Don't Let This "Creep" Ruin Your Plans

Making lasting change requires learning new skills that will be repeated over and over until they become habits.  Habits are the “remote control” of our lives, governing virtually every action we take.

I remember our first television remote control.  It had four buttons: On, Off, Volume, Channel.  Old Four-Button RemoteOddly, these are the four I use most when I can successfully navigate the remote control to this day.

Today our remote control has sixty-three buttons.  Yours may have more but it is doubtful it has less.  I have no idea what most of the buttons do, but I have them just in case I need them.  I presume I should be comforted by all the extra features at my fingertips and the “just-in-case” features I could use should I find the need.

But I’m not.  Actually, I’m troubled most of the time and frustrated all of the time by my remote.  And yes, you’ve guessed it, I’ve found my way out of the chair and back to the television to turn the volume up or down, change channels, and even turn the set on or off.  It’s just easier than using my multi-featured remote which was designed to make my life easier.

It is called “feature creep” and it refers to the things added to a device simply because there is space for it.  The processor has a bit more space, let’s add a feature.  We need a bigger processor to handle all the buttons, but when we add the bigger processor we have room for more buttons, and the process continues until no one knows why we have all the buttons.

I’ve found that remote control to be a metaphor for my life as well. In my early years there wasn’t much to think about or worry about.  My life was like that early remote with four buttons:  Play, School, Sleep, Eat.

Now my life is much like the sixty-three button remote I have.  Thinking about all those time-saving, money-making, life-changing gadgets I’ve purchased over the years fatigues me.  And that’s just the beginning.  What about all the features I’ve allowed to creep into my life, the ideas and information that seemed useful at the time? And the experiences I’ve had, the careers I’ve been in, the businesses I’ve started, sold or folded.  These things have slowly, methodically, and effectively crippled me.

I literally have hundreds of thousands of pages of information that I’ve downloaded onto my computer for future reference.  I have over seven-hundred bookmarks of websites that one day I’ll refer back to.  I have over seventy domain names for websites I’ll one day build or have built.  Who can keep up with such things?  Certainly not me.  I don’t even know half of them and forget about trying to find a document on my computer.  Not a chance.  I’ve simply created more information than my “remote control” can handle.  I bet you have too.

Which leads me to the first week of January and those pesky resolutions many of us have made.  Statistically, thirty-eight percent of us made no resolutions at all and a whopping twenty-five percent more have already failed at the ones we made.  If you made it this far you have a ninety percent chance to succeed through next week.   After the second week you’re a mere week away from the time experts tell us it takes to create a habit.  And a habit is life’s “remote control”.

And while all that is interesting, what does it have to do with the remote control?  Plenty!  You see, I (and perhaps you) don’t use the remote control or many of its buttons because we don’t understand how to.  We don’t understand how because we haven’t taken the time to learn how from someone who knows and to do it repeatedly until it becomes second nature.

Most of us with New Year’s Resolutions are entering into uncharted territory.  We’re embarking on actions and ideas in which we have no experience.  Imagine you are watching a program on television.  During the commercial break you change the channel to a different program.  Depending upon how interested you become in the new one, you will either stick with the new one or go back to the old one.  In life, by trial and error, we will either find our new “channel” or revert back to our old ones.

But here are some statistics you should know.  While it may be daunting, forty-nine percent of those who do make New Year’s Resolutions have some degree of success in positive change.  Experts say those who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not.

And perhaps the most important point of all:  You don’t need New Year’s Day to make a resolution.  Just as you can change the channel at any time if a program is no longer of interest to you, you can resolve to change your habit channel at anytime.  Here’s what you should know.

Delaying a resolution until a future date gives you more days of engaging in the undesired behavior, making it that much more difficult to change.  Further, the emotion you feel when you decide you need to change that is essential in ensuring your success will wane over time.

You will be ten times more likely to achieve your goals when you make a resolution.  You’ll be forty-nine percent likely to achieve some measure of success when doing so.  And when you engage in a new behavior for twenty-one days, you’ll create a habit.  You will effectively change the channel of your life.

So, resolve to be different to attain your goals.  Take action for twenty-one days and switch to a new channel, creating the new habit that will put your new lifestyle on remote control.

As for me, I’ve got to get up and change the channel.

Thinking is the Mother of Freedom

Discerning thought is the one thing that separates us more than anything else from all of God's creatures. Our minds are a vast bastion of freedom that no person can restrict without our permission.

And while it is a sad statement that we have become a society in which free thought receives a lot of lip service but very little actual support, that discussion is only relevant to those who choose to think for themselves. Few do.

The greatest threat to freedom is not oppression by others, it is the self-suppression of our own minds. This suppression characterizes itself in three forms: Habit, Fatigue, and Compliance.

Habits are useful for humans. Man is a creature of habit. Habits make life predictable which is essential in complex world with so many variables. But habits can be harmful as well. While we all have habits we should change, the habit of not thinking as a free man or woman should be at the top of the list.

When was the last time you truly thought like a free man or woman? Perhaps it was as long ago as your childhood. What were you going to do with your life before you were worn down by experience and necessity? What is it that you secretly wish to do now, if you only had the freedom to do it? Brian Tracy asks, "What one thing would you do if you knew you could not fail?" He goes on to ask, "Why aren't you doing it?"

The only place of true freedom is in one's mind. This year, exercise the freedom of your mind by thinking of what you would do if you knew you couldn't fail. Then think about how you can go about doing it.

We all succumb to fatigue. But what makes us most fatigued is one simple phrase: "Have to". How many times in a day do you "have to" do something? We "have to" go to work. We "have to" pick up the kids. We "have to" make dinner. Fatigue should be experienced because we've fully spent the freedom we enjoy, not because we've burned up the hours in "have to" activities.

When exercising your freedom of thought this year, use it to make those things you do free choices as well. Replace "have to" with "get to" and see how different you feel. Imagine the joy of "getting to" pick up the kids after school. Many parents don't have the privilege. Best of all, when "have to" becomes "get to" you just might find some of those "have to" activities aren't all that necessary.

Perhaps no other thing we experience is so defeating as compliance. Whether political correctness or family and peer pressure, we all comply with others to some extent. Compliance is good in that it provides common ground from which we all can prosper and be free. But everyone suffers when we comply in an attempt to appease others.

We all know people who had dreams and aspirations that were thwarted by well-meaning family and friends who cautioned them against their dreams. What fantastic new services or products have been kept from us by this type of compliance? Countless are the thought-provoking, idea generating ideas that have been held back due to fear of failure, success, or scrutiny of others. How devastating it is to the free mind to hold back ideas and beliefs.

There was a time when men and women said what they meant and meant what they said. That was a time of thought-provoking ideas. Today we may say what we think but don't think about what we say. More often than not we're reciting our lines or those of someone we listen to often. We comply with ideas instead of investigating them and seeking our own. We become involved in the conversation before we investigate what the conversation is about.

This year, commit to thinking through things that matter to you. Decide that you will be well-versed in those things and you'll stay out of those that don't matter to you. Things happen and are reported far too quickly to be an instant expert on everything. Think before you speak, but speak once you've thought.

To be truly free, one must think like a free person. Free people resist bad habits. Free people "get to" do things and limit those things they "have to" do. And free people rarely comply unless they have thought through things first and make a conscious choice to comply.

Free people are open to new ideas, especially those of their own thinking.

God Stepped In For This Appearance At Jobseekers PTC

God clearly had His hand in my recent talk at Jobseekers.  I recorded it on my iPhone without a microphone so the audio is a bit muffled in places.  Turn your speakers up and see what God did to ensure I didn't miss a very important day.

God Stepped In For This Appearance At Jobseekers

You won't hear the full joke at the beginning but the end of the joke ties in nicely with the introduction so I preserved it.  You also won't hear the conversation as I was leaving with a gentleman who is related to Jane Brenner, a lady I knew while living in Punta Gorda (you'll understand the irony if you listen to the full talk).



The Brand You

Whether we are aware or not, each of us has a brand that is singularly ours. I recently shared some ideas on how to better develop a personal brand with a group of Jobseekers.

Free help with personal self introduction click here

Just as we all have a brand, we are all constantly seeking connection with someone. Jobseekers are seeking connection with employers. Salespeople with customers. Single people with potential spouses. While targeted at jobseekers this talk can help anyone with their personal branding. See the short video below.


A New Citizen Explains what it means to be an American

I pray we all would understand what it means to be an American as well as this new citizen does.

Last year I had the privilege of witnessing the ceremony for new American citizens and hearing one new citizen, Ed Camargo, owner of explain what it meant to him.  Below is the speech he gave (printed with permission).  I think we all can learn a lot about what it means to be free from this text.

I am honored to be here today and also by the invitation to address you, The New American Citizens. Thank you Judge, for the introduction. I would like to say that it is a privilege and an honor to be here today and to be able to speak to you about what it means to be an American citizen.

The fact that I am also an immigrant to the United States, and went through the same process that you are now finalizing, and my life experience, allows me to understand and relate to you. Today we celebrate this achievement. Welcome to the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.

America my friends, is a Capitalist nation and we welcome your Human Capital which is: your knowledge, your unique skills, your diversity, and your culture will enrich our way of life, all of you have something different to contribute to America.

This wonderful country called America has been the greatest model of Liberty, the greatest spreader of freedom and the greatest preserver of Liberty that the world has ever known.

We love our freedom so much that The president John F. Kennedy famously expressed this believe in his inaugural address in 1961 proclaiming: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of Liberty.”

Here in the United States of America, you are going to be able to achieve and accomplish all the things that you never could. The dreams that you had when you were young, and were impossible to achieve, now they can become a reality, now there is no limit on how far you can go, because now you are an American.

Look at me. I am standing behind a podium in front of a room giving my first speech. I was able to start my own business and prosper with my ideas and the strength of my muscles and the dexterity of my mind.

My family was originally from Italy and after the Second World War, they immigrated to Brazil.  I grew up in Brazil and graduated college with a civil engineering degree.  I worked while I also studied and I learned a lot about the business world.  I decided that English would be an important tool so I came to the United States to study.  I ended up meeting my wife and becoming a citizen over 20 years ago.

Today, I am the proud owner of Stone Art Masterpieces.  I design and create luxury mosaic tables and floors from natural stones.  I had an idea and I worked at some other jobs until I had saved enough money to open my own business.  I was able to do the research and got the ideas of what the market needed and was able to fulfill that segment.

America my friends is the land of the entrepreneur and it is the place that welcomes new ideas.    It is through very hard work that you can accomplish your wishes. Here in America you can set a goal to be anything that you want to be, and if you put a lot of dedication, inspiration, commitment and have a good attitude towards your purpose in life, the chances are that you will accomplish your dreams.

Everything that is really inspiring is created by the individual that can work and leave in freedom.

We are a special people, because we have been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We are bound together by common values.  Today you are facing a new beginning in your life, and the story of those that came before you remind us that America has always been about new beginnings. America is the story of everyday people who did extraordinary things. We are a people that continue choosing the principles written down by our founding fathers, to solve the challenges of our time, and as long as we continue living by those principles specified in the Declaration of Independence, this miracle of freedom that is the United States will go on for another generation to inherit.

Please keep these words close to your heart ---all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights such as: Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and Property that is the fruits of our labor. This cannot be said often enough. Everything important flows from these words.  These words are the foundation for people determined to govern themselves.

In America we have three very important documents: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and you should get yourselves acquainted with all three. All the words in these documents say what they mean and mean what they say.

I would also like to repeat the words of a past great American president: Abraham Lincoln, he said: “America is the best hope of earth”. It was true over 100 years ago and it is true today.

The United States of America, this country is the only country in history born, not of a chance or a blind tribal warfare. This country was founded as a rational product of man`s mind.

In the year when I first came to America as a student, it was in 1984, and my other favorite American president was in power and I will never forget his words about Liberty. Ronald Reagan said: that your freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. We must fight to preserve our freedom, we must protect our freedom and hand it on to our children so they can do the same, or if we continue taking it for granted one day we will find ourselves spending our sunset years, telling our children and our children`s children, what it was once like in the United states where men were free.

One last thing that you need to know is that now that you are an American citizen, you have the privilege to vote in the elections, and you need to register to vote.

In the United States we have two major political parties and a few smaller parties.

Therefore you will need to understand what they represent, and decide where you belong.

Use wisely your power of choice. Being an American is not just a blessing, it is also a responsibility.

Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to you all.