How to Do More of What You Want

The refrain of, “I’ll do all this crap I don’t want to do for most of my life, so that hopefully I’ll have a few years to do what I really want to do and hopefully I’ll be in good enough shape and still alive to do it.” has grown tired.  

I’m not sure how we got to a place where the standard operating procedure is to spend most of your life doing stuff you don’t want to do, in hopes you’ll be able to do a little bit of what you really want later on. 

The world functions best when everyone is doing what they are not only best at, but also most excited and energized by. The industrial revolution moved us away from that idea. It moved us toward a paradigm where we categorize all the work that must be done, define exactly how it should be done and then find people to fit into these clearly defined and labeled, “roles”. 

When you’re in school, you learn stuff and are asked, what you want to be when you grow up. There is a list of roles you can fill (aka jobs) and you must decide which of these boxes you fit into. You get to “pick” because we believe that you should get to choose the one that you’ll be least miserable doing. 

You better pick wisely, because you’re gonna have to do it all day long for many many years, until you get to quit doing it. At that point, you will have saved or invested enough money from doing that thing you picked. That’s the idea anyway. 

That’s just how it is. 

I don’t accept that anything is how it is or that it can’t be changed. When everyone is doing what they most want to do, everyone is fueled by passion, desire and the thing they most devoted to. Whether it’s music, historic architecture, curing cancer or football, everyone has something unique to contribute that — most importantly, they vehemently want to contribute to the world. 

Few people will argue with this, but few people will actually take the scary steps necessary to make it a reality. There’s no three-step process to doing what you most want to do, there’s no single plan that anyone can follow to make it happen. 

Because it’s so unique for each person, each one of us has to find our own path. But delaying it definitely won’t get you there.
Doing it will. 

If you’re passion is music, figure out a way to do more music. If it’s helping cure a disease, do more of that. If it’s playing a sport, do more of that. If actually doing it isn’t feasible, research it, talk to people about it, do whatever you can to move in that direction. 

The world functions best when we’re all doing what we’re supposed to be doing. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for the future of humanity. 

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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The Real Problem With Political Correctness

Let me be clear, I say, “happy holidays” because I want to include my friends who don’t celebrate Christmas, not because I feel a need to follow some prescribed way of talking. And for those who feel compelled to knock the idea of political correctness, just say what the fuck you want — that’s how you knock the idea, not by knocking the idea, you see?

But none of that’s really important, what’s really important is how the idea of political correctness has actually damaged this country. Let’s get down to that.

While I was emailing with my aunt recently about the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, she said, “It’s like nothing has changed since the 70’s.” So true and so frustrating.

Speaking as a white guy who grew up in an all-white, rural suburb, racism is real. It’s very real and always has been. We’ve definitely made progress since the civil rights movement, but here’s the problem. We’ve made progress on the surface, but not underneath. The progress we’ve made has been in policy and perception, but not in reality.

policy and perception, but not in reality… That really sucks.

“Political correctness” has created a situation where we’ve just wallpapered over the real, underlying issues. Policy has created practical change on the surface, but is resented by some because they fundamentally have not changed.

This fundamental change of the underlying issues is what will lead to lasting. The real challenge to this is that we’re going to have to start having a very different conversation and everyone is going to have to admit they are wrong in some way, large or small.

Photo Credit: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Five Life Lessons From Five Convicted Felons

Originally published on the Huffington Post at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/five-lessons-from-five-convicted-felons_b_5819554

Over the past year, I met and became friends with five convicted felons. It’s easy to write someone off because of their past. It’s not as easy to listen, understand and learn. It’s not easy to let down your guard, put aside your ego and be open to the possibility that you might be wrong. But you can learn a lot.

These five convicted felons served their time and are not now out of prison. After being released, they ended up in very different life situations, ranging from very bright to very bleak.

Regardless of your situation, these five lessons can make the difference between a very promising or a very bleak future.

1. Your situation doesn’t dictate the future
Even with a criminal record, probation or whatever your background might be, your future depends on the actions you take today, not the actions you took yesterday. Whether you are broke, stuck, trapped or no matter how bas your situation seems, what matters is what you do today. What you do right now will either move you forward or keep you where you are.

2. Responsibility matters — a lot
The difference between success and mediocrity is your ability to take 100 percent responsibility for getting the results you want. You have to be completely devoted to making it happen. When the normal way isn’t working, or when there are obstacles on the obvious path, you have to find another way.

3. Blame is poison
If you want guarantees in life, here’s one: you’re going to get screwed. If you let what other people do to you affect your ability to succeed, you are done. Accept that other people are going to do things to you that are mean, bad, or unfair. Then move on. Figure out how you are going to succeed in spite of those people.

4. You can do way more than you think
You can do so much more than you ever thought possible. When you refuse to believe the limitations of what’s on the surface, entire new possibilities emerge. When you realize that you are able to take responsibility for your future, regardless of how badly you have been screwed, you are unstoppable.

5. Be creative
When you think you can’t do something because of some limitation of the past, it might simply mean you can’t do it the obvious way. Decide what you really want and forget about the normal way of accomplishing that thing. Find new, interesting and innovative means to that same end.

It doesn’t matter if you have a criminal record or not, your future is in your hands. Instead of dwelling on the past, spend that time making the future what you want it to be.

Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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9 Things You’ve Done That Are Harder Than Starting a Business

Originally published on the Huffington Post at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/9-things-youve-done-that-_b_5698637

Entrepreneurship is a natural human function. It’s just an exchange of value between two people and human beings have been doing that as long as we’ve existed. As the world has become more complex, the logistics of exchanging value have become more complicated. Many say it’s too hard.

But ordinary people do things every day that are way harder. If you’ve made it through any of these things, you’ve got what it takes to start a business.

1. Stayed married
The complexities and challenges of maintaining a sustained, intimate relationship between two people are endless. Negotiating those complexities takes a tremendous amount of time, patience and understanding.

If you have the commitment, patience and understanding to stay married, you should have no problem committing to the work and being patient enough to start a business.

2. Raised kids
I’m not even talking about raising good kids. Just keeping them fed, clothed and out of serious trouble is a long, hard 18+ year task and a commitment you take seriously.

If you have the patience, focus and commitment required to do the hard work of raising kids for 18+ years, you can use that same patience, focus and commitment to successfully start a business.

3. Gotten a divorce
Divorce is a very stressful time. It requires coping with loss, disappointment, hurt, pain and uncertainty about the future. This happens to a large number of people and we always make it through.

If you’ve been through a divorce, you can probably handle the rejection, disappointment, loss and uncertainty that inevitably accompanies a startup.

4. Lost a loved one
One of the hardest things we have to deal with is when someone we love dies. It’s a terrible feeling and when it happens, we wonder if we will be able to carry on. But we do. Every single day, people die and their loved ones move past the grief and get on with their lives.

If you’ve experienced the pain of losing a loved one, you’ll view the frustrations and disappointments of starting a business as minor, because you know where they really belong on your priority list.

5. Moved to another city
Your life is completely uprooted. You have a new job, a new home, new friends, a new church and more. Everything that was familiar has changed and you have to rebuild your support network.

If you’ve moved to another city, you’ve proven that you’re capable of dealing with the massive amount of fast-paced change that comes with starting a business.

6. Quit Smoking
Discipline and commitment are the keys to kicking this gross and cancer-causing habit. It’s easy to give in to the temptation, but you must stay committed and have the discipline to resist the temptation.

If you’ve broken this dangerous habit, you have the discipline and commitment required to start a business.

7. Had a major illness
Major illness, particularly when life-threatening, is an event that will shake you to the core. It will make you question everything you believed and deeply understand what’s important and what’s not.

If you’ve dealt with a life-threatening illness, you understand what’s important in life and what’s not, which is critical for starting a business.

8. Experienced an empty nest
After spending 18+ years raising kids, focusing every second of your life on them and putting their needs ahead of yours, suddenly having an empty house is a major shock. Everything about your life is completely different.

If you’ve had your kids move out, you’ve experienced the type of huge lifestyle change that you’ll experience when you start a business.

9. Had a baby
I’m a 39-year-old man. I know nothing about pregnancy, but the simplest logic tells you it’s really hard and painful.

Starting a business doesn’t hurt that much and it only makes you sick in the morning if you drank too much the night before, which is typically done either in celebration of something good or drowning the sorrows of something bad.

Starting a business is not easy, but if you’re wondering if you can do it, refer back to any of these things you’ve experienced and know that you’ve done something harder. People quit their jobs and start a business every single day. It’s your turn.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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5 Surprising Things That Happen When You Stop Expecting Achievements to Make You Happy

Originally published on the Huffington Post at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/life-lessons-_b_5588193

We tend to seek happiness in the wrong place.

“As soon as I get that promotion, everything will be great.”
“When I find a husband I’ll finally be happy.”
“My worries will be over when this business starts making money.”

We’re seeking happiness in achievement, which never works.

Detach Happiness From Achievement
Achievement is important to humans, but it’s a result of happiness; not a cause of it. We expect that when our business reaches a certain revenue level, we will be happy. We expect that when we accomplish certain goals or our personal situation is in a certain state, we will be happy. This doesn’t work.

Get comfortable with the idea that you could (if necessary) be very happy if only your basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing) were met. Think of the power that would give you. You no longer have to worry about money because you don’t depend on it for happiness. Here’s the really cool thing. Since you detached your happiness from that single outcome, now it’s much more likely to become true.

When you no longer look to achievement for happiness, these five surprising things happen.

1. You lose your ego.
Most negative feelings, like sadness, anger and fear come from ego. When someone challenges what you say, and you get that uneasy feeling, that’s ego. Your ego is threatened. Ego is how we define ourselves. Any time that definition of who we are is threatened, our ego is threatened and that makes us uneasy. Sometimes that means anger, hurt feelings, or distain for the person who threatened our ego. None of that makes us happy. Having absolutely no ego means having no resistance to external circumstances.

2. You become fearless.
When you’re completely relaxed and not hanging your happiness on any certain outcome, everything changes. Your happiness no longer depends on things like money, relationships or business goals. That doesn’t mean you don’t have goals and you don’t work hard to achieve them. It does mean you’re not dependent on any specific outcome of those goals for happiness. The dependency on a specific outcome to be happy creates unhealthy obsessions and prevents you from enjoying life. Since you have decided that happiness does not come from achievement, you no longer rely on it to be happy. Now fear takes on a whole new face. Fear of being broke? Not really a problem. Fear of not becoming a millionaire? Fear of not meeting business goals? Not a problem either. Fear goes away.

3. You don’t regret anything.
Never regard anything as a mistake. There are no mistakes or failures, only lessons. Regard everything that happens as a step on your journey. Remember, you are not attached to any certain outcome, so it’s just another step. Whether you decide to call it good or call it bad, either way it is a step on your journey, taking you to the next place in your life. The outcome teaches you a lesson, alters your approach, or helps you redefine your destination. When you no longer have fear and no longer regard anything as a mistake, you have no regrets.

4. You are honest.
When your ego is gone, you have no reason to lie, manipulate or even bend the truth. You’re free to relax and tell it just like it is. You have nothing to hide! Generally when we are not being honest it’s because we are avoiding something that we’re afraid of. Maybe that’s something we are ashamed of, some inadequacy we perceive in ourselves or some outcome we are really dreading. All of those basically go back to fear and ego. If you have no fear and you have lost your ego, what is there to lie or mislead about?

5. You be yourself.
People really are spectacular. People are interesting, dynamic, intelligent beings with great ideas. When we aren’t being ourselves, we hide all that spectacularness. Were guarded in what we say and do because we are afraid other people won’t like us. Even if it’s subtle, people see through it and don’t like it as much as they would like the real, interesting, dynamic, intelligent person who is behind that false persona. Relax and be yourself. You have nothing to lose except your ego — which is a good thing to lose.

Here’s the best part: When you detach happiness from achievement, these five things that happen are the key ingredients to success. Disconnecting happiness from achievement is the best way to achieve anything.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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What Old People Can Learn From Millennials

Originally published on the Huffington Post at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/life-lessons-_b_5588193

“I feel like my entire generation is being judged by people like her.” the 22-year-old Target checker said to me as the millennial before me talked on her phone the whole time she was in line.

The mass-stereotyping of an entire generation has distracted us from the new direction Generation Y is leading us in.

32-year-old entrepreneur Cara Silletto says, “Our baby boomer parents spent 20+ years in a job they hated. Then when they finally got out, they said, ‘Man, I wish I had done that 10 years ago.'” Millennials watched their parents work long hours at jobs they didn’t care about.

“Work hard and climb the corporate ladder so you can enjoy retirement,” the Xers and boomers told their kids. Michael Solari, 30-year-old financial planner, says, “Baby boomers got caught climbing the corporate ladder and hated every rung.”

Gen Y heard, “You can’t have what you want, so settle.”

They want nothing to do with it. Their response is, “Mom and Dad, we appreciate all you’ve done, but we have a better vision for the world.”

They’re clear on the vision and they are living it. I talked to 100 millennials who shared their vision for the world and what the baby boomers and Gen X can learn from their new perspective.

1. Embrace Technology.
This is the obvious one, so let’s get it out the way first. Technology is here to stay and you have to embrace it. 33-year-old comedian, Dan Nainan says it best, “Older folks stand to benefit the most. They can keep in touch through email, Skype and so forth. Also, older folks can learn a lot about health conditions and medications on the Internet.”

2. Give back.
What you do should make the world better. Millennials want to make money and live comfortably, but also want to give back to causes they care about. They’re eager to use their social networks to share what they learn quickly so many people can benefit.

3. Do what you want.
Doing something just because it pays well or there’s demand for the skill won’t make you happy. Millennials believe you should figure out what you want to do and do it. They believe you should be fulfilled by what you do. 24-year-old Carly Brooke says, “I never want to look back and say ‘Gee, I really wish I had tried to make my dreams happen.'”

4. Don’t separate work and life.
If you’re doing something you are passionate about, there’s no need for work-life balance. It’s all living. Move seamlessly from work to play, mix the two and enjoy them both. Buddy Hobart, baby boomer and Gen Y expert, says, “Work-life balance is a myth and you do not have a ‘work life’ and a ‘personal life,’ you simply have a life.”

5. Learn fast.
Our rapidly evolving world requires a new skill: learning quickly. Conditions change too fast to learn one skill and spend years developing it in the workplace. Develop the skill of learning and adapting quickly so you can do many different things. Jon Kline, 33-year-old business owner says, “When I get resumes, I look for a diversity of experiences, a wide social network, and a track record of success in varying situations.”

6. Be open-minded about the future.
Many opportunities will come along in life and if you are stuck in a preconceived idea of what the future should look like, you’ll miss the exciting things that come along; they may be better than you ever thought possible. Life is a process of discovery. Be open to discovering things.

7. Take risks.
Taking risks is a necessary part of achievement and Gen Y gets that. They also appreciate that their baby boomer parents let them move back home occasionally when they stumble, as successful people inevitably do. Taking the safe path guarantees your life will be mediocre. Taking risks means there will be failure, but millennials are more interested in the infinite possibilities that risk-taking brings. Ximena N. Beltran Quan Kiu, 27-year-old entrepreneur says, “Any failure I meet will be the greatest teacher of all and I’m willing to learn.

Millennials aren’t bitter and they aren’t lazy. Entitled? If unwillingness to settle for a life of mediocrity is entitled, then yes. But I wouldn’t call it entitled, I’d call it committed. They know their parents worked hard and did the best they could with what they had. Gen Y is following that example by doing the best they can with what they have. And they have more: more technology, more connectivity and the benefit of their elders’ experiences.

Millennials understand the value of age and experience and want us all to work together on this new future. Zach Luczynski, a 25-year-old entrepreneur says, “There is such an abundance of information today, but a shocking shortage of wisdom. Boomers and Gen X, We need you!”

Layering accumulated knowledge and experiences from generation to generation is how we evolve. It’s how we improve the experience of being human. Let’s partner up with these kids and create a better world together.

iPhoto by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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17 Lifestyle Fanatics Share Their Secrets to Success

Originally published on the Huffington Post at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/secrets-success_b_5540508

Too many people settle for less than they deserve in life. This has lead to a majority of people reporting they are not happy. If we’re going to change this, (and if we respect human life, we better) it’s time to look for different ways of doing things. Seventeen successful lifestyle fanatics would like to share how they each created a passionate life of freedom.

1. Don’t let your circumstances be an excuse.
Even if you are barely scraping by financially, working a job and have kids, you can still start a business that lets you live the life of your dreams.— Scottie Hobbs, Elite Top 10 Beachbody Coach

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2. Recognize the value of your creative endeavors.
If your passion involves an artistic endeavor, you don’t have to settle for being broke. Stop calling yourself a “starving artist.” Stop “suffering” for your art. Recognize the immense value your creative endeavors bring to the world, create a way to get paid for it, and pursue your dream. — Bob Baker​, author of the Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook

3. Stop worrying about failing.
Failure is great. It’s part of the process. It’s just an event. Failure does not define you unless you let it. When you fail, just get up and move on. — Jeet Banarjee, founder of Visionary Media Group & TEDx Speaker

4. Stop thinking stuff will make you happy.
When you get caught up in accumulating nice cars, a house in the Hamptons and lots of stuff, it becomes a prison because you have to work more and more to pay for the stuff that doesn’t make you any happier anyway. — Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm

5. Be consistent.
Consistently doing the same thing over and over again is how you build something. Be consistent and patiently wait for it to grow. At first you may not see any results, but keep going and you’ll see the small things you’ve done add up to something bigger. — Jonathan Taylor, host of The Beginner Internet Business Podcast

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6. Do something that scares you.
If you are afraid of doing something, do it. Doing something you are afraid of will move you toward the lifestyle you desire. — Loralee Hutton, author of Info Product Complete

7. Build strong relationships
Relationships with other people help you get things done. When you help or add value to other people, they are willing and even excited to help you out when you need it. Be strategic about helping other people. — Nick Unsworth, host of Life on Fire TV

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8. Create passive income streams.
You need freedom to feed your passions, and that comes from passive income streams. Plan strategically and invest the money from your current job into passive income streams, the first being your own business that supports the lifestyle you want. — Ryan Daniel Moran, founder of Freedom Fast Lane

9. Start now.
The biggest regret most people have about pursuing what they want is not starting sooner. Well, what’s wrong with today? Start now, and tomorrow, you won’t have that regret! — Travis Sherry, world traveler and host of #1 travel podcast

10. Don’t strive for perfection.
Don’t get bogged down in details and making everything perfect. Know when good enough is good enough. An endless pursuit of perfection will get you nowhere. — Nick Loper, Chief Side Hustler at Side Hustle Nation

11. Set a time budget.
Figure out how much time you can devote to pursing your business and stick to it. Everyone has to work around the realities of their lives, so work with what you have. Figure out how much time you can devote and then devote that time. — Scott Fox, founder of Click Millionaires

12. Be OK with hearing “no.”
When you’re pursuing something big, you’ll ask people to buy from you, to partner with you or any number of things. Sometimes they will say yes, sometimes they will say no. When they say no, it usually has more to do with their personal or business situation and has nothing to do with you. — Jason Kanigan, president of Sales On Fire

13. Don’t settle for mediocrity.
If you keep telling yourself the next job, the next promotion, the next whatever will be better, you’ll never thrive. You’ll settle for mediocrity. Go after what you want. — Sheri Fink, author and founder of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” children’s brand

14. Surround yourself with excellence.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and who have achieved success. They succeeded for a reason, and there is probably something you can learn from them. — Christina Daves, serial entrepreneur

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15. Don’t life a life of regrets.
We don’t know how much time we have left. Take a hard look at your life and ask what you would want to do differently. Now do it. — Justin Brokop, coach

16. Hustle.
Success takes a lot of hard work. You have to get up and do the work every single day. Don’t be afraid to try something new and different.— Mike Kawula, entrepreneur and INC 500 Award Winner

17. Stop listening to other people.
Each week for over a year, I’ve interviewed successful lifestyle fanatics who rejected the common script for how life is “supposed” to be and created a passionate life of freedom. Each of them have a different idea of what that means, but they all have one thing in common: They decided what they wanted out of life and created it. If you want to create the life of your dreams, you have to stop listening to the advice of people who who are in the majority and listen to the ones who are happy. — Jeff Steinmann, lifestyle fanatic

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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How to Succeed and Still Be Happy

No matter how you define success, it requires hard work, disappointment, rejection and lots of failing. With all the hard stuff you’ll endure, it’s hard to imagine how to stay happy along the way. You can. The solution lies at the intersection of Eastern and Western philosophies and requires three simple, but profound, mindset changes.

1. Find Peace
Don’t fall for the lie that something external will make you happy. Once your basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.) are met, nothing else will make you happier. Money, friends, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, kids, jewelry, cars or even ice cream will not make you happier. Happiness is always there. If you can’t feel it, you’re looking in the wrong place. Step one to success is realizing that it won’t make you happier.

Disclaimer: Ice cream is delicious and will make you happy until the bowl is empty.

2. Become Devoted
Decide what success is for you and become devoted to it. Make it something you believe in with everything you’ve got. Make your devotion so strong you can’t imagine it any other way. Believe in it so strongly that it’s worth all the hard work, rejection and failure. Success is going to take a lot of time. The hours in your day are limited, so it better be worth more than the time you will spend on it.

Exception: Devotion to celebrity gossip doesn’t count.

3. Take Responsibility
Take any action necessary to achieve success. You can only make this choice if you’ve found peace and are devoted. Peace takes away the fear of loss and devotion takes away indifference. Now when something gets in your way, you’ll figure out a way to get past it. That’s what taking responsibility means.

Small request on behalf of humanity: Be nice to people along the way.

Succeeding is hard. No matter what you want, parts of it are going to suck. The difference between success and settling for less is how you deal with the parts that suck. Peace, devotion and responsibility will get you there.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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Let’s Stop Talking About Maya Angelou

Let’s stop talking about Maya Angelou and start acting like her.

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Humble beginning
When I heard of Dr. Maya Angelou’s death on Wednesday, I learned through the magic of the Internet tubes that her childhood home still stands less than two miles from where I live in St. Louis. I had to take a walk by it.

The house is on the south side of St. Louis and is an unimpressive, yet fairly well-maintained, home. Most of the original turn of the century homes in the area have been torn down and replaced with newer ones, but Dr. Angelou’s childhood home is one of a small number of the originals still standing. You might expect it to be a museum or at least have a plaque of some sort on it, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t appear to be anything special. In fact, it could use a little yard maintenance. A neighbor I spoke to had no idea it was Maya Angelou’s childhood home, but wondered why people had been taking pictures of it recently.

But it is special. It’s where one of the most renowned and influential women to ever live spent the first three years of her life. As I walked home, I wondered why she was so influential. What made her different than the other children born on that block, in that neighborhood, in St. Louis, in the United States, in the world?

Was it because she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of 8? Was it because she was a talented writer, teacher and poet? Was it because she was a Pulitzer Prize winning author? Was it because she endured life in a racist, segregated world?

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Why Dr. Angelou was different
I believe it was because she decided to devote her life to talking about what she believed. She had something (a lot, actually) to say. The difference between Dr. Angelou and everyone else who is not as famous, loved, prolific or influential is that Dr. Angelou said what she believed. She said it through her poetry, her writing, her speaking, her teaching and more.

She not only said what she believed, but she also: said it often, said it well and said it at any cost.

She said it often.
Maya Angelou didn’t write, speak and teach about her beliefs on the evenings and weekends. She did it every second she was conscious. There was no on or off switch, no work week, no personas that changed depending on the audience. Her beliefs radiated from every single thing she said and did, every second of her life.

Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.

Maya Angelou

She said it well.
When she lived in this house in south St. Louis, she was only 3 years old. She couldn’t read or write yet, much less produce Pulitzer Prize winning literature. By practice and learning (but probably mostly practice), she became an accomplished poet, writer and teacher — a global Renaissance woman. Dr. Angelou was devoted to her craft and her beliefs. This devotion made her what she became.

Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.

She said it at any cost.
She didn’t let the repercussions of talking about what she believed stop her from saying it. There were consequences for speaking up for what she believed. It scared her often, but she did it anyway.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

Maya Angelou

She became the Dr. Maya Angelou we know because she decided to say what she believed often, well and at any cost. She told Oprah:

There is a place inside you must keep inviolate. You must keep it pristine, clean, so that nobody has the right to curse you or treat you badly. No mother, no father, no husband, nobody.

Maya Angelou

That place is where you keep what you believe.

Dr. Angelou devoted her life to telling the world what she believed. The best way to honor her is to follow her example. Her childhood home still stands but you would never know she lived there. If she influenced you, make sure everyone you encounter knows she influenced you, not by telling them but by talking about what you believe often, well and at any cost.

I’m committing publicly to say what I believe more, better and at any cost. Will you? Tell us in the comments what you hold in that special place.

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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What Happens When You Quit Caring About Money

Everyone needs money. We need it to buy food, clothing, shelter, transportation, get medical care and everything else we need to live. That makes it hard to not make money the No. 1 thing in life. When asked, most people would say that money is not the most important thing in life, yet their lifestyle is largely defined by what they do to make money. Colin Wright, of Exile Lifestyle started by defining success around money, but he found something that works better for him.

The “normal” life path
Colin grew up in rural Missouri in a small, midwestern community. After high school, it was time for college. After graduation he got a job in Los Angeles — a big change from the midwest. A year later, he started a branding studio. He quickly gained a solid client base and was making good money.

Colin describes the lifestyle he found himself in as being about “getting as wealthy as you can” and “having wine parties and knowing exotic cheeses.” He was making good money, eating good food, drinking fancy wine and going to clubs three times a week. This was success — he thought.

But then he said, “Wait a minute, is this it? There has to be more to life.”

Redefining success
Colin began to rethink what success meant to him. As long as he could remember, he wanted to travel the world, see new things and get the unbiased perspective that can only come from getting to know people from many different cultures. He wanted to see different perspectives and experience new things. He wanted to learn things he wouldn’t even think to ask about.

A big change
Colin closed his branding studio for good and began traveling full-time. But it wasn’t just a summer vacation, he traveled to a different country every four months for five years and he’s still at it. This has taken him from New Zealand to Bangkok to Iceland. Colin has traveled the world, the whole time meeting people, helping them and taking a genuine interest in them and their cultures.

But what about money?
He still needs money. The approach he’s taken is a combination of keeping his living expenses low and creating assets, like businesses, books and investments, that provide passive income. These things he enjoys creating help pay the bills, but he says the most important asset he has is the relationships he has built as he traveled throughout the world.

As a result, he’s developed a large network of people who want to see him succeed at whatever he does. Whether he needs investors for a new business venture, advice or just a sofa to crash on, he has a large and worldwide network.

I feel pretty confident that if I decide to become a rodeo clown or some other career trajectory, I could probably get a pretty significant audience to come out and watch for no other reason other than that I’ve helped them out at some point or they just like the work that I do and they want to see what I’m doing.

Instead of working to earn money all year and taking a vacation for a few weeks, Colin’s focus is primarily on his real devotion: writing.

A day without writing for me is a day that I have no idea what to do with myself. I get so miserable anytime I try to take a vacation because that means taking a vacation from stuff that I love doing.

2014-06-13-highway.jpg

Are you ready?
While Colin loves his lifestyle, he doesn’t recommend it for everyone. He advises that everyone must decide for themselves what type of life they want. What that looks like for you will be very different than what it looks like for Colin. When you redefine success beyond money, you get to decide for yourself what success means to you.

Decide what success means for you. Then decide you deserve to have it.

You can hear the full interview with Colin here.

Above images by Kurt Langer (kurtlanger.com)

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post

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