Swimming is hard

A happy man riding a bike during a triathlon
(Not me.)

I completed a sprint triathlon yesterday morning with my best friend.

A quarter-mile swim. A 12-mile bike. Then a 5k run.

I didn’t prepare for it nearly as much as I should have. Prior to the event, I only swam three times and ran two. Not ideal.

The swim was the toughest part by far. My arms were exhausted during the last few laps. Once I got out of the pool, it felt like I won the entire event…despite being like 200 people behind.

We went into the pool one by one, swimming through each lane down and back, then under the rope and into the next lane. We went in based on our swim times. Naturally, I went in with the last group because I assumed I would need to take a few breaks. I made friends in line and we bonded over our lack of ability.

My buddy went in way ahead of me….He had prepared properly. I got into the pool 15 minutes after he got out. Our plan to complete the triathlon together went out the window.

I was feeling insecure coming in because of my lack of training. I feared being surrounded by a bunch of super-athletes judging me for not taking this as seriously as I should’ve. But I learned something powerful yesterday.

There were folks of all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, and capabilities competing. Here’s the lesson I gathered from seeing all these wonderful people do their thang:

There will always be a shit ton of people who are way better than we are at something. There will always be a shit ton of people who are way worse than we are at that same thing. It doesn’t make sense for us to compare ourselves to either group.

We should learn from and be inspired by those ahead of us and help and teach those behind us. We need only compare ourselves to who we were in the past. Am I better than I was last month? Last week? Yesterday?

When I was in line for the swim, I met an 82-year old who has done a ton of these events. I’ll leave you the advice he left me.

If you’re not having fun, you might as well stay home.

82-year old badass

Triathlon prep

I’m doing a triathlon tomorrow.

I’m woefully unprepared for the swim portion, but I’ll make it happen.

The date seemed to pop up out of nowhere.

It was a lovely example of the importance of being proactive so our future selves can be happier. There were several days where I decided not to go swim laps because I simply didn’t feel like it. It truly felt like I had all the time in the world to prepare.

“Not today. Next week though…I’ll definitely do the work later.”

But later never comes.

The best time to do the work is always right now.

At the same time

Things can exist at the same time.

A person can be doing very well and be violently anxious.

Police brutality and black-on-black crime can both be problems to mend.

Something can feel super easy and incredibly difficult.

This blog post can be wildly insightful and dumb as shit…at the same time.

Write like a motherfucker

A person writing with pen and paper

Last night, I finished another chapter of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things. It was my favorite one yet.

The book consists of captivating Dear Sugar columns; people write in asking for her advice and she tells gripping, emotional stories and gives life-changing insights.

The chapter I read before bed last night was called “Write Like a Motherfucker.” In it, a woman wrote in looking for much needed motivation. She’s a writer who doesn’t write. She’s often paralyzed by her depression.

She writes:

“I’m…a high-functioning head case, one who jokes enough that most people don’t know the truth. The truth: I am sick with panic that I cannot—will not —override my limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude, to write well, with intelligence and heart and lengthiness. And I fear that even if I do manage to write, that the stories I write will be disregarded and mocked.”

What powerful vulnerability. And what a concrete example of someone who wants something but believes there’s something in the way.

To be clear, I am NOT downplaying the role of mental health here. I love that Cheryl opens by recommending professional help to this woman. The power of not having the energy to do what we want to do is stark.

But the reason I love this chapter so much is because Cheryl throws down some masterful tough love.

The phrase tough love often gets a bad rep. People tend to get distracted by the first part, tough: possibly unpleasant, firm, or uncomfortable…that they forget about the second part entirely, love: coming from a place of “I care about you and your wellbeing.”

I believe in accepting others for who they are and showing consistent compassion to ourselves and those around us. But I also believe in challenging ourselves and those around us for the sake of pushing humans to be better.

Cheryl hits her with this hammer:

“The most fascinating thing to me about your letter is that buried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there.”

Wow. No pity party here.

I can only imagine how much this stung to read. But Cheryl does a fantastic job in relating her own experiences and assuring her that this all comes from a place of love and care. Plus, the point is not: Does this sting? The point is: Is this true and is this useful?

Going through mental chaos is God damn difficult. In many cases, it can be debilitating. But unfortunately, that doesn’t remove the work that needs to be done.

Cheryl describes humility: not being up too high or down too low, but on the ground level. She writes:

“We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce. You have limitations. You are in some ways inept. This is true of every writer, and it’s especially true of writers who are twenty-six. You will feel insecure and jealous. How much power you give those feelings is entirely up to you.”

The negative feelings we experience are absolutely valid. But the work still needs to be done. It’s up to us to continue to show up and do it.

“Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig…

You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug.

So write…Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.”

(Strayed, Cheryl. Tiny Beautiful Things (p. 60). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

Nothing’s wrong

One plus one equals three
A real photo of my senior thesis.

I got coached by a friend yesterday. I came into the session with the past two weeks containing more stress and anxiety than I’ve felt in years. Here’s what happened.

It went well. She’s a great coach. But often times we go into a coaching session thinking we’ll leave with total relief and clarity. We believe if we come in with negative emotions, we’ll talk out our feelings and reach the insight that we don’t need to feel them at all.

But that’s not always true.

When she asked what was going on, I told her that in the past two weeks:

• my biggest possible client pulled out
• I have a big presentation coming up, and
• I’ve been falling off with my habits

Talking this shit out is always powerful. Talking it out with a coach who knows what she’s doing is always 50 times more powerful. These were my three biggest takeaways:

1) Nothing’s wrong.

Feeling discomfort—stress, anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, fear—is a natural part of the human condition. Why then do alarms go off when we feel these ever-occurring emotions? Our fight or flight response is activated and our bodies tell us in one way or another that something’s wrong.

I had to remind myself that I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m running my own business, I’m new at it. Rather than thinking I don’t need to feel stressed, I came to the realization: Of course I feel stress! And that’s okay. Who wouldn’t?

In other words, nothing’s wrong.

2) Three magic questions.

Be it with my coaching, my hobbies, or anything else I want to pursue in life…I basically boiled down my life purpose into three questions:

• Am I having fun?
• Are other people having fun?
• Is this helpful?

The answers to those three questions tell me whether or not I’m in the right space.

3) I always figure it out.

I have flunked out of college, tried to kill myself, and been in $80,000 worth of debt with no job. And I’m still here…typing out this blog.

We often feel like if we don’t “figure it out” (whatever the hell ‘it’ is), we’ll fall into a black hole. But no, we just wake up the next morning. We adapt. We figure it out.

The important thing is to continue to be vigilant about figuring it out. Ask questions. Get a coach. Share thoughts and feelings.

When we do all of these things consistently, we come to understand that no matter how we’re feeling…nothing’s wrong.

Slipping up

Today is one of those days where I wake up and realize that my habits have been off track.

I’m looking at my phone past 10pm.

I haven’t been doing my weekly review on Mondays.

I haven’t even been working out as much as I normally do.

Perhaps it’s because of stress. Whatever it is, the shitty feeling of not taking care of myself as well as I normally do packs on even more stress.

This is natural. It happens every so often. No need to freak out. Just have to readjust and get back on the horse.

Funny enough, I’m riding horses today with my mom for the first time. Pretty perfect.

The first day back at the gym after taking a break always sucks. But it’s a necessary suck. It’s like paying my dues for slacking. That’s okay.

“Too often, we fall into an all-or-nothing cycle with our habits. The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.”

James Clear

Why do I feel this way?

A baby playing with macaroni

Yesterday, I had a conflict with my best friend. The thing was, he had no idea because it happened entirely in my mind.

The details aren’t super important. We had made plans to do something that I was excited for. He backed out the day of because he wasn’t comfortable doing it until next week.

All the logical parts of me were saying: Of course man. You don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

But my automatic emotional response was something entirely different. I felt like: Really man? Come on, you pansy.

I noticed right as it was happening. If I logically know his choice makes sense and is fine, why do I feel hurt and frustrated? Or, put in a cheesier way: Why is my brain saying one thing but my heart is feeling another?

I wanted to text him back but I worried about being in too emotional of a state to say anything of substance. I remembered the advice I’ve heard and have given several times: Don’t respond in an incredibly emotional state—be it anger, sadness, or even excitement.

The reason being that our emotions are fleeting. Especially if it’s a powerful emotion, we most certainly won’t be feeling that way for very long. So naturally, when we respond to someone in that state, we tend to regret what we’ve said or done when time passes and we come out of it.

I didn’t respond. I remembered my training.

As the day came to a close and I finished working, I still felt a slight tinge of disappointment. But I was quite glad I didn’t say anything earlier. Whatever it would’ve been, it wouldn’t have been productive.

I went to jiujitsu and called him when I got out. I told him everything.

It was a truly lovely and utterly strange conversation. I wasn’t saying sorry, but I felt bad. He had nothing to forgive, but he felt reconciled.

We came to the conclusion that I tend to have emotional reactions when things don’t go the way I thought they would. I’ll have it in my head that it’s going to be this, but when that doesn’t happen, my internal response goes, This isn’t how it was supposed to happen!

I asked him about times when his logic and emotions were saying two different things. We shared stories, discussed mindfulness, and expressed gratitude for our ability to have such open conversations.

We laughed as we compared this phenomenon to when someone’s partner dreams they cheated and wake up pissed off at them. Logically, they know nothing happened…but they just emotionally experienced something traumatic.

Lessons:

• We’re emotional beings. We make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic.

• While it can be scary or uncomfortable, having totally candid conversations with our close friends is one of the most rewarding experiences out there.

• We cannot control our thoughts or emotions. They simply arise. What we can control is whether or not we let them dictate our words and actions.

2 Dills

A bowl of pickles

There are days where I’m energetic, motivated, positive, proactive, ambitious, present, and on top of my fucking shit.

There are days where I just want to sit in bed for 12 hours and watch YouTube videos and I have to fight tooth and nail not to. I’m anxious, tired, lazy, uncertain, and doubtful.

But regardless of what kind of day it is, I will:

• Show up and do the work
• Be kind to others
• Be as helpful as I can

So long as I can keep these in my daily life, the Dark Dill will never win.

Two simple questions

A few weeks ago, my coach asked me these two simple questions and my life hasn’t been the same since:

1) What do you want to create?

I went into my dream life:

• $10K months minimum
• Traveling two months out of the year
• Having only five one-on-one clients, referrals only
• Being completely off social media
• Teaching jiujitsu and chess

I talked about money dreams for the first time ever. It’s usually a sensitive topic for me. I told him I’m sick of cutting it close. I’m ready for a prosperous life where I can pay off my debt, invest, do what I love, and donate to charities I care about.

Once we painted this beautiful picture together, he asked me…

2) So what’s in the way?

I went into all these stories:

• “I don’t know how to make a ton of money.”
• “I’ve never done it before.”
• “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Once we dove into each story one by one, I came to the realization that none of them were true. What was actually happening was I was waiting for permission to live a truly prosperous life.

This may sound simple or dramatic, but this utterly shattered my previous way of thinking. I got off that call and immediately began building my coaching program. Since then, I’ve invited tons of new coaches and have gotten a ridiculous amount of positive feedback.

We get so caught up in believing the stories we tell ourselves. They’re almost certainly nonsense.

What do you tell yourself to keep yourself from taking action? Or better yet, ask yourself…

What do I want to create? So what’s in the way?

The story in all of us

Woman reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

My coach said something revolutionary yesterday on our weekly group call.

Whether it’s in coaching or just in our day to day lives, the vast majority of us create stories in our minds that stop us from taking action. We construct these requirements we must meet before we do what we want to do—often times they’re requirements that are impossible to meet.

“I just need to be more confident.”
“I need to be fearless.”
“I’m not ready yet.”

All to which he likes to ask:

“How confident have you decided you need to be?”
“How does you being afraid have anything to do with you doing it?”
“What’s the exact date when all your requirements will be met to make you ready?”

The conclusion for me was that when we challenge our stories, when we put them up for scrutiny, we eventually see that they’re all a load of bullshit.

These have been my most powerful stories:

• I’m not a businessman—I could never run a successful business.
• I’ve been single for most of my adult life—I don’t have what it takes to be loved by another.
• I’ve never not lived “paycheck to paycheck”—I don’t know how to make money.

What lovely stories. Let’s put them to the test.

What does not having business savvy have to do with me trying to help as many people as I can? That’s all I’ve been doing for the last year and I’ve been able to quit my full-time job and pay my bills with this thing I’ve created entirely on my own. People have actually come to me for advice on how they can grow their coaching businesses.

Check. Bullshit.

What does being single have to do with people loving me? I have been loved—by women, by friends, by my family…Being single has been a super fun way to live in my 20s. Of course it’s nice to have someone, but I’ve enjoyed the freedom to work on myself and make decisions entirely based on my own wants and needs. I’m not waiting to be right for someone; I’m waiting for someone to be right for me.

Check check. Bullshit.

Okay, but this last one has to be true. I’ve always sucked with money.

What does me never having a ton of money have to do with my ability to increase my income? By simply following my process of having as many fun and powerful conversations as possible, May of 2021 has become the first month I’ve ever made over $10,000. I didn’t do anything different that I didn’t do in April. If I didn’t know how to make money, how the fuck would that be possible?

Dammit. Bullshit…

So I’m curious. What are the stories you tell yourself that keep you from taking action? What requirements have you decided you must meet before you do what you really want to do?

I’d love to hear about them.

We’re all different, we’re all the same

A man with one blue shoe and one yellow shoe

After all the conversations and interactions I’ve had with people, this paradox is my favorite thing about the human condition.

We’re all different…

We all vary wildly in our: values, interests, senses of humor, perspectives, strengths, weaknesses, appearance, and styles….

I love how I can never truly know who a person is until I have a conversation with them.

I’ve met white people, black people, gay people, tall people, short people, trans people, asian people, hispanic people, skinny people, fat people, smart people, and not-so-smart people…who are hilarious, compassionate, and kind.

I’ve met white people, black people, gay people, tall people, short people, trans people, asian people, hispanic people, skinny people, fat people, smart people, and not-so-smart people…who are boring, selfish assholes.

When a person is born, it’s like pulling on a slot machine. We never know what kind of human is entering this life.

We don’t choose our parents and we don’t choose our environments. Meaning, we don’t choose our DNA or our brain makeup. Meaning, we don’t choose any of the things that truly make us different.

I didn’t choose to not be born in the middle of the Syrian civil war. I didn’t choose to be born to parents who didn’t beat me. I didn’t choose anything about me.

We’re all different. But….

We’re all the same…

This didn’t really hit me until I started coaching people: sitting down with individuals to have deep and vulnerable conversations about what they want and what’s getting in the way.

How are we all the same?

To get the obvious answer out of the way, we’re all made of the same stuff. I’m made of bones and organs and tissue. And I’m willing to bet that all of my neighbors are too.

Speaking of neighbors, we’re all living on the same giant, floating rock in space.

“This is my area of rock. You stay in your area of rock.”

“We’re hurting this rock!”

“No we’re not, get your facts straight!”

But the simplest fact that ties us all together is by far my favorite.

No matter where we are or what we do for a living, we all want to feel like we’re spending our time well while we’re alive.

My job is to talk to people about what they want. Yes, there are patterns and similarities between the desires of different people: productivity, meaningful work, freedom. But they each pop up with different levels of stress and anxiety.

But at the end of the day, we all want stuff, and most of us feel like there’s something in the way of us getting that stuff.

Figuring out what we want and how to overcome what’s getting in the way is a life-long battle. We’re all fighting wildly different battles.

But at the same time…we’re all fighting the exact same fight.

Cliches are true?

People often say: “It’s cliche but it’s true.”

That’s always confused me. Of course it’s true! That’s why it’s a cliche.

Here are a few that I live my life by:

1) If you want something different, you have to do something different.

In other words, if we’re doing the same thing over and over again, we can’t complain that we’re not getting the results we were hoping for.

For many months, I wanted a thriving coaching business but was unwilling to put myself out there and make it happen. Needless to say, I wasn’t reaching enough potential clients. Only once I gritted through the fear did I really start to make the business sustainable.

2) You get back what you put out into the world.

The happiest and most fulfilling moments of my life are always when I’m the most positive, grateful, and compassionate person I can possibly be.

Shockingly enough, people enjoy being around folks who make them laugh, make them feel listened to and supported, and make them feel inspired to take action.

It’s similar to another cliche:

If you’re not getting what you want in life, help more people.

This has been true for me in business and in my relationships.

3) Do what you love.

I know, barf.

But let me explain.

I hated my full-time job and had to quit and start my own thing to keep my sanity. I’m well-aware that most people have no interest in doing that.

Doing what we love doesn’t mean we have to uproot our careers and fight tooth and nail to make money with our passions. I have a ton of friends who work jobs they don’t necessarily love so they can pay their bills and have the time and money to have fun on their days off.

Doing what we love can mean:

  • Trying more new things
  • Developing our passions
  • Spending more intentional time away from anything to do with work
  • Taking more trips
  • Spending more quality time with loved ones

I love writing this blog, so I cut out a chunk of time each morning where I type away. I say no to most things on weeknights so I can do jiujitsu. I play chess every day. I take one vacation each month. And yes, I work my ass off to continue this career I absolutely love.

It’s cliche…but it’s true.

The battle between emotion and logic

A mannequin with brain labels

This has come up countless times in recent coaching sessions and in my life in general…

There will be a story or some limiting belief that I know rationally to be untrue.

But despite my brain’s knowledge of this fact, my heart will ache from fear and my emotions will declare that nothing has ever been truer.

For example:

“I don’t have what it takes to run a sustainable business.”

Logic:

Lol what?

A year ago you had never even heard of life coaching. Now it pays your bills and your business has been growing each month since you started. You also help coaches directly in growing their businesses.

If you continue on the same trajectory, you’ll get anything you want.

Emotions:

Lol true.

It’s only a matter of time before people figure out you’re a fraud. You’ll probably have to go back to waiting tables when this all comes crashing down.

The Solution:

So what can we do when we feel a lump in our chest despite our logical awareness?

We can take action anyway. We can continue to show up and do the work.

Who says we have to be fearless? Most heroes aren’t.

They’re courageous; they take action in spite of their fear. We can do the same thing.

I’m creating a program for coaches right now. I’m terrified that no one will be interested. But that has nothing to do with me showing up today and reaching out to 100 coaches.

The next time that story pops up, I’ll politely respond: “So what?”

Think again

A gorilla thinking
Me when reading the book.

I just finished Adam Grant’s newest book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t.

In it, Adam masterfully proves the beauty of being willing to rethink one’s stance. People who are eager to change their minds are more successful and fulfilled in what they do.

It got me thinking about where I’ve changed my mind lately. Here are just a few examples…

1) Pop music is awesome.

I used to think pop was garbage and not real music. It took me a while to realize that I only thought that because it felt cool to be part of the “counter culture.” If a song makes us feel something and we enjoy it, that’s enough.

Justin Bieber is my savior.

2) Conservatives are actually humans too. Yes, even that one guy.

I was a card-carrying liberal in college. I only talked politics within my bubble of people I agreed with and was shocked when I met my first Trump supporter in 2016. It was like meeting an alien.

They really exist??…I thought. Needless to say, it was an incredibly unproductive way to approach another human being.

I can still give 3-hour rants about the Trump presidency…but once I left school and began listening and exposing myself to more conservative views, I realized that conservatives were not the racist, apathetic, and heartless creatures I once thought they were.

Turns out they’re also made of bones and organs and they have the same rights as I have. What a concept.

3) I don’t have to read anything I don’t want to read.

This might sound simple to most. But I love reading and for years I assumed I had to read all the classics.

After trudging through several “must-reads before you die,” I had to come to grips with the fact that when it comes to reading…I’m a basic bitch.

I need action. I need easy-to-read. I don’t give a shit about challenging myself with dense or complicated texts. Give me teenage wizards please.

It was a relief when I let go of this invisible pressure to read books I didn’t like.

Conclusion

I highly recommend Think Again. It was a lovely and informative read.

The best question to ask ourselves or someone we’re arguing with is: What evidence would change your mind?

If the answer is “nothing,” then the conversation is a dead end.

What have you rethought recently?

Anxious mornings

As healthy and fulfilled as I feel, I’ll still wake up some mornings with anxiety.

In my chest, I’ll experience the random lumps as my mind rattles on about money, decisions, and possibilities.

I doubt this will ever completely go away.

There will always be ups and downs, push and pull, certainty and uncertainty.

Neither lasts forever and neither will kill us.

Stop saying sorry

Pieces of paper spelling out "sorry"

I had a lovely discussion with a coaching friend yesterday on the utility of saying sorry.

It’s something I’ve been trying to work on lately—my tendency to apologize when it’s not necessary.

I always laugh when someone says sorry at the grocery store when I almost run into them. I’ll think, You literally didn’t do anything wrong. Why are you sorry?

And yet I do the same thing when it comes to coordination or business chats. What scares me is not how much I apologize or qualify myself…what scares me is that I don’t even realize when I’m doing it.

In the past month, four people have told me to stand up for myself and stop saying sorry. Whoa.

But at the same time, I like that I’m always willing to apologize to friends—sacrificing my pride for the possible harmony of a situation. I care about my friends’ feelings. Sue me.

The debate at play is:

What’s the difference between kindness and people pleasing?

In other words: When do people appreciate an apology and when do they genuinely not give a shit?

What I’m learning is…most of the time, they don’t give a shit. If we are unapologetically ourselves, if we come from a good place, and if we’re willing to learn from our mistakes…then saying sorry is almost never needed.

It can actually be pretty annoying.

Hence the problem with people pleasing: It has the opposite effect; no one is pleased.

Does anyone really appreciate the paragraphs of text explaining why someone has to cancel plans this weekend? Does a fourth apology in five minutes actually carry weight? Do we respect when someone is hyper-focused on not hurting our feelings?

I would be willing to bet the answer to all these is no.

People are generally okay with us living our lives. And if there’s an issue, a good friend would be open and honest with us and address what’s going on.

Obviously, I’m not saying we should throw away our self-awareness. But I do believe that walking around on eggshells doesn’t help anybody. We can trust that people are adults. Everything hurts someone’s feelings. All we can do is roll with the punches and handle each situation with openness, love, and good faith.

If you disagree, I’m sorry.

Lol jk.

Let go of (some of) your dreams

Darts in a dart board

In the self-improvement world, saying something like that is sacrilegious. But let me explain what I mean with a story.

In the past year, I’ve become obsessed with chess. Yes, mostly inspired by watching Queen’s Gambit. But I play every day and will be entering a tournament soon.

I’ve had it in my head that I want to become an International Master. To the layman, this means being in the 98th percentile of chess players. Players at this level and above study for hours in a day. They enter professional tournaments. They read all the best chess books.

This would be me, I confirmed.

But over the last few months, that’s panned out to be much harder than I anticipated.

I would set time aside to study and build my chess skills, but if something else came up, that allotted time would be the first to go. When I would sit down to work through a dense practice book, the Resistance would be so high that I would quit and just play matches online. My chest would fill with anxiety when I would be practicing my endgames instead of working on my business or anything else to make money. One of my favorite hobbies was becoming a guilt-inducing chore.

It took a while to realize what I had to do…I had to give up on my dream of becoming a world-class chess player.

This statement sounds more dramatic than it actually is. Let me explain.

I did not, and will not, quit chess. What I did quit was the mentality of invisible pressure I put on myself to reach some sort of benchmark.

Once I did that, there was a wave of relief. Since dropping the dream, I’ve actually been studying and practicing chess more—not because I have to, but because I want to.

In a session yesterday, a client wisely said, “Going to the gym doesn’t mean you have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Playing on a wreck team doesn’t mean you have to make it to the NFL. Doing an open mic night doesn’t mean you have to be Bill Burr.”

We can simply do things because we enjoy them. We don’t always need a profound reason or purpose.

When I couldn’t study chess at the level of Master, I had to ask myself, Do I actually want this?

No. I just liked the idea of reaching that level. But I hated what it took to get there. And guess what…

That’s okay.

Maybe I’ll never get there. Maybe I will. Regardless, there’s zero pressure on my shoulders and that will let me have fun playing and studying the game I love.

What Justin Bieber taught me

A crowded concert

Until a few years ago, I was certain I hated The Biebs.

My reasons:

• He probably doesn’t write his own music

• Pop lyrics are basic and lack depth

• His stupid face

One day, I was listening to the Skrillex and Diplo song Where Are Ü Now, and I asked my buddy, “Do you know who’s singing?”

He looked at my blankly and retorted, “Are you joking? It’s Justin Bieber.”

My universe turned upside down. Everything I thought was true and real turned out to be a mirage. My very being turned to ash and I had no idea who I was…

Joking aside, I was struck. How could this person I despised make me feel such joy and raw emotion with his simple lyrics and angelic voice?

That’s when I realized my hatred for the young pop singer had nothing to do with him. I was just being a jealous twat.

He had more money and women at age 18 than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. All he had to do was sing a simple song and millions (if not billions) of people would listen and love it.

I was humbled when I realized I had been singing along with JB for months without knowing it was him on the track. It sounds ridiculous but that was the moment I thought, Maybe pop music doesn’t have to meet my expectations. Maybe music is just any collection of sounds that people find enjoyable.

Thank you, Justin (we’re on a first name basis), for enlightening me…and serenading me.

Lessons:

• It doesn’t really make sense to hate someone for their success—they’ll still do what they do, and we’ll just be salty about it.

• Just because we dislike a certain kind of music or entertainment doesn’t mean its bullshit (e.g. For the life of me, I don’t understand how most TikToks are good, yet they have millions of likes so fuck me I guess).

• When we have powerful feelings against another person, it’s important to check in with ourselves and ask why.

Car engines and shitty clients

Gears spinning

Yesterday, my coaching friend was venting to me about a shitty prospective client experience. Also…my car died. The engine completely gassed out. What a day.

With my friend and her possible client, they had made an agreement and when she called to set up the first payment, she discovered that this prospective client blocked her on Messenger and was ducking all her calls.

She asked me what I thought.

How I felt about that situation is exactly how I feel about my car dying:

Naturally frustrated…but empowered.

Shitty, wildly inconvenient, and aggravating circumstances are guaranteed in our lives. Meaning, we have absolutely zero control over when they will occur (the definition of inconvenient).

What we do have control over, however, is how we handle and what we learn from these events.

She will have more frustrating ordeals with clients. I will have more car troubles.

But now, we’ll both be better equipped to take action and respond with cooler emotions under the stress.

Now she knows how to reach out with love and respectfully call a person out. Now I know how to simultaneously schedule a car tow and mechanic appointment.

Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better.

Jim Rohn

Getting choked out five times in five minutes

In the past month, I’ve experienced an increase in skill in Brazilian Jiujitsu. As a white belt, these confidence boosts are incredibly motivating.

Few feelings are better than the feeling of improvement. I feel more capable of helping and teaching newer students. Certain submissions and defenses are becoming more automatic. I was feeling high.

Then yesterday, I rolled against a purple belt in front of our coach. Naturally, he wanted to show his stuff…so he absolutely destroyed me.

He may as well have been wrestling a toddler.

All of the ego boosts I’ve felt in the past month turned to ash during those five minutes. But as horrible as it was, it was a truly beautiful experience.

Why? Because of the useful reminders which came from it:

1) Be proud of your improvements, but know that the work is never done.

2) There will always, always, always be people who are much better than you.

3) Everyone has something to gain by (respectfully) getting their ass beat.

Untraining

A mother and her daughter doing yoga

Two of the hardest things I’ve ever done have been:

• getting myself to stop saying “like” as a filler word, and

• getting out of the habit of talking shit about people.

The first step for both was to practice mindfulness and simply acknowledge when I was doing them.

I would start and stop thousands of sentences because I noticed I would automatically use “like” four times in four seconds.

I would also have to pause in conversation because I realized my friends and I were naturally complaining about another person behind their back or insulting them for laughs.

We can train ourselves out of habits that aren’t serving us. What’s more, we can replace them with ones that do.

One of my strengths is my ability to speak and articulate my thoughts. Not saying “like” every other word has helped with that tremendously.

As far as talking shit about people when they’re not around, it’s poisonous. It creates this tendency to look for the bad in people. Plus, it chips away at the trust in relationships.

If you have a friend who talks shit about everybody when they’re not around, what makes you think they don’t do the same thing to you?

When I was trying to untrain myself out of this habit a few years ago, I would force myself to add to the conversation something I respected about the person in question. This can feel unnatural at first, but what I found was that no matter how I felt about someone, there was always at least one thing about them I could praise.

Slowly but surely, I felt myself seeing people in a much more positive and appreciative light.

There’s a lovely piece of advice from Kevin Kelly:

“Compliment people behind their back. It’ll come back to you.”

What would you love to untrain out of your life? What would that take?

How donuts can change your life

A woman holding a donut in her hands

A few months ago, I was watching television with a couple friends.

The volume was so low that I could only make out every fourth word or so. Despite that, we watched two or three episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Finally, my friend asked, “Can you turn it up? I can barely hear what they’re saying.”

My other friend obliged, turned the TV up several notches, and all was right in the universe.

I was struck. It was such a simple example of wanting something to happen without doing anything to make it happen.

What was lovely about it, though, was what it took. All someone had to do was ask. Then boom, they got everything they wanted and made life better for others as well.

It reminded me of the Bag of Donuts theory.

At a party, there’s an unopened bag of donuts. Everyone wants a donut, but no one wants to be the first person to make a move.

An hour goes by and the bag is still untouched. Then, one brave and rebellious individual pops the bag open and enjoys their tasty treat.

In the next 20 minutes, all the donuts are gone.

The Bag of Donuts theory tells us that plenty of people often want the same thing we do…they’re just waiting for someone else to initiate and “give them permission” to take part.

We can be that someone else.

It can feel scary (terrifying at times)…but we can ask to turn the TV up. We can ask for help. We can ask for whatever we want.

We can open that bag of donuts.

What I want to be when I grow up

A mother holding her daughter in a corn field

Here are all the things I’ve ever wanted to be:

• astronaut
• teacher
• rescue swimmer (shoutout Aston Kutcher)
• boxer
• running back at the Naval Academy (lol)
• kicker for a D1 school
• guitarist of a punk rock band (“Where are you?”)
• pro soccer player
• psychologist
• business owner (#entrepreneur)
• music producer
• German translator
• drummer
• sailor
• actor
• father (ladies)
• famous podcaster
• famous YouTuber
• blogger
• web designer
• life coach
• International Master in chess
• purple belt in jiujitsu

I look back at many of these and smile.

The reality is that most of the things we’ve ever dreamed about being or doing in life won’t come to fruition. NOT because we don’t have what it takes, but because we only have so much time and energy to expend in one lifetime.

For many of these, I liked the idea more than doing the actual work it took to make it a reality.

I enjoyed learning how to keep a beat on the drums, but in order to become great, I would’ve needed to practice all the time. Since I had no drum set, no money to pay for lessons, and had a full course load in college…becoming a drummer at that time didn’t feel like the right move.

And there’s the main point:

If the Resistance of the thing outweighs the value we get from it, it’s okay to strategically quit.

We’re not failures for cutting off the energy we’re putting into something. By saying no to one thing, we’re saying yes to something else.

Last year, I tried to do a daily vlog—posting a video of my life and thoughts every single day for four months…

I made it two months before I completely burned out. It became a chore I dreaded; not a fun and challenging creative pursuit.

So I quit.

I said no to a thing I set out to do. But in turn, I said yes to giving more time and mental energy to building my business, making it one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

There’s a stigma against jumping around from hobby to hobby. People say, “I don’t really know what I’m passionate about. I can never really stick to one thing.”

Who said we have to?

Why can’t we just do what feels exciting and challenging at the moment?

If we do that, two things will happen:

1) We get to experience a bunch of cool shit by trying new things, and

2) We up our chances of finding something we’re willing to keep putting time and effort into.

Four magic questions

When dealing with a thought or a limiting belief, answering these four questions can provide some serious clarity:

1) Is this true?

2) How do I absolutely know this is (or isn’t) true?

3) What effect does believing this have on me?

4) What if the opposite is true?

How to love rejection

A woman giving someone the hand

One simple lesson from Jia Jiang’s book Rejection Proof has completely changed the way I see:

• sales
• talking to women
• doing scary things

That lesson is:

When you get rejected, it says nothing about you and everything about the person doing the rejecting.

It doesn’t mean you suck; it just means it’s not the right fit right now.

When I get “rejected” by a female or a prospective client, I think, Good. Now I know they’re not the right person right now.

Why would I want to go on a date with someone who doesn’t want to, but says yes anyway to save my feelings. Why would I work with someone who is only hiring me because they can’t say no?

Rejections and No’s weed out all the folks who don’t have the right chemistry or compatibility for your current goals. They also get you closer to the folks who are the right fit for whatever you’re looking for.

No’s also make you stronger, if you let them. They can harden your skin and sharpen your vision for people and things which align with your values.

They can also help you make adjustments and improvements. Testing and analyzing helps you go, Hmm. People seem to respond better when I do X instead of Y.

In my first full-time sales job, a day of rejection would often leave me feeling drained and defeated. This shit’s hard.

But if we can see each rejection as an opportunity to get closer to the people who are the right fit for us…it can make us unstoppable.

Bowling is…cool?

Last night, while waiting for a friend to join me at the bar, I overheard a guy talking to his buddy.

He was explaining how good he was at bowling.

Firstly, I love hearing about anyone’s passions…but if you’re going to start bragging about something, maybe bowling isn’t the ideal activity.

But more importantly, my eye-rolling reminded me of an important fact:

If you’re good at something, other people will say so for you.

Be a guide, not a boss

A sign that says "Don't be a prick"

One of the first lessons I gathered from my coaching mentor:

“People don’t do well with solutions they’ve had little or no part in creating.”

I’ve learned this through experience…

Coaching people who want to make a change. Giving unsolicited advice to friends. Preaching on this blog.

No matter how good your advice is, how useful it is, or how “right” you are…you simply can’t make or force anyone to do, think, or feel a certain way. They have to reach that place on their own.

The solution? Provide people a space for them to explore and make decisions. Listen deeply. Meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.

This is contextual, of course. Sometimes, tough love is needed. When I was in my darkest place, listening to Joe Rogan and having him proverbially grab my shoulders and tell me to get my act together was exactly what I needed.

But I write this in response to what I see so many people doing (including my past self). That is: Feeling frustrated because you’ve given a person the correct answers and they keep doing the same things.

But the correct answer isn’t enough. We all know what simple things we could be doing to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. Yet we don’t do them.

Why? Because we have to come up with those answers (and why they’re important) on our own.

In the life coaching sphere, we say, “Coach the person, not the problem.”

We all have similar problems but we differ in how we see them and how they’re impacting us.

It’s hard work, but we must be a guide, not a boss, if we want to bring about change.

A guide helps people maneuver through places they want to go. A boss tells people where to go.

You’re nobody’s boss. But you could be a guide to anyone.

Remembering

We know how to live better lives.

We know that:

• being fitter will make us look and feel better
• more time on social media will make us more anxious
• staying up super late will make us exhausted the next day
• more time with loved ones and with our passions will make us more fulfilled
• expanding our comfort zones will provide us more opportunities….

So why do we struggle with all these things we know to be true?

Because in a sense, the day to day hustle and bustle of life clouds our vision. We get distracted. We forget.

When I’ve had a long ass day, my brain’s not thinking about how to optimize my wellbeing before bed; it’s craving the dopamine of watching another YouTube video as I slide under the covers.

I’m thinking: Yes, I know that in the past staying up late watching YouTube makes me more tired when I wake up and it makes the day harder…but this time, I really need to stay up and watch YouTube.

I forget.

Then, like clockwork, I wake up the next day and remember…usually with some self-loathing.

But what if I was able to remember before suffering the consequences?

One strategy I use to remember is by reinforcing the fact that I tell myself lies.

“I won’t regret: staying up late…eating a sixth donut…skipping the gym…blowing my friend off…”

Lies. All of them.

One of my best friends once said:

“Resistance always comes in reasonable forms.”

Our forgetting what is good for us always seems rational in the moment. It’s only after the fact that we see what’s really going on.

Let’s get in the habit of remembering what we already know.

Otherizing

It’s incredibly easy to “otherize” someone.

They’re just another:

• refugee
• thug
• liberal
• Republican
• straight white man
• bossy woman

But if you were to go up to any individual who ticks the boxes for any of these categories…after one conversation, you’d discover a complex world of struggle, stress, and livelihood.

Take me for example.

I’m a straight white man—as are many of my closest friends.

Does that encapsulate me? Does that define who my friends and I are as human beings?

I certainly recognize and acknowledge the privileges I have, but no one who knows me would say I’m just another straight white man.

Yet when we don’t know a person or a group of people intimately—regardless of their size, shape, or color—it’s all too easy to place them in a box.

I used to think that super left-wing people were overemotional and irrational.

Only when I actually put in the time to have good-faith debates and discussions with the more liberal-minded people I knew…did I begin to see my error in thinking.

When I wouldn’t get yelled at for stating my opinion…when I would hear reasonable and well-constructed arguments…I would think, Wait, but they’re liberal. Aren’t they supposed to be crazy emotional and triggered right now?

I was otherizing them.

Conclusion

No matter how much you think otherwise, you can’t actually know a person until you get to know them.

You don’t have to love them or agree with them, but you can recognize that they are in fact a human being—made of the same set of organs, bones, and worries that you’re made of.

Picasso’s napkin

Beautiful mural of a colorful cat

There’s a popular anecdote in the personal development world that accounts one woman’s encounter with Pablo Picasso.

Much of it has been lost in translation but it goes something like:

A woman saw Picasso at a cafe. He was sketching something on a napkin. She went up to him and asked to buy his doodle.

He agreed and asked her for a million dollars.

Baffled, she said, “But that only took you five minutes!”

He calmly replied, “No madam. It took me my whole life.”

The moral of this story is to never undervalue what you do. But I didn’t truly understand it until recently.

After running my own business for several months now, I finally have something to relate that little anecdote to.

At some point in my life, I’ll charge someone $100,000 a year for my coaching. Is that because I’ll be spending 80+ hours a week with them?

No.

They won’t just be paying for sessions with me. They’ll be paying for everything it took to get me to that point.

• All the thousands of dollars I spent on coaching and programs for myself.

• The countless hours of being on the brink of tears from doubt, uncertainty, and fear.

• The hundreds and hundreds of conversations I’ve had with people—powerful and awkward alike.

• The journey of my life: From attempting suicide to getting my shit together (and wanting to help others get their “shit” together).

So…when I get to that point, when someone asks me why it costs $100,000 for one year of coaching, I’ll simply tell them that they’re not paying for one year.

They’re paying for my entire life.