Don Shula – arguably the greatest coach in NFL history – is known for the wise words: “It’s the start which stops most people.”

Well yesterday, a young operations manager for our LA FITNESS in Seattle’s Ballard location stopped – i.e. concluded – her work.

Now, fortunately she was not fired. She’s going to take over a less prominent club which in fairness is at a location closer to her place, but a demotion none the less.

However, with respect to firing, ironically during her tenure at our club, she fired a number of people. And what’s worse she did this BEFORE she had  their positions filled.

It seems that she was brought in for in good measure as the “hatchet women” after a season of drift of a couple of months preceded by a operations manager who over his 8 year term apparently had his day and then a long “night” before he quit.

Well, returning to the operations who just yesterday left, she actually was quite mature for her age of 19. But even with that maturity, she lacked experience. Right!

And instead of having the humility to build relationships so that she could learn her job from those around her. She apparently thought that she had to hitch up her bossy pants.

Needlessly, she created frustration and instead of using or developing discretion, she just followed orders.

Now, I won’t even get started about her report other than to note the lack of wisdom she displayed in making a placement of someone without previous experience in a managerial role at the largest LA Fitness in the Pacific Northwest.

Oh and of course that second note too that the person who is going to now start up is not only young, but unlike the gal who just stopped, she doesn’t have any previous gym experience.

Well, guess one has to start somewhere. But, here’s the point. When you get a start, give it everything you’ve got. Be humble. And be wiling to be foolish, because you are going to make a lot of mistakes.

And here is the most important thing to realize, because your are going to be making mistakes which will normally serve to disrupt others and might generate enmity, do your best at the start to make friends!

Try to make everyone else love you, by making yourself lovable and loving them first.

That way you might not have to stop what you start…!

A late posting, but still go ahead and have a great Saturday Night!

At the beginning of the week I wrote down a list of blog posts for this week and with respect to today’s category – Self Image & Self Love – I had written: “Man in the Mirror.”

I think there were two prompts that converged when that title came to me.

If I am not mistaken, somewhere in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, is a poem which poignantly ends with that line.

Whether I am recollecting correctly or not, the fact remains that I seem to have somewhere picked up that as a strong prompt.

Then my mind seems to have sought some sort of visual to pair with it and I remember a picture that Bob Proctor’s business partner – Sandy Gallagher – tends to trot during those portions of seminars in which she spoke.

This is the image of a orange cat facing away and toward a ‘looking glass’ in which it is staring at a lion.

Now, with respect to this later image, there are a couple of ways to “view” it.

The first is that the little puddy cat is absolutely delusional and if not having done so already is bound for a psychotic break.

The other view is that in that both the cat are felines, the reflection is the view of the cat’s desire to be, within the feline arena, it’s highest self.

Yes, it’s a stretch of the imagination, but the cat is looking in the mirror and seeing at that moment not what currently is, but that which purportedly could be.

OK, great! So, the take away then is to look in the mirror and see your potential.

No, I don’t think that is the full story either.

Instead, look when we look in the mirror we can see two things: (a) our current physical state; and (b) our imagined, bettered future self.

It is important to be able to see both, and to recognize each for what they are. Don’t conflate these two.

And as far as conflation goes, this works both ways.

Just as you don’t want to look in the mirror and only see one’s current self and believe there is no chance of achieving a better future self and as a result give up and thus ensuring that reality, don’t look into the mirror and fail to notice the areas which need improvement.

Also, I should add that while it’s good to check out the man in the mirror and see both his present and future self, there comes a point – quite swiftly I will add as well – when its time to stop looking in the mirror with one’s lamentations or possibly narcissism and to get to work.

I don’t know much about the later, but with respect to lamentations, I can tell you as a foremost expert that nothing good comes from constant and continued self beratement.

No, the point here is to notice what needs to be changed and then to go and get into action changing it. And what’s so cool when we are speaking strictly about the physical plane is that those changes can be achieved and perceived in fairly quick order provided one exerts the proper persistence.

As to the other aspect of life, I think that is bit harder from taking a look in the mirror.

Yet interestingly enough, in conducting my slight research for this post I discovered some literature which is exactly on point.

In 1989, Patrick Morley wrote the book Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face.

In that there have been over 3 million copies of this award winning book sold, I think this is a book worth reading.

It’s Friday! Finish of the work week strong and get ready to have spectacular weekends. Cheers!

 

For this week’s “Financial Freedom” post, I want to take a macro-micro look at how inflation is tracked using a purported “basket of goods.”

OK, so first it’s important to get our arms around what inflation is in the first place.

We all know that prices rise. You have probably heard one of your grand folks say something along the lines of: “In my day, I only had to pay a ‘Nickle’ to watch a double feature – that’s not one, but two movies, Sonny.”

But why is it that Gramps can regale his halcyon of youth sneaking of to the nickelodeon as being so much cheaper? The reality is that he really can’t.

See, while the cost of goods was cheaper, so was the cost of labor. As a percentage of income, the movies are almost certainly going to be no more expensive and in fact because of advancements in technology and distribution its almost certainly the case that as a percentage of income movies now are less expensive.

So, why do prices go up? Well, this is because our currency is backed by nothing more than the “full faith and credit of the US Government” – or in more technical words – a “fiat” currency.

And of course our faithful government leaders take their job of safeguarding the US economy for future generations seriously … right? WRONG!

Politicians “bribe” their constituencies all the time by passing bills which will secure big governmental projects for their jurisdictions.

Now, whether those projects are actually of much value or not, well that’s in the eye of the beholder, but it does get more money in motion.

Add to this the fact that our Federal Reserve has the power to “print” (or refrain from printing) money to keep the economy humming along and we have costs that keep going up and up.

But, let’s really take a step back. Imagine the upward trajectory of valuable products that have come in to existence since say the advent of the wheel.

Yes, we might have depressions and recessions which set us back, but overall the upward trend is always up. As a global society our trend line is always moving in that one direction.

OK, so now what does this have to do with the idea of a “basket of goods?”

Good question! The “basket of goods” is an aggregation of goods (and perhaps services too) which are tracked as to their cost over time so that we can not only identify, but quantify inflation.

And of course, here we go again with government work.

Sometimes I wonder what is actually in this “basket of goods.”

We all have to eat. So, there has to be food items in there too.

And of course we all need to have some form of transportation, we need to figure that out too.

Also, with the exception of those who walk or bike to work,  gas is so important, presumably a tank load is included.

And so the list goes on and on.

But, here’s the point I want to make.

Does each person use the items in this basket of goods? Answer: Of course not!

We aren’t rationing out loaves of bread 1 per family of four as if we were “back in the USSR.”

No, differing people consume different baskets of goods.

Some people are going to spend much more money on good food and others are going to waste their money on Doritos and Coke.

That’s just the way the world is. We have a choice as to were we spend our money.

So, here’s the most important question.

What is in your “basket of goods?” In other words, what is it that you regularly spend your money on?

If, as they say, you follow the money, you are going to find out a lot more about you than you thought.

I never enjoyed the idea of balancing my checkbook and budgeting. That was too much of a hassle for my former self.

But when you start to track your money flows, you start to realize places where you are “voting with your pocketbook” for a future self that you might not want to be.

The task isn’t quite as tough as it would seem. But let’s leave that for another time.

For now, just think of it from the overall picture that you want to have good stuff in your basket of goods and how to make it better.

Have a great Thursday! I’m running late, so got to get off. Cheers!

 

Yes, I’m sure you know George Thorogood’s classic “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer.”

I remember first hearing this song sometime when I was in middle school. It was playing on the ice rink’s overhead as classmate John Ursu performed the role of power skater for our game of “crack the whip.”

The song itself had been out since Thorogood’s debut album release in 1977 and unless I am terribly mistaken became an instant classic.

Ok, now why would I want to talk about throwing back three drinks for “the last call for alcohol,” in a blog devoted to personal improvement?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

See, I want you to think of the “buzz” you would get on day 1 of pounding all three of these libations in short order, versus if you made it a habit and what the effects would be a week, month, quarter, and year later?

With respect to the intensity of your buzz, you would receive what economists would call “diminishing returns.”

Well, with respect to fitness the same thing happens.

Imagine the results you would get from doing 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups on day 1 versus their effect after their same exercise after a week, month, quarter, and year.

Very similar, right?

At first you would be sore and later you would just bang them out and their would be hardly any effect … unless you stopped.

At some point, you would have hit a plateau and any additional benefit would be so infinitesimal as to amount to zero.

This is why one needs to always be seeking to make one’s workouts just a little bit harder.

The term the fitness industry bandies about is: “progressive overload.”

My understanding is that this amounts to making the habit of pushing up to and just beyond one’s current limit.

In this way, instead of stagnating we get progressively better.

Improvement rarely comes all at once. But, slight improvements compounded over time can have massive results.

And the really cool thing about physical fitness is that when you start to see results from your efforts, you realize that these same principles can be applied to other areas of your life too.

So, whether you had a scotch, a bourbon, a beer, or all three last night at last call or not …

Make a decision to do something to get physically better each day and soon your life is going to be on the upswing!

Have a great Wednesday! Again, my apologies for not getting the Tuesday blog out on time. But, as they commonly say, “better late than never.” And an even better saying is: never allow a good habit fail more than one day. Cheers!

 

Good Wednesday Morning! This was supposed to be my Tuesday post, but we got knocked off track on Monday with a bit of a Valentines surprise with one of the kids.

As a parent, the welfare of the kids comes before all else and so we spent some time in discussions that put me off course yesterday.

Problem was that I have been starting and “failing” phase I of Andy Frisella’s Live Hard program. See, instead of all the work required to be done each day for 75 days, phase 1 requires more work but for only 30 days.

I’ll get into the details about that another time. But, needless to say all of this starting and not completing … which is considered “failing” has become a bit of a habit.

A HABIT THAT I WANT TO BREAK!

30 days from today, I want to be able to stand tall, arms extended while looking into the mirror as a demonstration of VICTORY!

I envision myself being able to reenact what my son used to say when he was very young and complete a learning task: “I DID IT!”

And you see it all the time, especially now during the Beijing Winter Olympics; the medalists – particularly those securing the gold – almost invariably display this “victory stance.”

Ok, but now how does this all relate to emotional mastery though?

Well, first I think it is safe to assume that the “victory stance” has been posed for darn near time immemorial by those who win – or intend to win – in a physical contest.

It seems to me that it is a projection of power over others. I suspect, but have no time here and now to confirm, that anthropologists and/or biologists would be able to bear out this supposition too.

More interestingly, I would like to pair this with another thought.

See, in Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field he indicated:

Actions Trigger Feelings, Just as Feelings Trigger Actions.

So what this suggests is that if you want to feel like a champion, go ahead and strike a pose – specifically, the “victory stance.”

Now, I know this sounds silly, but the emotional mind doesn’t perceive what the rational mind perceives as silly.

So, go ahead and be silly! Strike the pose and then follow through with the actions which are in allignment with the victor that you are.

Or perhaps even better for me, use this as a reward each day before I go to sleep for that day’s success … after I complete for the day all of my Live Hard tasks!

The imagination is the most powerful, most miraculous inconceivably powerful force hat the world has ever known.

Bob Proctor pointed out this quote of Napoleon Hill’s often.

Yet, Bob Proctor also indicated that while we were allowed to use our imagination as small kids ‘to get us out from under our parents feet,’ when we go to school we are generally taught that imagination is only for little kids.

But how is it that we tend to think that the imagination is not much more than ‘pixie dust and unicorns?’

I think it is because we don’t really understand how practical a solid imagination is.

Think of it this way, if you place yourself in a new environment, would you like to be able to draw on your imagination or not?

I suppose in large part that depends on whether the mind militates to fearful or joyous thoughts.

If the former, it is probably much better to just find out as you go how your new environment is going to treat you.

But, that puts one in a reactionary stance with respect to one’s environment. And as I well found out, fight, flight or fawn – the three main reactions when fearfully aroused – are not conducive to a positively engaging experience.

By contrast, “imagine” entering into a strange environment and imagining that you will find all of the people there pleasantly surprised and happy to have you join their company.

Now, in this frame of mind, how do you think you would act? Would it be more conducive to the generation of better relationships?

You know it would!

And now imagine exactly what it is that you would like to be doing in 3 – 5 years.

That’s pretty awesome, right!

This allows us to escape, if only in our minds, the toil which may exist in our lives.

That’s right, instead of a life in which each of our days has the appeal of rolling a rock up the hill each day, just to have it roll right back down that evening for us to start over the next ad nauseum into eternity as storied by the Greek myth of Sisyphus.

Through our imagination, we can determine the lives that we want to live, make a decision that those lives are what we will live, and act to bring those lives into being.

See, the act of imagination allows us to both determine where we want to go and how to manifest that existence too.

So, but for the fact that we have our imagination, we would be totally stuck!

Now isn’t that interesting. Why do you think that we would be taught to be stuck?

I have come to believe that it is because people who have chosen not to really exercise, decide, and act on their imagination, believe this is the best way for others to live too.

Well, their lack of imagination, doesn’t have to be mine or yours.

Break free from that stricture. Practice developing your imagination perhaps by starting to read books on adventures you wish you could take.

If nothing else, this will take you on a mental vacation which will allow you to better endure what might otherwise be a miserable living situation …

Until all of a sudden, you come to realize that through your imagination, you come to realize that you can make a change.

And with a decision and the continued actions to adhere to your decision, your life can be turned around in an instant.

That is the absolutely miraculous value of an imagination. And what’s even better, you don’t have to pay anyone a cent to use yours!

HAVE A GREAT MONDAY; IT’S VALENTINES DAY! It’s a bit rainy out here in Seattle, but I imagine I will have a great time taking my daughter over to school before I am off to work too!

 

Why is it that most if not all churches extol the fact the virtue of Jesus as the itinerant, son of a poor carpenter, who after overturning the money tables got himself killed in lieu of a murderer?

We are supposed to follow his example. Right?

Well, how much do you like the idea of getting yourself beaten to a bloody pulp and then nailed to a cross?

Doesn’t sound like such a great idea. And it seems like even Jesus wasn’t that excited about his prospects the night before his execution.

Now, I do believe that seeking to be as pure in spirit as possibly is a great goal and that for much of his life Jesus showed us how to do this.

But, if Jesus really went to the cross for our sins, past, present, and future, then for goodness sakes why the hell should we listen to all this crazy talk that we normally get from preachers that we are supposed to be financially poor just like Jesus.

If this whole bit about Jesus dying so we can live is really true, wouldn’t it be a much better interpretation that Jesus life allows us to live our own life as fully as possible and with that comes the blessing to be rich?

Do you really think that God wants you to be spiritually wealthy, but financially destitute?

This seems incomprehensible from a God filled with grace.

And if God is indifferent, well then we are on our own to make the best choice we can make.

So now really think. Why should it be that God would send down his only son so he could butcher him in front of everyone and proclaim that those who are poor are going to do the best in the afterlife.

And isn’t it interesting that despite talking down the importance of money, all churches are seeking to get money in the door from their petitioners?

I have come to the conclusion that this is either pure hypocritical nonsense or something quite entirely different than what is commonly preached is going on.

Now, pure hypocrisy is easy enough for anyone to sniff out, so let’s dwell on the later.

Here, I think what is really going on is that Jesus was seeking to get people who really didn’t understand much about life and who were almost exclusively focused on the material world to place much more focus on the spiritual world.

Hence his statement: “Man does not live by bread alone.”

But as we all know, notwithstanding the above: man still does need bread to live.

In essence, what Jesus did was to provide a complete counterweight to the focus on the material world by living a life which was virtually exclusively focused on spiritual life.

Well, I do believe that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.

The result is that we can start at the spiritual level and form a picture in our mind of our ideal life and then through physical action – which will involve the changing of habits – we are able to bring that vision of reality into being.

In other words, abundance of spirit when flowing properly ultimately manifests itself in happiness, health, and (yes) wealth.

As far as I am concerned, any preacher that suggests that you should be poor in any shape or form is nothing more than a “false prophet.”

Or should I a “false profit!”

Have a great Sunday! It’s both a bit chilly and foggy this morning, but like the mystery of being a poor Christian, in a short time this weather will also clear.

 

 

Earl Nightingale started off his Lead the Field record series with a record called: “The Magic Word.”

What is the “magic word?” Well, I had always been taught that it was: “please” and “thank you.”

Though those aren’t just one word, they do point toward what Earl Nightingale was speaking about.

His “magic word” is “attitude.”

A good attitude will get anyone who was blessed by inherent disposition, upbringing, or cultivation through personal improvement far in life.

People naturally want to be around others who have a positive attitude.

The corollary, with the caveat that “misery enjoys company” is that people are repelled by those that have a bad attitude.

Now, setting aside nature and nurture, how does one go about cultivating a better attitude.

First, it’s important to recognize the attitude that one has now – one’s “starting point.”

Interestingly, there are a lot of people who are not even aware of the fact that their attitudes are sub-par.

This lack of self-awareness is really a shame!

Think of it this way. If you were walking down the street and you saw an individual approaching who was shabbily dressed, flailing his arms around, and screaming obscenities, what would you likely do?

Most people would step across the street and continue on so as not to have to cross paths with this “bum.”

Well, though that’s an extreme case of someone whose attitude has gone completely amok, the same thing happens – but just to a lesser degree – to people with a bad attitude.

Now, does this mean that their attitude might make them perfectly suited for certain environments?

Of course, so. Here, think of that litigator who though completely bereft of any social graces is absolutely excellent at her job.

Here my mind wanders to the use of “the gimp” in Quinton Tarintino’s Pulp Fiction.

Just put these types of folks in the box and only let them out when they have a specific “job to perform.”

For most of us though, we need to be able to “perform” with many different types of people over the course of our day.

Those that have a positive, “can do/will do” attitude are the one’s with whom other’s want to interact.

Returning to the question at hand: How do we cultivate a good attitude? Earl Nightingale says:

Act toward others and the world at large in exactly the same manner that you want the world, and others, to act toward you. For example, treat the members of your family as the persons they really are: the most important people in your life. Carry out into the world each morning the kind of attitude you’d have if you were the most successful person on earth. And notice how quickly it develops into a habit. Almost immediately, a change will be noticed.

Now, to prevent “a failure to communicate” know that acting as if you are “the most successful person on earth” is not going to be perceived of the same for someone with a bad attitude as one with a good one. So here’s another quote from Earl Nightingale:

Before you can achieve the kind of life you want, you must THINK, ACT, TALK AND CONDUCT YOURSELF IN ALL OF YOUR AFFAIRS as would the person you wish to become. (Emphasis added by his mentee and my mentor Bob Proctor)

Simple enough right? Well, like any habit, having a great attitude is going to take quite a bit of work upfront until its set.

Just keep at it! If I can do it, so can you.

Turn that frown upside down!

PS – My family just came down to the kitchen. I’ve got to run now to treat them as the people they really are. Have a great Saturday!

We’ve all made mistakes in the past. Some people more slight, others more grand.

But the reality is that we just aren’t going to get out of here alive, without making some mistakes.

This is a good thing!

Imagine having to live in a world in which any deviation from accuracy would be “game over!”

Talk about a hostile environment.

Every choice one makes would have to be carefully calculated before hand and then executed to perfection.

Fortunately, we don’t live in such a world.

We can take the chance; seize the opportunity; jump into the deep end of the pool; etc.

And this is how we learn. But for the ability to make mistakes and learn from them, we really wouldn’t accomplish anything with our lives at all.

Interestingly, many people live their lives in this manner even though making mistakes is an important part of growth.

And why should this be?

My late mentor Bob Proctor found a quote once in a Reader’s Digest that helps to answer the question why.

I am not who I think I am.

I am not who you think I am.

I am who I think you think I am.

So true and yet so misguided, many, most, virtually all people are not living for themselves, they are living for others.

That’s such an incredible shame. Who the hell cares about what others think! In fact, that was another of Bob Proctor’s quotes.

What you think of me is none of my business!

If we are going to get anything done in life, we are going to make mistakes. It’s as simple as that!

And those mistakes might be huge ones which not only discredit ourselves in our own eyes, but in the eyes of others as well.

So what!!!

That just means that you are living. And as long as you are always trying to do your best, when you make a mistake, just consider it a learning opportunity.

That’s why I say don’t erase the past, grow from it!

See, just as there are some people that can’t forgive themselves for past mistakes – something which I did for years – there are others that are not able to analyze and grow as a result of their errors.

I have observed that people who aren’t willing to live for fear of error often have the toughest lives.

But as the old quip about history goes: “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

Basically, when you take note of your past and make adjustments to act differently to achieve better results, you get better … continuously better!

Each day is a new start. And what’s so cool according to James Clear’s Atomic Habits, if you can make a mere 1% improvement each day, over the course of a year, you will be 37 times better than you are now!

37 Times! That’s amazing!

So, just as long as your mistakes are not so egregious that you still have a new day, take just a little bit of time to consider what didn’t work as well the day before, make a change and act on it today.

If it should pass that the change was a mistake, well then that’s great feedback when you do your self review tomorrow.

We can’t erase the past, but we can use it to help inform our futures.

This allows you to move from what you may now perceive as a hostile world to one which is amicable and friendly.

It all comes down to perception … self perception!

 

Einstein is reported to have said that compound interest is: “the eighth wonder of the world.”

So it must be pretty smart to put the benefits of compound interest to good use.

But why is it so hard to do this? Answer: Patience grasshopper, patience.

Compound interest feels is a bit like the Warren Buffet quote that one shouldn’t “save up sex for old age.”

In other words, we want to enjoy the fruits of our labor while we are young – in our present self.

That said, the 3 – 5% of the population which really gets out in front of the curve of compound interest early and make it a unbreakable money habit can quite literally ‘have their cake and eat it too.’

Almost every book on personal finance that’s out there will indicate that we should put away 10% of our income.

In essence, we are told to “tithe” to our future selves – i.e. put 1/10th of our earnings away.

Now are we supposed to roll quarters and stick them in between the wall boards and crawl spaces where we live. Of course not!

We want to invest these savings so that the beauty of compounding can occur which of course is when we start to earn “interest on interest.”

At the beginning of this sort of endeavor the returns are minimal and so most people start to feel what’s the point.

The point of course is that the longer we continue this practice, the greater the upward slope becomes.

Basically, we normally can observe linear improvements at a given ratio, but geometric ratios? Now, that’s something completely different.

I believe it was Bill Gates who said: ‘We overestimate that which we can accomplish in a year, but vastly underestimate that which we can accomplish in ten.’

And that seems to be the biggest point. Compound interest requires time. So start early!

Here’s an example of why this is so important!

Let’s say Angel starts investing $100/month at age 20 and generates a 1% return each month for 40 years and stops at 60. Angel’s out of pocket investments over those 40 years is $48,000.

Now let’s say Dick starts investing $1000/month at age 50 and also generates a 1% return each month for the 10 years he invests until he’s 60 too. Dick’s out of pocket investments are $120,000.

But get this! According to Investopedia, at 60, Angel would have $1.17 million whereas Dick would have only $230,000…!

And think about it this way. Do you think a kid just coming out of college who has been  eating top ramen for the last 3 or 4 years when she gets her first job can stuff away a $100 a month out of their paycheck?

One Benji a month. That’s not too hard to ask, right?

Of course not. But, most folks don’t do that. I know because I’m a Dick!

And what that means of course is that at age 52, I am starting over and having to pay an enormous price to play catch up.

If that’s your situation too! Well, forgive your past and get started.

It’s just like the old Chinese saying that ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 (or here actually 30) years ago, and the second best time is today!

And of course the greatest thing about making mistakes is that it gives you experience.

Now, in this case. I am not going to be able to make a quick course correction for this mistake other than to get my income up and to save quite a bit more.

But, my children and perhaps the grandchildren that my wife and I would like to one day have can be benefactors of this mistake.

Will they learn it in time? I wish I could say, you bet! That’s something you can take to the bank.

But it really comes down to their financial habits and unless they are going to purposely try to do better than us, there is a high likelihood that they will fall into the same trap.

What then? Well, just like me their going to really have to learn how to make the highest return on investment to increase their income.

In other words, they are going to have to invest in themselves! And that is where compounding really takes off…!