Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bad Days. Or Are They?

As most of you know, I’ve recently started trading in the Forex market. Like any new endeavor, there are ups and there are downs. Last night I knew a big move was setting up and had started so i stayed up late to trade it. Things were going pretty well until there was an unexpected reversal of the market. I held thinking it was just retracemrnt instead of taking my profit and going to bed. I continued to hold until my profits were now losses and my account was draining. I froze in hope thinking things will come back down. They didn’t. I fell asleep with losses when i easily shouldnhave had some nice profits. 

This is a bad day for a trader. Any day you lose money is a bad day. On top of it i had a friend supposed to meet me at my house at 9:00 am. My phone died and i missed my meeting and my alarm. It has not been the best start to the day. 😂

I’ve found over the years, that there is always a valuable lesson to be learned in every mistake. Sometimes so valuable you could only learn them from a mistake so I tend to try to dig in these situations and see what i can find. In no particular order, here are the things I learned today: 

-Don’t trade when you’re tired. This one is pretty dumb. People say it all the time. But I had to learn it for myself. 

-Don’t be greedy. Take your profit when it’s there. There’s always another trade. 

-Don’t be afraid to cut your losses. When you clearly see the market has reversed, close the trade and rise it in th different direction. 

-Learning is a process. I’m reminded back to when I started at the job I’m currently at. I started out taking phone calls helping customers. Some days i wanted to quit my calls were so bad. I remember days leaving here hating my job, hating what i was doing not feeling successful. But i stick with it. And i got promoted to a trainer. And I’m currently interviewing to move to our Instructional Design team. I’ll be able to learn a new skill set to help me move out of the 9-5 I so desperately loathe. But all of this didn’t happen overnight. It took hours and days of consistent working at it. If i stay consistent and engaged, I will learn and reach my goals. 

-I am growing more than i give myself credit for. In the last example, I kept going because I HAD to in order to pay my bills. Now I’m CHOOSING to go forward to not only pay my bills but to unlock the life I know I’m built for. 

So hang in there. Bad days are part of the journey. Sometimes the bad days are the most meaningful and impactful days you have in the process. Next time you have a bad day, don’t run away from it. Lean in and learn from it so you never have to tase that type of bad day again. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Vacationing Done Right

As I was driving home today from my vacation to New Orleans, I was thinking how I could not just share my experiences I had but actually bring value to my readers. So I decided to write not just about my trip but why my trip was a success and how you can incorporate that into your next vacation and into your normal routine. So, here it goes.

I’ve been fortunate enough to take several trips this year. I’ve been to Florida twice, New Orleans twice, Chattanooga several times to visit the aquarium and once for a white water rafting trip. I’ve been back home to Wisconsin for my mom’s surprise 50th birthday party. I’ve taken weekend trips to nearby waterfalls and hiking destinations. All of that is just this year alone. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to take a trip or at least leave town once a month. I am on track to meet that goal.

I’ve had trips that were true vacations. What I mean by that is I came home refreshed and inspired. I mean that’s the whole point of a vacation right? To disconnect from your normal day to day and change it up. To break up your routine and change your scenery. So that when you come back to your life, your job, your house, you can see it with a fresh perspective and keep moving forward on your goals and ambitions.

On the other hand, I’ve had trips that couldn’t have been further from a true vacation. There was a strict agenda. I was in a rush. I came home more stressed and exhausted than before I left. I tried to pack in so many activities and still “accomplish” things while I was supposed to be disconnected from work and accomplishing.

In a culture that celebrates hustling, grinding, and running your way to tasting your version of the American Dream, we are taught to over work ourselves in promises of a trade off for a better tomorrow. And while I subscribe to that thought process, I think that train of thought is incomplete. To push and push forever isn’t sustainable. Yes, you can probably push more than you think you can. We all have deeper reservoirs of determination that we have yet to discover. But even with those, you need to take time to recharge for yourself.

This trip I’m returning from as I type this was to New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter. Ever since I was introduced to this beautiful part of a city, I’ve fallen in love. I can’t pinpoint any one thing about it that makes it special for me. Maybe it’s the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Maybe it’s the pop up bands and parades you can find on random street corners. Maybe it’s the art daily displayed at Jackson square. Maybe it’s the street performers and magicians. Maybe it’s the beauty of an older time where bartering was still a way of life that you can still taste in the French Market. Maybe it’s the beautiful architecture that is so full of life and history. Maybe it’s the stories of people who live there currently and in the past I learn more about each time I return. Whatever it is, everytime I leave completely refreshed, inspired, and wishing I could lose one more day wandering those streets.

Needless to say, this was a successful vacation. Now, let’s go over a quick couple points of what makes a vacation successful to me and then I’ll let you get back to scrolling Facebook or preparing for your next vacation.

1. Take your time. There is nothing that ruins the vibe of a vacation quicker than constantly being in a rush. Remember you’re on vacation. Enjoy the secenery. Let yourself taste the culture, the atmosphere or vibe of whatever city you’re in.

2. Budget time for unexpected adventure. Some of the best memories I have, and some of the most incredible vacations have come from this point. The whole point of a vacation is to get away from all the strict grind and schedules right? Plan the things you want to do or see, but just as important is planning for the unexpected.

3. Appreciate the beauty. This is something I try to do every day but especially on vacation. You’re typically in a new place, whether that be a new location in your city or a whole new city altogether. Appreciate the little things. The statues. The people. The buildings. Nature. All of it. Don’t just drink in the specific destination, drink in the journey.

4. Learn something. Again, this is another one I try to apply daily but on vacation I try to focus on this one too. Think of it like a mental souvenir. Take something back with you that makes you a better person.

Hopefully that gives you a couple things to incorporate into your next vacation or “recharge” day you take for yourself. Here’s a picture of me, my brother, and my cousin who’s basically my other brother in front of the cathedral overlooking Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Happy Travels!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Where Do I Go From Here?

I've written about my journey before, but tonight I decided I'm ready to share some more. Where better place to start a story than in the beginning? I grew up in a Christian home. I only knew a little of a world other than the world of my childhood. The world where I was home schooled and the small church groups I would go to when we left the house a couple times a week. I knew no other possible reality than the one I was presented with day in and day out for the majority of my first 20 years of life.

It's funny looking back how almost every person in those circles vilified asking questions. If someone challenged how something was done or tried to understand the "why" behind the behavior they were instantly demonized and thrown out as a heretic for having an original or different idea. Even the ones who mostly agreed with each other found nuances of things to disagree on. And like the good Christian i was raised to be, I pointed the finger and agreed.

Maybe it was my youth pastor who seemed to care more about building his brand and creating fun videos than actually answering the questions we had. Maybe it was the militant requirement to be at church every time the doors were open combined with the implied fear that we were going to let God down if we missed a single service. Maybe it was the friends I played music with who swore but still showed love, sometimes more love than the people who policed it. Maybe it was when I blindly followed what at the time I thought to be God across the country to do great things because he "needed" me to, and things didn't pan out like I had imagined. Maybe it was getting thrown out of a leadership position in ministry because I refused to let friends be falsely accused behind their back. (For the record, I handled that situation poorly, but never once was I talked to politely or given feedback or instruction, maybe it was then too.) Maybe it was getting shunned for believing something different, something bigger. Maybe it was when I was manipulated and physically taken advantage of by someone who I trusted as a leader and "guru". Whenever "the moment" was, I'm not sure. Maybe it was a collection of all these moments and more, but at some point, the whole thing broke.

At some point in the past year or so, I turned my back on religion. It was too broken, too corrupt. Things misunderstood and manufactured to control people and not inspire and encourage them. The whole system I grew up in that taught me unconditional love is the most powerful thing in existence (which I still believe) but then laid out all these conditions for people to receive it...

I've been able to tell myself for about a year now. I've been able to tell a couple  friends where I'm truly at for a few months. But I'm honestly just ready to say it, "I'm not a Christian anymore." Which has been a really rough road. That was all I had ever known. It has been ridiculously scary taking this journey and jumping out into the world daring to see it differently. All while dealing with the conditioning that meant choosing to look at the world and people differently was going to damn me and them to hell forever.

So where does that leave me now? That's been the hard question I realized today. My zeal for "God" fueled me in everything I did. When I didn't have tangible progress, I told myself its OK, the pain, the sacrifice is worth it, because it's for God and he needs me. Without that, days where I fail and learn are much harder. I no longer have a blanket statement of ignorant belief to cover my failure and actions.

I'm left OBSESSED with building great things. This crazy journey to "create an empire for God" has left me trying to just create an empire. And I'm sure I will one day. I can't remember the first time I left a job or town or circle of friends to pursue the next dream or opportunity. But I can remember that almost every time I make a move, people have told me something along the lines of "Don't forget about me when you're rich and famous." It's interesting to me that almost everyone I knew, saw that in me far before I saw it in myself.

Maybe destiny, the universe, God, has a crazy plan for me to build an empire after all. Haha, who knows? All I know is that I have to move forward. This post, is my way of washing my hands of the past. Not the lessons. Not the memories. Just my attachment to the past.

To those who have been here through the transition, and loved me unconditionally. To those who have spent hours listening to me talk my way through this. To those who graciously offered me advice and gave me the safe space to think differently without judgment, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I owe coming out on the other side of this alive to you all.

To those who said I would never succeed, who left me when I needed you, who took from me when I had nothing left to give. Thank you too. Thank you for the lessons along the way. I know without each one of you I wouldn't be half the man I am. My strength wouldn't be what it is without you. So, no hard feelings. You didn't know you were playing the role you were meant to play. But damn, did you play it well.

What I've learned in the past few years is that life is a journey. Things don't stay the same. The only constant is change. So enjoy and spend every minute you get, every day. Invest in yourself. Invest in your life. Invest in those around you. Create better things. Don't complain about the shit. Learn from it and do something about it. I guess that's were I'm headed from here.

I'm SO excited to see what happens next.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Celebrate the Wins

Sometimes you have to take a step back and celebrate your wins. It's been several years since I started on a journey to become all I can be and taste the depth of what life can offer. If you rewind 4 years, I was traveling across the country with a friend in a car that never should have left town. No job. No money. No way of going forward, but somehow we did. If you rewind 3 years I had convinced my brother and his family to move to Nashville, and now all of us were broke and living place to place with friends.

Rewind just 2 years and everything was falling apart. I had just gotten fired for the first time. I was politely asked to leave the homeless ministry i was a leader in. My choices and actions had gotten me to the point where just about everyone I had once called a friend, now wanted nothing to do with me. At this point i was waking up at 4:30 am to walk an hour to the bus stop. I would ride the bus for 2 hours to work where I arrived a few minutes late most days due to the bus. And then I would attempt to make cold calls to businesses selling them our product. I doubt my life has ever tasted the depths of darkness like it did in those times.

Now, lets rewind a year. I just got promoted to my current position joining the training team at the company I work for due to my outstanding performance taking calls. I now owned a car for the first time in about 3 or 4 years. The car I owned was the first brand new car I had ever owned. I had an apartment with a friend and no longer needed to couch surf place to place. The relationship with my brother and his family was starting to be repaired. Things were turning around.

Fast forward to today. I've just had, what felt like in the moment, one of the hardest weeks of my life. I haven't been sleeping well. I've been working nights which means I haven't been able to see friends and family like I'm used to doing and I found myself fighting depression on a level that I have not felt since before I started this whole journey.

But let me paint you (and myself) a true picture of where my life is at and headed. I laid out several goals for myself at the beginning of the year and am on track to making most of them. The small things like buying a bed or buying the MacBook I'm currently typing this on, to the big things of doubling my income from last year and being intentional to read and work out. I set a goal to leave town and travel once a month for the year and I am on track to hit that goal as well. I have over $1,000 set aside waiting to find something to invest it in. I've started an online business that I just laid out some goals for myself today. I have a group of friends who see me like family and would do anything for me. My relationship with my brother and his family is basically repaired. I live in an amazing big house where people come over and have great times filled with food and laughter.

And here's the kicker. I'm just getting started. Yes, I had a rough week. That is very real. You're going to have rough weeks. It's just part of life. You have the choice to take that rough week and turn it into a month or 6 months or a year if you choose to stay there. Or you can choose to step back and celebrate yourself and the wins you have. Remember, happiness is really only a perspective away.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Expectation = Reality

I was talking with a friend tonight about the progress he's made in his life over the last year and a phrase he said sent my mind into a flurry of thoughts. The phrase he said was, "All the stuff that controlled me was who I was never created to be." All the stuff that controlled me. Hmm, that really got me thinking. If humans are as powerful as I think they are, do things really control us? Can other external forces actually FORCE us to do anything more than what we give them power or permission to do? I believe the answer to that question is no. And let me explain why.

I've heard people blame their circumstances on "bad luck", "demons", "curses", etc. I don't buy it. I used to haha. Boy did i used to. There was a time I was spending so much effort on trying to stop the bad stuff that I didn't really have time or expectation to create the good. The more I go on, the more I am convinced we live in the reality we create.

You expect bad things because you think you're possessed, cursed, haunted, whatever, those things will happen. I know because I've lived it. There was a time in my life where I was thrown around my bedroom pretty consistently by "demons" I was convinced were after me. As soon as I stopped focusing on defeating the darkness, it stopped. And it hasn't ever come back since. What we believe in, what we perceive, has life. Has power.

Now lets take the overly spiritual aspect out of this for a second. You all know someone who never has things go right for them, who always has crisis after crisis after crisis. Now, flip the coin. You know that person who always has everything go right for them. Promotions, friends, opportunities. It's like they wake up every day and life is just easy for them. C'mon you know who I'm talking about.

Now, I believe both of those people create their reality whether they understand it or not. And those who do understand the power of creating their reality, succeed. And now, before you go all up in arms about me saying that I believe people just think their way into anything, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying your belief system, how you perceive and view the world and yourself, determines what you will see and experience. And those beliefs determine your thoughts. Your thoughts will determine your actions. And ultimately your actions will determine your results.

Don't believe me? That's ok. I challenge you. Find the thing that doesn't work in your life. Find the wall you can't cross. And I want you to BELIEVE differently about it. Not just hold a thought in your head for 10 seconds once to prove me wrong, but truly BELIEVE a different story and see how things change. It may not happen over night. It may take months. But I'm telling you, things WILL change. As I've believed differently about myself and about the world, things have changed for me quickly and drastically.

I constantly find things about the world and about myself that I believe a "less than" version of. And when I identify it, I change my belief. The more I do it the easier it is. Anyways, I hope this helps you. I hope it challenges you to think differently than you have been thinking and believe differently. Ultimately leaving you with a different result.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Why Do We Hide Our Gifts?

People. Around us every day. In the grocery store. At work. Now a click away from us anywhere in the world through the power of the internet. We are surrounded by and encounter each other every day. But do we truly understand the power that lies in each of us?

I believe now more than ever that each of us is born with a gift. I also believe that most individuals go through the course of their entire life without ever realizing that gift. Why is that? I believe the answer to that question is two-fold.

1. We don't want to know what our gift is. Because if we know what our gift, our true purpose in life is, we are now responsible for it. "Ignorance is bliss" as the old saying goes. The other side of not knowing and having to be responsible is not knowing how much fulfillment you truly would have if you discovered and gave into your gift.

I believe that when an individual discovers and pursues their gift, they are personally more fulfilled in their life than they could be without it. And not only them but the energy their gift creates goes far beyond their individual life, but spills out into the lives of people around them.

2. We don't have the right people in our life to help us uncover and develop our gift. If the majority, or even some of humanity doesn't want to know their gift so they won't be responsible for it, that means those people don't want you to uncover your gift either. Because if you do, it will remind them of the gift inside of them and force them to acknowledge what they have been ignoring.

In my own journey of admitting and acknowledging my gifts, the catalyst to pursuing them has come through other people. People who believe in me and who believe in themselves. As I have changed my circle of close companions, I've recently shared with them my perspective of my gifts and my dreams. Expecting to hear the same defeating rhetoric of dreaming too big and me not being able to accomplish or create what i believe i have a gift to create, I instead heard what I hoped for and least expected. As I shared my gift and my dreams with people who truly believed in themselves and then in turn, believed in me, they not only agreed with my perspective of my gift, they challenged me to see it at a greater level than I could see before.

The picture I am trying to paint here is that the keys to your gift are hidden in people along your journey. You will find some people afraid of their gift along the way. Heck, I'd even venture to say, most of the people you will meet are people afraid of their gift. But when you find the few who are not... they make you forget about all the ones who tried to convince you to be afraid and settle for the least fulfilling form of life you are capable of.

The right people will pull your gift out of you and you out of them. To quote tonight's episode of Game of Thrones, "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." When life gets hard, when the cold and bitter winds of doubt and rejection blow with no relent, the one left alone cannot stand. But the one who walks together with those who he believes in and who believe in him, no amount of doubt or rejection could turn him back.

I'll leave you here with a few questions. Do you fear your gift? What is the story those around you are telling you to believe? To fear your gift or to pursue it? What are you going to do now?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Victim vs. Legend

I recently had a mentor share with me an exercise his mentor shared with him. He told me to write down 20 things that happened in my life that got me to where I was. And then write 10 things I know I need to work on. I spent a few hours writing down many of the major events that have happened in the past few years. Some things misunderstood until they were written out before me. Other things tragic and painful to recall.

I thought about posting some of those ugly details for everyone to read. In the name of transparency. That maybe someone else could identify with them and be encouraged. I wasn't quite sure why I waited to post those stories. But then I realized my focus was all wrong. Today as I was mowing the lawn I had a revelation. "This is not my story. These are not my defining moments. These are the moments that life tried to hold me back from my true story. I will not be defined by these moments any longer. I am not the victim."

Something has shifted within me. It's been less than 24 hours since my new discovery but I know I've changed. I am not less fortunate or disadvantaged because of the things that lie in my past. I am stronger. I am most fortunate that the events behind me did not break me, they forged me. I don't know if you've ever watched a master blacksmith forge a blade that legends are made of. Well, to be honest, I haven't either. But, when a blade is forged it takes countless hours of being heated to the point where the metal is pliable. And then pounded for strength and shape. This process is repeated again and again until the blacksmith decides the steel has been folded enough times and the shape is just right.

Once the pounding is complete, then comes the sharpening. A stone moved across the length of the blade over 1,000 times to remove any excess metal and create a sharp edge that will not dull at the first sign of resistance. Life has a way of putting us into the furnace and pounding us repeatedly. If we let it continue to repeat it's process and become what it molds us into, we can become legends. Few ever come across or choose to see this perspective. But those who do are not victims of their life and circumstances. No, they are weapons of legend in the process of being forged. Who, once the process has finished, will know no impossibility and be held back by no obstacle.

Which will you choose to be? The victim. Or one in the process of being forged into legend?