The One Key to Break Free Forever

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TAKE A BREAK!!! Stop right now and picture yourself in the travel destination of your dreams.  Focus in on it and figure out why you chose it.  What would be different?  What would you experience?  Why do people love to travel?  Taking ourselves out of our environment and going somewhere totally different lets us see and experience new things, interact in new ways, and leave our current state and become someone else.

Sure our bodies, minds, and emotions go with us when we travel but what we really love is living in a world that’s not the daily grind.  Even the stuff that we love in our lives (our coffee maker, our beds, our cars, whatever) we would happily get rid of in exchange for the experience of being somewhere or something else.  But why?  Don’t we pick the lives we live carefully?  We hopefully live in a home we like, have friends we like, and a job we like.  Why are we so excited to leave it?

We’re excited because we get bored with the status quo, as it makes us think that we personally are “status quo” or unchanging.    We think that because our daily lives don’t change much, we as people also are locked into being who we are.  A dynamic life becomes much harder when we start to let habits kick in and take over.  And before long, we’re miserable.  We’re miserable not because of our lives, but because we start to think that we are who we are and can’t change.

We start to use words like “can’t.”  I “can’t” do that.  What we are really saying I “won’t” do that, but we hate making decisions that cut off options.  We claim we have a nature and a temperament.  “I’m not a morning person” or “I am a morning person.”  We say things like “I’m not good at math” or “I can’t lose weight.”  We start to think that life and business have these arbitrary societal rules.

Lack of change creates boundaries, fixed ideas, and closed-mindedness, and finally leads us to being frustrated and lazy and living lives of quiet desperation.  We naturally think that we are who we are, the rules of the world are the rules of the world, and nothing could ever change.  Traveling then gives us a short breath of fresh air that life is dynamic.  We similarly clamor to the next season of our favorite TV show or new iPhone because it reminds us someone somewhere is making new ideas.  We love the excitement of meeting someone who doesn’t feel confined by life or plays by the rules.  And on the dark side, we find drugs and other things to either “set us free” or numb the pain.

At the root of the issue is that we have to realize that we aren’t fixed.  We aren’t shy, smart, charismatic, broke, wealthy, fat, skinny, or anything else.  We are whatever we want to be.  Our habits lead us to where we are now, and they can lead us out if we choose.  The greatest travel you can do is traveling in your mind.  Find a new frontier you’ve never seen before and go there.  Talk to someone you’d never have the nerve to talk to before.  You’ll feel alive.  Learn something new you never saw before.

If you become a person of transition and travel you could lead a phenomenally dynamic life without ever leaving your city.  I’m not anti-travel; the opposite, I think travel is great BECAUSE it leads you to realize that there is more to life than your daily existence.

I spent so much of my life scared to change.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t do certain things.  I’m still so annoyed I’m not where I want to be.  But what I’ve found is that now I tell myself that I no longer work on projects or jobs.  I’m the project.  I work on me.  So if I want to know more about something, it’s pointless to be upset; just go learn about it.  If I feel stagnant in my life, I need to go change something.  See, the point is that once you see yourself as a canvas instead of a finished painting, you lose your security but you find your freedom.

Freedom and security are opposites.  The most secure place in the world is a prison.  You can’t be free while hoping to be static and comfortable.  This summer, try to travel more than just across the world; try to go somewhere with your life.  Do this by trying to really understand and believe that we are a work in progress—and that we should actually be making measurable progress daily.

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How To Go From Busy To Driven

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We have a problem.  With tech being what it is today, we think we should have a lot more free time.  Yet with tech being what it is today, we seemingly have a lot more to do.  If people are consuming between four and ten hours on hand held devices like iPads and smart phones, we don’t have as much time as we think we do (even though we never have to go to Target anymore thanks to Google Express).  So while we perceive that there is more time out there thanks to technology, in reality people are getting more and more busy.

Being busy is actually something new and something dangerous.  As a college student I recall having endless hours to sit and do nothing all day.  I’d schmooze with friends, maybe have a leisurely workout, go to Chipotle twice a day (gasp, I wasn’t always kosher or a size 32 waist) but in general, relax.  Granted I don’t think I got much done with those four years of my life (besides of course meeting my wife and my best friend) I never really felt busy.  Today, I’m a mess.  Yes I have a family and a job but that’s not what makes me busy.  It’s this incessant buzzing in my head to do more, read more, consume more of the tremendous amount of media and information that’s all around.

And its compounded because everyone else also seems busy and accomplished.  Why?  Because we are broadcasting our lives on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Of course we need content to upload on these fantastic sites so we make up all the cool things we do all day long.  We are busy showing everyone how busy we are!

Isn’t it good to be busy?  No! Being busy is the opposite of being focused.  Busyness implies being all over the place with a million things to do, while being focused means driving in a meaningful direction.  One who is driven isn’t busy, they are focused.  Granted both busy people and driven people don’t have time, but one is going somewhere while the other isn’t.

The more successful the person, the less busy they are.  One of the major game changing lessons in my life that I heard over and over again from successful people is that they are keenly aware of what they do well, and leave everything else to other people.  Being aware of your strengths, your goals, and your missions allows you to focus on what you want and block out all the noise.

Today, as I build my businesses, family, and myself, my greatest fear is being busy.  It’s truly amazing that as my responsibilities with my current position have dwindled as I prepared to leave, I found myself having less and less time.  I realized that as soon as I wasn’t busy with my job, there was so much I hadn’t focused on that needed time and development.

We work for meaning, but we also work for money.  While I had a great salary, I never learned about money.  What did I know about taxes?  Investments?  Real estate?  Stocks?  So while I was busy making money I was never working towards becoming wealthy.  I worked out a lot, but I never learned or focused on nutrition.  I gave speeches about family life and Judaism, but I spent less and less time focusing on those things themselves.

I read that salespeople only spend some 45 min a day in front of a prospect.  Why?  Because they’re so busy prepping their script, drinking coffee, etc.  They are busy, but they aren’t focused.  Their job is to get in front of clients.  The more client meetings, the better you get at learning to sell.  Focused is having a clear goal, getting whatever tools you need to get there, going for it, and cutting out the noise of everything else.

So often I hear people talk about all the big things they want in their life; meaning, great relationships, great health, financial success.  But they’re usually too busy to actually start building whatever they want.  Because busyness is a disease; it dulls our desire to push forward with our goals.

And on top of it, being busy makes you burned out and tired.  But if you’re a busy person, you can’t even relax! Whereas if you’re focused or driven, you recognize relaxation is a necessary step to reaching your goals.  I lost more weight when I stopped lifting weights and had a strict diet.  I got better in the gym (once I got back in it) when I took more rest days.

It’s very scary not to be busy because being busy makes us think we’re being productive.  BUT if you can stop being busy for a few minutes, you can start to be focused.  STOP DOING ANYTHING.  IMAGINE YOU’RE IN JAIL OR DEAD.  NOTHING HAS TO HAPPEN.  Now think; what do I want in my life?  What do I need to know to get there?  How can I get that information?  What steps do I do next?  What do I not have time for?  Considering these scary questions makes us confront that part of us that screams that we need to accomplish.  But the beauty of it is that if we do asks these questions, and stop being so busy, we might actually start moving in the right direction.

TWO STEPS TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS

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Everyone wants to be at the top but no one likes to climb.

What makes a person want to be successful?  Do we all have it?  Are some of us predestined and others of us not?  Or do we all want to be excellent and just some have a clearer goal than others about how to get there?

Chris Sacca, billionaire angel investor, said the thing that makes him want to invest in a fledgling company (like he did with Twitter and Uber) is that the founders were so certain of success that they “felt it in their bones.”  How many of us feel that way about anything we are doing?  And if we do feel that way, how successful are we in those endeavors?

I think deep down, we’re really afraid of failure more than we are afraid of hard work.  If we knew what path would make us successful, then we would do it.  Or I think we’d try more.  In my work as a health coach, once my clients see they can lose the weight with my system, they’re successful in doing it.  And it is hard work, but they see the game is winnable.

Judaism provides two fundamental and beautiful insights into the mindset of a champion.  The first is that a tsaddik falls seven times, and keeps getting back up.  Greatness and excellence are only built by making mistakes, suffering setbacks, and pushing forward.  That’s why people who are street smart usually succeed in business more than people who are book smart.  Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates—all these guys were brilliant in business specifically because they kept pushing forward and innovating rather than quitting.  Our current education system in America punishes failure instead of embracing it. Judaism says not only do you have to embrace your failure, but if you don’t go through it, you’ll never get to the top.

Secondly, Judaism teaches that we need to be open and upfront with our challenges.  This is truly revolutionary.  What we in the west are trained to see and respect is the final steps of a person’s journey.  The huge weight loss, the billion dollar company, the millions of followers, the ‘perfect marriage or children.’  When we accustom ourselves to see this very erroneous perspective of success, we hide our true selves, and get discouraged.  What we should be looking at instead is how they got there.

Why do we get discouraged when we just look at the final product?  Human greatness is so diverse and impressive that when we compare ourselves to the final product of anyone, we feel bad because we’re so far away.  But what we don’t see is what they had to do to get there, or where they started from, or what they lost to get to where they are.  So we see only a part of the picture.  If we’d see the whole picture suddenly we’d be a lot more inspired.   If we understood where people started, we’d understand it doesn’t make sense to compare.  If we see how hard people had to work to get to where they are we’d see what we had to do.  Bill Gates used to work 18 hour days!  The Chazon Ish would learn Torah until he literally collapsed from exhaustion.  If we saw what people had to sacrifice for their goals, maybe we’d decide we didn’t want them anymore, or that we’d be ok working a bit harder to get them.

Secondly, by focusing on the final product as indicators of success, we hide our true selves.  That means that the things we need to do most are the things we don’t want to do.  I always had large biceps and calf muscles, my whole life I needed to lose weight and do sit ups.  Guess how often I did abs?  0.  Guess how often I did arms?  Every day!  If we aren’t honest with ourselves, or we are too embarrassed by the accomplishments of others, we only focus on what we do well and not what we need to work on because we’re embarrassed to admit our shortcomings.  If we focus on the process that others took to become great, we realize this strange phenomenon: champions focused on improving of their weak spots, not their great areas.

It made such a huge impression when I read that Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame realized that if he wanted to be rich, he had to learn how to sell. He was really shy.  So he took a job as a salesman specifically because it was his weak area.  How many of us would take a major we weren’t good at, or select a subject we needed the most help as to be the focus of our lives?  Judaism teaches us that to be a growth oriented person means accepting you aren’t perfect.  Be open with your lack of perfection.  And WORK on that area that makes you not perfect.  If you do that, you can start to feel your inner champion potential in your bones.