Wealth, Fame, and a Perfect Life

February 25, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

Wouldn’t you agree with me that most of us, at one time or another, especially when we were young, had thoughts of being rich and famous? And maybe those thoughts were followed by, “If I was rich and famous, my life would be perfect!”

If you were at all like me, you certainly had those thoughts. Most people I’ve talked with over the years have mentioned that they had those thoughts run through their minds at some point. But I’m here to tell you that a perfect life does not necessarily follow fame or wealth. Yes, wealth can make a lot of things in your life easier, but if you think that tons of money and fame will automatically bring you happiness and contentment, you’re dead wrong. I think you will find that early death and addiction rates are higher in the rich and famous than in the middle class. I think that says something about how imperfect life can be with wealth and fame.

Riches and fame can give you a lot more choices, but you do need to be extremely careful of what choices you make. For example, gifting your wealth to charitable causes can bring far greater and longer lasting satisfaction than feeding a cocaine or alcohol addiction with all that money.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not putting down money and fame or going after great and lofty financial goals. Those are motivating, lots of fun, and can be very satisfying to carry out but be sure you enjoy each hour and day of your life as well as your pursuits and be aware that whatever the end results of your journey, it won’t make your life perfect.

Nobody’s life is perfect. I would even say it shouldn’t be perfect since a perfect life would mean there’s no need for improvement, no goals to reach for, and nothing left to really accomplish. And when you realize this and accept that as fact, your satisfaction and contentment can begin to really soar. Trust me on this; I’ve been there and back and learned that lesson the hard way. In fact, I have to remind myself of that on an almost daily basis. I have found that it is better to “live in the now” where I can recognize what I have and enjoy all the happiness I find on this journey we’re on.

I want to remind you that recognizing that money doesn’t create a perfect life doesn’t mean that money is not important. It is important and it can do so many good things for you and your family and the way you get to live your life. And when you have lots of wealth, you can also help out a lot of other people.

So, you don’t need to set aside your dreams of being wealthy or famous. Just know that those things don’t make your life perfect. It’s the good things that you do with that fame and fortune that will help you lift your life and the lives of the people around you and give you the happiness you want.

Questioning Social Media

February 18, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

In today’s world, so dominated by social media, we may find ourselves under the impression that a lot of other people out there have near perfect lives.  I mean look at virtually anyone’s Facebook or Instagram and you’ll see all these fun pictures, pretty faces, amazing talent, and supportive comments. Much of what we see is the good stuff, and of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but it sure can make a lot of people feel and believe that their own lives, filled with challenges, big ups and downs, and stress inducing problems are really messed up, which can result in self-pity, depression and, in the worst cases, even suicide.

The fact is, nobody’s life is perfect or even close, but when you’re looking from the outside you might be tricked into thinking that other people are doing tons better than you because of the limited view you get. If you take time to look and probe on a deeper level, you will see that the surface view can be very misleading since people don’t tend to post about their failures and problems, preferring to show just their successes and fun times. But very often these positive posts hide troubled lives and minds.

So, if you really want to know the truth and gain insight into a person’s actual and complete life, so you have a realistic view and can be ready and open to help them, you need to dig deeper.  One easy way to do this is by simply asking the right questions.  For example, pick a friend or relative that seems to be doing well according to their social media postings and ask questions like these:

1.  What are the biggest challenges you are having in life right now?

2.  Do you ever get down or depressed? (If they say yes, ask how often and what causes it.)

3.  What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?

4.  Do you think much about your own mortality?

5.  What in your life scares you the most?

6.  Have you experienced any great tragedy in your life? If so, what happened?

7.  Do you worry and think about tragedy striking you in the future?

If you take a little time, you certainly can add your own probing questions to this list.

I’m pretty sure if you question those who you think have “the perfect life” you will find, as I have, that no matter how rich and famous or easy their lives look from the outside, they too have their problems and challenges and many times much larger problems that you would have ever guessed.

Asking questions can help you see and understand, not just these other people, but also yourself. It can get rid of those feelings of self-pity or not being good enough. It can even lift you out of a state of depression, not just because you’ll see that your life is no worse, and sometimes better than other peoples’, but because looking outside yourself and looking for ways to help others can really lift your spirits and your life.

But I think, most importantly, knowing the challenges and problems that your relatives and friends are dealing with puts you in the perfect position to step up and help them overcome some of their problems, challenges, and obstacles.  This makes it a real win-win for you both. And all it took was asking a few questions!

Our Healing Brain

February 11, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

Our brains are so powerful. They can make physical changes in our bodies beyond what we would normally give them credit for or even really realize. There is a book that I’ve talked about many times before called Super Brain by Depak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi that is so full of great insight into the power of our brains. I read it again and again and often find things I missed the first time.

I’ve always been particularly intrigued by their thoughts on the placebo effect. The authors point out that any of us can, if we so chose, set up or create our own placebo effect at any time and without a sugar pill or any other kind of pill, because as they say, “anything you believe in can act as a placebo.”

This works because the body really believes what it has been told — that medicine it has been given is real. This goes to show that the mind can and does control healing of all kinds including pain, disease, and wounds that our bodies deal with from time to time.

“Being your own placebo is the same as freeing up the healing system through messages from the brain,” the authors write. “All healing is, in the end, self-healing. Physicians aid the body’s intricate healing system (which coordinates immune cells, inflammation, hormones, genes and much else), but the actual healing takes place in an unknown way.”

That’s a very powerful thought and one that could, if we take time to think about it and make use of it, do some pretty amazing things to help us take care of ourselves.

“In serious illness, doubts and fears play a marked role, which is why a practice like meditation or going to group counseling has been shown to help,” the authors conclude. That is certainly worth trying for most, if not all of us, whenever we want to treat our pain, disorders, or disease.

The authors suggest that there is a method through which anyone can apply their own placebo effect. It requires the same conditions as in a classic placebo response:
1. You trust what is happening.
2. You deal with doubt and fear.
3. You don’t send conflicting messages that get tangled with each other.
4. You have opened the channels of mind-body communications.
5. You let go of your intention and allow the healing system to do its work.

Our bodies have this amazing ability to heal themselves. When we get a cut on our finger or knee, we slap on a band aid and know that it will heal itself. In doing that, we’ve just let our brain send a positive message to our cells to do their job. But when we get a serious disease, we let our minds jump into the mix with all kinds of worry and negative thoughts doing pretty much the opposite of the list above. That is something you would need to change in order to take advantage of all the healing our minds can do for us.

If we are going to benefit from our own built-in ‘placebo effect’ we’ve got to, at a minimum, follow the list of 5 conditions above. If you can do that, you are supporting your body’s ability to take care of you, just as it is supposed to do.

A Kindness Lesson from Investing

February 4, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

All of us can spread kindness and other good stuff around and many people do but where do they usually start? I think they start right at home with family and friends. But if you want to spread good works and good words beyond that, you probably need to use something I learned about in my many, many years of investing in real estate. That thing is compounding.

Let me try to motivate you with numbers showing how a great idea, a good deed, and/or motivating words can spread and become huge. Let’s call it “good message compounding”.

If any one of us passed on a helpful message or did a kind deed and encouraged the recipients of our kindnesses to “pay it forward” to, say, ten other people and then asked that they also request their recipients to keep it going by passing it along to ten more and everyone kept that going, what potentially could be the results?

Shockingly, if everyone in the chain were to do this and that passing it on continued 6 times or through 6 levels of people, your message or deed could affect more than one million people! If it went through 9 levels of people, you could influence or help more than one billion people!

Of course, not all those first 10 people would follow through and pass it on and even if the first ten people did, we can be pretty certain that not everyone down the line would pass it on. But the point I want to make is that it is possible to end up with huge numbers of people getting your message or being impacted by your good deed because of compounding. If you keep that “huge potential” in mind, it can really be such a super motivator for you and for all of us to push ourselves to do and say more to help others.

So, I would encourage you to keep firmly in mind all those people, up through the 9th level, and the potential of over a billion people that you could potentially help. Even though this “good message compounding might not multiply into a billion, it could certainly multiply into hundreds of good messages and deeds and probably even more than that. And that ain’t too bad coming from one little human on this planet of more than 7 billion people.

In my world, that’s pretty exciting, knowing you, as just one person, can have that big of an impact for good in the world. And it all comes back to you in the great feeling brought on by the happiness you see your efforts bring to other people’s lives.

Precious Days

January 28, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

One day doesn’t seem like very much time and if we get a lot of good stuff done or we do nothing but watch TV all day it may not seem to make much difference in our world let alone the rest of the world.  Hey, it’s only one day. No big deal. But those single goof-off days can add up quickly and none of us have nearly as many days as we might figure to accomplish what we want, especially if we set our minds on big and lofty goals.

Even if you are only 25 years of age right now, that still gives you just over 27,000 days to age 100.  Now to some people that might seem like a lot of days but to me it’s a pretty small number, therefore I am inclined to think that to waste even one day is a very serious matter, unless of course you don’t have any big and lofty plans and goals.

The good news, however, is that if you are keenly aware of your hours and days as you experience those days of your life then you will be much more likely to not only set good, worthwhile and important goals but you will be many times more likely to reach those goals. And because we all have a limited number of days—whether it’s 10,000 or 27,000—we need to set strict time deadlines for those goals. If we do that, then we are much less likely to waste those precious days and more likely to reach our goals.

When I was only 37, there was an article about me that appeared on the front page of the Sunday Register Star, a newspaper in Rockford, Illinois. The article was titled “He Quit Bragging after his First Million”.  Every once in a while, I re-read the story that they wrote about me and I am always a bit surprised at the mention of my beginnings as a construction worker, 16 years prior, in Rockford. I was making only $4.50 an hour back then but I had already set my sights on becoming a millionaire. 

Even at the young age of 21, I was acutely aware of this thing called “time”. I had figured that even working as hard as I was, making just $4.50 an hour would only bring me a mere $9360 in a year and even after 50 years, I would only have made $468,000. Of course, when I considered that I would have to spend money to live, I quickly figured out that there had to be some formula or secret to becoming a millionaire because just working an hourly job wasn’t going to do it.

I was to find out later, using each precious day to look for the answer, that there was, in fact, a formula to making millions and one that doesn’t require a person to invent Facebook or Amazon or some hi-tech computer program. I’m convinced that if I hadn’t realized how critically important each and every day was and how few days there are in a person’s life, I wouldn’t have spent my early days searching for the right financial formula. The idea of my limited days kept me motivated.

So, please, never forget the great and precious value of a single day in your life and spend it like the precious thing it is.

Getting Serious About Deadlines

January 21, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

While I was making plans for a trip to Kauai recently, I was hit by a pretty powerful thought. I was thinking about how I am really organized and efficient when it comes to traveling. I make lists of items I need to take, the things I have to do before I leave, and the people that I need to meet with, email or call before I go. My trips can be lengthy sometimes, so I know all these things need to be done, without question, and there is always an immovable deadline to meet — my flight out. This kind of deadline pushes me to become an almost perfect picture of efficiency and effectiveness.

In other words, when I am truly motivated, I can plow through dozen of tasks quite quickly and smoothly. The motivation for this when I travel is usually that very fixed and non-movable deadline that I couldn’t easily change without a huge expense and hassle. And so, it’s a deadline I am not willing to miss.

Especially now, still early in the beginning of a new year when setting big goals is still on my mind, I get to thinking about how important this is — having goals with deadlines we are not willing to miss. Deadlines, ones we adhere to, are a huge part of what pushes us to be more effective, more efficient, and ultimately more successful!

Think about that for a moment.  Look at your own habits and behavior when you know you have a flight or other seemingly immovable deadline to meet. Don’t you get done what needs to be done? The great lessons here are:

  1. We all need to recognize how very beneficial it is to have deadlines attached to our goals.
  2. We need to be serious about setting goals with absolute time deadlines that will drive us to do what needs to be done.

Never forget that you and I only have maybe 700,000 hours to get things done in our lifetime, so it’s important to use our time wisely. If you want to accomplish a lot in your life and do big things for yourself, your family, your friends, and for mankind, you need to be efficient and well-motivated.

So, with your next goals, pretend that your deadline is like a flight you have booked to Paris or Hawaii and if you miss it or have to postpone the flight it will cost you a lot of time and money.  Depending on what your goals are, missing a time deadline may actually be more costly than changing a flight. In the long run, a missed goal could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars or even worse if you have a huge loss of confidence or damage your self-esteem. 

The bottom line here is that you should make time deadlines your biggest friend, helper and partner by seeing them as the important, unnegotiable deadlines they really are.

The Best Year Ever

January 14, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

Have you recovered from the holidays yet? If you are like me, probably not.  It sure is a great and special time of the year, just super busy.  But there’s nothing like family, friends, and lots of giving at this time of the year.

So, now that it’s over, most of us have been thinking of this new year and what it is likely to bring. And if you are smart you will plan and set goals so that the new year brings you what you want it to bring, rather than what just might happen to you.

For me, I usually begin my planning by reviewing the past year.  I go through my planner week by week, reading my notes, my do lists, and my activities.  Then I review my goals and see which ones I’ve accomplished and which ones I didn’t.  Yes, that can be a bit of a downer, but it also gives me a gentle kick in the butt and a renewed determination to work harder in the coming year. And if you don’t have a record of your past year’s goals and accomplishments, just write down all the things you can remember and maybe ask your family and friends to help you remember all you did or hoped to do.

Then sit down and write out what you want to do this coming year. I think it is best to remove yourself from all distractions so you can really stay focused on the task of planning your life for the next 12 months.  I love to sequester myself on a long flight where I can’t be interrupted by phone calls, texting, and emails. On a plane, I also don’t get diverted by picking up a book or file or any other stuff like that since I am not at home or in my office where I can see and easily pick up something that takes me away from my planning.

We don’t all have regular travel plans and flights to do that on, but you can go to a coffee shop or a park or a library or whatever eliminates your usual distractions.

Once you have that place and time, look over your review of what you did and didn’t do the previous year, and begin writing down what your goals and objectives are going to be for this year. And don’t undersell yourself. Aim to make it the best year of your life. There’s no reason that it can’t be. It’s all up to you.

Like I’ve said many times before, “I am preaching to myself as I preach this message to you!” So, let’s you and I get to work on this and make 2024 the best year ever!

A Matrix for Your New Years’ Goals

January 7, 2024 by  
Filed under blog

Last week I talked about a book, The Five Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made. Those decisions will be discussed in the future, but it got me thinking about a lot of the great books I’ve read over the years. One super helpful book that I keep going back to is Super Brain by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi.

In this book, they basically give you the power to accomplish whatever goal or goals you set for yourself. As they put it, the “secret isn’t exerting more willpower or beating yourself up for not being perfect. The secret is changing without force.”

So, what does that mean? It means that to achieve goals and objectives in your life without force you need to create a type of matrix, or set of rules, for making better choices.

Obviously if you are trying to lose weight you wouldn’t set up a matrix that includes things such as:

1.         Eat more meals at fast food places.

2.         Stock more ice cream and donuts in the house.

3.         Watch more T.V.

4.         Drink more beer.

5.         Hang out with unhealthy people.

For your matrix to work with a weight loss objective you would list items that were the opposite of those listed above because you would be better served if the list contained 10 or 12, or even more, positive directions that you would follow that directly support your weight loss goal.

For example, the book Super Brain gives a wonderful matrix for a positive lifestyle:

1.         Have good friends.

2.         Don’t isolate yourself.

3.         Sustain a lifelong companionship with a spouse or partner.

4.         Engage socially in worthwhile projects.

5.         Be close with people who have a good lifestyle–habits are contagious.

6.         Follow a purpose in life.

7.         Leave time for play and relaxation.

8.         Keep up satisfying sexual activity.

9.         Address issues around anger.

10.       Practice stress management.

Another thing the authors wrote that I really liked was that, “Success comes when people act together and failure tends to happen alone.” This has certainly been the case with me and my life with everything from making tons of money to losing weight to being in great shape. I’ve been so blessed to be able to hook up and hang around all the right people who have made it so much easier to start and stick with a particular matrix and reach my goals.

Go ahead and start creating your own matrix for what you want most at this time in your life! It will be a strong start to achieving any goal and is a great way to start out in this New Year.

Analyzing the Beatles

December 31, 2023 by  
Filed under blog

I just finished reading a great little book titled, The Five Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made, by Bill Stainton. Bill is an excellent writer who outlines and explains the many great circumstances, ideas, and achievements that made the Beatles famous and quite wealthy. That’s right, they weren’t just a great band with great songs. There is a lot going on behind the scenes that helped make them so super successful.

As Bill says, their success wasn’t just luck mixed with their unusual genius. There were actually a lot of conscious decisions made along the way to push them towards their great success. These decisions aren’t something just for musicians and mega superstars. They can help pretty much any business or individual and Bill tells us about them in this book.

Not only that, this book is an easy and entertaining little read, and with so many great things about success and how to put them into practice, I’m sure any one of us can learn them and lift our lives. Or as Bill puts it, have “top of the charts success”.

Now, how is it that Bill Stainton came to write a book about the success of the Beatles? Well, it started with him becoming a fan.

The day Bill became a Beatles fan was February 9th, 1964, and he was only six years old. On that Sunday he joined the 73 million Americans who were watching The Ed Sullivan Show. Bill describes his first impression of the Beatles and what initially impressed him.

I don’t think it was the music –not yet at least. It probably wasn’t the hair although I clearly remember laughing myself silly because it seemed so long (times change, don’t they?) To be honest, I’m not sure what it was that turned me into a Beatles fan that day. They just had something.

I’ve subsequently spent many years analyzing the many “somethings” that made the Beatles what they were. I’ve never grown tired of listening to the music. I’ve never stopped being a fan.

And that’s how it all started for him. Now Bill gives keynote speeches on the Five Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made for various businesses and industries on top of the many other wonderful and successful things that he is done with his life. Including writing this great little book.

Now, you’re probably wondering what those five decisions are, right? Well, I will talk about that in a future blog post but for now, I want to wish you all a wonderful new year and all the best in 2024.

Being with “True” Family

December 24, 2023 by  
Filed under blog

On the eve of our Christmas weekend, I have to say my thoughts are very much with my family. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive, fun, and loving family. I know many of you feel the same way. But on the other hand, I have known too many people that don’t have strong bonds with their relatives. The reasons for this are all over the map but in the end, these reasons aren’t as relevant as realizing what family really means and being with your “true” family on the holidays.

The phrase “Home is where the heart is” can be easily transformed into “Family is where the heart is”. It’s the same thing. I remember on another Christmas years back, seeing a news segment about a gentleman who won the lottery but without even a bit of hesitation he immediately determined he would not be leaving his job.

Many of us would probably think, “You suddenly have all this money, and you still want to work? Why?”

Well, as it turned out, he had a very good reason. He said it was because his work crew is his family. That is where he feels he belongs, and no amount of money is going to buy him that feeling anywhere else. I really thought that was great.

I hope you all are able to be at the place where your heart lies this weekend, where the people who make you feel loved and let you know that you belong with them are gathered around you. If it’s not actually your relatives, then hopefully you are surrounding yourself with those people who were truly your other kind of family, the people you laugh with and the people who are there for you 24/7.

This weekend, I hope you are exactly where you want to be and are making sure all those around you know how much they are loved and appreciated.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

« Previous PageNext Page »