Now

I’ll contradict myself by saying you should always be aware that the present moment is all that exists.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that how you feel right now is how you’ll feel forever.

Things will get better. Things will get worse. And on and on…

Age

The greatest leader I’ve ever worked with is 23. The guy who is breaking records at my company (and on track to make $150K this year doing what I’m doing) is 22. I also know people from past jobs who are damn near 40 and act in the same spirit as my teenage sister.

I find the cliche “Age is but a number” cheesy, but I respect the sentiment.

While it can be helpful to create milestones for our goals, I don’t think it’s useful to set requirements for people to reach by certain ages. I say this with bias of course.

I tell people often that it took me 23 years to learn how to grow up (i.e. develop habits which demand I take care of myself). At the time, I was thinking, “God dammit. Why has it taken me this long to get moving?” Now I’m thinking, “Thank God I got moving.”

Some people find their feet early in life. Some think they have everything figured out and then realize they are living the life someone else chose for them. Some just lack direction and clearly-defined values. No matter how structured someone is, we’re all pretty much living in chaos. Once you realize that, a weight is lifted.

A solid prescription for this chaos is this (no matter your age or where you stand):

Clearly define your principles and values. Seriously, write that shit down on paper. What are you working toward each month, week, day? Iron it down.

What would your actions look like if you knew you couldn’t fail? Do that shit.

I’ll end with a quick story. I do JiuJitsu with a guy who’s 48. He’s irritatingly good at controlling his opponents limbs and each time we roll, I feel like a helpless child. We exchanged a short dialogue after class once…

Me: “You’re incredibly intelligent with your movements.”

Him: “I have to be. Everyone I roll with is younger and in better shape than I am.”

Me: “When did you start doing BJJ?”

Him: “When I was 40.”

It’s never too late to start taking steps which will make your life more fulfilling, more fun, more meaningful…Start today, so five years from now you can say that you’ve been doing it for five years…As opposed to saying that you thought about doing it five years ago…

Amateurs and Pros

The difference between amateurs and pros is simple:

It’s not level of talent or quality. This comes with time…

It’s that the Pro shows up each and every day and does the work.

The amateur does the amount of work they feel like doing at a given time.

Be a pro. Do the work.

Off Days

One of the toughest truths to realize in terms of living a disciplined and organized life is this:

You don’t get to take days off.

You show up to work everyday. It’s not like you exercise regularly for a year, and then you’re just in shape for the rest of your life. It has to be maintained.

We don’t clean our rooms and have that be the end of it. We do little things to make sure it’s tidy each and every day.

I suppose you could take a day off…but that just makes it ten times harder to get back on the horse the following day.

2 Tests

Steven Pressfield’s two tests of Resistance from Do The Work:

1) “How bad do you want it?”

Dabbling-Interest-Intrigued but Uncertain-Passionate-Totally Committed

If your answer is not the one on the far right, stop doing this thing.

2) “Why do you want it”?”

• For the babes (or the dudes)
• The money
• For fame
• Because I deserve it
• For power
• To prove my old man (or ex-spouse, mother, teacher, coach) wrong
• To serve my vision of how life/mankind ought to be
• For fun or beauty
• Because I have no choice

If you checked 8 or 9, you get to stay on the island.

Who’s Better?

You have abilities and pieces of knowledge that I don’t have.

I have abilities and pieces of knowledge that you don’t have.

Everyone on this planet can do things you can’t do and vise-versa.

The only thing that should concern you is: Can you do more and do you know more than you did last week?

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working with the top performer in our office. I don’t believe that numbers are the most important thing for a company, but his are staggeringly impressive. He’s miles above everyone else. A God looking down among us peasants.

When we sat down at Chic Fil A, he chowed down on a spicy chicken sandwich with no tomato or pickles. He didn’t order nuts or bolts. He didn’t plug himself into the wall during the lunch break. He’s not a robot. He’s a god damn human. We chatted and laughed about silly stuff.

Not that he sees himself in an elitist light, but it’s easy to look up from below and see an otherworldly individual with otherworldly abilities.

We’ve all eaten chicken sandwiches. We can all perform at an insane level. The only thing standing in the way is Resistance and a shit ton of discomfort.

”Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
– Steve Jobs

2 Lives

In between you and the life you were meant to live—the body you want, the job you’re passionate about, the skills which would give you meaning, the beautiful friends and family who support you, all the goals you wish to achieve, the amount of money you need to have the freedom to do as you please…

In between your life and this one stands nothing…Nothing but Resistance.

Steven Pressfield lists the following as the most notorious forms of Resistance:

• fear
• self-doubt
• procrastination
• addiction
• distraction
• timidity
• ego and narcissism
• self-loathing
• perfectionism
• rational thought
• friends and family

Do yourself a huge favor and buy his book The War of Art. It will show you how to identify Resistance, conquer it, and fight your way to earn the life you were always meant to enjoy.

Gods and Ants

Humans are living, breathing contradictions. We are miracles, yet totally insignificant at the same time.

It was a miracle that you were born. The possibility that your parents met each other out of billions of people is astronomically low. The chance of them getting along and then having sex is even lower. And the odds of their combined biology working together to create your genetics, personality, sense of humor, face…is one in trillions. The fact that you’re conscious…It’s like something to be you as opposed to being your neighbor Bill. This should blow your mind.

This has happened for tens of thousands of years. If you continue to trace back your ancestral timeline, you’ll meet those you’ve descended from whom don’t speak English, thought the Earth was flat, had no idea what a germ was, who worshiped the Sun god, on and on until you meet your ancestor who’s walking on all fours and would rather hunt you than hug you.

This is all without mentioning the incomparable odds of our planet being the perfect distance from a star to build and sustain life. How much closer or how much further away from the Sun would make Earth uninhabitable?

Having said all that: You’re totally insignificant. There’s billions of us. From an alien’s perspective, we are just a bunch of ants crawling around Earth…making it our own, protecting our little colonies, eating food and sucking down water (or Mich Ultra) to survive.

We’re just tall, skinny chimpanzees who’re walking around on this giant, floating boulder…which is rotating around with several other giant boulders in the middle of space. We’re here for a spec of time on the scale of the universe. And there are billions upon billions upon shit-tons of planets, solar systems, galaxies, and galaxy clusters out there.

No matter how you failed yesterday, the Earth’s rotation around the Sun hasn’t hesitated in the slightest. The Sun will come up. The neighbors two towns away will continue their lives never hinting at what you’re doing. And if we blew up our solar system, there would be no evidence that our species ever existed.

Understand and appreciate the fact that you are a God. Be humble in your awareness that you are an ant.

For a Month

What if for the next month, you were the best you could possibly be? What would that look like?

What if you only spent money on what you absolutely needed?

What if you exercised three times a week?

What if you ate well and didn’t lose yourself to cravings?

What if you got 7-9 hours of sleep each night?

What if you got up each morning and destroyed your routine for an hour?

What if you wrote down your short-term and long-term goals?

Who would you be after that month?

In Your Pocket

We spend an average of three and a half hours staring at our phones each day. That’s fucking crazy.

It may seem trivial, but cleaning up and organizing our phones can be incredibly useful. I see it as one small movement which over a long period of time makes for a smoother day to day.

Here’s a great video on trimming up your phone.

Everyday is Wednesday

I’m certain that if I ever get to a point in my life where I’m counting days until the weekend, I’ll be miserable.

My aim is to wake up every single morning with the same enthusiasm and appreciation as the day before.

Wednesday or Sunday are just the names of the day.

Everyday is a vacation. Everyday is work.

Too Much, Too Little

10 years from now, what will you look back at and feel you do too much of or too little of in this moment?

My answers:

• Too much doubting myself (and therefore inaction)

• Not nearly enough quality time and helpfulness with/for my mother

And you?

Stretch

Perhaps it’s my competitive nature which makes me want to be really good at whatever I’m doing. In the past however, this desire led me to quitting things after the first sign of heavy resistance. I’ve since acquired the skill of pushing through resistance head-on to get to the level I want to be.

Most of what we want can be achieved. The issue is that it takes long periods of discomfort and stretching ourselves to get there. So most of us quit.

For a literal example: If you have one intense stretching session, you won’t be able to do a split afterward. You could though, if you instead did a 10-minute stretching session everyday for a year.

Play the long game. Battle resistance everyday. It doesn’t go away.

Your Mission

My mission in life is to inspire people to get the most out of themselves.

This remains true regardless of my occupation, my hobbies, my passions.

What’s yours?

You Never Forget Your First

I follow several entrepreneurship and finance/motivational Instagram pages (because that’s obviously the key to getting rich). Most posts are cheesy but here’s one I truly love:

Your first podcast will be awful.
Your first video will be awful.
Your first article or blog will be awful.
Your first art will be awful.
Your first photo will be awful.
Your first scene will be awful…
But you can’t make your 50th without making your first.
So get it over with, and make it.

3 Mantras

These three things have been a serious help in my stressful life lately. I wrote them down in my phone notes so when I’m feeling overwhelmed I can easily revisit them and remind myself:

• The thing you least want to do is probably that which you most need to do.

• Ignore the voice that’s tempting you with comfort.

• Some people can go straight from A to Z. Others must take the long road—A, B, C, D…all the way up to Z. In the end, both end up at the same place. But those who take the long road have grown more and have learned more about themselves.

Pursuing a Dream

A friend recently asked me if I thought my podcast and blog would ever ‘make it big.’ My response: I have absolutely no idea.

At this rate, it appears to me that it will take years of interviewing bigger and more prominent guests, having more dynamic conversations, and vastly improving the quality of my writing before any ‘success’ arrives.

I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve done. I’ve been able to sit down with some hilarious, insightful, and all around amazing people with which I’ve had conversations I’ll never forget (because they’re recorded). As for this blog, it’s been a delightful way to start each morning—forcing my brain to get going and dumping out some thoughts before my day begins.

Having ‘made it’ is a vague and subjective status. But the magic question is this: Would someone pay to consume my podcast or blog?…I doubt it. Not yet at least.

Following a dream is a beautifully exciting and dangerous thing to do, but it can be done in a responsible manner. If you want to be an author instead of a marketing director, but you’ve never written a book in your life, you’re going to have to do it the hard way. Every waking second you have outside your day job should be spent fine-tuning your craft and ability to create compelling stories. The idea of ditching your cubicle and computer screen is glamorous, but it’ll most likely result in you ditching your food and rent as well.

If you want to be an actor (something I plan on pursing in the future), do it! But if you want to do it full-time, make sure you get really fucking good at it first (…as well as design sets, costume design, directing, writing, makeup, etc). You have to have something to offer before you ask what others can offer you.

”If you embrace control without capital, you’re likely to end up…enjoying all the autonomy you can handle but unable to afford your next meal.” – Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Invest your time and energy in becoming amazing at something before you demand success in it. “Enthusiasm alone is not rare and valuable and is therefore not worth much in terms of career capital.”

Bulletproof

One of the most valuable traits one can acquire is the ability to be bulletproof.

Through practice of meditation and stoicism, we can learn to focus on what is important and ignore what is not. Being a defensive and sensitive person is not a sin, but it does hold you back. It’s often a symptom of focusing on things you can’t control (i.e. what other people think and say).

You can’t control the actions or thoughts of others. The only thing you can control is how you respond to and deal with them. Which, ironically, will affect the actions and thoughts of others.

I’m not advocating for bullying or disrespect, but these things are inevitable. Don’t punch people in the face. Just know that there are assholes out there who punch people in the face and be prepared to defend yourself when you meet them.

”Those who can’t control their own emotions will try to control the actions of others.”

Fog

We often live in fog…our minds clouded by thought and our bodies retarded by unhealthy habits.

Above every cloudy sky is one of clear blue and crystal sun. All you have to do is travel high enough in a plane and you are above any storm plaguing the streets.

Being someone engulfed in fog, it’s difficult to imagine an alternative. But these are things you can do to reduce the fog ten-fold:

• exercise regularly (20 minutes per day, or gym 3 times per week)
• write your thoughts and goals down
• get 8 hours of sleep
• drink more cold water
• stop eating simple carbs (bread, pasta, sugar)
• only check social media for one allotted hour each day
• keep your phone on do not disturb mode

In Our Heads

“I am not what I think I am. I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”

It’s kind of a mouthful, but this is how we often live our lives. Most of our consistent suffering happens in our minds. I have been so insecure at times I found it impossible to keep up basic conversation.

We can get so wrapped up about or futures. We hold on to past memories. We focus on what others think about us. And worst of all, we question if we’re good enough (I ask myself this everyday). Good enough for what?

One of my best friends has crippling anxiety for which she takes medication…this isn’t directed at her. But…the next time you feel yourself spiraling down into the rabbit hole of negative thought, look around you and pay close attention to what is actually going on. What’s most likely happening is you’re just sitting in a chair in a room breathing. Try to pinpoint each thought as it arrives and see where it goes. After doing this a few times, you’ll realize there’s really nothing there.

Suffering

Anything worthwhile in our lives deserves suffering.

What I mean by that is that we should spend a great deal of time being uncomfortable if we want to experience fulfillment and meaning out of the things we love. Obviously I don’t think we should whip ourselves as we’re gardening in the front yard, but you know what I mean.

Stephen King said he only became a high-level writer because he spent years sitting at his desk, writing shitty short stories everyday until he developed crazily-interesting ideas and stories.

In the most recent episode of the podcast [#2.3 – How to Get Fit], a body builder and I discuss the key to getting in shape. It’s the key to anything really. You must sacrifice your short-term comfort (suffer) so you may flourish in the long-term.

It’s a simple formula, but it takes time and it takes grit…which are where it loses most people.

Sometimes

I forgot to post yesterday. It’s the first time since the conception of this blog which I’ve forgotten to keep the train moving as promised.

That’s okay. Aside from disappointing a few readers, all that really happened was that it showed me I’m not a robot.

I’m highly stressed with my new job; learning new skills, developing a different mindset, jumping out of my comfort zone…I’m going to make several mistakes.

The key is to fail forward. Embrace the suck. Just don’t stop moving.

When I go through downs like this, I make a simple collection of lists:

• What do I need to do more of?

• What do I need to do less of?

• Am I prioritizing my health (exercise, food, sleep)?

• Who can I call when I’m going through a rut?

What do you do when you’re going through a funk?

Breaking

Last night, someone had the audacity to bring home fresh, Krispy Kreme Boston cream-filled donuts…Donuts are my favorite food.

It’s incredibly damaging for me to eat a pastry (large amount of carbs) on the keto diet. I ate three.

Waking up this morning, I feel sluggish and slightly fatigued. I regret the donuts. I almost always do. However, I ate them. There’s nothing I can do about that fact. So instead of feeling like a piece of shit and continuing my garbage ways, all I can do is get back on track.

I used to have the horrible habit of breaking diet or giving into a craving (sweets, skipping the gym, sleeping in, watching hours of shows) and then continuing to do so. It would be like I’d break the seal. I think most of us do that. We eat a donut when we shouldn’t and think, “Well, I already ate donuts yesterday. Why not today as well?” And on and on we go.

But we don’t have to do this. If we simply stop and then ungracefully continue our healthier routine and habits, we impishly get things back on track.

Matt D’Avella has a great video on this subject.

Disagreeing

You’ll never agree with anyone 100% of the time. Disagreeing with someone is an inevitable and necessary phenomenon. Yet so many of us treat disagreements as if they are gearing up for battle.

It’s difficult at times to support your ideas while being patient and respectful, but it’s what is needed.

Try not to attack people, but their ideas instead.

Try not to question what people think, but how they think.

Why Do This?

A few days ago, a guy at work asked if I had a girlfriend. When I said I did not, he replied: “Lucky bastard.”

He obviously wasn’t 100% serious, but there was stress and truth in his voice. This blew my mind.

If you’re jealous of someone who is single, why are you in your relationship?

If you’re counting hours until you’re done with work/counting days until the weekend, why are you doing what you do?

These questions are slightly hypothetical. I’m aware there are tons of factors at play when feeling ‘stuck’ at a job or in a relationship. I simply believe if the grass looks vastly greener on the other side, maybe it’s time to consider alternatives.

Continuing

Last night, at my Brazilian JiuJitsu class, I rolled (sparred) with blue, purple, and brown belts…i.e. people significantly better than my white belt ass.

What strikes me each class is how humble those who are skillful are. In BJJ, humility and skill seem to be positively correlated. I mentioned this to one of the brown belts (second highest belt) after he got done manhandling me. His response was simple and inspiring:

”It’s because I’m not better than you [man],” he said. “I’ve just been doing this 1000 times longer than you have. If you continue, you’ll be the same as me…maybe better.”

It’s arrogant to expect to receive fulfillment and quality from something you’ve just started. Professional comedians didn’t begin their careers with Netflix hour-specials. They spent years and years grinding it out in clubs with four audience members…bombing until they crawled their way to opportunities.

No one should do what they hate. But things we want from our lives and careers (e.g. creativity, impact, and control)…we must earn these things. And we earn them by showing up everyday and putting in the work. That’s how he got his brown belt.

For more on this type of philosophy, check out Cal Newport’s incredible and mildly controversial book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In chapter two he shares a quote from Ira Glass, the producer and host of This American Life:

“All of us who do creative work…you get into this thing, and there’s like a ‘gap.’ What you’re making isn’t so good, okay?…It’s trying to be good but…it’s just not that ‘great.’ The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come; that’s the hardest phase.”

What Don’t You Want?

I’ll preach until I’m blue in the face that you should write down the things you want in life. I actually made a video last year on an easy way to set goals for yourself.

But I think it’s equally important to write down the things you don’t want. Defining these things will help you avoid certain habits or begin to steer you in the right direction.

For example, here’s my list…

I don’t want:

• to live for the weekend
• to live without a Why
• to be complacent (to not have a current challenge)
• to put off things I know are important to my well-being
• to have money make me depressed or anxious
• to compare myself to others
• my friends to not get the most out of themselves
• my mom to be stressed all the time
• to wake up at age 60 and regret not doing all the things I wanted to do (pursue my goals, create, love those around me, laugh constantly)…

What don’t you want?

The Danger of Discipline

Once you experience a disciplined, organized life…you’ll never want to go back.

I’m not saying you’ll be structured forever. God no. That takes blood, sweat, and tears each and everyday. But once you taste the sweet nectar of even remotely having your shit together…falling through the wayside will put you in a depression.

This happens to me, for example, when I go on vacation.

Time away from responsibility is rejuvenating and necessary…but too much time away from my routine—drinking often, getting irregular sleep, exercising infrequently, not doing my morning rituals—make me feel like a shell of myself.

As awful as it is, it’s a damn good motivator to get things back on track.

With my new job, I battled this idea for weeks…but I’ve finally accepted the realization that to get everything I need done in the day, I have to change my sleep schedule. This means waking up earlier and going to sleep earlier.

The result: Sacrificing the short term pleasure of my comfort this week and the ability to stay up late with my friends on weekends, for the long-term satisfaction of taking care of everything which makes me feel fulfilled (getting a full exercise in 3-5 times a week, going to JiuJitsu, sitting down for deep work on the podcast, showing up early to get better at my job).

I’ve been up for several hours. I’m sleepy. My bed looks so inviting and cozy. But once I finish this paragraph I’m heading to the gym…because laying in bed for an extra hour doesn’t make me look better or feel better with my shirt off. It won’t make me fit. Be your own personal trainer. Once you live a disciplined life, you’ll find that you’re a pretty good life coach.

Kobe

Our time is limited here. Hug your family. Relax with your friends. Tell everyone you care about that you love them.

R.I.P. Kobe.