What does it take to get THE MOST out of your Life?

5 07 2010

Tonight, I got put face to face with a past version of myself. This man, stuck in his story, was busy manifesting in the wrong direction. He has been successful in his life, but at this point in time, he is at a loss on how to move forward. I know this place. I know this man. He is me.

When I have found myself in a hole, I am always the first man to beat myself up. To blame myself for where I am. To berate and deride each and every accomplishment I have made… each and every positive decision…. each and every step towards a solution. I will bash myself over the head for every mistake, and swear I’ll never get on the right track.

They say if you’re in a hole, and you want to get out, the first step is… STOP DIGGING!!!!

It seems like simple advice. Good, easy to follow words of wisdom…. but most people (myself included) find it hard to know when they are digging themselves in deeper. Or better yet, how to stop.

Our stories become us. They define our experiences and our realities. Our struggles make our lives more real. Or do they? We’ve all been there. In a rut… telling ourselves over and over again how bad it is.. that it can’t possibly get worse… but then it does. We create our stories as we go along, and we become trapped by them and we recreate them over and over again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Step 1: Acknowledge your Story Take a moment, and identify that story. If it helps, write it down, or say it out loud…. It might sound like this:

I am Dylan Stewart. I am 37 years old. When I was 9 my parents separated. I was forced to become an adult, and at that point my life and my future was decided. I would be the grown-up. The parent to my own parents… the parent to my younger brother… the parent to myself. Throughout high-school I was a geek, a loser, a loner. I struggled to make friends. I struggled to meet women. I was a part of the clique known as “The Smart Kids”. I graduated, and went on to college…

BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA-BLA

I’m Sick of it already… aren’t you? I’ve heard it a million times. I used to enjoy telling it to myself. I used to love hearing it, and seeing the reactions that it got from those around me. What a WASTE of BREATH!!!! And breath is precious. It is finite. One day, you WILL breathe your last breath… how many more do you want to waste on YOUR STORY?

Step 2: Let it Go It sounds like a hard thing to do, but it’s not… if you wrote your story on a piece of paper BURN IT, CRUMBLE IT, THROW IT AWAY!!!! If you wrote it on a computer, DELETE the file. If you spoke it out loud, VOW that it will be THE LAST TIME you do that.

It’s time to define the story you want…. not the one you were born into. Not the one you’ve been trapped by. Not the one that has KEPT YOU ASLEEP FOR YEARS.

State Your Limitations… AND THEY’RE YOURS!!!!

Step 3: Imagine and Create Your New Story Now comes the fun part. And this can be done in an unlimited number of ways. I’ll give you some ideas and suggestions, but be creative. Make it yours. If you have a way that works for you, share it in the comments… the life you inspire might be your own…..

Tomorrow morning set your alarm extra early. You must be the first one awake. If you live alone, this is easy. If you have a family, beat them all to the coffee pot. Keep a notepad or a laptop or a voice recorder (or whatever) by your bedside… and the moment your feet hit the floor, pick it up, and state 3 things you are grateful for.

1) I am grateful for music 2) I am grateful for my family 3) I am grateful for this life

If you feel inspired, keep writing. 5, 10, 20 things. Whatever you want to do.

Then, find yourself a quiet place you can be focused and uninterrupted for the next 30 minutes… bring your pad, or something you can use to take notes. I like listening to music when I do this. Other people like to be in nature. Some people like to take a jog or a run or do exercise first. Some people meditate first… whatever works for you. When you are in the right frame of mind, start to imagine your life in 5 years. Where do you live? What do you drive? Who are you surrounded by? What do you do for a living?

What INSPIRES YOU?

You can write it down, you can draw it out, you can clip pictures from magazines and paste them on a vision board, you can use Photoshop… but you cannot just do it in your head. You must somehow make it physical. Make it concrete. MAKE IT REAL!!!

It takes as long as it takes. If you run out of time, come back to it later. Give it love. Give it focus. Give it ATTENTION!!!

And when it’s done, put it somewhere you will see it every morning.

This works. I have seen it change lives. I have seen it save families. I have seen it make money appear out of nowhere. I have seen it bring more love into people’s lives. I have seen it change everything. But first, you must BELIEVE that it can all change. You must believe that you are worthy of the life you dream of. You must believe in YOU!!!!!

Step 4: Start Living Your Dreams

Each day is a new opportunity to move forward. If you slip, that’s ok, we all do. I know I have slipped and continue to struggle some days. Like anything worthwhile it takes time and practice. It is a process. But it is possible.

If you have a hard time on a particular day, here is what works for me…

Turn on random shuffle on your ipod or itunes, and play it LOUD!!!!! Go for a run, or a walk, or do pushups or whatever it takes to get you breathing heavy. Sit quiet and focus on your breath. Change your pattern. Take a different route to work. Eat something different for breakfast. Start a conversation with someone random. Spend some time with your pet. Kiss or hug someone.

And my personal favorite: DRESS THE PART!!!!

There’s a great scene in the Steve Martin movie MY BLUE HEAVEN… (and no, I’m not a Steve Martin fanatic or anything, but like the last post, it’s the most appropriate example).

In the movie, Steve Martin is trying to get Rick Moranis character out of a depression, and he takes him shopping for an expensive suit. Custom tailored and gorgeous. It’s not cheap, but when he wears it, Rick’s character stands different. He holds himself different. You can tell he feels different…. and Steve tells him “You see, the wardrobe is a symbol of how you are… you follow me? … Listen to me, it’s very hard for a human being to change. I know this. I am an expert on this. So, sometimes in order for a human being to change you have to change from the outside – IN.”

It’s true. Put on a nice shirt and slacks, even a tie if you need to, or a nice dress, or whatever makes you feel sharp. Look in the mirror… how do you feel?

Are you ready to start your new life now? THEN GET GOING!!!!!

It’s like the old SNL character Fernando used to say, “You look maahvelous… and it is more important to look good than to feel good!”

Just take the first step, and fake it until you make it.






A Leap of Faith: Part IV – The Career

31 03 2010

There is a common misconception I would like to debunk right off the top. It is the assumption that a career and a job are the same thing… that they are synonyms. I propose that they are very different things, and that confusing them is not only a huge mistake, but that it can often have disastrous repercussions.

A job is temporary. A job is fleeting. You are not in control of it, it is in control of you. Most jobs do not require specific skills, or if they do, often you can learn what you need to know on the job. You show up for a job everyday, but the job goes on without you if you leave. For the most part, you do not control the direction your job takes, the choices you make my subtly affect the way the job goes, but you are not steering the boat. With a job you are usually working for someone else. Being paid by someone else. Dependent upon someone else.

A career is 1000% different. A career is permanent (or at least semi-permanent). A career is long-term. If you have a career, you are in charge. Your every decision and choice affects the course of your career. Generally speaking, in a career your working for a bigger purpose, or towards a bigger goal. A career takes a certain skill set. You can learn many new skills on the job in a career, but the career will falter early if you do not have certain skills.

Once I walked out of that office on the corner of Beverly Dr., and Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills everything changed. I had walked into that office fresh off my realizations in Costa Rica, and the seed money to start my career. I had walked into that office a man with a job… I walked out with a career.

The first week of my new career was a whirlwind. I partnered up with a close friend of mine who was very skilled on the PC. I knew my company would need both Mac and PC technicians, and it seemed to make sense to start with someone I knew. He had strong business skills, and helped me get the bureaucratic blah-blah in line. We needed a name first, then a DBA and a bank account, then a Federal Tax ID#, then we needed a business phone line, and advertising, and a website, and a million other things… but first came the name.

We struggled with the name. I was the creative person, so it fell onto me to throw out idea after idea after idea, only to have each and every one unceremoniously shot down. How about this? Or that? Or this one? Or we could call it… and on and on and on… finally I turned to him, frustrated, “What the hell do you want to call it? 2 Smart Techies?” He laughed immediately, and smiled… and just like that 2 Smart Techies was born.

We quickly got the DBA, and purchased our domain, and designed our logo (again with lots of help from me as the creative guy), and put out some ads… and then we waited. We weren’t sure how long it was going to take. A day, a week, a month, or even longer… but it didn’t take long at all. We soon got a call from a major television production company in Hollywood. They had a dozen and a half PCs, and a huge virus infestation. I will always remember that moment as my Ghostbusters moment. You know the scene… the ghostbusters have put it all on the line getting their headquarters set up. They have their ads running, and most of New York thinks they’re a complete joke, but then someone calls and hires them to catch the slimy green ghost, and Annie Potts, the mousey secretary throws down her hand on a big red button, and screams “WE GOT ONE!!!!!” and alarms and sirens go off all over the Ghostbusters headquarters and they all slide down the pole in their full costumes for the first time…. It was just like that…. Only much much more mundane.

We got on site, and sure enough it was a complete disaster. Some new PC virus had been released and had just wreaked havoc on this office. I saw things that day that I had never imagined as even remote possibilities outside of the Sci-Fi Fantasy films I had grown up on. I was at a distinct disadvantage coming from the Mac side of things… I had only heard of viruses as concepts. I’d never really seen them in the wild, nor did I know what they could do or how to fix them. It was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. There were viruses that could shut off your computer, or wipe all the data off your machine, or redirect your browser to unauthorized pages… it was crazy. I let my PC partner guide me, and together we worked our asses off for over 16 hours straight… and then, all of a sudden, we were done. We invoiced the company, and collected a check for over $4000. My partner and I split it down the center, and just like that we were a legitimate company.

I was warned by friends of mine and other technicians, that this business was a sink or swim business. Some weeks you would eat filet mignon, and some days you would be lucky to have enough money and work to buy dog food… but it was never like that for me. It was always filet mignon. On job led to another. One client referred me to another one. Before I knew it, I had more work than I could handle, and more money than I had ever expected to earn.

That’s not to say it was easy sailing from this point on, not by a long shot, but we were over the first hurdle. The second hurdle that would really define me as a leader, and define my business as a whole, came a couple of months down the line. You see, I was already 30 at this point, and had had enough job experiences to know that I never again wanted to work for someone else. This gave me an intense work ethic. This was not just my day job. This was a company that i would build out and cultivate into a career. Something that would feed me and my family not just for the here and now, but well into my future. My partner on the other hand was in his 20’s, still finishing his school career, had no kids, and almost no overhead. Originally we had assumed that we would split all costs up front, and all checks we received, but that soon proved to be a bad plan. I worked every day. I had clients lined up and waiting for my services, and my partner just sat around waiting for someone to call him. I was being proactive, while he was just being reactive. As a result I provided 90% of the clients, and 90% of the income, and yet also carried the full load of the overhead, and paid half of my earnings over. This clearly wasn’t going to work.

My first remedy for this situation was to put my partner on a guaranteed hourly amount. I would pay him a flat rate every week, and keep the rest of what I was making. This didn’t work either because then he did less and less since he wasn’t being paid based on how much he did, just a flat rate. He was clearly in a job mind-set, while I was quickly learning what it meant to be in a career mind-set. I decided I had only one choice, so I bought him fully out of the company, and became a sole proprietor, a business owner, a full-time computer consultant, and most of all the proud new owner of an actual career. Go figure.

Down the line, I would branch out, find a new top-notch PC technician, build my brand and my clientele, and 7 years later I would still be here, fixing people’s Macs and helping them get their PCs working, writing tech blogs and recording a podcast, and thanking my lucky stars everyday that I get to be in charge. I get to be the boss. I make the decisions and choices and I steer my future, for better or worse. I have no one to answer to, and I make my own schedule, and money has never been the same issue it was back in those early days. Now it’s on to bigger and better things, and finding ways to continue to market my Business, and build my roster, and add new technicians, etc… Every day is a new adventure, and every day I learn something new that helps me lift this company a notch higher and a notch higher still. With a job, who cares…. With a career, I better care, because no one else will care for me.