You don’t blog yet? Here’s 32 reasons you ought to start.

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Do you blog?

It’s a strange coincidence, but three people I follow independently wrote compelling articles on all the reasons you ought to blog – all within the last two weeks or so! (Well, two articles and one fantastic podcast.)

Personally, I’ve seen a lot of their reasons begin to come to fruit in the last five months since I’ve seriously restarted this blog. It hasn’t cost me a lot of time to get this blog going, but it’s really grown me – and I feel like it’s just the beginning.

So check these out:

10 Reasons Every Leader Needs a Blog – by Michael Hyatt, author of Platform.

7 Ways Blogging Makes You a Better Leader – by Mark W. Schaefer, author of The Tao of Twitter.

Why You Should Blog or 15 Benefits of Blogging – by Ani Alexander of Life Probabilities. The first two focus on leaders, but honestly, everyone is a leader whether they have a leadership position or not.

So again – do you blog? Why do you do it? And if not, why not?

photo credit: nickcastonguay via compfight

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Origin, direction, and losing your uncle – what Spiderman teaches us about starting

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“With great power comes great responsibility.”
– Uncle Ben Parker

Tears filled young Peter’s eyes. Blood spilled over his hands, onto his shirt and jeans. His uncle gasped one last breath – and died in his arms. Ben’s last words in the car would echo in his mind and heart forever.

This is why Peter puts on the mask. This is why he becomes Spiderman.

The world would never be the same.

 

Every hero has an origin story.
Every hero has a reason to be a hero. Choose any superhero movie – there’s so many these days – and you’ll find a vast multitude of awesome heroes. Batman. Iron Man. Captain America. Thor.

Almost all of their first movies tell the same story in a different way – how they found their WHY.

WHY fight? Why train? Why pursue evil? Why change the world? Why not leave it alone?

The real story never begins until they find their WHY.

And you, dear reader, as you pursue awesome this summer, must find your WHY as well.

You have an origin story. You just need to find it.
Want to be awesome? Want to make a mark on the world?
Want to start now – this summer?

Start with why.

There’s a way to be awesome. It’s a road. You’ve already begun your journey down it. The journey began long before you even picked up this book. But there’s a lot of distractions, dead ends, and wrong turns along the way.

There’s one secret to staying on the way.

To paraphrase Michael Hyatt:
Find your why and you’ll find your way.
Lose your why and you’ll lose your way.

No matter what other advice I give you, no matter what else you do, I guarantee you that if you lose your reason, your why, for pursuing a meaningful and impactful life, sooner or later you will definitely lose your way.

This is the most important part of the book. This is your origin story. This is where you find your Uncle Ben moment.
The book? What are you talking about?
Hey! Glad you asked!

This was from my forthcoming e-book, “The Pursuit of Awesome: The One-Summer Guide”.

Interested? It’s FREE. It’s releasing on June 1st.

join up. get the book.

If you sign up here, I’ll give it to you for free when it’s finished! You’ll also receive periodic emails from me on learning, leading, and living. No spam, scout’s oath.

photo credit: –Tico– via compfight

The fifteen-minute recipe to max out your summer

backflips on the beach? awesome.

It’s time.

Here’s my fifteen-minute recipe to get more out of your summer!

The rules are simple.
Read them. Think about them.

But once you start, you only get fifteen minutes. Go!

 

Step one – Write (10 min.)
Go! Open Notepad, Word, a notebook, whatever – and just WRITE everything you hope and dream for this summer. Go as fast as you can. Dream. Don’t stop.

DO NOT EDIT.

I repeat – do not, do not, do not edit. Just write.

If you could have, do and accomplish everything you wanted to do this summer, what would you do? Be? Create?

Write it down. You only have ten minutes. Go.

 

Step two – Save it.
Push Ctrl-S. Done. Don’t think too hard. “Untitled” is a fine name for this.


Step three – Edit until you have one paragraph.

Bring it all together into one paragraph. Edit, delete, and rewrite. Go fast. Go hard. Cut the fat, aim for the heart.

IMPORTANT: The paragraph can not be more than half a page long.

Cut. Edit. Hard. Now.


Step four – Save it again.

Ctrl-A. Give it a new name. Like “Most Awesome Summer Paragraph.”


Step five – Print it and post it.

Ctrl-P. Put it somewhere where you’ll see it everyday.
Then, read it everyday. And think about it.

 

But wait! There’s more!
For extra power, do the simple but powerful EXTRA CREDIT step now!


Step six – EXTRA CREDIT.

Look at everything you wrote so far. Choose THREE WORDS – yes, only three – that summarize everything.

Write these down somewhere where you’ll see them everyday. Memorize them.

At least once a day, think of them.
Then think of your dreams.

Let those words help guide your days and weeks – and make those three words real in your life.

That’s it. There’s the power.

How does this work? Read on.

the soup

It’s like making soup.
When I was a child, my dad would make the most amazing soups. He would add tons of fresh ingredients: succulent stew beef, potatoes, garlic, herbs, spices and vegetables that I’d never heard of.

Dad would bring the soup to a rolling boil, and then turn DOWN the heat and let it simmer for hours!

The soup filled the house with this enticing, delicious, mouth-watering aroma. You’d smell it as soon as you opened the front door. The fragrance would wash over you like a wave – and you’d be lost until dinner.

Here’s the key question: WHY simmer the soup?
It’s a cooking technique called reduction. Boiling off the liquid intensifies the taste of the soup and makes it more potent. The remaining soup soaks into everything else, infusing it with rich flavor. It’s magic.

That’s how to make a better plan for your summer.

Boil your plans – and intensify them.
Steps one and two are to put the soup of your summer dreams together.

Steps three through six boil those dreams down to the core and intensify them. It’s about focus.

As you cut your hopes for the summer down to their most minimal form, the dream becomes potent. Then, as you re-read it everyday, that powerful remainder infuses the flavor of your dreams into each day.

 

Do it now.
Even if you already have plans, this will focus your plans dramatically.

Better yet, if you do step six, it will give you a powerful mental anchor to hang all your plans on, so that you can keep them in the forefront of your thoughts all summer long.

Flavor your summer. Do it now.

“What else can I do?”
Good question. I’m writing you a guide – an e-book.
It’s FREE. It’s releasing on June 1st.

If you sign up here, I’ll give it to you for free when it’s finished!

The working title is “The Pursuit of Awesome: The One-Summer Guide”

It’s a book of lists. Actionable, cheap or free to execute, simple things to do to make your life more awesome. Things like how to:

– Waste less time.
– Be more creative.
– Learn a language.
– Break old habits and start new habits.
– Learn leadership.
– Set a course for your life.

It can all be done in two months or less.

Interested? Join the club.

join up. get the book.

addendum 1:
This post is inspired by Chris Brogan’s annual Three Word practice. I’ve adapted it for students to make the most of their summer. But you can expand this exercise to encompass an entire year.

addendum 2:
The book is the most ambitious thing I’ve done here so far. And it’s the first of a few I’m planning to put out this year! Leave me your email and I’ll be sure you know all about it. And other secret stuff. Shh. (and no spam!)

 

photo credit: Tyson Cecka and Cayusa via Compfight

 

The worst thing most people forget everyday (hint: it’s not their keys)

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“Wait a second. What did I come back into the living room for?”
I did this to myself yesterday. My wife just looked at me, laughed cheerfully and replied, “How should I know?”
 
Only I knew why I came in – and I forgot.
When was the last time you walked into a room to get something – and forgot what you were looking for? Your wallet? Your keys? A book? A pen?

One of the crazy things about life is that we constantly forget WHY we do things. We’re on our way to get something done and then we get interrupted. The phone rings. A message alert dings. A friend asks a question. We get hungry. On and on.

Even when there’s no one else around to interrupt us, we interrupt ourselves! We overthink things, or we start worrying, or we start thinking about what’s next – and we forget what we were doing in the moment. And then everything falls apart.

Hold that thought. Think bigger with me for a moment. Here’s a bigger question:

“Wait a second – what did I come into the world for?”
Our keys are one of the least important things we forget. Too often, we forget what we live for. Honestly, how many times in the last twenty four hours have you considered what you live for?

Michael Hyatt wrote, “We lose our way when we lose our why.”

It’s one of the qualities of greatness.

Great companies have great reasons why they do what they do.
So do great families. So do great individuals.

Today: Do you have a clear picture of WHY you do what you do?

Can you picture your why? Do you have clarity?
 
Why do you study? Why aren’t you sleeping? Why are you working so hard? Or why are you jobless? Why are you reading this?
 
If there’s no good answer, you’ve got trouble. Don’t go on without a why.
 
Find that picture. Make it as clear as possible.
And don’t lose it. Because you see…
 
Your WHY is the real lost key.
Your WHY will open doors when all the doors are closed.
Your WHY will unlock treasure chests and locked boxes.
Your WHY will turn the ignition of the car of your life – and keep you moving!

Don’t forget your why. Find it and hold on to it – and tightly, cause life will rip it away from you if you let your guard down.
 
Photo credit: Linus Bohman

Wake up! Here’s four ways you can boost your energy and awakeness today!

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How awake are you right now?

I mean, really – at this exact moment, how awake are you feeling?

I gave my friends an informal survey on awakeness and sleep the other day. Thirty replied, and it seems we’re getting about 6.94 hours of sleep a night, which is really not bad! However, the big surprise was that even some of my friends who slept 8 or more hours still felt tired! We really need to figure this out!

There’s a lot at stake.

In the university setting, awakeness is the difference between:

  • a useful hour of reading and a useless hour of reading.
  • an A- and a B+ on your final examination.
  • a 3.1 GPA for the semester and a 2.9 GPA.
  • having financial aid and losing financial aid.
  • getting a university degree – and losing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get that degree.

Besides that, awakeness is also the difference between:

  • remembering your keys and your phone when you go out the door – and forgetting them.
  • being on time to work – and being late, and getting in trouble with your boss or worse.
  • remembering what you wanted to get at the store – and forgetting it.
  • parking your car without any problems – and smashing the car in front of you.
  • getting home safely – and an expensive, life-threatening high speed car accident.

In my studies on leadership over the last year, I couldn’t help but notice that most leaders are energetic people – and there are particular best practices that they endorse. I’d like to share with you some of the strategies that have been working for me. These are practices that I’ve tried personally – and am still practicing today!

 

1. Water
Are you dehydrated? Many people are dehydrated and they don’t even know it. An old rule of thumb that we followed in the Boy Scouts was if your urine was yellow, you were dehydrated. Is your urine yellow? (Sorry to be so blunt, but check yourself! Thank me later.)

What can you do to stay dehydrated? Simply drink two liters of water a day, or about eight glasses. I’ve been experimenting with this one for about a month, and it’s really helped.

There’s a ton of reasons why this helps, but here’s a few:

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you feel tired!
  • Dehydration makes you hungrier throughout the day, which makes it more likely that you’ll snack on unhealthy things and overeat at meals. These cause high energy spikes – and big energy lows as well!
  • Your body is about 60% water. Among other tissues, your brain is made up of a lot of water. Keeping enough water in the system keeps your brain freshly supplied, so to speak.

Personal Difficulty: Easy.
This wasn’t too hard for me to start doing. I just drink a half liter when I wake up and another half liter before I leave. Then I drink a half liter when I get back home, and one more right after dinner.

 

2. Exercise
If you’re not exercising daily, you’ve probably heard a lot of statistics and advice already but you just don’t care somehow.

I’ll just tell you a story instead.

Ten years ago, I used to wake up at 5:30 to run two miles almost every day with my roommates. How did I feel afterwards? To be honest, mostly tired. After a couple years, I stopped – and I didn’t come back to real regular exercise until two months ago.

So what happened?

I found a seven-minute full body exercise routine based on interval training theory. It’s 30 seconds of intense activity followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 12 times with 12 different exercises. No need to go outside, no equipment needed except for a chair. (You can read about it here at the New York Times blog.) No need to even change into workout clothes – although I’d recommend it anyway!

The result? Game changing. I definitely feel the energy gain now that I started again – especially in the morning.

Personal Difficulty: Medium
It took a lot of time and reading to convince myself to try exercising again. The key was that I found a routine that sounded simple, easy and productive. It’s not an easy habit to develop either – harder than drinking water, at least. But it’s been worth it.

 

3.Sleep
This may seem obvious. I used to do 4-5 hours of sleep on weekdays, followed by 10-12 hours on the weekends. I felt okay.

I enjoyed the solitude and focus of working late nights, but to be honest, my last hours of study from 1:00-4:00 in the morning were not very effective. My reading speed dropped from a page a minute to a page every two or three minutes. I’d make simple math and writing mistakes – constantly. It was like for every step I took forward, I took two back.

Finally, after I graduated, I started sleeping more normally – and my overall productivity took a huge leap forward. When I switched over to a regular 6-7 hours a day, there was a noticeable difference – and my days were tremendously more productive all around.

It’s not just quantity that’s important – it’s consistency.

Sleep coach Dr. Cheri Mah reports that:
– Cognitive performance with 6 hours of sleep or less is the same as getting no sleep for 48 HOURS.
– 2 days of sleep restriction leads to a 3x increase in lapses of attention and rectivity!
– Reducing sleep debt increases vigor by 64%!
– A 20-30 minute power nap can increase your alertness by 100%!

Dr. Cheri is a sleep coach who works with Olympic athletes, so you know she’s serious. More details can be found here.

Personal Difficulty: Hard
This was not easy. It took accountability. It’s been a busy semester and I slipped into sleeping late – and not enough – for a few stretches. My wife helped me get back on track, and now I’m waking up early rather than sleeping late. The difference is remarkable. But it was definitely a more difficult habit to start.

 

4. Connect with your why
That is, stay closely in touch with WHY you do what you do everyday. When you have a powerful reason to work, you’ll work with more power.

There’s nothing like the feeling of waking up and knowing not only what you need to do today, but why you want to do it.

There’s also almost nothing worse than having a ton of things to do and no idea why you’re doing it all!

Don’t know why you do what you do? I suggest taking some serious time to put it down on paper. One great way to start is to take five minutes and write, with intensity, everything you’re dreaming of for the next five years.

I did this at the beginning of the semester and I’ve come back to that list repeatedly since. When I look at it, I get refreshed and renewed, and I’m ready to throw myself back into the work.

Personal Difficulty: Easy-Medium
I’ve detailed my process in one of my most popular blog posts here: “How to change the next five years of your life in the next five minutes.” It’s a good start.

One thing I didn’t mention there, and that I’ll write on more soon, though, is the process of deepening and extending those dreams into goals – and a personal mission. This is the harder step. But if you’ll just get started, this is a powerful exercise.

 

Now it’s your turn.
Alright! That’s it for me. I’ve got to say that this doesn’t work perfectly for me – there’s still days and nights where I get tired out earlier than I’d like – but these strategies have done a LOT for me. Here’s to making the most of the time we have while it lasts!

What energizes you and wakes you up? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo credit: Lara Cores via compfight

Want to live in paradise? Here’s one simple principle to make it happen!

“It’s like paradise here.”
The boy in the wheelchair said these words to us. He spoke cheerfully, his gladness radiating out of his steady, friendly gaze. And we looked at each other in astonishment, humbled by his words.

Andre had been in the orphanage now for years.

Besides that, he’d been in a wheelchair all his life.

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We thought we were serving them.
On Friday night, I filled my shopping cart to the brim with one liter bottles of yogurt and sausages – special requested by the orphanage.

It took three of us to bring it all back to our apartment across the street from the market.

When we got back home, I took a break on the couch and gazed at our other big purchase: a huge plastic sack overflowing with size 5 diapers, bought from the bazaar that morning.

Beside them were colored pencils and paper, two boxes of face paint, a bag of 50 oversized balloons and a few kilos of soft candy.

Our leadership club worked hard to raise enough money for all of this. It was the result a more than a year’s worth of projects.
It felt good.

But then again, as I crawled into bed a half hour later, I felt sad. These kids have no parents. These kids don’t even have bodies that work normally!

We were going to the disabled children’s orphanage, or the Belavodskiy Detskiy Dom dlya Invalidov as the locals call it. It was just an hour outside of my home in Kyrgyzstan’s capitol.

We were about to put on a fun show for them and give them a few hours of happiness.

But what about the rest of the year? What about the rest of their childhood?

They served us.
They had very little to give. And yet, they gave us so much.

They sang for us. They danced for us – with abandon. They took our gifts with huge smiles. They cheerfully welcomed us – and cheerfully saw us off, waving and laughing gleefully.

You see, it’s all about how we see things.

From our point of view, these children were terribly deprived – deprived of home, family, physical abilities and most of the luxuries of life. They lived in a very plain dormitory with very plain food – mostly porridge and potatoes.

From their point of view, life couldn’t be better. They were living life and loving it. They were fed and loved. This was enough.
On top of that, we had come. We were not the best part of their day. We were the icing on their cake. Life was the cake.

Andre’s words summed up the day.
“It’s like paradise here.”

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How do you see your world?
With all that you have and all that you lack, with all of your problems, with all of your failings and fears – how do you see your life? And what picture of life are you painting for others around you?

Andre painted me a new picture. He led me.

Can you see that picture of your life?
“It’s like paradise here.”

I’m guessing this isn’t the principle you expected to see when you read my headline. But this wasn’t what I expected when I went to the orphanage either – and yet, it’s a deep truth.

Paradise is just one mental step away. How do you see your life today?

Paint that picture for yourself and you’ll be happier.
Paint that picture for others and you’ll lead.

Three people who are willing and able to grow your leadership – daily!

three planes :D

Leadership.

Are you working on it? Are you intentionally doing any thing these days to become a better leader? Heck, do you even think you can be a leader?

One of my core beliefs that I bring to our students at FLOW is that anyone can become a leader.

This is much more than my own personal optimism – this is a research-based fact.

Leadership experts Bennis and Nanus wrote: “Leadership opportunities are plentiful and within reach of most people.”

At this very moment, almost everyone in the world has a chance to become a leader. They don’t just have one chance – they have many chances. The doors are open. The opportunities are many. But what are you doing about it?

 

Three people I can depend on for great leadership thoughts

One great thing about our era is that many brilliant leaders, thinkers and writers give away their best work to anyone who’s interested! Here’s a few people from whom I am sure to learn something new every time they put something out.

Intentional Leadership - Michael Hyatt
 

Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is an executive, husband, father, grandfather and blogger. He’s the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, which is one of the largest publishing houses in the US, as well the New York Times best-selling book, PLATFORM: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

His blog, which has nearly 40,000 readers, is one of the best places to go to learn about leadership, personal development and productivity! I’m also an avid listener of his weekly podcast, “This is Your Life.” His free e-book, “Creating Your Personal Life Plan,” is the best book of its kind that I’ve read – and also the best e-book I’ve ever gotten for free. He recently removed it from his website, but if you really want it, just let me know. 😉

The best way to get into his work?

Visit http://michaelhyatt.com and join his email list!

ELMOREblog

Dr. Tim Elmore

Tim is a really friendly and really brilliant guy – a prolific writer, speaker and the president of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit that develops young leaders.

He writes an incredible FIVE days a week at his blog! Tim’s work is more focused on helping leaders grow. He’s got a sharp eye for leadership insights and often pulls great thoughts out of everyday news stories – an essential skill to write as often as he does. Besides this, he also has a podcast – it’s updated only about once a month, but he interviews some truly great leadership researchers and trainers.

The best way to get into Tim’s work?

Sign up for his emailing list at http://growingleaders.com/blog and get his free leadership book – 52 Leadership Ideas! I just re-read it this week and it is great.

Seth Godin's blog

Seth Godin
At first, Seth got massively famous for talking about marketing. But nowadays, he’s gone out from there to talk about leadership, art and creativity, storytelling, education and a ton more. He’s one of the most viewed TED talkers ever – and one of the few who have more than one top-ranked TED talk!

Seth Godin writes DAILY. This is a bit crazy. Michael writes a two or three times a week. Tim writes five times a week. But daily?! He’s just got that much to give.

Seth’s writing focuses on growth, marketing, storytelling, ideas that spread and work worth doing.

The best way to get into his work?
Start with his blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com
Or try his TED talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_the_tribes_we_lead

 

Stop reading this and check them out!
These are just three. There are so many more – and sorry if you knew about these guys already! But really, a little reading, thought and action every day is all that it takes.

As John C. Maxwell said, “Leadership develops daily – not in a day.”

The only question is whether you will do the daily thinking and the daily work to develop.

Will you do it?

The resources are there. The opportunities are more plentiful than they’ve ever been.

We’re just waiting for you. Go for it. We need you.
Any helpful people or sites you’re a big fan of? Share them in the comments below!

photo credit: josemanuelerre via compfight