On Being Alive

Yesterday, I drank a cup of coffee way too late into the evening and found myself a little restless as I was trying to fall asleep. I could feel my heart beating, and it was beating fast and hard. I was just in my bed, wrapped by the darkness of my room, quietly listening to my heart beat. And then I had a thought as I was listening to my heart:

“What if this heart stops beating and I don’t wake up tomorrow?”

Of course that’s a dramatic thought and I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but just observing and listening to my heart beat and knowing that it’s been beating since I was born without missing a BEAT like a true solider..  it made me think about how precious life is. If this heart of mine stops beating, it’s all over. And is tomorrow really guaranteed? It was a beautiful realization I had, and I really felt like it was a blessing to wake up this morning and see the sun shine through my windows.

I was reading the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris yesterday and there was a question posed in the book:

“What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?”

The book interviews a lot of extremely successful people in different fields, so this question was posed to these people to figure out what lead to their success. However, I thought about it and posed it back to myself – what are the choices I’ve made in my past that have lead me exactly at where I am right now? And taking it a step further, what are the choices I CAN and WILL make that will allow me to BECOME the person I will be? When I thought about that, that was an extremely powerful question. Because through the book Conversations with God, there is one concept that keeps repeating itself through the entire series – that life is a process of creation, not a process of discovery.

We’re not here to find something that we’ve been searching for. We’re meant to create whoever we want to be, and we’re creating ourselves in every second of our lives. Literally every choice you make is an expression of who you think you want to be. But the beautiful thing the book mentions is that if you don’t like what you have created, choose something else and create again. It sounds overly simplified, but it’s a fact that we’ve created ourselves to be who we are right now. For most of us, it was probably an unconscious act of creation. But we always have the power to create ourselves and choose again. I think that’s the beautiful thing about life – yes, life is hard and it’s harder for some than it is for others, but each of us is given the power of creation. And creation is not about what you’re doing but it’s about what you’re being while you’re doing. For example, it doesn’t matter that you’re a billionaire CEO if you’re not being happy, fulfilled, inspired, and driven. I think that’s what is meant by creating yourself – not the lifestyle you want or the things you want to have, but the highest state of being and feeling you can achieve in this life. Another beautiful thing is that all of us have different preferences and desires so maybe it IS that having a certain lifestyle and getting a bunch of things will make you reach that state. But it’s never the opposite way around.

Appreciate the fact that your heart is beating right now and even for just today, we can choose to create a beautiful day for ourselves.

“Life doesn’t happen in any other way than that in which we think it will.”

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Revisiting Goal-Setting

Goals – what kind of goals do you have? Short-term, long-term, financial, personal, health, etc.? I listened to a Jim Rohn speech this morning and he talked about how the size of your goals and the kind of goals you have affect your behavior. Jim says:

“Your goals affect your handshake. Your goals affect your attitude, personality. Your goals affect the way you talk, the way you walk, the way you dress. All day long we’re being affected by our goals.”

Creating goals and writing them down shows that you’re serious about improving yourself, and the only way to grow in this life is through constant self-improvement. Jim mentioned a great point in that passive hope is an affliction. Broke and homeless people hope, but nothing ever happens to them. Another Jim, Jim Carrey, once said:

“I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and Faith leaps over it.”

Hope doesn’t get you anywhere but planning does. And that’s where the importance of goal-setting comes in. I definitely always have goals on my list and on my mind 24/7, but it’s important to constantly look at how you’re performing against these benchmarks, discover what you need to change, and figure out how to keep checking them off your list. It’s not enough just to say “I want $XXX” or “I want to live in this kind of house.” Goal-setting is a disciplined practice of your life and definitely needs to be taken seriously. I’m going to look at all of my goals, both large and small, short and long term, and in all aspects of my life to recalibrate them. Let’s do this.

“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.”

– Jim Rohn

Elon Musk: Business Principles

Here’s a very refreshing short clip from Elon Musk, one of the greatest innovators in our generation, where he very simply describes the business principles behind starting a business.

1) Starting a business is not for everyone, but if you’re going to start,  have a high pain threshold.

  • Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss. When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and happiness is high. Then you start to face a lot of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt. And eventually if you succeed, and in most cases you will not succeed, after a long time you will finally get back to happiness.

 

2) Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s a product or service, has to be really, really great

  • Unless you’re tapping into a new industry where the standards are lower, your product has to be much better than the entrenched competitors that are dominating the market. It can’t be a little bit better, because if you put yourself in the shoes of the consumer, they’re always going to buy the trusted brand unless there’s a big difference.

 

3) Constantly seek criticism

  • A well thought-out critique of what you’re doing is as valuable as gold. Take the approach that you as the entrepreneur are wrong, and your goal is to be less wrong.  Getting to this level is a matter of dissecting the criticism you receive on a constant basis.

 

The Choice of Potential

I was listening to a short audio clip from the late Jim Rohn this morning and he shared a simple concept that I enjoyed. He questioned, “How tall does a tree grow?” Of course it grows as tall as it possibly can. A tree never thinks to grow any less than it possibly can. So why don’t humans achieve as much as they possible can? Because in his own words, “we’ve been gifted with the dignity of choice – to choose between actualizing part of our potential, or actualizing our whole potential.” The ability to choose may be our greatest asset as humans on this Earth, but it can also be our greatest downfall to our success. We have the ability to choose any life we want to life, but that means we also have the ability not to strive for that life, which is then living a life that you don’t want.

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

– Earl Nightingale

I remember deciding to myself years ago that I would never settle for an average life on my standards. Even if I don’t reach the life I want (but I will), at least I’d try to get there. To me, it just sounded like the logically better choice than to just live a life I hated. So as Jim Rohn says, let’s do the best we can.

Most people just try to get through the day. But gifted people learn to get from the day. They don’t let a day end without picking up some valuable experience, some emotional content, some idea that may positively affect their future.

– Jim Rohn

Belief Systems

I want to briefly talk about “belief systems” which I would define as the collection of beliefs that you hold as fact about yourself and your life. This is important because the beliefs we hold could either be dangerously limiting us, or empowering us to open up new worlds of success. What are your beliefs? Do you believe you’re going to be wealthy? Do you believe you’re going to dominate your career? Do you believe you’re destined for greatness?

As I’m watching the Rio Olympics, the sports networks occasionally play a short montage/story of an athlete that allows the viewers to get some background into the athlete and how they became world-class, Olympic competitors. Usually the clips would be of athletes that overcame extreme adversity to rise to the top, but surprisingly all of the greatest athlete seemed to have one thing in common while they were growing up and training – they believed they could do things or achieve greatness even before they could.

Belief is a powerful force. It controls how we view the world and the experiences that come into our lives everyday. For me, I try to say affirmations to myself everyday saying I AM… whatever I want to be in the future. I’m affirming things that are already coming my way. But I have to stop myself from time to time to ask myself, “Do I really believe these things?There’s a huge difference between saying something, and believe in it. Believe has no doubt, and if you don’t completely believe what you’re saying to yourself, your mind sees it as a fraud. I truly believe I’ll be a great business leader and innovator and make an impact in this world, but it’s important that I check myself from time to time to assess if my belief systems are completely air-tight.

The Success Trait: Optimism

After encountering and studying so many people that I deem as successful, one of many characteristics they all have in common is a beautiful sense of optimism toward the futureAs Jack Ma,  CEO of Alibaba, puts it, “all the successful business leaders out there are very optimistic about the future and the market.” No matter what business you are in, which industry it is, you have to always be positive about the future and the market.

You have to always remember this – when the times are bad, there are good companies growing and performing at spectacular results. On the other hand, when times are good, there are also companies that under perform and face bankruptcy. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the future nor the economy nor the market itself. It has more to do with yourself and how you look at the market.

jack ma success principles

But this can also be applied to any aspect of our lives. We have to be optimistic about the future. A healthy level of optimism leads to a healthy level of imagination, which allows you to envision the certain goals you want to achieve. A pessimistic person cannot wonder and envision achieving great things, so they never succeed in doing so. If you truly believe you can achieve something, your chances of achieving that goal are exponentially higher. Optimists are the ones that can dream of a future better than the present, and are bold enough to strive to achieve them. I’ll end with this iconic quote from the late Steve Jobs:

 

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.