Once Bitten? Fight the urge to be shy.
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It hurts when you join a company and a team and while appearing to welcome you and accept you, they lie, scheme or gossip behind your back. We’ve all experienced this at some point either in our work or personal lives.

While it’s true there are many cases where we should practice the old adage, “once bitten, twice shy”, being afraid to emotionally commit and connect can hold us back from some very valuable experiences and relationships.

Opening ourselves up can certainly carry with it the risk of getting hurt or being let down, but it also has the potential to enrich us beyond measure and gives us the opportunity to enrich others and show a strong character even in situations where we are mistreated and wronged.

I’m thankful that despite being recently bitten myself, I was quickly presented with an opportunity to commit and trust again and I decided to go “all in” one more time. Giving in to my fear might protect me from potential heartache, but it would also cost me the chance to be part of something incredible. So deep breath, and here we go. Let’s do this.

Unify behind a vision you can believe in, and change the world
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These days it seems that everyone has their sights set on creating their own startup with their own idea. I think its why 37 signals has been unable to sell their successful and money-making Sortfolio site. Everyone thinks they have a better idea; a sure way to make Instagram-like billions or have their moment of fame and celebrity status.

I wonder how many will die having held out for their own ideas instead of joining forces with like minded individuals, and by the power of a unified and focused team, created something truly world changing?

“It is amazing how much people can get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit.” –Sandra Swinney

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi

Your playing small does not serve the world
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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others

Note: this quote has been falsely attributed to Nelson Mandela but is actually from Mariane Williamson’s ‘A Return to Love’.

Stay Calm
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I write this post moments after an hour long massage. Though some get massages to relax, I get mine to temporarily “fix”, the damage I’ve done to my body over years of abusing it. After this massage, I will hopefully once again, be able to stand straight up, and without pain.

Upon entering the massage room, I wisely remembered to shut off my phone. The last thing I needed was to hear the phone vibrating on and off for an hour. I’ve never had much of an issue calming my body down. I trained myself to do it in high school and ever since I’ve been able to fall asleep in minutes, at almost any moment and any location. Staying relaxed, I found, was also crucial to my martial arts (a predominant cause to the aforementioned body damage). A relaxed body takes less punishment, expends less energy, and moves faster and with more agility.

Almost immediately following my massage I entered a Greek restaurant for some lunch and work prior to another appointment. I was tentative to enter because I was in such a peaceful and calm state. But, my stomach would not relent with its insistence that I get food and soon, and so I entered the restaurant. I noticed almost immediately that the music playing inside was virtually identical to the music playing during my massage, and yet, the place was anything but quiet and peaceful. It was instead, a bustling room as one might expect during a lunch rush. I attempted to stay calm, while I ordered, took my seat and, riskiest of all, checked my email.

After the flood of email came pouring in, all from only an hour offline, I managed to catch the sound of that calm music still playing amidst the chaos. It reminded me of the importance of staying calm in all situations. I would guess that most of us rarely get enough opportunities for a relaxing massage, a walk in the park, or whatever other calming activity may work best for us. We should do those more for sure, and I highly urge it for both introverts (we seek it naturally), but also to extroverts, who can often find themselves feeling edgy and uncomfortable in such stillness.

It is the calm mind that thinks clearer, faster and with more agility. It is the calm mind that can withstand the extreme forces and stresses we often find ourselves living within.

This was a lesson Bruce Lee, a hero of mine growing up, taught frequently. For example, he said:

Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.

Stay calm.

Never waste energy on worries or negative thoughts, all problems are brought into existence -drop them.

Stay calm.

I’m intense; crazy intense, but I do my best to be as calm as I can and try to hide the internal fire, so as not to scare the children. For whatever reason, everything I do falls into two categories: those I’m intensely passionate about, and those I’m not. There isn’t a lot of in between. I would bet that’s a common attribute of an entrepreneur. It has both pros and cons, but because of it, those of you who are like me, have to take special care to stay calm.

I analyze everything; overanalyze, and that by very definition, isn’t being calm. Thinking while someone else is talking to you? Not calm. Reading in between the lines? Not calm. Second guessing yourself? Also, not calm.

If you find yourself doing any of these, be aware that your mind is clouded and you are distracting yourself, and wasting time and energy. I’ve found that although my mind is capable of deep thinking, innovative problem solving, and seeing things that other’s don’t, it’s often the state of mind of being free from such thoughts (a true state of calmness) that results in the most brilliant discoveries and insights.

It is only through remaining calm that we can attain that laser-like focus, determination and perseverance needed to overcome the setbacks of life, both personal and within our startups.

What do you do to calm down and be alone with and without your thoughts? What could you do today, to bring calm to yourself and take a time out from the distractions and chaos of our high tech, whirling, beeping and buzzing society?

Things I Hate NOT Doing
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I recently read Derek Sivers’ post, What do you hate not doing?, and it happened to be posted right before my birthday, when I traditionally take time out to review my year’s goals and progress, and set new goals for the coming year. A lot of changes in direction have occurred at this annual meeting with myself. I review last year’s personal journal entry, and compare it to the progress I made, then grade myself, record lessons learned, and write my goals for the coming year.

So Sivers’ post was timely and I liked his idea of focusing on what you hate NOT doing, as a way to highlight your passions, so I decided to write my version of, What do you hate not doing? to help me focus on Beginning with the End in Mind for the year ahead.

What do I hate NOT doing?

I hate NOT reading
I agree with Dave Ramsey, when he said: “You’ll be the same person in 10 years except for the people you meet and the books you read“. I don’t think learning ends with reading, but it’s a great place to start. You still have to try and experience things, but, you can save a whole lot of time in your trials, by learning from others, and reading is a great way to do that. You can expand your knowledge and your imagination, and I also find it stirs my creative juices and gets them flowing. Often times, I can’t even finish a chapter in a book without stopping to brainstorm.

I read a lot online all day long, but there is something about reading a book that is much more fulfilling. A book can develop ideas in much more depth than a blog post on the Internet. I pledge to devote more time in my schedule to tackle more books.

I hate NOT working to improve and implement a web site idea
Creating web sites is my biggest passion. I love the Internet and all the possibilities this technology opens up to make our lives easier and more productive, and like reading, it can expand our minds and our knowledge, and, unlike reading, allow us to meet new people and learn from them interactively.

I love the entire process of building an interactive web site, from concept to design and implementation, delivering the product and launching it for the entertainment, educational, or productivity value it provides to the target audience. I plan in the year ahead to continue launching new sites and expanding and improving the sites I’m involved with.

I hate NOT spending time with my family
Of all the things that bring me joy, little can compare to spending time with my kids. I love to watch them have fun, to watch them learn and grow, and experience new things. It’s a joy to mentor them, by sharing my experiences, allowing them to try and fail, and being there to cheer them on regardless of the result of their efforts. Books will come and go, web sites will be launched and taken offline, but continuing the family line and passing on family values to the next generation is truly the best way to leave a legacy.

I hate NOT keeping in good physical shape
This is the area I’ve been weakest in lately, due to both lack of time and past knee injuries. But when a schedule is as packed as mine is, besides passion, the next best source of energy is being in shape. For 11 years, I worked out regularly training in the martial arts, and simply have not found a replacement that motivates me to keep in shape as much as that did. I plan to do a better job with this in my 39th year ahead.

I hate NOT traveling
The contiguous United States alone is over 3 million square miles. Add in Alaska and it grows to almost 4 million square miles. North America is 9.5 million square miles. That’s a lot to see without even having to fly very far. In fact all of that can be seen via road travel. Certainly there is far more to see outside of the U.S. and North America, and this is why I love to travel. Every state and city in the U.S. I go to presents me with a new way of life. It’s amazing how different societies can be from city to city, even within the same country. I love to see the architecture, sample the foods, see the topography, and experience the culture of each new place. It’s also a great way to learn history, and teach it to your kids at the same time. My long term goal is to have an RV and spend a good portion of each year living out of it, particularly during the hot and humid summer months of Florida.

My perfect day
In summary, my perfect day would involve waking up in some new part of the country, preferably somewhere stunningly beautiful, exercising in the morning, enjoying a breakfast with a view of the beauty, while reading one of those books I really want to get to. Then sitting down to work on one of the web sites that really excite me, with a team of equally passionate and skilled individuals, producing useable, helpful, and aesthetically pleasing sites for its users. Then after a 6 hour or so day of that, stopping to enjoy our current location with the family. Teaching the kids about the history of the area we are currently in, and meeting the locals and finding out how they live. Retiring for the evening to watch some good television or a movie, read more, smoke a cigar, and enjoy a great meal with family and friends, both new and old.

So that’s what I hate NOT doing. How about you?