Unlearn yourself

You’re not stuck; you just haven’t learned to unlearn yourself.

That phrase, “unlearn yourself,” is powerful because it unlocks the potential we all have within us. And it reframes the stories we tell ourselves that hold us back.

Our stories define us. And those definitions often trap us. They’re a cage of assumptions and ideas that confine and hinder us from improving our lives, living better.

Years ago, I used to have chronic pain, which I believed was the reason I was terribly out of shape. And I thought that I really couldn’t do much about it because I went to countless doctors but still agonized.

That was my story. That’s what I told myself. I was trapped.

Then I started mall walking with my wife. And I might have been out of breath the first few times, as grandmas lapped me. (Seriously.) But somehow I felt better physically after I went, so I kept at it.

Eventually, that led to me start running regularly, which set my lungs on fire, but also made me feel good, somehow.

And after years of incremental changes and improvements to my workouts and diet, I became healthy and fit. More than that, the pain dissipated.

After all of that, I realized how wrong I was about my body, my health, my pain, my story—me.

There was a cage around me that I never even realized was there. It was framed in a story that I wove about myself until it held me captive.

Then, I unlearned myself.

And everything changed. I changed.

What about you?

What do you believe about yourself that isn’t right or is entirely wrong?

It’s hard to see sometimes. Start by doing this.

Take stock when you say, “I can’t do that,” not about anything immoral, but those things you want to do or should do but believe you can’t.

What are those things, areas, goals, practices? Start there.

Unlearn yourself.

And you’ll learn how powerful you really are, unlocking the potential you never knew you had.

Want coaching?

I’m only taking on a limited number of people, like 3. But if you’re interested, contact me and let’s set up a time for a video call.

Whether it’s in business, career, relationships, life, I’m here for you.

The first thirty minute session is free.

If you want to proceed after that, I will provide pricing.

I hope to connect with you and reach new heights together.

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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.


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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Experience we all need

“Experience” is just another word for making a lot of mistakes. Everyone prizes experience. So go get it. Try things. Break things. Do things. Don’t try to be perfect. Try to be effective. Contribute. Make things. Create value. And after a while. You can say that you’ve done this or that.

You’ll be experienced.

By Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

You can choose

You have the power to choose.

Choose to love. Serve others. Adore yourself. Love the unlovable.

Choose to play. Like a child, enjoy your this moment, all of the moments, see the world with wonder, glee, delight. Playfully move through the world.

Choose to dance. Allow the music on the radio, in your mind, to move you, your body, your soul, feeling the rhythm flow through you.

Choose to live. A life without regret and unburdened by fear is what we all want. In each instance of your life, decide on living honorably, greatly, beautifully.

Today, I hope you choose well.

Waiting well will transform your life

Waiting feels terrible. But when we wait well, magic happens.

Growing, improving, changing doesn’t happen quickly. We know that.

But for some reason, we still get impatient and disappointed when it doesn’t happen when we want it to, which often means yesterday.

And we know that we must wait. But what we often fail to understand is that we mustn’t just wait.

For how we wait is what really matters.

Waiting well is key.

“Waiting” usually means we get antsy, we fidget, we get impatient. Then we start to wonder if this is worth it, and we begin to stray. And wondering becomes wandering. Before you know it, we’re completely off the path.

Instead, waiting well gives us poise as we do our daily routines, form new habits, learn new lessons. It knows that transformation doesn’t occur in a moment, but rather moment by moment by moment. It’s gradual, incremental.

Waiting well means resisting looking at the results but revels in the process. You’re not looking to make quick gains but gain a life long practice.

And thinking like that will transform your life.

Waiting well plays the long game.

And if you do that, you will win.

This mindset helps you live better

Life isn’t about perfection; it’s a practice.

Perfectionism makes you feel stuck, scared to fail— stay imperfect.

And you probably hate that. You want to change, but don’t know how to do it.

Well, stop trying to be perfect and start practicing.

What is practice?

It’s doing something regularly to continue to grow and learn.

That can be in fitness, work, creating, family, speech, play. But, for me, all of life is a practice.

Every day, I’m trying to learn how to develop in all areas of my life. I want to know what I could be doing better.

You can, too.

Getting better is one of the main purposes of life.

And at the core of practice is just that: improvement.

I can always be a better husband, father, business partner, businessman, entrepreneur, writer, thinker, person.

If I always tried to be perfect even in one of those areas, I would get so discouraged that I would want to quit.

And therein lies the problem, you see. Perfection doesn’t motivate. It forces us to see what we can’t reach.

But with practice, it’s incremental. It’s day-to-day.

By making small daily improvements that are almost imperceptable at the moment you’ll be transformed after months and years.

You see, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about progressing.

Perfection accentuates the fact that you aren’t perfect. But practice focuses on the act and improving.

So don’t worry about being perfect. That’s a waste of time, life.

Live in practice.

And live better.

Reflections from a funeral

Funerals aren’t just about death; they’re also about life. And this past week, while at my friend’s dad’s funeral, I could see that he lived richly, and he knew it.

I don’t mean that he drove a Maserati, had a big house, or had some huge title. He didn’t. He was normal, just a regular Joe. Yet, to me, he was extraordinary.

His family loved him. Not in a surface-y love kind of way, where they covered up all the warts and talked only about the beautiful stuff for show. They knew his weaknesses well and talked about them but loved him despite them. It was genuine.

When his kids eulogized him, they shared how much he loved to laugh and make others do the same, and if he hurt someone, he was quick to apologize. He was vulnerable. He didn’t hide his flaws. He opened himself up to his children and allowed them to see him, as he was, broken, yet glorious and true.

That, to me, is extraordinary. To have your children not just love you but honor you for who you actually were would be one of the greatest rewards in life. It says you put your priorities aright. You poured your life into your children. You spent time with them and nurtured them, telling them stories, sharing what it means to be a good person, love God, be a good neighbor, countryman, parent.

One of the most moving moments of the funeral for me was the burial service. He was in the Air Force, and joining had a profound impact on him. So he chose to be buried in Jefferson Barracks, a National cemetery. He wanted the ceremony, the guards of honor, the salutes, the unified rifle shots, the flag. After the flag was folded, with such pomp, it was presented with deep sincerity by a person in uniform to his wife, thanking her for her husband’s “honorable service.”

The family cried. I cried. Others cried.

And through all of this, I could not help but reflect on my own funeral. What will my children say about me? Will they love and honor me? But that burial service marked me.

I won’t get a gun salute since I’ve never been in the military. But the words “honorable service” still rang in my ears, my heart, my soul. I wondered if I will be distinguished as a person who served honorably. And as I pondered, my mind kept drawing me towards my family.

As I am fathering these days, I’m keenly aware of my deficiencies, lacks. And I lack much. I’m far from being a perfect father. But I do want my children to know, despite my deep flaws, my severe impatience, and general stupidity, that I love them, deeply.

And at the end of life, will I sweat the money that I made or didn’t make, that deal that would have changed my lifestyle, the business I wanted to start or build? I doubt it. I would wonder if I was a good husband, father, son, brother, friend. I’d want to know that I was faithful, true, dependable, loving, as my friend’s dad was.

One last story about him. He was asked to become an elder, which is basically the senior leadership or board, in an important church in his city. And at this church, they saw eldership as the pinnacle of importance. But, he turned it down. He would rather be a deacon, which was seen as the lesser office that served the poor and needy so that he could serve. He didn’t need elevation nor the title to make himself feel important. Instead, he wanted to do important work. He just wanted to provide honorable service. He knew that was worth far more than a title.

We all need to remember that we will have a funeral. It will be us resting in that casket someday, whether we like it or not. And what is talked about isn’t the death so much as your life.

My friend’s dad did have a rich life, legacy. He did because he made decisions like becoming a deacon (not that being an elder is wrong for the right reasons), living simply, loving vulnerably, prioritizing his time well; he invested in his children. And he reaped a great reward.

Now, the question is, How do you want people to remember you and are you living in such a way as to bring that about now, always?

Answer that question well, and, as you close your eyes for the last time, you can also know you had a rich life.

Live well

I’m not an NBA fan; I don’t watch any games, turn on ESPN, follow any players, but the news about Kobe Bryant and his daughter punched me in the heart.

Famous people dying is in the media all of the time. It’s sad, and we can feel some sadness. But often we move on.

The news about Kobe should have done the same for me.

But it didn’t.

It hit me. It lingered. I felt it kick me in the heart, like a full backswing and put-your-body-into-it kind of kick. It was like I lost someone I knew. I was surprised.

Minutes before I saw the news, I indulged myself at a ramen joint I wanted to try out. It didn’t disappoint. Day-long simmering broth, perfectly cooked noodles, and pork-belly sloshed around my belly as I wobbled out the door. It was bliss.

While commuting back home on subway, I opened Instagram and saw a post from Gary Vaynerchuck paying his respects to Kobe as if he died.

And I was like, “Wait, what the?!” It knocked some wind out of me and I found it hard to breathe. I was in disbelief that Kobe could be anywhere near dead. “Not Kobe, too!” I thought.

Quickly I snapped a browser open and started googling and saw the news: “Kobe and his daughter die in helicopter crash, no surviors.”

The happy buzz I had from that heavenly meal started to feel a touch hellish as my stomach churned when I continued to click and scroll, click and scroll, burying myself in the story.

And somehow there were more flashes of memories about this man that I never met, followed, or even cared much about. There I was on the 7 train heading back into Manhattan, moved, caring.

Why was I so emotional?

Maybe it was the tragedy of a great player who died at such a young age with his daughter in tow who had barely even begun living. Maybe it was those Nike ads that talked about his work habit, his mindset, his tenacity, his audaciousness. Maybe it was the fact that two of my friends’ parents died in the same week as Kobe.

There was just too much death swirling around me. One of my friends found out that her mom died abruptly, and my other friend’s father had a long slog with cancer.

And all of that made me think about my father’s death and the fact that we all die. It was overwhelming.

Then, Kobe happened.

I was overwhelmed.

I stopped and reflected on all of this and saw things more clearly.

Even if I wasn’t a fan of the sport, I was a fan of this sportsman.

I just respected him.

I respected the way he carried himself even when people hated him, even when he was getting punished by the media, even when he really screwed up. He had class. He was a winner, even when he lost.

And after losing basketball, he lived his life.

Living life—that’s what I’ve resolved to do. I was spending too much time worrying about death.

We should think about it though. Our mortality is a teacher as the ancients and sages teach.

My father’s death has taught me much: not to take life for granted, not to assume tomorrow is ours, humility (I’m always working on that one), every day is a gift.

Death also forces us to really look at how we live. It makes us want to do better, seek truth, not put up with too much BS, take chances, feel alive.

But worrying about death is dumb.

No one knows when their time will come. So it’s useless to fret about what we can’t do anything about.

What we can do is live as well as we can today. We can love those around us, hug them, encourage them. We can love ourselves.

We can mourn those who’ve passed, remember them, celebrate them, tell their stories.

We can be thankful for what we have, find true meaning, grow.

Sadly, death is inevitable.

But living well is a choice.

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The power of starting

With every second that passes, you are one moment away from changing your life. Really.

That project you always wanted to do, the career path you always wanted to pursue, growing more fit, exercising your faith, becoming a better person are all before you, right now, this instant.

All you have to do is this: Start.

That’s it.

The problem often lies in the belief that starting isn’t enough; we believe we should be finished when we’ve just started. We’re impatient.

But thinking like that will get you nowhere. Because when you begin, you have to accept the fact that you are a beginner. And that’s ok. That’s good.

Being a beginner is key. It’s how you get to the finish line. It’s how you win: one step at a time.

That’s how I lost fifty pounds in my forties: I started by walking in the mall and getting lapped by seventy-year-old grandmas; it was embarrassing, but I began.

That’s how I started my companies: I had no idea what I was doing and just talked to smarter people than me, and an opportunity came along that gave me liftoff.

That’s how I started blogging: I always believed that I was a terrible writer, but I still wanted to say something and began banging away at my keyboard until what I had to say seemed like something worth listening to.

Today, right now, this second is an opportunity for you to grow, get better, succeed. It’s not even about finishing or winning; it’s about progressing.

And before you know it, you will be transformed.