconnect: most people imagine themselves in the future with a glowing idea of the person they will be. But, they never do anything now to practicing becoming that person.

Who do you want to be in the future?

Do you plan to be an empathetic father? Or an influential leader? Maybe a service-oriented philanthropist?

You have to identify the traits of the person you want to become and then practice those traits every single day.

You will never become the person you want to be if you don’t continually practice and shape yourself.

Finding your core values is easy. Follow the instructions on this sheet:

Once you find your core values, start practicing them in every single aspect of your life.

If you have a core value of respect, start practicing respect in your marriage. And teach your children how to respect others. And find ways to show respect to the cashier at the grocery store.

Start to full your life with the core values you resonate with and you’ll begin the transformation of becoming who you want to be.

Here’s The Plan:

  • List out the core values that resonate with the person you want to become: the person you want to become is already inside you, you just have to practice those traits
  • Memorize your core values: make a reminder, or sticky notes on your mirror, or go over them every morning when you wake up
  • Begin practicing in front of people: this will help you find new ways to help and give value to others while drastically improving your mood and performance
  • Allow yourself to fail: negative feedback is the only way to get better. Have a learning mindset instead of a losing mindset

Finding and practicing your core values is the quickest and easiest way to remove confusion and replace it with clarity.

Living your core values doesn’t require excess time or money.  You can even practice your core values at work and essentially get paid to start your dream.

Practicing core values will help you constantly search for growth and a clear direction without having to decide on a major, job, activity, project, cause, goal, etc.

People get so consumed with feeling like they have to make a big decision about what job to choose or what to do after retirement or what to do in their free time.

Core values help you take a step back and examine what truly matters. They allow you to live a life of purpose and meaning without being attached to a dream, goal, project, or cause.

Time will reveal your next big thing, but for now, focus on what you value and start to live that out now.

4. Start A Project To Gain Momentum And Vision

“Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Decide what you want out of a situation. Always have something ahead of you to “look forward to” — to work for and hope for. Look forward, not backward”

Maxwell Maltz

After you’ve cleared the confusing distractions that surround you and identified your core values, you can begin looking for a project or movement you can begin working towards.

This step is the most open-ended. There is no guide that can tell you exactly which path to take. Most of the time, a clear direction is laid right in front of you once you clear distractions from your life and you begin practicing core values.

A few things to keep in mind with whatever project you want to tackle:

Your Direction Should Be Bigger Than You

Your life direction should be more encompassing than just your desires. Your purpose should be about how you influence people and grow with them to create a more fulfilling and joyous life.

Make sure that whatever project or direction you move towards you’re constantly serving people.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin by examining yourself. What talents and skills and passions do you have? Then, examine what good is happening in the world already. Are hungry people being fed? Are people being taught how to read?

You can begin to get a sense of your life direction by finding where your life overlaps with the good that’s happening in the world.

There Isn’t One Right Answer

Sometimes I wish someone would just hand me my life purpose and then I’d never have to worry again. But, that would remove what it means to be human. It would remove joy and struggle and union.

Understand that there isn’t one right answer. And you will never be able to “pick the wrong thing”. It’s all about constant development.

One of my friends in college panicked about choosing the right major. She thought that there was a right choice and she was going to miss it somehow. But, this is never true.

Start with a direction that energizes you. As long as you’re helping people and finding growth and energy coming from it, you’re on the right track.

Start With Small Steps

You don’t have to have a massive project as a goal you’re working towards. Start out with small goals and work your way up.

If you want to start an organization that aids in drug addiction, don’t start by trying to raise funds for a building. Start by mentoring someone you know who is struggling first.

You’ll become overwhelmed if you try to do something too big first. Small actionable goals will always win.

Discovery Is a Great Place To Start

Most people start without even researching what they want to do.

A great place to start is by discovery more about a potential future direction in your life.

Read online articles. Listen to podcasts. Read books. Interview local leaders.

Start by learning more so you can spark new ideas and motivation for your future direction.

Next Step

Confusion comes from letting the past cloud your vision of the future.

If you follow these 4 steps, you’ll begin to transform “I’m confused” into “I found clarity”.

The process will take time and effort, but continue to grow and develop into the person you want to become and confusion will never cloud your vision again.

One surprising word that will help you flawlessly accept criticism

Through one simple word and a follow up question, you can transform a critic into a collaborator.

Your response has the direct ability to invite others into your growth and partner in your development instead of viewing critics as negative influences.

Use The Word "Noted" To Recognize A Critique And Accept It

“Noted”, Jon would affirmatively say each time a new suggestion was brought up by our team.

I used to volunteer to play music at a church in Virginia. After each service, our team would huddle and go over suggestions for improving next service.

Everything, from lighting cues to mic placement to jokes in the sermon, was exhaustively covered.

One of the biggest things I admired about our pastor, Jon, was that he always asked for feedback on his message. And anytime someone would give him feedback, he’d graciously reply with “noted, anything else?”.

And that wasn’t a dismissive reply. He conveyed a sense of genuine interest in the suggestions you had and he took them to heart. Actively practicing those improvements in the next service.

Jon adamantly welcomed feedback with the understanding that it would shape who he was and what he did.

His willingness to accept feedback and his class in handling it caused his own growth as well as growth for our team and the community.

The One Word You Need And A Follow-Up Question

When you receive criticism, how quickly does a defense rise in your chest?

We become so attached to our thoughts and actions. We act like our survival depends on how right or well received we are.

But, you shouldn’t view criticism as an attack. Criticism should become a direct view into improvements you can make to become a better person.

Next time you’re faced with criticism, take a slow deep breath if you feel defensive. Then, simply reply with “noted, anything else?”.

If you're not always observing how others can teach you, you'll continually be stuck where you're at.

Your personal growth is parallel to your desire to become a student of everyone and everything.

Don’t React In Defense, You Have Nothing To Prove

I struggle so much with feeling like I have to defend myself when someone offers a suggestion. Even if it’s thoughtful and well-placed, I usually mount an argument and begin defending my case.

You will never grow if you constantly barrage critiques with defenses that protect your ego.

First, recognize that critiques are just negative feedback. They’re just words. They have no power on their own.

The power from criticism should come from your ability to transform negative feedback into positive growth and development.

Second, understand that you have nothing to prove. If someone offers suggestions for improvement, just accept it. A healthy ego does not have to have a defense for every single attack against it.

You don’t have to prove to anyone why you did something. Handle the feedback with grace.

Discern if the feedback is quality or not. If it’s quality, great. Run with it and become better.

If it’s not quality, drop it and forget about it. But don’t try to prove to someone that their feedback isn’t quality. It’s not worth your time and energy.

The only instance where you may want to speak against feedback is poor quality feedback that gets the facts entirely wrong.

Maybe the critic misheard some facts about a situation. In that case, respond gently with a polite correction and then move on. *Note: you’re only gently correcting facts, you’re not proving why you think someone’s opinion is incorrect.

No Matter The Quality, Feedback Is An Asset To You

No matter the validity of the critique, another person’s perspective is invaluable.

Another person chiming in their thoughts on something is valuable because it’s an additional mind processing information with you:

It’s an additional perspective that sees differently than you.

This is the exact principle behind Napoleon Hill’s creation of masterminds. Masterminds are groups of people gathered around a common goal. Hill argued that two people collaborating created a “third mind” that had better ideas, vision, and direction than its individual parts.

Feedback is just the same. On our own, we have an incredibly limited perspective. But, with other people offering guidance and feedback, we have direct access to more encompassing thoughts and ideas.

Ultimately, feedback helps shape us into better people doing better things.

Invite A Critic To Become A Collaborator

"Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn't want to trade places." - Darren Hardy

The key to transforming criticism into collaboration is asking questions that invite the critic to join you in the growing process.

Most people get negative feedback, shut the critic down, and then become consumed with negative thoughts and angst that affect the rest of their work.

Catch this:

You can capture the insight and resources that others have when you invite them to help you grow.

Next time someone offers you feedback, begin with “noted, what else?”. That question, “what else?”, provides a blank canvas for someone else to continue to add details that highlight a path for your future direction.

Continue to ask them follow-up questions to understand their intent, perspective, and suggestions for positive growth.

Usually, their first instance of feedback will seem negative, but if you ask your critic how you can improve, or what you could do differently, you’ll likely be greeted by a fresh perspective that can suggest ideas that haven’t even crossed your mind.

How To Create A Welcoming Space That Fosters Feedback

Negative feedback shouldn’t be a random instance in your life. If you want to continue to grow and develop, you’ll need negative feedback as a guiding mechanism for when you get off course.

Negative feedback is a life-long asset that will always help you stay on track if you value it.

Instead of letting negative feedback arise at random, start asking for it from people.

Begin everything you do by asking for specific feedback from people whose opinions you value. Now, you’ll never be caught off guard or offended when someone provides a suggestion.

I have recently started the habited of asking for feedback. I ask for at least 1 thing I’m doing well and 2 things I can improve on.

Strive to create a space where people feel free to add their suggestions for improvement.

Excellent leaders value the opinions of others rather than viewing their own ideas as the only good option.

Next Step

"When criticism is minimized and praise emphasized, the good things people do will be reinforced and the poorer things will atrophy for lack of attention." - Dale Carnegie

Next time you receive negative feedback, try to genuinely say “noted, what else?”.

Practice the habit of humility and becoming a student of everyone.

True growth in only found in your ability to recognize weakness and improve it. If you turn down every suggestion for growth, you’ll continually stay in the same state and mindset.

Allow others to push you. Create a community of trust and vulnerability that challenges each other to grow and progress.

Want to craft a uniquely stunning life purpose?

Creating a life purpose statement can seem daunting. How can you write a sentence or two that eloquently sums up your life?

People become so overwhelmed with thinking the statement they're crafting has to be entirely encompassing of who they are and where they want to go.

But, writing a life purpose statement that exudes life and prosperity isn't too complicated. The key is discovering your unique gifting that helps others overcome obstacles in their life.

What is a life purpose statement?

“Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning”

A life purpose statement is merely a summary of your life direction in a couple sentences.

For instance, my current life purpose is: "I help people explore their identity and connect their unique story to culture."

What that means for me: I'm all for understanding where people are and helping them identify their unique space in their environment. I love helping people who aspire to create a business but feel stuck in their job. Or, I love helping people explore how dynamic their personality is and to move past the lies they, or others, have been telling themselves.

A life purpose statement is a reflection of who you want to be based on the observation of your history, goals, core values, burdens, dreams, etc. (If you want to learn how to craft a life purpose statement of your own, sign up for our free life purpose course)

Creating a life purpose statement allows you to have a clear and distinct direction for future growth and movement.

It serves as an overarching plan of action that will help you tackle big goals and live life well.

Your life purpose should be more significant than you

"The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage." - Dale Carnegie

The primary goal of a life purpose statement is to lead you into a life well lived: a life full of vibrant joy and deep fulfillment.

But, it's easy to turn life purpose into something that only grants creative freedom for ourselves without seeking creative fulfillment for others.

Often, we view crafting of a life purpose as something that only shapes us. Something that just leads to our satisfaction and fulfillment.

In reality, our life purpose should drastically impact others. It should clearly define how we use our time and energy to improve the lives of the people around us.

Your fulfillment is the indirect result of fulfillment in someone else's life

If we spend our time only focusing on our own pleasure and satisfaction, we will never obtain it... pursuing your own fulfillment is impossible.

True satisfaction and fulfillment can never be pursued, it can only ensue as a result of us chasing after something greater than ourselves.

We cannot achieve satisfaction and joy in our own life unless others do as a result of our direction.

Our satisfaction is an indirect result of helping others achieve joy.

Find the obstacle keeping others from joy

Everyone we encounter has barriers that are preventing them from living a fulfilled life. Sometimes it's money or their culture. Sometimes it's physical illness. Sometimes it's emotional or mental intelligence.

Finding real satisfaction in your own life comes from the pursuit of improving the world around you in a unique way.

To do this, you first need to discover your core values and what you believe the direction of your life is.

From there, you'll begin to become keenly aware of a specific group of people that you're wired to serve and the obstacles that keep them from living a joyous life.

For example, my life purpose is to "help people explore their identity and connect their unique story to culture."

But, the most prominent thing that statement is missing is who am I serving and how am I helping them find greater contentment in life.

To create a compelling purpose statement, I can create a draft by adding the phrase "so they can overcome" to my statement.

It looks like this: "I help people explore their identity and connect their unique story to culture so they can overcome environment assimilation and the fear of being different."

Now, my purpose statement has a reason. It focuses intently on a specific problem that I am uniquely wired to help resolve.

To craft a unique and stunning life purpose, we must address the specific things that keeps others from contentment and joy.

Our life purpose needs to directly address an obstacle or void that is keeping someone else from living a joyous life.

The two aspects of life purpose

"People who can put themselves in the place of other people, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for them." - Dale Carnegie

A powerful life purpose statement needs to consider two things:

1. How You Live Life

2. How The Way You Live Life Affects Others

If you focus entirely on How You Live Life then you will become self-absorbed. You will manipulate others so you can feel good and act like you're "living out purpose."

But, when you consider How The Way You Live Life Affects Others, you begin to add valuable weight to How You Live Life.

When you blend the two, no longer is it just about your own satisfaction...

Life purpose becomes about you partnering with others in a unique space. A partnership in tearing down the obstacles that separate people from a life well lived.

You've been given a unique set of skills and experiences and ambitions that will directly help others overcome the genuine struggles in their life.

Your unique traits empower you to provide life to a specific group of people.

In the process of helping others deconstruct the barriers in front of them, they begin to draw closer to fulfillment. And, at the same time, you start to experience joy and satisfaction as your partner with others.

Next step

Don't pursue a fulfilling life. Crafting a life purpose statement is all about pursuing prosperity and success with other people in a specific area they are struggling in.

Fulfillment for yourself and others will ensue (or is an indirect result) of you pursuing something greater than yourself.

Become aware of your unique gifting, resources, and passions. Through creation and community, we help others tear down the obstacles and voids that separate them from a life well lived.

Crafting a shiny life purpose is all about your ability to serve others. Do you lift people out of sorrow? Do you champion the joy of the overlooked?

You'll find a joyful life when you stop chasing after satisfaction for yourself and start helping others tear down their obstacles.

To paraphrase Jesus: whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will find it.

Stop living in the past: 3 ways you can live an astonishingly-freeing life

To create a life well lived, you must aggressively push towards the future. Only observe the past as a place of learning and discovery: a mere platform to construct your projects on.

The biggest struggle I have is always studying my past as a map for my future. I act like the person who I was will always stay the same.

Reliving failed relationships and projects only causes my hope for the future to diminish... until I’m paralyzed by my thoughts.

I felt swallowed up by my past. Living in the fear of things that already happened. And this only led to anxiety and frustration.

Think of your thoughts and actions as percentages. What percentage of your thoughts are rooted in past behaviors and events? And what percentage is based on hopes and ambitions for the future?

Most of us are sitting around 80% past and 20% future. And the 80% obsession with the past is causing most of our problems. It creates discontentment, frustration, anxiety, fear, etc.

Too often we’re filled with remorse and regrets. And we are attempting to live emotionally in the past. We fill ourselves with guilt in an attempt to change what’s already been done…

Guilt only complicates the future, it can never alter the past.

To live an astonishingly-freeing life, you must dig yourself out of past patterns. Test your negative patterns of behavior and thought. Then, take small steps of progress towards your desired life.

1.Find true forgiveness for yourself and others

“You cannot forgive a person unless you have first condemned him. Jesus never condemned the woman in the first place—so there was nothing for him to forgive.” - Maxwell Maltz

We usually hold grudges because we think the other person was in the wrong. From a purely stoic philosophy, we are born to work together in harmony.

 When we turn our back on others, we work in direct opposition to our humanity.

Instead of working towards creation and community, we become invested in destruction and avoidance. We sluggishly accept the events around us and become dangerously reactionary.

Who is someone you haven’t been able to forgive? No matter the conflict that took place, that event is in the past.

You will only find true solace in your reaction to the event. Don't invest your time and energy reliving it.

Harboring grudges will only cause repeated damage to your emotional and physical health (Explore the ying-yang of cortisol and oxytocin in grudges).

To find forgiveness for yourself and others, start living a life of abundant grace. Don’t keep track of the wrongs others commit. What advantage do you have in counting the missteps of others?

When someone harms you, understand that you can only control your response. Don’t waste your energy trying to fix what someone else put into motion.

Respond with grace and understanding. Concern yourself with the freedom you give to others. And shift your focus away from the condemnation you desire to wield.

2. Assume responsibility for yourself

“Assume responsibility for your own life and emotional needs. Try giving affection, love, approval, acceptance, understanding to other people, and you will find them coming back to you as a sort of reflex action.” - Maxwell Maltz

You can start leaving the past behind by shaking off the power you lend to it. Instead of feeling trapped by past choices or events that leveled you, take responsibility for where you are now.​​​​

Once you can take ownership of where you currently are, you can begin to shape your future patterns of thought and behavior.

Richard Rohr explains his concept of the Principle of Likeness:

“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others.”

To live a life that is free from the past, start by recognizing what you’re searching for outside of yourself. Then, assume the responsibility of creating that within yourself.

If you want others to be more loving, chose to be loving to others first. If you desire a peaceful world, directly seek peace inside yourself.

3. Start a project

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task” - Victor Frankl

After shedding the weight of the past, you can begin planning projects and goals that will propel you into a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Most people are content with a growth-avoidant life. They seek pleasure as a distraction from purpose.

This is because chasing after life purpose requires hard work and relentless focus. It’s easier to sit in the comfort zone of a job that is frustrating and continually distract yourself with social media and leisure without ever doing meaningful, creative work.

But, pursuing a project or cause that adds fulfillment to your life and others creates a profound sense of direction that will fill you, and others, with joy.

“The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. Self-actualization can only be found in self-transcendence” - Maxwell Maltz

Next step

To live free and fulfilling life, we must understand how our negative, past patterns of thought and behavior shape who we are. We give them too much power.

Learn to step outside of your past faults and failures and continually look towards what you want to create.

“Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answer for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible” - Victor Frankl

If you feel like you’re stuck or trapped in a fog, you have thousands of ways to get out. But, every escape requires your full desire to want to move on.

You can start by forgiving others and yourself, assuming responsibility for your past and current actions, and starting to work towards a project that will lead you to a purpose-filled life.