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.

Transform your struggles into far-reaching influence in only 4 minutes

What you’re struggling with is exactly how you can begin helping others.

“You will seek only what you have partially already discovered and therefore seen as desirable”. — Richard Rohr

Or, in other words, what you’re sensitive to right now will guide you in your growth.

In just 4 minutes, and a simple shift in mindset, you’ll learn to take that thing you’re struggling with and turn it into powerful influence that will create recovery for yourself and for countless others.

Start by addressing the fake reality you’re creating in your mind

So often we view our pains and struggles as things that are inflicted upon us that can’t be fixed. But, we can shift our thoughts and turn pain into strength…

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality” — Seneca

We focus so much of our time developing a story we can tell ourselves. It's what our ego is. And we believe it to be entirely true without questions.

Eventually, the story that we repeat to ourselves becomes our behaviors.

For example, when you spend your time focusing on how much you lack compassion, your life is going to be cold. You’ll naturally gravitate towards actions that withhold compassion. After all, that what you tell yourself you are.

Or, when you spend your time focusing on how much you lack love, you’ll never be able to receive love when it’s right in front of you. It’s the story you keep telling yourself.

We have the tendency to aggrandize our own opinions of ourselves and define every behavior with a forced narrative.

You have the power to retell a story to yourself… to stop defining yourself as an addict or as lonely or as anxious or as lost.

Because, in reality, that’s not who you are.

It’s simply what you keep telling yourself, and those thoughts are turning into actions so you can keep the false, internal narrative alive.

Stop letting people tell you who you are

Most people are afraid of changing themselves because they think people will notice.

And they’re right. People will notice. But why care? They're not invested in your long-term growth...

I’ve always struggled to express my emotions. So, for the longest time people would make fun of me saying I didn’t have any emotions. And I began to believe them…

I believed it so much that I wouldn’t show my emotions even when I wanted to because I was simply following the narrative they were telling about me.

And eventually, I got tired of it. I started understanding more about myself and who I can become rather than what people say about me.

You cannot live your life following the orders other people tell you about your life direction and growth.

Never listen to the people who try to box you in and say that you’re always depressed or lonely or stubborn. Never let them have the power to control who you’re constantly evolving to be.

Instead, listen to who you’re telling yourself that you are. And base that in reality and in the desire for a life well lived.

Want to have lasting influence but don’t know where to start? Try what you’re sensitive to

We all have a sensitivity to something… some of us are sensitive to feeling lonely. Some are sensitive to feeling overlooked.

In the Christian faith tradition, we call these spiritual gifts: natural sensitivities and intuitions we’ve been given so we can be keenly aware of how we can help others.

For example, so many people I talk to struggle with loneliness. Who am I kidding… I struggle with it too.

I’ve been given a sensitivity to loneliness and feeling like an outsider… which gives me the exact knowledge for how to remedy it in others.

I could spend all day wallowing in loneliness and expect someone to reach out and make me feel loved.

Or, I could realize that the exact thing I want from someone else is the exact thing the world needs from me.

If you want to be influential, you don’t need a stage and an audience. And you don’t have to speak about business leadership.

If you want to be influential, you must first recognize what you struggle with and use that to connect with people who struggle with the same thing.

Influence isn’t about telling people how to live. It’s about living with them in an invested and intentional way.

Empathy equips you to have deep and far-reaching influence

“Empathy is one of the greatest creators of energy” — Angela Ahrendts

Recognizing what you struggle with allows you to develop sincere empathy that will help others gain strength and encouragement.

If you struggle with anxiety, wouldn’t you want someone who understands how that affects your life to walk alongside you?

You have two choices: self-pity or empathy.

Self-pity convinces you to never change. It seeks your undivided attention as it slowly steals your joy.

Empathy is the transformation from struggle to influence. It energizes you, it strengthens others, and it delivers fulfillment as you use it to become an advocate for someone else.

You need to become the help you’re waiting for

Instead of waiting around and sitting in misery, you’ll find healing in championing the health of others. In the process, you’ll find health for yourself.

It is not until you can step outside of your situation that you’ll find true growth.

Helping others overcome what you’re struggling with will create community. And together you’ll overcome the weight of your struggles that you both could not bear on your own.

This is where you power is: turning struggle into influence.

Turning self-misery into inclusive joy.

When you take your loneliness and turn it into community.

When you take your shame and you use it to ascribe value to someone.

When you take your doubt and choose to embolden someone with courage.

Next step

Address the fake stories you tell yourself: focusing on who you’re becoming and give yourself relentless grace. When you focus on negativity you leave no room for growth.

Stop giving people the power to write your story: they don’t know the depth of you. They have no investment in your growth. So don’t let them control you now.

Recognize what you’re sensitive to: be honest about what you’re struggling with. Now, use that to seek out people who are right there with you. And growth together through vulnerability and empathy.

Stop the cycle of self-pity and become empathetic: self-pity is a relentless trap while empathy grants you freedom to be vulnerable to and to help others flourish.

What you struggle with will only be fixed by your response. And you’ve been given the sensitivity and wisdom to help others while helping yourself.

Whatever you’re struggling with, someone else is struggling with that too. They’re waiting for someone to help them just like you are.

Make the move and give someone what you’ve always wanted and then you’ll be opened to exactly what you need.

How To Stop Your Obsessive Personal Development Book Addiction

“That will be $8.99”, the cashier said as I purchased my 7th notebook in the span of 2 months...

I picked up the habit of reading with the ambition of becoming a better, wiser person. And I was entirely convinced that I had to retain every piece of knowledge I read so that I could quote it later.

I tried countless ways to cram more and more information into my brain hoping that the wisdom from the pages I was reading would ooze out into my personality.

So I tried journaling notes. And it would never stick. So I journaled so more. And continuously failed.

I thought that maybe buying my 7th notebook would help. A fresh start! After all, this one was leather and that would make me write better...

I had this idea that if I couldn’t retain the information I was reading, then it would never come to fruition and I would never be the person I wanted to be.

It wasn’t until I read this quote…

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” - Emerson

Emerson’s insight was eye opening to me. No longer was I stuck in the cyclical anxiety of retaining information in every conversation and interaction.

Rather, the information and the personal development tools I was learning were simply shaping who I was… slowly.

My struggle to remember the exact techniques and skills from personal development books got rough over time.

Instead of investing in the present person in front of me, I remember trying so hard to remember personal development tools from How To Win Friends And Influence people or from Ask or others. And I would entirely miss out on what was happening in front of me…

Like the really smooth time I went up to a girl I liked and stepped on her foot while giving her a hug and was flustered the entire conversation….

Mainly, because I was stuck in my head the entire time. Keenly focused on how I should be acting rather than simply acting.

Neural pathways slowly shape us

Our intelligence and memory are shaped by the repetition of neural pathways being fired. Essentially, this is why repetition is so crucial to memory and critical thinking.

But it’s not just repetition alone. It’s repetition from different angles and styles and techniques.

If we only memorize something from one angle, then we’ll never obtain the critical processing skills that are needed to actually be good at something.

For instance, I remember a kid from my high school who was obsessed with Metallica. He learned all of the riffs. And he was incredibly good Fade to Black (it was his go-to song).

But he had no idea how to play anything other than Metallica.

He simply memorized one dimension of the guitar, but didn’t understand how it all works together.

The same applies with personal development books. Or anything else you’re learning.

You can spend all your time trying to memorize and regurgitate information.

Or, you can relax in the understanding that you don’t have to memorize or even understand everything.

In the process of continuously treating ourselves to observation and information, we form new neural pathways that mold us into who we are.

I used to be consumed with understanding and applying all of the principles of every self-help book I’ve read.

Now, I crack one open, glean some knowledge, and then forget about it.

Because I don’t have to remember everything about an experience for it to shape me.

Instead, I choose to constantly expose myself to things that will help me grow. And then I trust the process.

How to live your ideal future tomorrow

So many of us have goals and dreams for a meaningful future… for a life well lived.

Visions of authenticity, growth, family, and influence.

But often we let those future constructs lie years ahead of us. We play a waiting game…

And we think that one day something big will happen and all that we’ve dream of and envisioned will come true.

We will never become anything more than what we habitually practice.

The person you want to be in future and the life you want to have exists inside you right now.

This is exactly how you can grow into the person you want to become

When entering into college I thought I had to have it all figured out. I allowed myself to feel pressured into believing that there was only one right choice. And that somehow I could miss my purpose.

I had this fear that if I picked the “wrong major” then I’d be a failure. A failure to myself and to other people.

I initially tried to think of majors that seemed perfectly lined up with were I was at right then. I loved music so I thought “why not major in music?”.

I started to choose a path based on my current emotions. And I almost missed out on a path that would shape my long-term vision…

Because I was good at music, I thought that it was something I was supposed to do.

I took the narrow understanding and limited experience I had and wrapped it up into major. Wrapped it up into a life-altering direction.

I took a present emotion and presumed that if this is who I am now, then this is who I will always be...

So often when people ask what their purpose is, people just respond “what are you good at?”.

I think the intention is right, but it’s missing so many components that make us who we dynamically are.

I had to realize how powerful finding and practicing my life purpose was. I also had to realize I could become more than my present thoughts, actions, and skills.

10/10/10: Make decisions like Buffet

To create a life well lived, saturated with purpose and fulfillment, we must elevate our thinking and shift our perspective.

After I realized purpose in my own life, I began to explore who I want to be 20 years from now instead of 2 years from now.

Then, my major didn’t become who I am, it was simply a tool used to become who I want to be. So, I chose a major that I thought we best equip me for my 20+ year vision.

My identity wasn’t being controlled by the present. Rather, my identity was constantly being shaped by my vision for the future.

Warren Buffet uses the strategy of 10/10/10 to help him make high-level thinking decisions. It simply goes like this:

When making a difficult decision, ask yourself:

  • How will I feel about it in 10 minutes:

  • How will I feel about it in 10 months:

  • How will I feel about it in 10 years:

This practice will broaden your perspective. Coupled with understanding your life purpose, you’ll allow yourself to make decisions that aren’t rooted in present circumstances that neglect your long-term vision.

What are you doing now to live out your vision?

I remember several times when I’d talk to people in college and they’d tell me about their major and their classes. I’d ask one simple question that usually went unanswered…

“What are you doing now to live out your vision?”

For example, I talked to a nursing student who loved his classes and was super excited about getting hired. I asked him “how are you currently helping people who are hurting?”.

After all, that’s what the job is about.

Although he was taking classes and working towards helping people in the future, he was missing out on a huge opportunity to practice living out his purpose right now.

I see so many people in college supplement their purpose with their major… They recognize their life mission, but instead of living it they assume the daily practice of purpose will be bestowed upon them when they get handed a diploma.

And this isn’t just in college, we do this with our careers and relationships too…

We believe that somehow a future event will eventually change us and mold us into the person we want to become if we just dream hard enough.

We believe that graduating, or a new job, or a promotion, or a new city will flip some switch that transforms us into the person we’ve always wanted to be.

We constantly cast the burden of transformation on our future self. But, eventually the weight becomes so grand that we crumple and never start.

If we continue to believe a life well lived can only exist in the future, then we will continue to feel sluggish and frustrated.

Dreaming is nothing without action

I love dreaming. I absolutely encourage it. But, I also love action.

Each morning I spend 25 minutes meditating on the dreams and goals I have for myself. (Sidenote: pick up the book Psycho-Cybernetics to understand why you should do this too).

But, that exercise is useless if I don’t do anything the rest of the day to do those goals.

If we don’t translate our ideal future into practical steps we can start tomorrow, we will never grow.

Think of who you want to become. Paint a vivid picture. How does your life look. What does it feel like. Each morning, what’s the first thing you see. How does the breeze smell.

Now, what’s in the way of you obtaining a life well lived?

Is it money? Is it genuineness? Is it vulnerability? Is it compassion?

It’s amazing how we cast off the growth of these skills until the future.

That’s exactly what I did. I would dream about what success and happiness should look like in my life. And then I’d go to bed and spend hours just imagining how great life could be one day.

There’s a big problem with that mindset…

You will never encounter a life switch so grand that you’ll be thrust into your ideal life. It will always be a process of persistent growth.

The true path to a life well lived is to discover what your ideal life looks like and then start practicing it every single day.

If your vision of a great life is to have deep, giving relationships, then start that tomorrow...

It’s going to be sloppy and awkward and uncomfortable, but you can rest in the fact that you’re one step closer to bringing your ideal self into the present.

Next step

Don’t supplement your major, or job, or promotion, or relationships, or any other distraction for purpose.

Explore what you want a life well lived to look like. Paint yourself an obtainable picture of the future.

Next, look for what’s in your way… what do you need to grow in?

And start practicing those traits right now…

  • If you want a life filled with wealth: start reading on how to invest, get a mentor, and start investing.

  • If you want a life filled with compassion: join your community’s local initiatives to help the homeless.

  • If you want a life filled with joy: start exercising joy and gratitude with your friends in tough situations.

You will always feel frustrated and trapped unless you capture your purpose and start living it now. Take is slow, each day you’ll draw closer and closer your ideal self.

In the process of growth you’ll find a life well lived.

How responding quickly is ruining your relationships

Just the other day I was talking to a friend who was sharing an experience they had at work. They were sharing how frustrated they were and what they were going through and all of a sudden I did it…

I did that thing when you reply to someone else’s story with your own in a subconscious attempt to relate or look better (or some strange mix of the two).

I had to correct myself midway and apologize for trampling over what my friend was sharing just because I wanted to talk.

Each story has a subtext the speaker is trying to communicate

So often we excitedly share our own story with a friend who is seeking connection and vulnerability and affirmation. And in the process we neglect the connection they longed for.

I can remember countless times when I’ve shared a story with someone and they respond with a story of their own. And that only shifts the focus to their experience and their problems.

All I was looking for was affirmation and vulnerability...

How often does this happen to you?

We often share stories and experiences with people because we’re looking for something deeper than the story being told.

We’re looking for the community-saturated narrative that is shared in the exchange of stories and experiences and ideas.

But, sometimes we forget this critical aspect of communication: that there is a subtext to each word. A deeper longing that exists below the text and phrases.

Because although we share stories, we really longing to communicate our desire for connection and affirmation and feedback.

How a quick reply will damage your relationship

When someone tells you a story, it’s so easy to quickly bounce back a story of your own... and the time you dealt with the same problem… and the grand recovery you had… even if your story was about 6 years ago and the person you’re talking to is dealing with something very real right now!

We don’t realize how we trivialize the person in front of us by dismissing the connection they’re looking for and shooting off a quick reply.

And we trample over the subtext of what is being communicated when we reply with a story that has no true value behind it.

Quick replies that don’t carry value or substance will only rot the trust and communication between two people.

How to reclaim connection with meaningful replies

Sometimes, responding to someone with a story of your own can be incredibly helpful when used with care.

Story responses can help in 2 ways:

  • They help you empathize by contextualizing what someone is saying through experiences you’ve had

  • They help the other person understand your empathy and how you had a similar experience just like them

The key in replying to someone with your own story is empathy.

Most people go wrong by telling a story that only paints them as the hero. But, having empathy helps you communicate with story as a way to come alongside someone instead of pushing them down.

Discernment is key to your role as a listener. Ultimately, it’s the listeners job to understand the subtext behind a story. Is the speaker seeking affirmation or support?

Having discernment and empathy allows us to understand the appropriate response by searching for the speaker’s true intent behind their story.

I’ve found the most valuable thing to facilitate meaningful conversation is to simply ask good questions.

Learn to become engrossed in the stories that people tell you. Investigate the narrative arc and display your empathy.

If you become genuinely interested in the lives of the people around you, you’ll find yourself exceeding at relationships.

“Instead, your job is just to be with them. Give them a space to express their feelings. Give them a space to talk if they want. Give them the assurance that even though you can’t fix their problem, they don’t have to face it alone.” - Daniel Wendler

Next step

Our role as a listener is never to impress. Our role as a listener is to always be actively aware of the speaker’s intent and discern how to respond with true empathy.

Sometimes that looks like a thoughtful question, sometimes that looks like affirmation, sometimes that looks like a similar story that shows compassion.

When we can remove our ego, we can respond with life-giving speech.

Make it your goal to always have a response that communicates “I’m in this with you” instead of a response that says “now it’s my turn to speak and talk about my stories”.

Crush creative avoidance with these 2 tactics

How often do you try to get something done, but you’re dragged down by small details that seem to keep piling up?

Like you’re feeling stagnant and not actually moving towards your goals...

It’s amazing how easily we find a million things to do when we’re faced with an important task.

For example, when you need to finish a report and somehow cleaning the top of refrigerator becomes interesting.

Or, how just the other day I spent 30 minutes making a Facebook header the perfect size instead of writing a post…

This is creative avoidance: tasks we do that don’t directly create results. Creative avoidance is just wasted time, but we act like it’s valuable… usually, because we don’t want to get started.

Creative avoidance looks like this:

  • Needing to follow up with clients, but spending time cleaning your desktop and decluttering your hard drive so you’ll be more “productive” when you eventually follow up with them (hopefully).
  • Needing to study for your exam, but you also have to sort through your email and texts and make sure your iguana gets fed (well, maybe you should feed him).
  • Needing to set aside quality time with your spouse, but the laundry needs done and the stovetop is greasy and how can you have a healthy marriage when the gutters are full of leaves?

Creative avoidance is the illusion of progress

“Creative avoidance is a different beast. It covers its own tracks by creating the illusion that you are making progress. It lets you feel productive without prioritizing. This is so much more dangerous” - Greg Faxon

Creative avoidance is so dangerous because we finish a day feeling exhausted, and sometimes overwhelmed, and we can’t figure out what we actually did to create lasting results.

We buy into the illusion that our busyness equates to productivity. In reality, busyness without direction equates to frustration and stalling.

Feeling like you’re working exhaustively but not moving anywhere?

2 lessons business can teach you about productivity

(I’m going to run through a couple of business concepts, but these can easily be applied to any area of your life)

  1. Spend most of your time on results generating activities

Businesses heavily invest most of their time and energy on “income generating activities”... activities that directly create money for the company.

For example, a lawncare business would have income generating activities of mowing lawns. It would also have other activities liking filing paperwork. Although filing paperwork is important to the business, it doesn’t directly create income for the business like mowing does.

The business would quickly go under if most of its time was spent filing paperwork instead of mowing. Or if workers only cut half of a lawn and then left to file paperwork because they didn't feel like mowing anymore.

This sounds crazy, but we do this same thing all the time!

For our intents and purposes, let’s change “income generating activities” to “results generating activities”...

Businesses are constantly streamlining and trimming down any extraneous tasks that don’t generate results.

To be productive with your time and escape creative avoidance, you need to be spending most of your time on results generating activities.

If you need to ace an exam, studying is just about the only results generating activity. Everything else is creative avoidance.

If you need to work on your relationship, spending meaningful time together is your only results generating activity. Everything else is just a wash.

The time you invest outside of results generating activities will only leave you exhausted and unproductive.

To start being focused with your time, you need to understand what results you’re looking for by understanding your KPI’s.

2. Understand and track your KPI’s

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. It’s a common term in business used to identify key metrics that directly relate to results.

If you want to increase revenue, then your sales volume is a KPI because it’s directly related to the result you want.

The idea of KPI’s can translate outside of business, too. They give us a clear way to define what success looks like so we can see our progress.

For example, I want to grow my writing ability. So, my KPI is how many posts per week I write. Since I know that metric is key to growing my writing ability, I pay close attention to it and work to make sure my posts per week KPI is where I want it to be.

For you, it might be how many chapters you read per day. Or maybe it’s how much time you spend with a friend. Or maybe it’s how many clients you talk to.

No matter what your desired result is, you need an activity you can quantify that directly relates to your result.

i.e. The number of sales calls is a KPI that creates results for you. Cleaning your desk isn’t a KPI and creates no direct results for you.

Start to find the KPI’s that directly contribute to the results you want. Then, start focusing your time on results generating activities by constantly chasing after your KPI’s.

How to quit avoiding and finally start moving

Ready to start spending time that actually produces results?

Start by spending at least 10 hours per week on results generating activities.

Define what success looks, understand you KPI’s, then chase after them.

Now, this sounds all fine and dandy for about an hour. And then you might get overwhelmed. Or bored.

This is where creative avoidance steps in. Creative avoidance shows itself when we feel overwhelmed or exhausted.

To fix this, start by breaking your results generating activities into small chunks (I wrote a nifty post on how to do that here).

Instead of saying "I'm going to write a blog post tomorrow", say "Tonight I'm only going to work on the outline". Then, tomorrow you can take an hour to flesh out the outline. Grab lunch. Then, take an hour to finish the post.

The small chunks of time will keep your more focused and help you create better work. Don’t believe me?

Creative avoidance also creeps up when we can’t learn to say no to the things that steal away our time and energy. Learn to say no to the things that don’t directly help you create results.

Next step

To finally come home from a day of work and actually feel productive, you’ll need to index your time and energy and understand if your work is contributing to something that creates valuable results.

It’s like the Pareto Principle:

“Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of your problems and unhappiness? Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of your desired outcomes and happiness?” - Scott Hudspeth

Most likely, 20% of those sources are creative avoidance. Eliminate that and you cut back on a significant amount of frustration.

Here’s the game plan

Start with the big idea… what results do you want?

Distill that idea down further into KPI’s you can understand and track… what metrics directly reflect the goal you have?

Create a list of results generating activities and start practicing those a minimum of 10 hours per week instead of creative avoidance.

Are you envious because I am generous?

Why someone else’s success isn’t a threat to your wellbeing

For the longest time, social media was becoming a massive source of jealousy and comparison in my life.

It seemed like whenever someone else succeeded or had something I wanted, it distorted my view of joy and contentment.

And I think a lot of us are there, too.

The wrecking power of the scarcity mentality

There’s this prevalent idea that someone else’s success means we’ll receive less.

… like there is a limited amount of giftedness and joy and resource in the world and someone else receiving it means I won’t get as much.

This plagues so many of us.

And it drastically distorts our view of people and satisfaction.

When was the last time you were on Instagram on Facebook and saw someone living part of a life that you’ve always wanted?

And you had this gut reaction that was filled with contempt and envy.

A scarcity mentality will only create anxiety and contempt in your life. It will never produce life-giving value to anyone.

And it usually is so subtle that it will break you down while you’re unaware.

Because scarcity mentality usually sounds like “he gets all the breaks” “I wish I was born into a wealthy family” “it must be nice to have such an easy life”.

The scarcity mentality will seep into every area of your life and slowly choke out your view of goodness and satisfaction.

Scarcity mentality forces us to become a hoarder of goodness. Over time, we start to believe that goodness is limited. So, when goodness comes our way, we warehouse it.

We become hoarders of things and ideas and love. We end up with over-indulgence while other people barely have enough to get by. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Honestly, I’ve seen it become so rampant in people’s lives that they become greedy and stingy.

And they transform into an oppressor that people have to cry out against.

Like a father who was treated poorly as a child so he treats his kids similarly… to him, goodness is limited, he must not give it freely.

Or a demanding boss whose marital strife led her to view joy as something only few can obtain… she must not give it out.

“The presence of generosity means the absence of greed, stinginess, and jealousy” - Rob Bell

I used to hate when other people succeeded. It made me feel dejected.

Quickly, I learned to realize that I couldn’t celebrate someone else’s light because I didn’t even value my own....

So, how do you avoid this dark spiral of the scarcity mentality?

You must relentlessly give of yourself. Serve. And become a champion of other people’s success.

Because joy and love and grace and hope are infinite. They will never run dry. You have the freedom to live your life freely granting prosperity wherever you go.

The favor of someone else will never be a threat to your wellbeing.

And the goodness that happens to your friends doesn’t mean you’re missing out on something more.

Do you really think goodness and blessing and joy are limited?

Let’s break the cycle

Recognize that goodness is infinite. And that you get to take part in that!

Stop hoarding joy. And stop envying those who have success.

You’ll find abundance in the release of anxiety filled envy.

Instead of envy, allow goodness to become a gift. Give it as freely as you receive it...

Jesus tells this great parable about a group of workers in a vineyard who worked unequal amounts but received equal pay.

The longer-worked laborers, clearly outraged, petition the foreman for an explanation.

To which he replies, “are you envious because I am generous”.

3 quirky conversational tricks that will make you profoundly influential

Influence is found in our ability to meaningfully interact with the people we encounter.

It’s not something just reserved for a stage or large audience.

You have the power to be profoundly influential in every conversation you have by becoming aware of how you interact and desiring to grow further.

I outlined 3 things I do in almost every conversation to help create trust, respect, and empathy.

1. Make eye contact 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

Eye contact is one of the most subtle, yet powerful, communicators of our emotions.

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

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 continue a thoughtful and engaged gaze.

It may feel awkward for just a couple of seconds, but soon enough the person you’re talking to will continue to share more about themselves.

This will subtly prompt the other person to continuing speaking as your attention becomes an invitation.

Usually, people only share a small portion of what they really want to say.

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

* Obviously, don’t over do it. Don’t stare intensely. Rather, create a warm, welcoming environment through your glances that welcome depth with empathy and grace.

2. Ask “What else?”

“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 questions you ask rather than in the wisdom 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? Two words…

“What else?”

Start off with those two 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 “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”.

To have influential relationships, take the focus off of yourself and start to invite people into a welcoming space where they can explore themselves and environment better.

You can also use a technique that Solution-Focused therapists use that helps people ascend logical levels.

“Therefore, if people have differences in outlook, it is useful to lift the conversation to a hierarchically higher plane” - Fredrike Bannink

Ascending logicals levels means that when someone is talking about a fight they had with a friend, they’re really talking about how much they value that relationship and don’t want it to end.

And, higher than that, they value relationships, and security, and fidelity.

Finding these higher logical levels will give your guiding questions direction.

3. Copy their body language

“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 shuttering 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.

Body language is also key in understand how comfortable someone is in a conversation. Simply 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

You don’t have to be an expert on body language. 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 “what else” questions.

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

Next step

True influence is found when you can clearly articulate your life purpose and help people explore theirs.

But, you can only take people as far as you’ve gone yourself...

If you’re searching for a clear direction that will help you live a meaningful and influential life, sign up for our free life purpose course.