How Determined Are You, Really?

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. -Walt Disney

Determination and persistance is a common theme leaders say is necessary for long term success. I believe everyone needs rock-solid determination to achieve their goals and dreams.

Do you remember when you said, “When I grow up, I will be a (Fireman, Nurse, Astronaut, Teacher, the President of the Rotary Club)”?

We all had our dream. We wanted to become someone of significance, someone who brought value.

Well, I had a close friend who wanted to be a weatherman. Yes, a weatherman. I still don’t know why, but that was his dream.

But somewhere from childhood to high school, his dream died. He played video games all day and hung out with the wrong crowd.

His dream died, and so did the child inside. His dream died because he wasn’t determined to become what he once dreamed about.

What are your dreams?
You have one. If you don’t have a dream, you are believing a lie. Think of something you want, but don’t have now.
The dream house
The dream job
The dream spouse
The dream marriage
The dream family
The dream vacation

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

If you’re not taking steps towards your dream, you truly don’t believe it.
You suck at your dream if you’re not taking action. It’s true, you stink. and it’s okay.

You are not determined. You do not believe your dream.

See, if you really do believe in something, then you’ll act.

You believe in your seat, right now. You believe that it will support you, and all of your sexy pounds. Because of your belief, you sat down (took action).

Do you really believe your Dream?
To truly believe means action. You can tell me til you’re blue in the face that you believe in Bigfoot, but until I know that you go on camping extursions, do nightly research, show proof of your local Bigfoot Search Committee, demonstrate your Bigfoot walk, I WILL NOT BELIEVE IN YOU.

If you quit your dream, you didn’t believe. Maybe you doubted yourself.
Doubt and fear kill dreams. They kill happiness and joy. In your search of your dream, I beg you to use the hundreds of resources available. A great start would be my friend’s Podcast Starve The Doubts.

(Link to Starve your Doubts)

Find a better dream
Giving up on a dream isn’t easy. But maybe it’s time to dream bigger. What value can you add to others that makes a impact.

Pursue with Tiger-like ferocity
Dreaming is easy. Pursuing your dreams is easy too. It takes a plan and action.

Tigers walk the jungle with a clear plan of attack. They know what and when they will take action. And they don’t stop until they bring home the kill.

(Link to Travis (blog with the f = word in it)

Have you given up on your dreams? Can you rework your dream into something bigger? How can you revitalize your determination?

 

who knows? If you believe and act long and hard enough, maybe you’ll achieve it, and find bigfoot. Call me when you do.

 

To Lead, You Must Read

“The man who doesn’t read has no advantage over the man who can’t.” – Epictetus 

 

Andy Andrews recently posted a video blog to answer the question, “How can I convince someone to read when I know that a book will change his life?” I thought this question was extremely powerful. At the bottom of this question is the heart of a leader. A leader strives for the improvement of mankind, rather than themselves only. A leader is genuinely interested in people and has a desire to help others develop and grow.

The National Endowment of the Arts created a report called “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence”. The report stated that basic and below basic readers made $200 per week less than proficient readers (page 83). On average that’s over $10,000 per year. Yes, people who don’t read on a consistent level make $10,000 less than those who proficiently read.

Reading allows you to avoid the mistakes of others
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismarck, German Chancellor, 1862 to 1890
Would you rather A) Make a horrible mistake OR B) Learn from a horrible mistake of someone else?

I hope you choose B. But I know we all have done A. By reading a book of an expert, we can learn their knowledge, mistakes and experience. Without Stephen Covey’s principles in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I would never be at the point where I consistently blogged.

Reading challenges your thinking
We all have bad ideas and believe in them. Not convinced? Think back 5 or 10 years ago. Think about something you believed about the government, your religion, your career, your significant other, your family. Has anything changed since then?

Reading a book can challenge the way we think. It can change your life and take it to the next level. In Pat Flynn’s book, Let Go, he tells his story of how he was like a chained circus elephant. He says that we can all be conditioned to believe what a happy and good life is. As we age, we don’t challenge common beliefs. But when someone breaks free of these common beliefs, it can lead to amazing success.
Just read his $3 book. He went to being let go at his arichetect firm at $60,000 per year to now making $50,000 a month from passive income. Don’t believe it? Check out his monthly income reports.

A leader must be reading to challenge what she or he believes. Our beliefs can hold us back from mastering life.

Reading arms you with knowledge
Do you know someone who is struggling with their marriage? Can’t find a job? Filed for bankrupcy? Can’t get a date? Maybe it’s you. Well if it is you, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of “failures” who know now what they wish they knew back then. Now, they are helping millions of others who struggle with what they fought through.
Dave Ramsey filed for bankruptcy and almost got a divorce. Now, he’s a multimillionaire and helping thousands recover their finances.
Lewis Howes, once a pro-football player, broke his wrist and became depressed, jobless, poor, and lived at his sister’s house. Now he’s a motivational speaker who’s very well off. He has an excellent podcast called the “School of Greatness”. Check it out if you need some motivation.
Tony DiLorenzo struggled through 19 year addiction to pornography and almost divorced his wife, twice. Now, he and wife run a website, ONE Extraordinary Marriage, dedicated to “Help Couples by Being Real, Honest, and Living Without Masks in Marriage” (that comes straight from their intro subscription email).
Reading blogs, books, and listening to these movers and shakers can alter your future. It’s changed mine.
Question for you:
What books are you reading to enhance your leadership? What book in the past has made you grow the most? What book delivered the hardest challenge to change?

 

7 Lessons I learned from 7 Days of Sex Challenge

I love my wife. I really enjoy sex too. I was recently introduced to Tony DiLorenzo. He leads hundreds to happier marriages thru his website and podcast.

I listened to one podcast with my wife a couple of weeks ago. They are an extremely open couple on the podcast. It’s like a conversation at my in-laws house. Sex, oral, climax, all the words you never wanted to hear your parents say.

But we heard about their 7 day challenge to have sex. I was on board immediately. And my wife quickly caught on to the benefits after listening to the podcast.

From Scared to Start to $10,000/month (and 2 years later)

heads up, I’m not selling anything.

I want to share this email I sent myself 2 years ago.

It’s humbling to read this email. Two months ago my business reached over $10,000/month in revenue (90% profit).

I wish I could say, “here’s 5 step process to make money”, but I’m no expert. What I can say is that “success” takes daily hustle (a message few wish to hear or acknowledge). Don’t let setbacks halt your progress. If your first project fails, keep hustling. If your fifth project fails, keep hustling.

Do this today:
Write your fears that stop you from achieving your goals. Don’t hesitate. Your fear likes to stay in your mind and morph into different forms of fear. Fear commonly takes the form of:
Self-Doubt
Excuses
Laziness
Distractions

Once you identify your fears, then answer your fears with truths. Everyone knows there aren’t monsters underneath your bed because we understand and accept the truth: monsters do not exist.

Truth eliminates fear like a light makes a dark room bright. Darkness still exists in a lit room, just behind objects. When we remove those objects, the light peirces the darkness.

When you identify your fear, you pinpoint the obstacle. When you state truths against the fear, you remove the obstacle from the light.

The Secret to Never Giving Up on Your Dreams – Lesson from Galileo

I wake up at 4:00-4:45 AM every weekday to work on my business. But today I snoozed my alarm until 6 AM.

How did I force myself out of bed and down the stairs to work on this blog post? (when all I wanted to do was “give up?”)

As I write this, I’m reminded of how Galileo considered giving up on his inventions. He struggled to fund his research. He sent inventions as gifts to kings in hopes they would send monies back. Unfortunately, the rulers responded with gifts in kind, rather than the money Galileo desperately needed.

Galileo couldn’t continue his research without the necessary money. So rather than giving up, he gave his life’s work one more try.

Galileo discovered the four moons of Jupiter in 1610. Rather than naming them after Greek Gods, he flattered Italian royalty by naming them after four brothers of the Medici family who highly honored the Greek Gods, especially Zeus, which Jupiter was named after.

The Medici family appreciated Galileo’s discovery and hired him as their court “wizard” of sorts.

Galileo felt secure knowing he would never have to search for funds again. A royal family relied on him for his inventions.

I’m not suggesting you reach out to the millionaires in your neighborhood in hopes they’ll invest in your company or buy your service.

The lesson is this:
When you feel like giving up, remember the people who rely on you.
If no know relies on you for anything, then it’s time to discover what you can creatively contribute to the world.

I recently backed a Kickstarter campaign for a kitty litter box that makes changing litter stupidly Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 7.09.02 AMsimple and non-messy (Cat owners, you need to see this: http://JA0zHRrX.kckb.st). The investor in the video shares how they made this product years ago, but it fell out of favor because TV ads declined in popularity. She knew this product would help millions of cat owners. Rather than giving up on the invention, she pushed forward and created this Kickstarter campaign.

In my moment of weakness at 6 AM, I thought of you. I thought of the people who write back to me about my blog. I considered how I may disappoint them if they don’t hear from me.
I imagined a crowd of people waiting for me to perform. Sleeping in would be the equivalent of not showing up for a play in which I was the star.
Alright, I’ll face it: I’ll never be a star in play (I just can’t act.)

While you may not feel that way about my blog (that’s okay if you do or don’t), I forced myself to think of the consequences of giving up.

When you give up on your dream, you let down thousands of people.

Consider the thousands of people you may help one day. If you give up, you are making their lives more difficult.

Stop focusing on yourself. Start serving others.

 

Done Always Beats Perfect – and How to Beat Perfection

I’ll start selling; once I pick a name.
I’ll start my podcast; once I buy headphones.
I’ll start exercising; once I get the right running shoes.

All excuses sound legitimate until someone else states disbelief.
We use excuses to stop us from taking action, which in turn causes inaction.

This past week I told a partner, “I’m not to sure I believe this name will work. I wonder if I should work out a name before I go further.”
Out of his mouth came words that I knew well, “done is better than perfect.”
I allowed excuses to doubt my ideas and halt progress.
But “done” is more than “better.” Done will always beat perfection.
A lemonade stand with drinks made by 5-year-olds is better than 15 failed batches of lemonade made by 5-year-olds.

Perfection creates a mind’s alternative reality where buyers pour into buy if only you have the perfect [fill in the blank]. But to have this kind of success, Perfection requires you to…
tweak your website one more time,
review analytics and figure out why traffic dipped today,
record your course for the 7th time,
buy terms and service that protect against any scenario,
ask the fiftieth person for feedback.

Excuses for perfection have no merit. The heart of excuses is a lack of confidence. Here’s what excuses try to prevent: your embarrassment. Excuses justify their existence by using your pride.

Here are examples:
“What would a stranger think of your website if they saw this?” – Rejection
“No one will believe you are credible.” – Ego
“What if you lose sponsorship if you produce this low-quality product?” – Fear
“You’ll look like a professional if you hire this professional editor” – Pride

Each justification may have merit, but lies always use the right amount of truth to persuade.

My excuses appear with every blog post, podcast episode, book section, invoice sent, and business pitch. But what has changed is how long I allow these thoughts to exist.

Here’s the key to beat excuses for perfection: humbleness
Accept this fact: your ideas are not great. Recognize that many people will overlook your art. Acknowledge that you lack perfect knowledge, and you have much to learn.

People who are not humble are
offended when criticized,
depressed when no one notices,
defeated when no one shows up to watch,
worrisome when no one buys.

A child doesn’t fear judgment before she draws her magnificent art.
My daughter isn’t scared of anyone’s rejection of her work but gladly shows the world because she made it.
Approach every project, goal, or dream as a child. Practice humility by seeking feedback on FINISHED projects (not unfinished ones).

The greatest teacher once shared the secret of humbleness: “whoever wishes to become great among you, he will be your servant.”

Rather than focusing on your protecting your pride, shift your focus to serving others. Believe your work will serve others in fabulous ways.

As a child, learn and do at the same time. Don’t wait until you’re an “adult” to have the perfect thingamajig.

Stop chasing experts with the “proven path to make money”

I want to share with you a trend that drives me mad: internet marketers that provide “the proven path to make money online.”
Before I dive into this, let me share a hypothetic situation with you.

Today marks the first day of your flight school. You are glowing with joy and excitement as you embark on completing a life goal. You wished to fly airplanes for years, and now you finally have the chance to learn.

But, there’s a dilemma: you must choose your teacher today.
This teacher will influence your skill and survival as you (hopefully) soar the skies.

How do you know which teacher is the best? Let’s look at their history.

Teacher 1:
35-year-old man
Learned how to fly ten months ago
Excited and likable
29 flight experience
Cost: $100

Teacher 2
44-year-old woman
Learned how to fly ten years ago
Reserved and calm
400 flight experience
Cost: $1000

You’ll notice as you reviewed the criteria; you probably didn’t care about their age, personality, or even if they are good at teaching.
You want to know their experience + cost. And more likely, you choose Teacher 2 based upon experience.
There’s a significant difference in knowledge between the two teachers. The second experienced more failures and successes than the first teacher.
You choose the second because your livelihood is at stake.
Your money is on the line. You don’t want to waste it on some newbie teacher that may get you killed.

Luckily, flight instructors are not selected this way. However, choosing a teacher is more difficult in the online world of entrepreneurship.
New online marketers easily convince aspiring entrepreneurs that their methods are the best way to make money online.

Prime example: podcast coaching. In the last three years, I observed more podcasters (with one podcast experience) become podcast coaches. They may launch a course or offer podcast services just because they have a little bit of experience.

Pointing this out isn’t a negative judgment against new online entrepreneurs. I’m on their side! I’m glad to see entrepreneurs taking action.

This post is a wake-up call for everyone else: know the experience of anyone before you pay.
Why?
You pay for experience.

Don’t expect a 30-year-old who has experienced some success after 1-2 years to provide you “the proven path to success online.”

Reach out to successful students to find out the value of any entrepreneur. Don’t believe a one-page sales letter from an expert with “7-figure monthly income”.

Do your research before you invest any money.

Please, don’t be fooled.

3 steps to accomplish more if you lack discipline

Does Elon Musk have super powers?

How has he accomplished so much in his life? Is he extraordinarily different between you and me? He must have super powers to manage so many endeavors (space travel, energy efficient cars, solar power).

Good news. He isn’t a super human (although after reading his biography, he may think so of himself). He received the same genetic code as the average person.

Even more good news: you received equal DNA (99.9% identical) as Elon Musk. You have the same ability to accomplish as much as Elon.

That can’t be true; you may think. I don’t have his…
intelligence
connections
money

I agree that you don’t have the same “things” as Elon does, however, you possess the ABILITY to receive those things. They can’t be given overnight to you. They take years to develop. Elon started in his early childhood growing himself with constant reading.

You may be starting today from scratch. That’s fine. Here’s a plan to help you achieve more even if you lack discipline.

Step 1
Know you will fail at some point.
Understand that you’re not Superman or Elon Musk. Some overwhelming force will derail you from progress. Knowing this will give you the edge so many fail to predict.

Step 2
Identify key areas of weakness.
Introspection is a key lost on my generation. Asking ourselves tough questions like,
“would I be happy with the decisions I made today, ten years from now?”
“do I need this expensive thing?”
“why am I unhappy and what can I do about it?”
Technology has made it simple for us to forget our problems.

Spend a few minutes every week identifying where you suck at life and what you wish to change. If you’ve never thought about this, then it’s impossible to improve your life.

Step 3
Create an If-Then Plan.
Research performed by leading Grit expert Angela Duckworth shows that If-Then Plans help people accomplish goals. Grit is simply “long-term pursuit and passion of goals.”
Here’s the plan:
IF I run into X problem,
THEN I will do this

IF I struggle with sleeping in,
THEN I will alarm my phone 15 feet from my bed so I must get up (I do this)
IF I become distracted on Facebook
THEN I will use Facebook newsfeed eradicator.

Angela found that those who plan around their potential problems were more like to accomplish their goals. By implementing this plan, you will become more gritty. In other words, you’re more likely to succeed.

Can you work for free like Charles Dickens?

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens, one of Britain’s greatest writers, worked for free. Yes, the author of over 15 timeless classics didn’t get paid for his writing. He once was a ghostwriter under the name of Boz.

Before his success, Dickens was a lawyer clerk (assistant) working the regular 9-5 job (more like 7-7, six days a week) during his ghostwriting days. Dickens was obsessed with writing and telling stories. His passion drove him to write during any spare time.

Fortunate for Dickens, the people loved his work. His first story, The Pickwick Papers, published in a local newspaper. Soon after this, he signed a contract to write his first serialized novel, all at the age of 25. His first “paid” book was Oliver Twist.

Do you wish to start something guaranteed successful?
A book
A business
A MLM project (come ‘on, we’ve all thought about it at one point)

Me too.
But it is impossible to ensure any endeavor will end satisfying your dreams.

Dickens’ dream was to become a paid author. But he had a lot going against him:
No classical training from higher education system (wasn’t allowed in Oxford)
Missed multiple years of school (had to work in factories because his father was awful with money)
“Underprivileged” family
No one would pay him because he never wrote a book before

So rather than quitting his full-time job to focus on his dream, Dickens hustled on the side to ghostwrite his first novel. His work proved itself by popularity.

When you start your dream, give your work for free. You’ll quickly find out if people love it.

Be willing to do what no one else is willing to do.
Wake up 30 minutes early.
Read a non-fiction book for 5 minutes a day.
Stop using credit to buy things you don’t need.

Dickens had every excuse not to build his dream: no time, no money, no education, too young, no connections.
The only difference between you and him is the amount of work.
Start now.

2015 Review:

Marty McFly looked at his future self with utter disappointment in Back to the Future 2. I remember the scene vividly because I was frightened of feeling the same way about myself.

As I reflected on 2015, the year when Marty McFly went into the future, I thought about my failures and eventually my victories. I wondered if my 20-year-old self would be disappointed in the 27-year-old Alex Barker.

Somewhere in-between the mundane everyday tasks, we lose track of the goals and dreams we once held. Life becomes mediocre in the mundane.

The way I battle the “mediocre life” (feared by McFly) is by goal setting. Goals are essential, but if you don’t review where you’ve been, how will you know how to set goals for the future?

Quick note about sharing personal goals
I hope you are encouraged to set big goals after reading this post. Do not compare yourself to my goals because that’s unfair to you. You’re not me, and you’re not on the same journey.
Here is a review of my 2015 goals and results (You can see my 2015 goals here).

Pay off my wife’s college debt of $32,000
VICTORY
We paid off more than $50,000 in 9 months in 2015. Here’s an article about 3 lessons I learned from the experience.

Generate 2,000 emails for niche website (pharmacyschoolhq.org)
FAILED
I pivoted away from my website and focused on my content/marketing business in March 2015.
More on that below.

Launch 2 ebooks
(partially) FAILED
Launched one ebook: Master the PCAT Essay
I didn’t make another ebook because it make financial sense at the time.

Create Membership site
FAILED
I never focused myself on this project.

Launch pharmacy podcast
FAILED
Rather than start a pharmacy podcast, I was invited to become a guest host on the Pharmacy Podcast.

Blog/Vlog once per week
FAILED
I let myself become too distracted to finish this goal.

That’s enough about failure. I skipped a few goals because… well, I failed at those too.
What went awesome?
Unexpected accomplishments in 2015

Revenue GROWTH
Wowza. “Wowza” (a great Yooper word I hear often) describes the growth well. I won’t share that number here, but if you’re interested, you can send me a private message on Facebook.

Launched marketing + content creation business
In March 2015, I focused on building a system behind (what I would call) my “freelance writing” business. My business grew beyond my expectations but demanded too much time, which lead me to…

Systemize everything non-essential
I learned from Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing that I must focus on the very few important things in my life to get the most return on my investment (which is my time). That lead me to hire 3 virtual assistants (a general VA, editor, and audio/video editor).
Handing off tasks to my VAs has 3x my business revenue.
Big thank you to Chris Ducker’s business Virtual Staff Finder for finding my VA!

Read (over) 66 books
If you didn’t know, I started this podcast called the 66 Day Experiment. I like it a lot. To summarize the podcast: I try experiments for 66 days and report my findings.
I read close to 66 books in Season One. Since then, I’ve become a reading machine and read well over 80 books in the second half of 2015.

Faced daily rejection for 30ish days straight
Season 2 of the 66 Day Experiment involved facing daily rejection. I stopped this season early because it demanded too much of my time and I was facing entrepreneur funk (depression). More on that another time.

7-Day Romantic Vacation/Cruise with my Wife
Yahoo! This vacation was overdue.

Became a contributor at Entrepreneur, Good Men Project, and Huffington Post
Bazinga

Surprising interests to emerge in 2015
I would never think I would find the following interesting:
Money Managment/Investments (thank you Tony Robbins and Money Master the Game)
Real Estate (best way to true passive income)
Fiction writing (I thought I always had a good story in me, but never took action to build a fiction universe I could fall in love with)
Magic (okay, not everyone should learn more about magic, but I’ve always wanted to learn since childhood, and now I’m taking action)

2015 was a crazy, depressing, joyful, and life-changing year. I am disappointed with my lack of focus, but it’s something I have to work on overtime. I am thrilled with the potential for 2016 being the best year ever.

My next two blog posts will be about the lessons I learned and my 2016 goals.

How about you? Did you mark or miss your goals?

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