Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Unleash your inner beast

Each of us is born with a beast inside. This beast will try anything and is not afraid of failure. This beast includes unique gifts and interest that are woven into our DNA.

The problem is that as we start to grow up, we let fear take control. Fear starts asking questions like what if I fail? What if I look foolish? What if no one cares? And fear starts telling you that you do not have the right skill, you do not have anything unique to contribute, or that you really have nothing to contribute. Fear holds your inner beast in a cage.

Think about a very young boy. Give him crayons and he starts to draw, give him blocks and he starts to build, set him in front of a piano and he starts playing. Okay, maybe it’s scribbling, stacking and key banging, but the point is that fear of failure has not caged his beast. He is open to exploring and trying new things. If someone set you in front of a canvas with paints or at a piano today most likely you would say “but I don’t know how to paint” or “but I can’t play the piano”. Maybe you can’t, but maybe you can. That funny little thing called practice works wonders, but only after you get over fear of failure.

I paint. I took art classes when I was young and then I stopped. For years (decades) I did not draw or paint. I forgot how much I enjoyed that creative release. I had to learn to let go of the fear of a blank canvas and release my creative beast. Are my paintings the quality of a Picasso, Rembrandt, or Warhol? No, they are not. They are the quality of Kamm, and that is all that matters to me.

The beast is more than just the artistic side of you. It is also the practical, goal minded side that yearns for success. Your beast wants to make things happen. Your beast wants to be challenged and to grow and improve. Maybe there is a project at the office that you want to take on, maybe there is a need that you see but is not a formal project yet. Put together your ideas (the what, they why, and the how) and approach your boss. You may be pleasantly surprised how receptive your boss can be when you do your homework and present a fully thought-out plan. I’ll give you 10 to 1 odds that this is what he/she is waiting for.

Unleashing the beast is moving down the road to fulfilling your potential. Successful people let their beast roam free. They share their passion with the world around them and they stop letting fear limit what they think they can, and what they ultimately do, accomplish.

Your beast is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. Your beast is the true you, your authentic self, in all your glory. It has been inside your entire life, just waiting for you to face any fear you have and unlock its cage anyway. Let your beast out. Share the awesomeness that is you with the world. That is your purpose in life. To bring to the world all that you are.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The 7-Letter Word that you MUST remove from your vocabulary

According to the Oxford English Dictionary there are 170,000 words used in the English language, not including all the variations due to suffixes and prefixes. Each one of us uses between 30,000 and 40,000 words regularly. This variation is due to your education, vocation, geography, hobbies, and interests. The fine folks at Oxford also state that 95% of all written and oral English language communication boils down to just 3000 words.

Think about that for a moment, out of 170,000 unique words, most communication involves just 3000 words. I am asking you today to remove one of those 3000 words from your vocabulary (and trust me, this word is in everybody’s vocabulary).

It is an insidious two syllable word that robs you of experiencing life to the fullest. This seven-letter word falsely makes you feel that you have control of the future; it makes you feel that what you want to happen will happen.

Take a moment to guess what simple word could have that much power.

The word my friends is SOMEDAY.

I know, I know, it does not seem to be that dangerous of a word. Let me assure you that it is and let me share with you how I came to learn the ugly truth of “Someday”.

But before I share that story let me just say that if you already understand that SOMEDAY is a word we need to eradicate, I can only assume you have gone through a rough time and I first want to say I am sorry for whatever that time was, but I also applaud you for pushing through and continuing to move forward. That said, let me explain my rationale on why you must eliminate someday from your vocabulary.

In the fall of 2014, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was scheduled for surgery to remove her ovaries and set a course of treatment. If you have ever been to a hospital while a friend or loved one is in surgery, you know that you are left waiting in a large room while that surgery takes place. Once the surgery is completed a member of the hospital staff will come with an update.

As my son and I waited hour after hour we saw doctors or nurses come out to sit with these waiting families to give them the details of the procedures. After almost 6 hours of waiting a nurse came and asked my son and I to follow her to another room to speak with the doctor. Immediately I was on alert – no one else had been taken away to be spoken with. I know this was obviously not going to be good news.

The doctor came in and informed my son and I that my wife did not have ovarian cancer after all. Turns out that what she had was a very rare form of appendix cancer. Her appendix was basically gone and her ovaries, fallopian tubes, part of her colon and her omentum had to be removed. The doctor explained that the cancer had turned much of her belly into a cancer-filled jelly and even though they removed as much as they could they were certain they did not get it all.

We were told my wife had 12-24 months to live and that the chemo was going to be rough. They were not lying; she went through hell. My wife passed away 20 months later. It was during those 20 months that I learned to reject the word someday.

You see, my wife and I had lots of plans – someday we will visit Niagara Falls, someday we will see Mount Rushmore, someday we will retire to San Diego, someday go here, someday do this, someday, someday, someday. The list went on.

Here is the problem with Someday – it’s too nebulous, it exists only in the air. It allows you to think you are in control and that you will have time to make a plan later.

I no longer believe in someday and I am asking you to give it up as well. Someday is gone – Today is here. Today is what matters. And well we are talking about someday let’s make sure we are aware of the related phrases that are just as misleading to you:

One of these days…

At some point I’ll….

When I get the time ….

When I get the chance….

I should …. (If you SHOULD call your mother – pick up the damn phone and dial).

Now before you think I am being a little too simplistic or a bit unrealistic here let me assure you that I still have a to-do list. The difference now is that my to-do list has dates. Concrete dates and plans to make things happen.

Florida October 2024, Hawaii June 2025, Europe Summer 2026, to name a few.

I am asking all of you to learn from my experience… leave someday in the dust and embrace today, embrace setting hard dates, and embrace planning. Do not let time move past you while you think about (hope actually) that you may have some experience in the future. None of us holds a guarantee on tomorrow. Eliminate someday from your vocabulary and start making specific plans to squeeze the most out of this one life you have.

Trust me, you’ll live a much richer and fuller life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Make Failure your Friend

Failure is an important part of any success equation. In fact, I would say that without failures you will likely never reach the levels of success that you are aiming for.

Failure is a much better teacher than success. Failure stings and failures get burned into your memory. It’s part of how our brains work. Our primitive brains were wired to protect us, to keep us out of danger, and to keep us alive. And although our brains have evolved over the centuries, that basic wiring is still active and looking to protect us. Unless you are doing something extremely dangerous, failure is not going to kill you. But your primitive brain does not know that- it functions as if anything negative could be deadly. That is why it locks the lessons of failure into your subconscious. The primitive brain is thinking “This needs to be avoided. Do not do this again”.

Successes on the other hand are certainly enjoyed and are positive events but the brain does not process the event the same way. The pleasure center releases hormones that make you feel energized and elated, but success events are not retained in the same way as failures. The event is stored more as a pleasant memory and not as a life-or-death lesson.

This subtle difference in how the brain stores failures and success is crucial to achieving success. It is the myriad of lessons learned along the road toward success that propels you forward to your desired destination. Without failures you learn little. Or rather, you retain little. The lessons learned from failure are much stronger memories – your primitive brain is always working to protect you and keeps this information both in more detail and much more accessible than a successful event memory.

That is why you need to embrace failure. In fact, if you are not failing, not making mistakes on a regular basis, I would say you are not trying enough new ideas or activities in your life. You are living your life too safely. Now, I am not in any way suggesting that you become reckless. I am simply saying that trying a new idea, new activity, or a new approach to a challenge will help you develop the skills and mental acuity needed to achieve higher and higher levels of success. Mental stagnation is a success killer.

Failure is certainly not a friend you want to hang around with all the time, but it is also not a friend to be afraid of. You need to understand that failure can and will teach you many lessons over your lifetime. Embrace it, learn from it, and enjoy the personal and professional growth that follows.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Power of a Do-Over

Remember when you were a young child playing miniature golf and instead of your ball gliding smoothly between the rocks in the fairway it bounced off one of those rocks landing in the grass. Inside you were upset but your mom picked up your ball, brought it back to you, and announced you had a do-over. She gave you an opportunity to do it over, to start again.

Well guess what my friends, we all have that same opportunity every single day. Every morning is a new start for every one of us. Do-overs are not just for childhood games but are woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

Had a tough conversation at work yesterday? Had a disagreement with your spouse or other family member last night? Each morning you are blessed with the opportunity to do better; a do-over to strengthen relationships and move forward. It’s not about ignoring or pretending what happened yesterday didn’t exist. It happened. But you always get the opportunity to reassess and reconnect on a human level.

Not truly happy with the direction your life has been heading? Not happy with the quality of interactions with people in your life? Use your daily do-over tomorrow and start different. You have more control over your life than you likely realize. Much of what you receive is a reflection of the attitudes and energy you are sending out into the world. Don’t be an Eeyore from Winnie-the-Poo fame. “Woe is me” attitudes are exhausting for both you and everyone you encounter.

Eeyore has a constant loop playing in his head. “I’m a screw up. I can’t do anything right. I’ll never amount to anything. I’ll never be happy.” The sad fact is that as long as he, or you, or anyone, has this or a similar script running through their head their life will never turn around.

Thoughts carry weight, and thoughts come before actions. Each daily do-over provides an opportunity to change the internal script. You must take control of your internal conversations. You must tell your brain no. “I am sorry Mr. Brain, but you are wrong, and I am not that person. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of respect.”

Change your internal script and you can start to take advantage of today’s do-over. It will take time but as your thoughts become more positive you will actually start to re-wire your brain and you will start seeing opportunities and feeling the love that has always been around you. It was just that your negative thoughts, and the negative energy you were sending into the world, kept pushing them away.

Seize the opportunity for a do-over every single day. Live your life with intentionality. Take control of the conversation running in your brain. Harness its power to help you live the life you deserve.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Enough with the Hacks already


I am so tired of seeing post after post for a whole host of life hacks. 7 Hacks for financial security. 6 Hacks to improve productivity. 4 Hacks to a better body. In this world of instant gratification, I get that people are looking for the quick and the easy. But I just need to step in here to tell you that quick and easy rarely gets the job done.

Instead of seeking out and trying the latest hack or shortcut, why not try something unique and effective (and old school). Consistency and Discipline. I know, I know, how dare I rain on your “I want it now” parade. But let’s just be totally honest here – hacks provide short term results. I agree that there are ways to use technology to make your life easier (save time or stay more organized for example), but hacks just don’t cut it for major life changes or improvements.

Let’s take fitness for example. Only by controlling your diet and consistently exercising can you ever expect to improve your fitness level. Even just 10 minutes every day (YES, every day) can yield significant results for your health over time. Physical health as well as mental health. Think marathon, not sprint. You are getting fit for a better life, over the course of your life.

What about finance hacks? Again, short term thinking. Sure, you can come up with a side hustle that increases income but unless you are disciplined and consistent that side hustle will not grow. And sure, you can find items to cut in your budget, but budget cutting never leads to wealth building or financial security. You need to develop a long-term financial plan, have the discipline to follow it, and consistently review and adjust your course as life events unfold (marriage, children, new job, promotion, downsized out, etc.)

A hack will not make you successful. Success is largely predicated on focus, discipline, and consistency. I firmly believe that everyone can achieve the success levels they desire, but first they need to: 1) define what success means to and looks like for them, and 2) put together a plan of action to continually move themselves forward.

The only thing certain about life is that it will always throw curve balls. You must build your Consistency and Discipline muscles daily so that you have the mindset and ability to respond to the curve balls and not just be thrown into a reactive spiral. Success is available for anyone who will put in the effort and spend time becoming a master at their craft. Success rarely comes to (or stays with) people just looking for or trying to use a hack to sidestep the discipline and consistently needed for the long haul.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Success, Satisfaction and your Soul


True success comes with deep satisfaction. If you have hit your target income level, bought the right house in the right neighborhood, have the fancy car or maybe the corner office but do not feel truly happy and satisfied with yourself or your life I would suggest that your success benchmarks are incorrect.

As Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows us, the two lowest levels are Physiological and Safety needs. These lowest levels are important but do not provide us with long term fulfillment, satisfaction, or happiness. The first two levels are basic life needs, also known as deficiency needs, which need to be met before you can move to higher levels. It is not until you move further up Maslow’s pyramid (into growth needs) that one begins to feel a sense of true accomplishment and satisfaction.  Everyone needs to have their Physiological needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep) and their Safety needs (personal security, employment, health, resources) met before they can move up the pyramid into the three growth levels.

If you really think about it, all the achievements listed at the beginning of this article only fulfill the deficiency needs. A higher income, nicer home, etc. certainly goes beyond basic needs and can make you good temporarily, but they do not help meet your higher-level needs, or as I would say – they do not feed your soul.

Your soul wants (nay – needs) you to push your growth forward and to become the person you are destined to be. You have greatness in you. You have the ability and the responsibility to engage and contribute to the world around you. You must help lift others higher as you progress. True success is not about you – it’s about what you are doing with the gifts and talents you were born with to help others grow and achieve more than they feel possible. 

It is in helping others develop and shine that you will feel that overwhelming sense of satisfaction with your life that you are internally craving. Focus forward, focus on others. That is how you feed your soul. That is how you become a true success.