The best FLIPping month ever!

I finished reading FLIP the Gratitude Switch by Kevin Clayson.  I first heard of Kevin and his book on the Becoming Your Best podcast. It’s a great podcast about success principles behind the transformation we undergo in order to become the best versions of ourselves.  They interview lots of super successful people in a variety of industries that exemplify these principles.  The episode with Kevin Clayson can be listened to here.

In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much from the book.  Mr. Clayson sent me a free copy, and my assumption was that another self-promoting, struggling author/coach was just hoping for some traction in his struggle to get his empire off the ground.

Boy was I wrong.  I’ve been able to connect and interact with Kevin through social media.  He’s the real deal.  He’s already had tons of success and is not likely to stop soon.  I love that he remains accessible to his readers and clients, he is authentic, and he’s one of the “good guys” that sincerely cares about you!

I’ve had the book for some time now, but just recently got around to reading it. It was an opportune time.  I’ve had a few struggles of late that unfortunately I had allowed to affect my attitude. I was focusing on my shortcomings, failures, and struggles.

In FLIP the Gratitude Switch, Kevin explains:

I believe that most of our insecurity stems from the perception of lack, but if we become thankful for what we have, then there can be no perceived lack. If there is no [lack], then there is no reason to be insecure.

I sensed the truth of his words, and decided to take action to stop feeding my insecurities with my bad attitude and poor choice of focus.  Kevin does a great job of explaining how to do this.  The steps are simple, and the execution of them can be if we allow it.  It’s as simple as flipping a light switch.

Think of the flipping of the switch as the simple act of choosing to consciously express, feel, and experience gratitude no matter what life may throw at you.

 

Clayson gives the 4 step process of how to do this:

Find the frustration – acknowledge that something is bothering you. (Most of us are great at this step.)

Look for what’s awesome – Find the blessing embedded in the hardship. Kevin says, “I’m making the case that there is no silver lining in a challenge… because the whole cloud is made of pure gold.”

Initiate gratitude – Choose to experience gratitude for the blessing embedded in your frustration.

Power up with #Gratifuel – use the good vibes created by the first three steps to do it again and make a positive difference in your mentality and in the world around you.

I know the summary of these steps is way too limited, but I did that intentionally in hopes that you would like to let the master of FLIPping the gratitude switch teach you himself.  You can buy his book here.

In the book, Kevin gives a great example of what it looks like when we choose to FLIP the gratitude switch or not.  Each choice has a ripple effect, and Kevin demonstrates that through the day of a manager who is about to head out the door to work.  His daughter enthusiastically jumps into him to give him a loving hug goodbye, and the man’s smoothie spills all over his shirt.

In the first example, the man gets angry, which hurts his daughter, damaging his relationship with her? His anger at running late makes it easy for him to choose to act out toward others in traffic and at work. A supervisor sees him being a jerk to his employee, and the man is passed up for a promotion.

The second example starts the same way, but instead of giving in to frustration and anger, the man decides to FLIP the gratitude switch and express his gratitude for having a daughter who loves him so much. He then avoids being a jerk in traffic and has great interactions at work that impress his boss and earns him a position as a manager of his own store – which was the man’s goal for some time!

It struck me how true these patterns are, and how far reaching the choice to give into anger or to be grateful really is.

But it has to be real, sincere gratitude!

Soulful gratitude… is the act of triggering real emotional gratitude that causes your soul to stir. The only way to trigger the eternal power of gratitude is to initiate it and feel it, and then express it outwardly by feeling it as you express it.

You need to feel the words, not just say them.

I’ve already engaged in this process a bit (you can read about one instance in my last blog.), but I recognize that it needs to be a daily, intentional habit.  So I decided that November is the PERFECT month to make the best FLIPping month ever! I will be sharing on my Facebook page at least once a day an opportunity that I have taken to FLIP the gratitude switch.

My hope and expectation is that this will catapult my mentality and emotional state to a new level that will allow me to access a heightened ability to succeed in all areas of my life.  If you would like to join me, leave comments below or on my Facebook page of how it goes for you!

I want to thank Kevin Clayson one more time for sending me a copy of his book.  I truly enjoyed it and plan to reread it multiple times.  I’m excited for his next book and hope I can see him speak at an event in the near future.

Thanks Kevin!

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5 Reasons why becoming an entrepreneur is the most effective way to promote the cause of liberty

PREFACE: This is a topic that has been near to my heart for a long time, but the decision to write this came after listening to several episodes of a fantastic podcast that nails this theme over and over. The podcast is called Society and the State by Connor Boyack and Bryan Hyde, who are both extremely intelligent and principled guys that are making a difference in powerful ways. If you skip reading this and just go listen to them by clicking here, you would be in great hands!

Statue-of-Liberty-Credit-Ana-Paula-Hirama

I believe that with the more liberty we have the better off the world will be. Liberty is defined differently by different people. For simplicity’s sake and for this article I will define liberty as the freedom to exercise and defend one’s inalienable rights: life, liberty, and property as long as your actions do not violate the rights of others.

A crucial component of liberty is the engagement in the laws of cause and effect and responsibility for one’s own actions. I believe one of the areas in which this is exercised the most is in entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is an individual who sees a need and makes a calculated risk to fill that need in pursuit of a win-win outcome between two or more parties. An agreement which connects individuals with desired outcomes through products and services in exchange for something the entrepreneur desires as well. (Usually money)

Entrepreneurship is demonstrated in many ways, including starting a home based business, purchasing and running a franchise, starting one’s own business, or even to some extent intrapreneurship, which is treating one’s job as if one has ownership and thereby maximizing one’s engagement and outcomes.

Too often I encounter individuals who profess an intense devotion to the cause of liberty. These individuals tend to voice frustration at the overwhelming expansion of government regulations, nonsensical rules, and the violation of their rights. Overwhelmingly, in my interactions with these individuals I end up disheartened as their contribution to the cause seems to be limited to identifying and whining about the issues that annoy them most.

I often ask, “But what are you doing to change things and make a difference?”

The answer is usually in one of two camps: I don’t know what to do OR I know what to do, but can’t effectively get involved due to limited time, money, and resources.

Nobody is ever inspired by a whiny baby. Whining about how “our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves over this gross violation of our liberties” will not return freedom to our lives. It won’t.

My most frequent response now is to ask the frustrated individual if he would consider entrepreneurship. I believe entrepreneurship is the most effective way to promote the cause of liberty. Here are 5 reasons why I believe this to be true:

entrepreneurship

Personal Development – A truly successful entrepreneur MUST improve himself. Success has more to do with mindset than the opportunity, economy, or any other external factor. I have witnessed individuals make massive incomes in multilevel marketing companies with gimmicky products and sub par compensation plans. Those limitations didn’t matter, because those individuals obsessively chased success. They had a mindset of a winner.

The business world is full of examples of entrepreneurs whose ideas were massive successes, even though their business professors said they were doomed to failure. (IE: FedEx) If your dream, passion, and commitment are unwavering, you are destined to succeed. The only way I know of to maintain that mindset is through intentional nurturing of the mind and expansion out of old “comfort zones.”

Reading good books, listening to relevant podcasts, audios, and seminars, and associating with other individuals focused on success are essential in this journey. I have studied CEO’s of major corporations, successful freelance writers, internet marketers, business owners in direct sales and mlm’s, and icons in the personal development and coaching field. One thing they have all said is that their journey started with personal growth. Most of them mention books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, The Greatest Salesman in the World, The Magic of Thinking Big, and so many more as being transformational in their journey to success. And foundational to that success was being able to clearly see the result they wanted and chase down that dream undauntingly.

Success thinking and habits empower us to fix our sights on our personal contribution to the cause of liberty and fortify us against the opposition that inevitably will challenge us as we engage in our quest to make a difference.

Leadership – Note that the success of people in the areas I mentioned previously all depended on their ability to influence others in a positive direction. One cannot have lasting success without developing the ability to rally people to their cause by giving them a sense of purpose, worth, and fulfillment. Learning basic “people skills”, the art of effective communication, how to interact with different personality types, negotiate win-win outcomes, conflict resolution, etc. are key skills of leaders.

To make a real difference we need to shift into a leadership role and get away from the divisive, failing methods often employed by passionate yet ineffective individuals. Stop arguing and start influencing.

An integral part of this transition to leadership is working with a mentor. As we interact with an individual who has the results we want and allow them a place of trust in our life, they can identify blind spots and help us leverage our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. We will also learn how to be that mentor for others. It is through this process of trust that we will gain quantity and quality of people who will help move our cause forward.

Understanding of Economics – I believe that economics is key to understanding liberty. It can be a great unifier. Left or right of the political spectrum doesn’t matter when gas and grocery prices hit an all-time high, causing financial strain on our families. As we learn the forces behind this erosion of our financial well-being we realize that regulations, although often well-intentioned, are often the cause of our struggles. As Frederic Bastiat taught, all actions have effects which are seen or desired, but they all have unseen consequences that actually end up being more powerful in the end.

A study of the principles of economics is actually quite simple and refreshing. Unfortunately economics has been propped up as a complicated, mathematical process better left to the “experts.”

Ironically these experts are the ones clamoring for the very policies that create the boom-bust cycle of business. To clearly see what I’m writing about, watch the YouTube video called “Peter Schiff was right”. It contains news clips of the “experts” back in the mid 2000’s boasting about how the economy had never been better. Schiff, on the other hand, points out that it was a huge bubble caused by inflationary tactics, and that the housing bubble was on the brink of collapse. The crazy thing is after the crash, the news outlets returned to the same fools who couldn’t see the catastrophe coming and instead argued for the very things that caused it, and the newscasters ask these so-called experts for solutions!

As individuals fight to get their business going, they quickly see how many regulations are detrimental to their efforts to succeed. They also learn how to navigate the portions that benefit them, like the tax code being highly preferential to business owners. My wife and I have a home based business that gave us access to thousands of dollars of legal tax deductions last year. This significantly increased the amount of money that stayed in our household.

If you helped someone keep thousands of dollars in their own hand to do with as they pleased, can you imagine how much more trust they might have in you and the ideas you share with them about why their success and yours is important in the promotion of liberty? If they already agree with you about the principles of liberty, then how much more likely are they going to be to either support or create efforts beneficial to the cause.

Options – People tell me often, “I would love to make more of a difference and get involved, but I have to work that day.” or “I can’t afford to donate right now.”

My mentor once asked me what my priorities were. I answered without hesitation: God, family, and country. He then asked me to lay out my week. We each have a weekly budget of time. We all get the same amount of time. He asked me to put a number to each activity that put time. God got single digit quantity of hours; family was a bit better, country a lot worse. Sadly, the majority of my time was allocated to my job that didn’t directly contribute to my priorities and in fact detracted from them often!

When I do go to events and seminars I seem to rub shoulders with two types of people – those without any gainful employment, and therefore no means to make a large-scale difference, and those who have their own businesses and are masters of their own time and resources, who not only can and do donate, but also understand that they can write off many of those donations.

Freedom – This is an extension of #4, but even bigger. Right now the average American family is losing a third of their income to service debt and another third to pay taxes. The remaining third is being devalued at an alarming rate due to inflationary monetary policy like quantitative easing.

More and more individuals are becoming dependent on government programs for their basic needs.

The importance of freedom here is twofold. First, there is an integrity issue with a person accepting or depending on government programs who is yelling at people about the importance of limited government. Secondly, there is fear to lose that “support” if one dissents. It’s like having a job that sucks, but you depend on it. You have a mean, authoritative boss. You want to change things, because the company has potential, but if you speak up you legitimately fear retaliation from your boss.  Change the word boss for government, and you get the idea.

I love meeting successful entrepreneurs who have large networks, great positive cash flow, no debt or dependency on government or other institutions, no boss or corporate agenda to dictate what they can or cannot do. They are free to speak their minds and support who, what, when, and where they want to. It’s a beautiful thing, and I believe that if we help get one million people to live this kind of freedom we will correct many of the issues threatening our liberties.

What do you think? What isn’t on my list that should be? What did I get wrong?

I would love your feedback here and on my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

I love that we get to experience things in patterns!

Often I learn a new principle or I am reminded of something I knew previously, and suddenly I have several experiences, conversations, or other exposures to that exact principle within the next days to weeks.

This just happened this week.  Just a couple of days ago, I posted my weekly video which was about Reframing.  That same day I decided to finally get around to reading the book: FLIP the Gratitude Switch by Kevin Clayson. (I don’t remember the exact manner in which this happened, but Kevin sent me a copy of his book with a personalized note in it.)

FLIP the Gratitude Switch: A Simple Formula to Change the Trajectory of Your Life

I’m only about halfway through, but already I have learned a lot about reframing our moments of frustration into moments of gratitude and positivity.  In fact, after my first few minutes reading essentially just the introduction and foreword, I was already inspired to act on the idea of choosing to exercise gratitude.  I hadn’t learned Kevin’s perspective yet, but intuitively I felt an idea of where it would take me and I started acting on that impression the very next day.  I’ll share one experience I had that day.

I was ready to get home from work, and as often is the case there was a LOT of traffic.  I also have to cross a train track to get home, which at times delays my commute.  I was already worried about the long line in the left turn lanes and added onto the situation a heavy dose of negative speculation that this was the type of day that I would also get stuck on the wrong side of a train.

Well, there wasn’t a train, but there was a fire truck.  The fire engine had to use the wrong side of the road to get past traffic at the intersection, which prevented the turning lanes from moving at all.  We missed our green arrow.

Tragic, I know…

The moment of frustration immediately shattered for me as I thought about how emotionally responsive I was being to a matter of a few minutes.  I thought about FLIP the Gratitude Switch and decided to give it a try.  I quickly thought with sincere, heart-felt gratitude that I was really lucky to live in a place with first responders who were competent and readily available in case I ever experience and accident or other emergency.

My grumpiness converted to peace and happiness in just a simple moment.  Just because I FLIPPED the Gratitude Switch.  I didn’t even really know what that meant yet, but regardless it made a huge difference.

Since that day, I have been exercising my “gratitude muscles” often, and my mood has been much improved because of it.

I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Kevin’s book.  I’m sure I will write more about it, and hopefully I can connect with Kevin more in the future.

He seems like an amazing guy.  I love that even though he has done some amazing, big things, he remains accessible and has responded to me on Facebook on more than one occasion.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to associate with champions like Kevin, who courageously pursue their mission and purpose, and it is such a blessing to see how they are impacting the world because of it!

FLIP the Gratitude Switch: A Simple Formula to Change the Trajectory of Your Life

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Launching a Leadership Revolution

Leadership is the influence of others in a productive, vision-driven direction and is done through the example, conviction, and character of the leader. (pg 7 Launching a Leadership Revolution)

I just finished rereading Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.  This is an amazing book written by two gentlemen who definitely have fruit on the tree in the Leadership Development arena.

INC Magazine does a survey in which they determine the top 50 leadership and management experts in the world. (This includes leadership giants who have passed away) Orrin was ranked #20, and Chris was #39.

I believe this is one of the most comprehensive manuals on leadership and personal development.  After reading it, I feel a little beat up by the realization just how much development I lack in both of these areas.

That’s not a self-deprecating comment.  I acknowledge that in many ways my personal and leadership growth over the last few years is phenomenal, but this book explains in detail the different levels of leadership, the skills and thought process needed to master each of them, and boy oh boy do I have a lot to work on.

It’s a bit daunting to try to summarize such a monumental book as this in a short article, so I’ll just quote the first paragraph of the book’s conclusion:

The concept of the Five Levels of Influence is especially helpful for many reasons. First, it helps an individual gauge his or her own ability and understand how and where to improve. Second, it helps a leader understand where people are in terms of ability and what to do to help them develop. Third it assists a leader in evaluating the Leadership Level that exists in any portion of his or her organization.

Why is it important to lead?

I believe that each one of us was born when and where we were, with our particular interests, dislikes, passions, and personalities for a reason.  All of these together make us who we are and play a big role in guiding us to our personal mission.  I believe we are called to do something great. We are each meant to change the world in a significant, far-reaching way – our destiny, if you will. If we truly seek to fulfill our purpose with all our “heart, might, mind, and strength” we will have a massive, positive impact on those around us and we will experience a personal satisfaction and joy that is inaccessible through any other means.

If we fully develop our leadership qualities – our ability to influence others – our fulfilment of our destiny will leave a legacy that reaches through time to affect generations after we leave our time on earth.

The Five Levels of Influence:

These are the five levels of influence, or leadership, that Orrin and Chris explain:

  1. Learning
  2. Performing
  3. Leading
  4. Developing Leaders
  5. Developing Leaders Who Develop Leaders

I see myself fighting to learn and master the attitude, thought process, and habits of the first three levels.  I can see level 4 on the horizon, but I really feel that I have a lot of growing to do before I am ready to play a significant role in level 4.

But I’m excited to get there! I truly believe that I will live up to my destiny and leave a legacy. I’m sure I’ll talk about that more here in the future. I also know that I will be able to bring a lot of people with me – meaning I will play a role in helping others fulfil their personal missions.

I plan to reread this book at least once a year as I believe it will play a major role in my progress as a purpose driven leader.

 

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People Who Change the World: The Urban Farming Guys

This is part three of a three-part series.  Find part one here and part two here.

The Urban Farming Guys epitomize Gandhi’s quote to be the change you wish to see in the world.  These guys moved to one of the worst neighborhoods in the country.  The neighborhood was a place that politicians and charity groups had written off, because of the high rates of drug use, violence, arson, drop-outs, etc.  It was a place that was running low on hope.  The UFG’s changed that.  They brought hope back, and incredibly their efforts have actually reduced violence and restored the lives of addicts and criminals!

It would be best to see a brief video they made.  They can explain their efforts better than I can, but I’m not ashamed to say I’m a huge fan.  Ashlee and I donated to their efforts.  This is the future of freedom!

I think I was most excited to share with my kids about the Urban Farming Guys, because they are living the lesson I try to teach my family all the time.  God placed us on Earth at a specific time, in a specific place, with a certain family, endowed with unique interests and talents.  He did this for a purpose.  These conditions and attributes all contribute to our personal, individual mission.  When we key into our purpose on Earth we will be the happiest we could be, we will enjoy an immense sense of fulfilment, and we will have the greatest impact on the world around us.

I’ll keep this post brief so you will have time to watch the video, but I want to extend two invitations.  First, check out the Urban Farming Guys and consider donating.  They can be found on the internet here, Facebook here, and on YouTube here.

Second, and most importantly, spend some time brainstorming what your God-given purpose is.  Don’t be lazy about it.  Don’t assume it is your profession.  (Here’s a hint – it probably is NOT your profession.  I feel that the fact that over 80% of Americans are dissatisfied with their job is a symptom of people finding work in areas that do not align with their passion/purpose.) What are some interests you’ve had for a long time but never gave the time and resources you wish you had?  What’s a business idea you’ve mulled over that you were afraid to pursue? What’s an issue in society that boils your blood?

These might be areas that you were meant to be involved with.  Look into it more.  Find a mentor in those areas.  Read books about those interests.  And DO SOMETHING!  You might be surprised just how easily you change the world.

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People Who Change the World: William Kamkwamba

This is part two of a three part series.  Read part one here.

As a young boy I often had persecutory nightmares.  Someone would be chasing me or trying to kill me.  A few times I got to a point in the dream where I was stretched to my limit of stress and frustration.  I was tired of running.  A simple, small thought would come to me: This is just a dream and it is YOUR dream.  Change it.

So I would.  I fought back.  I took control.

I remembered these nightmares as I contemplated William Kamkwamba’s story, because there is some parallel.  I don’t think he had the same thoughts as me, but much in his life was like living a waking nightmare.  Instead of running, he took control of a small piece of his life that eventually made a huge difference.

Two things I love most about William’s story is first he did not see life as a victim and second his journey illustrates many of the principles that I love and learned from Oliver DeMille’s works – primarily A Thomas Jefferson Education.   I love teaching my kids this philosophy.  I love teaching them that they are meant to be great – to make a difference.

William is from Malawi.  A serious drought plagued his country, and many people starved to death.  The family farm was unable to produce a profit, and William was pulled from school, because his family could no longer afford the tuition.  William loved to learn and soon found the library.  His command of English was poor, so he preferred technical books with diagrams that he could understand.  He found a book about windmills which opened a whole new world to him.

William scoured the scrap yards for usable materials.  His former classmates made fun of him.  The people in his village thought he was crazy.  Even his mother told him to stop, but William kept learning and experimenting.  Eventually he built a working windmill that brought power to his home.

Soon the reporters came, and the poor, uneducated boy from Malawi was brought to an international stage.  William spoke at a TED event to share his story.  You can find the video here.  A year or so later he spoke again at a different TED event to explain more.  You can watch that video here.

“I tried and I made it.”

I love that Williams dedication to a dream led him to further opportunities to learn.  He attended college in the US and applied his education to expand his dreams and put them in place.  Already additional windmills and solar panels were brought to his village and William dreams of a day where all the fields are irrigated from wells instead of relying on the rain.  His dream will be powered by alternative, sustainable energy.

William’s story is an inspiration to me.  I highly recommend reading it in his book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

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People Who Change the World: Elon Musk

I LOVE being a dad of boys in Cub Scouts!  It’s a lot of fun to watch my boys get excited about achieving goals.  The program exposes them to a lot of new ideas and reinforces values we teach in our home.  They’re learning new skills and developing character.  And it’s fun!

Ephram and I had a great time with a requirement that said: Find three stories that tell how people are protecting our world.  I shared with him the stories of three “people” that I look up to a lot.  I will write about this in four posts – three about the people, and one with some insight about why the process they’ve followed is the best way to make a positive impact on the world.

Elon Musk

Elon-Musk-1

Elon Musk is an amazing entrepreneur.  He’s an anomaly in the popular image of what a capitalist mogul is.  We often think of the powerful, rich, uncaring man who amasses wealth without a care for the world or its denizens.  (There’s a lot wrong with this perception, but that’s a topic for a later post.) A simple exploration of Musk’s business achievements obliterates this perception.

Ephram and I watched some videos about Musk’s company SpaceX, which is notable for making space travel possible at lower costs than previously possible.  They’re also making huge strides in manufacturing that will increase efficiency, reduce waste, and open the door for drastic improvements in complex components like rocket engines.

SpaceX is amazing, but my respect for Musk really comes from his work with Tesla.  Since being a kid I’ve looked at electric cars with disdain.  They either looked stupid, performed poorly, or most likely both.  It was like the auto industry manufactured a few electric cars in a way that turned people away from wanting to buy the very product they made!

Musk changed the rules.  He said that they would make a car that was world-class in performance (not compared to the previous models of electric cars, but compared to the world’s best gas-powered vehicles!), aesthetics, elegance, and technology.  He refused to accept that devoting attention and resources to one of these areas necessarily meant sacrificing in the other areas.  The result is electric cars that are in my opinion some of the coolest cars on the road.

He even bypassed the outdated, expensive model of dealership sales.  By selling direct he improved on the process of buying the vehicle with plans to make future models more accessible to the public.  And if you doubt his sincerity in making this TYPE of vehicle (notice I’m not saying just HIS cars) accessible to all, let me finish with the last tidbit that is the most amazing of all and the reason that I think he’s one of the most important figures in protecting the world: He released the patents held by Tesla – inviting competition and improvement on his designs.

Amazing!

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