Comfort is the Enemy

Image result for the human mind once stretched by a new idea

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the HYPE Foundation in conjunction with Temple University and their Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute out in Philadelphia. One of my companies was selected as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in the world of Sports & Health and we had the opportunity to present and speak with a room full of other innovative startups, executives from Fortune 100 companies, thought leaders, business students, and department heads of the University. I really enjoy meeting new people, especially impressive people that I could learn from and that could inspire me, and so this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

It was a full-day event from 11AM – 9PM and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I was able to speak with startup founders doing innovation at the absolute forefront of sports technology. I spoke with executives from companies such as Intel, IBM, MasterCard, Under Armour, and the NFL. I also spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs that wanted some pointers on how to succeed in the field in the future. The biggest takeaways I got from the event after being exposed to so many impressive people is that:

  1. You have to always keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.
  2. Really, truly believe in yourself, because no one else will
  3. Think highly of yourself, but always stay humble and objectively seek areas where you can improve.
  4. Take criticism objectively, never personally. Take your ego out of it, and you can only benefit.
  5. Surround yourself with amazing people and you’ll feed off of their energy and enthusiasm
  6. Getting ahead in life is about making genuine connections with others. Meet new people, form new relationships/connections, and never start with the mindset of “getting something out of them.”
  7. Given enough time, your mind will always talk you out of something. It uses logic and avoidance of “change” as a survival instinct. If you make a decision, act before your mind has time to decide. The biggest regret is never being able to experience what could have been.

Life is a people game. Humans are collaborative, social, and emotional creatures and the ones that succeed in life are usually those that have created many, many genuine connections over a long period of time. Just being in an atmosphere of innovation, success, and entrepreneurship really motivated me to think big and do more, and I walked away having met titans in the industry and forming great connections and relationships with many others. Another great thing I realized about myself is that I’ve grown a lot from even just the start of the year. When the New Year turned around the corner, I assessed myself and looked at areas where I needed to improve to reach the goals I wanted to achieve. These areas included being more social/friendly/charismatic, speaking with more confidence, raising the bar of believing in what I could achieve, etc. I started the year lacking in these skills and yesterday I realized I was going up and speaking to directors at Intel, IBM, Under Armour and the NFL and having discussions as if we were equals. And that’s the thing – people will respond to how you carry yourself. If you go up to a powerful person and act like a timid, wide-eyed fan girl, they’ll naturally react and speak to you accordingly to what you believe about yourself. I believed I was a capable, driven, confident business leader and during these conversations, I realized I was having really engaging and interesting conversations with people that have probably made 10,000x and more of what I have. And I got a tingling feeling in my body when I started to think “I could definitely be where this person is some day.” Maybe it’s arrogance and/or ignorance, but to me, it’s an attitude of belief and certainty. Because the last greatest thing I learned from this event and from these people is that to achieve crazy things, you have to be crazy. You don’t achieve great things by accident. As the late Steve Jobs once said:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

 

 

Sponsoring Thoughts

Lately I’ve been reading several books which I guess would be categorized as “spiritual books” but an important lesson I’ve learned from these books is of the immense power of the mind, but more so how we are improperly using our minds. Or rather, how our minds are actually using us.

In the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, the author suggests our minds are a magnificent tool for us, but we are not our minds. For most of us, we don’t control our minds – rather, our minds control us. This is apparent in the fact that many of us can’t shut our thoughts off at will and be still, and we’ve become addicted to thinking. The mind has possessed us to the point that we’ve started to believe that we are the possessor! Your mind is a tool in the sense that you pick it up when you need to use it, and place it back down when you’re done. That is how to consciously use your mind, and a great phrase he teaches to help you be aware of your thoughts is by “watching the thinker.” Just simply observe your thoughts as if you were a parent observing a child. What kind of thoughts do you think about on a daily basis? Are they mostly positive or negative?

After practicing this for a bit, I started to realize for myself that actually many of the thoughts my mind produced throughout the day were negative. But that’s OK – you don’t have to attach yourself to your thoughts. They’re just mental constructions produced by your mind, and your mind is not you. But what I did realize is that our thoughts DO help dictate our mood, emotions, direction in life, attitude etc. In this sense, this is an even greater case for figuring out how to control your mind and thoughts, rather than having your mind control you. In the book Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch, he states that our minds are filled with a lot of “Sponsoring Thoughts” which are basically original thoughts about major concepts that we hold as truths. However, our Sponsoring Thoughts are oftentimes wrong, cause us to form biases and prejudices that unconsciously repel us from exactly the things we want, and for the most part have been placed in our minds by others. For example, many of us may have sponsoring thoughts about money such as:

  • Having a lot of money is bad
  • People with a lot of money acquired it through dishonest means
  • Only successful people have money, and because I don’t have money now, I am not successful
  • Money is difficult to acquire.

The list goes on and on and many of these thoughts weren’t even placed in our minds by ourselves. For example, our parents place a lot of our sponsoring thoughts about life and the world in our mind from a young age. But my question to you is this: What Sponsoring Thoughts do you have and are they true? Are they true statements that align with reality? Are they serving you? If not, simply replace them.

You see, I’ve realized that most of the thoughts we have on a daily basis really stem from a select amount of our Sponsoring Thoughts. If you have a negative Sponsoring Thought about money, all of your thoughts throughout the day surrounding money or finances will stem from that negative, original thought. To try to refresh my mind and implant new, positive Sponsoring Thoughts in my mind, I’ve created a list of thoughts that I repeat to myself every morning:

  • I consciously create abundance in my life
  • Everything I touch turns to gold
  • I am an intelligent, capable, driven leader
  • When I act, all providence and life moves with me
  • I can do and achieve anything I decide to
  • I’m wealthy financially, health-wise, in relationships, and all of life
  • I’ve got more money than I know what to do with and there’s always more where that came from
  • I create billion-dollar businesses and change the world.

 

By replacing my existing Sponsoring Thoughts or Original Thoughts with the list above, all of my thoughts throughout the day will stem from these. I want to use my mind properly and have the bulk of my daily thoughts controlled by the Sponsoring Thoughts that were set by me, not by others. It’s been a great exercise for me so far, and I encourage all of you to try it out as well.

Dancing Between The Extremes

Today I had the humble opportunity to get interviewed for a local newspaper about a new venture I’m starting. I was asked many questions, but one question I was asked was, “What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?” It was strange to be asked that question because that was one of the questions I often pondered about the past few years. But on top of resourcefulness and resiliency, I said a successful entrepreneur is experienced enough to know how to dance between the 2 extremes of optimism and pessimism. What do I mean by that? I mean that ignorant and early “wantrepreneurs” have all of these ideas and think they can be billionaires just by having “the next Facebook.” However what they’ve failed to realize is that they’ve delved into the spectrum of optimism too much and have been blind-sided by the lofty dreams of becoming billionaires and having nice cars and mansions. On the other hand, once first-time entrepreneurs get a taste of “failure” and immediately dive into the deep end of pessimism, they think that their entire world is crumbling before them, and they fail to realize that they have more going for them than they realize.

A successful entrepreneur knows how to elegantly dance between these 2 extremes. Beyond meeting the requirements of having a good idea, assembling a good team and being resilient and resourceful, a good entrepreneur knows how to masterfully dance between the 2 extremes of optimism and pessimism. They know how to keep their head in the clouds but keep their hands on the dirt at the same time. It’s an elegant discipline of knowing how to control your temptations and emotions.

What You Act As If You Are, You Become

I came across this passage in a book today, and I though it was extremely eye-opening. Many of us “want” all of these things and to “have” X, Y, and Z. We believe having these things will allow us to “feel” or “be” a certain way (e.g. be happy, feel powerful, etc). But perhaps we have it the other way around.

Have patience with your Self, especially if your choices are not bringing you what you think you want. You say you want something, but you are not choosing it. You know you are not choosing it, because you do not experience having it. In truth, you have had it all along. You simply are not choosing it.

In the Universe, “havingness” does not produce “beingness,” but the other way around. First you “be” the thing called “happy” (or “knowing” or “wise” or “compassionate” etc.), then you start “doing” things from this place of beingness – and soon you discover that what you are doing winds up bringing you the things you’ve always wanted to “have.”

Look at what it is you want to “have,” ask yourself what you think you would “be” if you “had” that, then go straight to being.

Act as if you are, and you will draw it to you.
What you act as if you are, you become.