You are not an imposter

You’re not an imposter; you’re just in-process.

You might be a father learning to parent, an employee who is progressing in your career, an entrepreneur hustling to survive, or a couple trying to forge a healthy marriage. That’s good; that’s great.

Life is a process.

Anytime you try something, do something, go somewhere, you’re not going to be an expert, specialist, authority, master.

And it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong, like you’re “faking it.” But you’re not.

For anyone to become a master, you have to be a beginner. You have to muddle through, practice, attempt, fail, then try again and improve.

You’re in-process.

There’s nothing more real than that.

Even experts still need to learn and feel like imposters, because we’re all continuing to learn, grow, and become.

See, to do anything, everyone is an “imposter.” Everyone is between a beginner and expert, student and teacher, birth and death.

And that’s a great place to be. That’s where the adventure is, learnings are found, discoveries are made—life is lived.

So just because you don’t know as much as you want to or feel out of your depth or lack clarity on the future, that doesn’t make you lesser.

It just means you’re on a great journey to better things.

The key is to keep moving forward.


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A better tomorrow is a choice

Your past isn’t you; and your future is always being made in the present.

You’re walking potential. You’re becoming. You’re changing, growing, evolving.

That is, if you choose to be.

You’re not simply who everyone thinks you are. You’re not stuck. You’re not just you.

Decide to make new relationships, form new habits, develop new practices, and amazing things will happen.

Sure, it’s not easy. It’s uncomfortable, challenging, difficult.

But it’s not impossible. It’s within reach. Stretch for it.

And if you do, there is one thing that surely won’t happen. And it’s this.

Regret.

This is the best way to succeed

Failure isn’t an event; it’s a state of mind. No one is truly a failure unless they give up.

I’m not talking about quitting because sometimes you need to quit in order to succeed. Not every venture is worth your time: Sometimes you try something and you find that it’s not working, so it’s good to quit.

To “give up” or failure means that you surrender to the difficulties of life and resign to the sense that “You can’t do it,” any of it—life.

But if you’re still trying and kicking, you aren’t that. You’re just in process.

The key now is to keep at it.

Did you know that Colonel Sanders (a real person) of Kentucky Fried Chicken, didn’t start his famous “finger lickin’ good” franchise until he was in his sixties?

Yeah—true story.

Before getting in the chicken business, he worked all kinds of jobs. And he was a piece of work, ornery and difficult to deal with. He was even fired for knocking out his co-workers.

But he never gave up. He kept going even though he was older, at an age when he should have been thinking about retirement. But he didn’t retire. He fought. Not just with his fists, but he carried on with his mind, gumption, capital, life.

If you keep on living, trying, fighting, you always have a chance of climbing, growing, succeeding.

Keep that in mind and put that into practice and you can’t help but succeed.


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This Is One of the Smartest Things You Can Do

To get smarter you have to feel stupid, sometimes. You ask the obvious question, repeat something back, relearn something you think you should have already learned.

Sure, it can be embarrassing. But, to learn you have to be open to learning. And that means you’re not the master but the pupil, not the teacher but the student, not the expert but the amateur. But it’s worth it.

Your mind will bud, bloom, and flourish. And learning isn’t a flower that dies, it can blossom for a lifetime and can even leave an imprint on your friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and, even, future generations.

You see, the secret to getting smarter is forgetting about looking smarter, but loving knowledge so much that you don’t care about looking stupid to gain it.

That’s the smartest thing you can do.


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Be More Unrealistic

“Let’s be realistic,” is a dream killing phrase, and I hate it. Don’t be realistic. Be foolish.

Do that thing everyone says don’t do. Try that crazy idea that everyone says will fail. Go to that place everyone tells you not to go to.

Failure is better than regret. With the former you learn. With the latter you only wallow.

In a “realistic” world we wouldn’t have personal computers, iPhones, Google, the internet, beautiful art, music, all of the things created by innovators, artists, and those unrealistic dreamers that we all love so much.

In this world where everything seems like it’s going to fall apart at any moment, where it’s unsafe to go out—dream. Create a new world inside of your mind.

Dream big. Dream small. Whatever you do cast your thoughts into a pool of possibilities and wade in it, bathe, swim, play. Submerge yourself in it. Emerge baptized and new.

And when you arise, attempt that “unrealistic” thing you dreamt. Try it. Make it.

You’ll likely fail, but keep at it, learning with each failure.

And who knows you may fly, create the next big thing, realize your dreams.

But whatever happens, you can be sure of this.

You won’t be the same.

You’ll be better.

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Mistakes Are One of the Best Things You Can Make

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is making no mistake at all.

Learning new skills, trying new things, growth, solving problems all involve some sort of failing.

So don’t be afraid to make mistakes; be afraid of never making anything.

See, to create, to get better at a craft, you start by making crap. At first what you make will sound wrong, look bad, feel off.

But that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. No.

You’re just in process. And making mistakes is a part of that.

But as you proceed, you’ll get better, you’ll learn, you’ll progress.

And if you continue, you’ll find with each miss, occasionally you’ll hit the mark. Until one day you never fail to hit it.

Mistakes don’t make you a failure. They make you succeed.

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Just survive

Thriving is great, but sometimes surviving is the best you can do.

Because, you know, life gets crazy.

Jobs get lost, companies go out of business, relationships break, people leave us, we get sick—pandemics happen: crazy: Those are the moments that aren’t controllable and cause us great pain.

Right now, the world can feel like it’s ending and you’re sitting at home worrying. But that only makes things worse.

Worrying makes you despair. But do not do that. Resist. Move forward.

Moment by moment, walk if you can. Crawl if you must.

Start doing what it takes to stay alive. Survive.

Sell that car, extra house, go to a food pantry, self-quarantine, wear a face mask. Do what it takes to live another day.

Who cares if people think you’re doing badly. Who cares if they point and laugh? This isn’t about them. It’s about you.

It’s about you making it to tomorrow, living day by day, getting a fighting chance. That’s it. So appearances be damned.

Make it through today.

These are terrible times. Don’t let your pride or the opinions of others or even your own opinion of yourself stop you from getting through this season.

Take that handout, ask for help, make that request.

Find a way through the crazy.

Survive.


Books to help you survive:

The Outsiders (affiliate): This classic young adult novel will help you get your mind right in this difficult times; it has helped me. And, to be honest, it distracts me from my own struggles so I don’t dwell on them. It’s a great story and wonderfully written and is about the survival of rich and poor kids, who battle each other, but are finding that they both have their own struggles. I hope it serves you well and that you enjoy it as much as I am.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (affiliate): The author, Angela Duckworth, puts forth the idea that talent or genius isn’t what fundamentally drives success. It’s grit. Now, I haven’t broken into this book yet, but it is on my to-read list and comes highly recommended by the people I follow. I mean, grit sounds like something we all need a little bit more of these days.

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This is how you make better decisions

We all want to make smart decisions. And you can, by living in the tension.

Now I’m not talking about the daily decisions like eating a sandwich or salad (get the half and half, of course), or to like a photo on Instagram or not.

Let’s talk about big decisions, like looking for a new job or not, marrying this person or not, moving to a new city or not, breaking up with that person or not.

Those decisions are hard, and scary.

Because they can really change how you live, you take them seriously. You don’t want to derail your life and become a trainwreck.

But instead of trying to figure out what is the best way forward, it’s so tempting to do nothing. You decide not to make a decision. You keep on dating that person that you’re not so sure about, stay at a job that just doesn’t quite seem to be the best fit, keep doing what you’ve been doing even though you hate it.

But that is a decision. Indecision is a decision.

So you might be asking, What should I do instead? Good question.

Everyone has their practices for making decisions: prayer, meditation, journaling, walking, fighting, driving, etc. I won’t tell you which method is best. Everyone has their own style, gait, way. You do what feels right there. But I will tell you this.

To make smart decisions, you need to sit in the tension.

That means sitting in the push and pull of the possibilities, the pros and cons, the uncertainty. You have to straddle the choices and hope nothing jumps up and smacks you in the groin. And you have to stay there.

The only issue is that we hate living like that. All of us want certainty. Everything in us craves it like a stray dog slobbers after food. So we end up making stupid decisions because we want to rid ourselves of the pain of not knowing.

To do that, many of you do the opposite of indecision: You make a rash choice because sitting in the tension sucks. It’s so tense. To make the unknown known as quickly as you can, you just decide even before you really know what you’re doing.

You get engaged even though you see enough red flags to make you feel like you’re walking around Beijing, take that job even though the new manager seems like an ass, move to a city even if you’re not confident it’s the best place for you.

One of the primary mindsets that causes you to decide too quickly is that many of you idealize what something can be, telling yourselves that such and such will work out. So you jump in. But the truth is that things often don’t work out. Marriages break up fifty percent of the time, more people than not hate their jobs, and a lot of people live with regret.

Instead of being idealistic, some of us can demonize an option, not because anything is really that wrong with it. You just think that nothing works out, so why should this be any different. You tend to be a glass half broke type of person. So you turn down anything that comes your way, thinking of all of the negative things that could happen to you. But you’re likely being overly pessimistic, because things rarely go as badly as we think they could. (As much as we think the zombie apocalypse will happen, it probably won’t.)

Regardless if you’re overly optimistic or pessimistic, making rash decisions isn’t a good decision-making process. It’s gambling.

Sure, you can make a quick decision, and sometimes that works well. Life does require assessing risk and taking risks, but it shouldn’t be treated like a roulette table, where we put all of our chips on red just because it feels right. You can get lucky, but that doesn’t mean your decision-making process is good. That doesn’t mean you will consistently make a great decision.

To do that, besides straddling the options, hoping that nothing bops you in the private parts, you need to search for the truth.

To know the facts about the options before you is key. But to do that, you need to do the work. You have to pick up a shovel and start digging. Ask the hard questions to those around you that are relevant to your decision. If you’re looking at a job, look at Glassdoor and read the reviews, talk to people in your network and ask them what it’s really like to work at that company—keep digging.

If you’re thinking about getting engaged but you have your doubts, you need to look at them. Be honest with yourself. When it comes to love, we tend to have rosy glasses on. We do that because we want to spare ourselves and the other person the truth that you shouldn’t be together (knowing that is terribly inconvenient). But you’re afraid of being lonely, so you just wander into an engagement that is convenient but genuinely uncomfortable. It sucks, really. Don’t do that. Shoveling past the smelly crap you are telling yourself will force you to see that you both would be miserable if you take one more step forward in your relationship. And you will likely do the one thing you know needs doing: Breaking up.

Shoveling to find the truth is hard work. It’s painful. You get blisters when you dig long enough. But there’s gold in them hills.

You can also get callouses and feel tempted to dig forever. That’s just going back to indecision.

To mitigate against that, create a deadline. Sometimes one is given to you by a potential employer in an offer letter, or something like that. But when it’s not, make your own. Mark it in your calendar. Tell yourself that you will decide by the time you set.

Of course, make sure you have enough time to dig below your dung pile. That layer can be quite thick sometimes, you know. We can tell ourselves a lot of lies. So give yourself the time to find the truth. And then you need more space to pray, meditate, journal, walk, fight, drive, or whatever you do to make your decisions. So account for that.

While you are deliberating, know that you can’t make a perfect decision. That does not exist. Remember that you are blessed to even have such choices before you. But if you practice sitting in the tension and digging for the truth, you will have a better chance of making a great decision than a poor one.

And you won’t find your life derailed from your decisions. In fact, you’ll realize you’re not even on a train. You’re not a passenger.

You’re an explorer. You’re in a forest. And you’re blazing your own path.

So decide the best way forward for your life.

Then go onward. Life is an adventure.

Decide.

Make the time to do what you love by thinking like this

Sometimes we can think that we don’t have the time to pursue what we’ve always wanted to do.

But, you do. You always do.

Do you know why? Because following our dream is a choice.

You can choose to reprioritize your time, what you do with it, how you fill it.

Stop saying yes to all of the crap that people ask you to do and tell them that you’re committed to something else.

Ok, maybe you have a job and need to eat or feed your family. I get that. But, you’re not at your job all the time.

You can carve out thirty, twenty, ten minutes a day to write that book, start that business, build that thing.

It’s true; you know it’s true. Time isn’t the issue. You are.

Regret is for the birds. So decide to follow your dream right now. Do it.

Commit.

You will love yourself for it.

Go.

The worst thing that happens to you often can lead to the best results

Sometimes the worst things that happen to us are the best opportunities. They are the gateways to greatness.

Giving up is always an option. Or, you can fight and find a way through the difficulty.

The former will lead to the status quo or worse. The latter can irrevocably change your life for the better.

When I got fired from the only job I was qualified for, my first position out of graduate school, I wanted to slink away and die. I was trained to be a pastor of a church. Then, I was terminated. But, oddly enough, that helped me to become an entrepreneur.

What about you? Have you been beaten down, hurt, unjustly treated, fired? Maybe you’re tempted to give up. I get it.

But you don’t have to. You can take one step at a time, day after day, facing your fears and uncertainty, moving forward and upward.

But it all starts with not giving up and fighting.

Ghengis Khan’s (affiliate) life changed irrevocably when a rival tribe kidnapped his wife. Instead of letting her go and finding a new wife (what most men in his culture and time did, especially at his level, insignificant and impoverished), he did the unthinkable. He raised a fighting party and battled to win her back. He won.

And that decision was one of the most significant steps that helped him build the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

You may not want to be an emperor, but you want to win. You want to overcome your challenges.

The best place to start is here.

Don’t give up. Then, fight.

You can.

Rise.