A more casual place to share ideas and thoughts about this blog and life as an ambitious twenty-something.
Think to the last time you joined a new club, team, or organization. What was the reason you committed?
While the coaches, leaders, and program itself all play an important role, I’m willing to bet your interaction with the current members had a huge impact on your decision.
For a guy who barely weighed 100 lbs in high school, joining the full contact, no pads game of rugby seems to be the opposite of most people’s natural reaction. Yet, for some reason I committed to it.
Part of my commitment lied in proving some people wrong, but the larger part came from my interaction with the current team members during my very first practice.
I remember walking onto the practice field that evening by myself, holding my first pair of cleats. As I nervously walked closer to the rest of the team, a senior member of the team, Matt, immediately approached me, asked my name, shook my hand, and started teaching me the basics of the game. Following his lead, other team members introduced themselves to me and sparked up conversation.
I knew I was committed to this team that very day.
The amount of time between a new person arriving and a current member embracing them plays a huge role in whether that person will stay or not.
This rule also held true in my search for a crossfit gym.
The difference between the first three gyms that I didn’t commit to and the one I finally did was the time in which it took current members to introduce themselves to me.
My first day in the first three gyms involved a lot of standing around alone trying to not be awkward. Compare this to being warmly approached by several members of Crossfit FullBore, in New Orleans, within minutes of stepping in.
I signed my membership contract with Fullbore that same day.
As a newcomer, you shouldn’t have to approach people and initiate contact, that’s the role of the current members!
So, my message to you today is this:
Be a leader and take the initiative.
If you are the current member of a team or organization, make it a point to approach the new people as soon as you notice them. Pause your current conversation, walk over, shake their hand, and talk to them.
This will have 2 results:
- The other members will follow your lead and also introduce themselves.
- The person feels comfortable and is much more likely to stay.
Congratulations, you just got a new member.
Serving the Lord takes on many forms.
Some forms of service are larger, more widespread efforts and others are smaller chances to do good.
If you’re ambitious like me, you tend to focus on praying for those opportunities to make a huge impact in the world. These prayers are great, but don’t ignore the smaller opportunities to serve God that are always around you.
“Practice saying ‘yes’ to God in your day to day life” said my friend and world traveler, Nick, as we met for coffee.
Nick was telling me about his recent adventures traveling to 11 countries in 11 months for mission trips. While he was talking, I felt the familiar feeling creeping in of “I need to do more!” and “I need to get out and do bigger things!”
“God is going to do big things in your life, I can tell”, said Nick, “but those things take time. In the meantime, practice saying ‘yes’ to God in your day to day life.”
What he meant was that I shouldn’t just twiddle my thumbs while waiting for God to work the big things for my future. Instead, I need to practice asking God for ways to serve him every day.
You might not be speaking in front of thousands of people, but by helping someone carry their load or sparking up a conversation with a stranger, you can plant seeds for Christ anywhere you are.
Not only will this have the effect of shining the Lord’s light on others, but your days will become brighter too. Instead of going through the same dull day-in and day-out cycle, each day can become a new adventure that you will be excited to embark on.
This was just what I needed.
If this sounds like something you are going through, keep saying the big prayers, but don’t forget to ask God for the smaller, more frequent chances to “yes” to Him every day.
As my pastor once said, “Both the source and solution to your stress lie in the same place… your mind.”
He was saying that your mind is where you create the stress you feel but it’s also the place where you can eliminate it.
Paul writes in the book of Romans
“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” -Romans 12:2.
Where is it that God goes to transform you? Yep…your mind. If He puts that much value on how you think, then you should too.
A lot of your outlook on life has to do with how you talk to yourself in your mind- your “self-talk”. While you think the small things you say to yourself don’t carry much weight, they accumulate in your mind and form your perception of yourself and the world.
If you tell yourself, “I’m so fat”, every time you eat something sweet, you’re going to start believing it. And if you always tell yourself that there isn’t enough time, you’ll live eternally stressed.
I recently had to make a shift in my self-talk while complaining to my girlfriend about being overwhelmed. “There just isn’t enough time”, I said, “I only have a couple evenings to work on my side projects after work because I have to go to jiu-jitsu the other evenings.”
This is where she stopped me. “Stop thinking about these things as chores. These are all things you love to do.”
She was right.
I was putting so much pressure on myself, in my own mind, that I started looking at the fun things I loved as chores. She continued, “Stop saying you have to do them. You don’t have to do anything. You GET to do these things.”
By changing that one word, she showed me how to reframe my self-talk for the positive.
What I was taking for granted, and maybe you do too, is that as a whole, we are very blessed. There are people all over the world who don’t get to make good money at work, or learn at school, or workout in a nice facility.
These are all things we get to do.
So next time you feel overwhelmed, check your self talk. Find a positive way to frame your statement instead of a negative way.
Remember, while your mind is the source of your stress…it’s also the solution.
What other areas of life have you caught yourself using negative self talk?
I’ve recently been putting more thought to where God comes in as a priority in my life.
We always say “God first, then family, then whatever” but do we really mean it? After taking some time to think about this, I drew a pyramid on my white board and colored in the top piece (in blue) for God and then colored in the rest of the pyramid with my other priorities.
I left this image on my whiteboard for over a week as a symbol to keep me focused on giving God the time he deserves.
However, as I was reading The Shack, a book about a father who lost a child and is finding his way back to the Lord, I read something that completely changed how I viewed my relationship with God.
The main character in the book was having a conversation with God asking about making God a priority in his life. God said,
“The trouble with living by priorities is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you go about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?”
Wow, this is what I had just done without even realizing it by drawing my pyramid. I gave God the sliver at the top but that’s it. I kept reading as God continued talking to the main character, Mackenzie, saying
“You see, Mackenzie, I don’t just want a piece of your life…I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day.”
After reading this sentence, I looked over at my whiteboard and had to put the book down for a second. “God wants every part of my life, not just some piece at the top of the pyramid” I thought to myself.
Then, I noticed something that blew me away. While I hadn’t noticed it before, the same blue color that I used to shade in my “God” portion of the pyramid was the same color I used to outline the whole pyramid!
That’s when it hit me, God wants to be the outline of my pyramid, not just the top portion! That way, he is part of everything in my life. He is what holds the rest of the pyramid together.
So when you think about God’s role in your life, don’t just reserve some tiny piece of it for him, he wants to be a part of everything!
To do this, open yourself up to a dialogue with God throughout the day, not just in your morning time. Take a minute several times throughout the day to hold a casual conversation with God thanking him for whatever your doing or asking him to help you. In this way, you open your whole life to his presence.
You know the feeling of panic you get in the pit of your stomach when you first face something you’ve never done before?
It’s that initial feeling of intimidation you get on the first day of a class when the teacher starts talking about all the requirements for the year. It’s the feeling when your boss approaches you with an unfamiliar task. It’s that “I have no idea how to do this or where to start” feeling.
We all get this feeling. It’s a natural reaction that feels like a combination of fear, dread, and anxiety all rolled into one.
I’ve gotten this feeling so many times in the past year that I’ve now learned to expect it and even embrace it.
This feeling is just your response to the unknown.
It’s your brain sensing something that it’s never faced before and not liking it. It would much rather do something it’s already learned and already figured out.
But along with recognizing this feeling, I’ve come to learn that the key to handling it is all about your perspective and about trusting yourself.
If you think back, almost every time you’ve gotten this feeling, you somehow end up figuring it out. Whether it’s paperwork, a new class, a new job, or even driving somewhere unfamiliar, once you get a little more information and dive in, the initial intimidation wears off and you get the job done.
So instead of freaking out, change your perspective. Have an open mind and understand that this situation, while uncomfortable, is a chance for you to learn something new. And once it’s over, you’ll have grown from it and added that experience to your toolbox for the future.
In addition to changing your perspective, trust yourself. While you may not have seen this specific task before, you’ve faced many similar scenarios of starting out with no idea what to do and then eventually figuring it out. And this situation isn’t any different. Plus, once it’s over, it’ll be another thing you’ve conquered that you can use to boost your confidence for the next time an unknown task is brought your way.
So next time you get intimidated by something new, allow yourself to sit in the feeling of uncertainty without panicking. You’ve been here before, you’ll figure it out, and you’ll grow from it.
Regardless of what you call it, “self-help”, “personal development”, “self-improvement”, or “self-development”, improving yourself has amazing benefits for your life. You gain confidence, tackle goals, and achieve the things you set your mind to.
If you know me at all, you know I’ve been immersed in this stuff for quite some time now, and I love it. However, there is one rather large negative side-effect that I have discovered from self-improvement.
This side effect is becoming “self”-centered.
If you notice in the videos, podcasts, and books of this genre, they are always about “your goals”, “your life”, “your dreams”, and “your aspirations.” Everything always seem to come down to what you want. Is it just me or does this seem like a problem?
Let us remember that everything in life requires balance, even improving yourself.
If you spend all your time thinking about improving yourself, you are not spending any time thinking of others. And because you are only focused on yourself, you won’t ever be completely happy.
This is because true happiness and fulfillment come from serving the Lord and serving others. If you’ve ever volunteered your time or helped a friend on a project just for the sake of helping them, you know the deep feeling of joy you get from helping someone else.
As Jesus says,
Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.”
Matthew 16:25 (MSG)
As last year came to a close, I realized the majority of my thoughts were about me and what I wanted in life. Because of this, most of my conversations ended back on me as well. I don’t like that. That’s why I’m making one of my themes for the year service.
There is nothing wrong with wanting improvement. But if you want to become the best version of yourself, put more of your focus on your fellow humans.
Stop trying to find your career by thinking about the outcome of that career. Instead, look for something that you would enjoy the process of getting good at.
Becoming a master of anything is harder than we understand. If you don’t love the process, you’ll give up. As Nicolas Cole says, “a lot of people are in love with the idea of something… but they aren’t in love with the lifestyle that would manifest it.”
Don’t get into real estate because it’s popular. Get into real estate if you love putting hours in working on houses and making phone calls.
Don’t try to become a writer because you want to have a book. Become a writer if you love the process and struggle of writing pages of material and only selecting a few paragraphs to keep.
And don’t try to become an entrepreneur because you want to travel the world. Become an entrepreneur if you love the hustle of learning, failing, and being dependent on yourself for your next paycheck.
At one point, I got caught up in the drop-shipping world. Drop-shipping is where you send products straight to your customers from the wholesaler (mostly in other countries) and never have to actually touch the product. It sounded cool and I thought it would be a good way to make a side income.
I never made a sale…
Since I didn’t enjoy the process of trying to figure out the perfect offer, Facebook ad, and audience, I gave up after a month. I was focused on the end result and not the process.
Now, compare this to my 66 day writing challenge. I was able to get over 3 million views on my articles on Quora because I fell in love with the process of grinding through an article each day.
Stop focusing on the end result, and start thinking more about how you would enjoy the actions that would get you there.
As I continue to refine the ‘One Brick A Day’ message and who is it for, I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to get a logo.
I want to get a unifying symbol that quickly shows people what this blog and movement are all about.
Deep down I know that I want this to be for ambitious young-professionals trying to build their path in life, but it’s hard to put the overall message into words.
However, it will easier to communicate this movement with a great logo.
To me, One Brick A Day is about being patient in our search for success in all areas of life. It’s about taking small, consistent steps towards our goals.
So, thanks to the push from a friend, I’ve decided to start designing some rough logo ideas that I think represent this movement.
Let’s design this together.
Here are the first round of ideas. Feel free to ridicule them, but if you see one that you like or that is close to something cool, help me out by commenting!
Please keep in mind these aren’t perfect, some coloring or alignment may be slightly off. I’m also open to others ideas.
“Performance-based living” is a term I learned from my cousin, Kory. I don’t know if it’s a real term or one he made up, but it describes someone who gets their happiness based on how they perform.
Both my cousin, a West Point grad, and I are overachievers. Because of this, our happiness tends to depend on how well we are performing in parts of our lives such as work or fitness.
If we do well at work or in a workout, our moods are great. But if our day isn’t so productive, our moods are shot.
While it’s great to work hard and want to perform well, letting your performance be your source of happiness is a surefire way to a stressed life with stressed relationships.
You need a deeper, more consistent source of joy than how well you are succeeding.
Let your joy come from the deepest source there is, knowing that you were put on this earth to love and be loved by God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
If you focus on that, you can be happy regardless of your efforts.
Building a habit or making any big life change is like building a fire.
You can’t build a big fire by starting with big logs. Big logs are too dense and won’t light easily.
You have to start small.
You have to take your initial flame and light some kindling (small twigs that light easy). Then, once your kindling is going, you have to feed it with more small twigs and sticks. After these have taken flame, you can progressively add larger sticks until you eventually get to logs.
This is the same in life.
You can’t just tell yourself that you’re going to start getting fit by going to the gym every day. You have to start with a couple push-ups. And then a couple pull-ups. And then a couple squats. And then 1 day a week at the gym, then 2, then 3.
Building new habits or going for big goals requires starting small and building up.