In the space where you give extra than what’s asked or required—that’s where true growth and achievement begins.
Most people who are going after the same or similar goal as you—whether it’s job-related, entrepreneurial, or even charitable—they won’t put in the same kind of effort you do. Within the space of “extra” you give yourself an advantage—you now have a more chances for trial an error to find the solution that works for you.
Recently I was brought in my an organization to give an extra few speeches above and beyond our already agreed to fee structure. On top of that it was for a group I had never presented to before—juvenile offenders in lockup. Though giving these extra speeches could proved exhausting due to my already tight schedule, I said “yes” because I like the organization and because these kids don’t have many people in their lives who’ve advocated for them.
Fast forward and after finishing up the speeches at the juvenile detention center, these kids “got” my message. Most, if not all were grateful for someone coming in to talk to them as human beings. And some shook my hand while others shared private wants and wishes for themselves.
Beyond the altruism and the great feeling I had giving my gifts to these kids, I also gained some insight and some things for myself. 1) It made me realize how much we need to advocate for everyone in society and not just the people who can yell the loudest (these kids are easily forgotten), 2) I made a contact and will more than likely get booked back at that center and the centers in the surrounding areas, 3) this is a population that I need and will be trying to reach all over the country—and another way to spread my message.
Because I gave extra, I got so much in return—new insights, new contacts, and perhaps even more bookings/more income.
Yes it’s tiring, yes you’re short on time, yes you’ve been burned before. Nevertheless, look for those little places where you can give a little extra… and you’ll soon find a huge payoff in a multitude of ways.
Inside: The Single Most Valuable Tool in the World … with Special Guests Kelly Wilson and James Earl Jones
One of the most difficult things to do in this world is for a person to explain themselves in an effective, efficient, and generous way so the listener comes away changed and realizes that there’s “something in it” for them as much as you do.
Poor communication and explanation are the seeds that germinate into war, divorce, a failed product launch, and even when good intentions can cause pain.
If you don’t understand it—your job, your book, your point—no one will.
First, there’s got to be a common thread between what you’re saying, the other person, and what you want them to understand. The sound of your voice, as charming and melodic as it is (I’m talking to you James Earl Jones); isn’t enough hold a person’s attention to listen with intent… well, unless you’re James Earl Jones.
Search for a starting point that’s going to make the person perk up their ears, whatever it is. Kelly Wilson describes what that moment was like when she had to explain something to her young son dealing with a disability. It’s brilliant, it marries the person and professional, and it’s HERE.
A) Keep it as brief as possible, B) remove the jargon, and C) give people the space to ask questions and understand on their own and in their own way.
It’s that last part “C” that’s truly the most difficult and for several reasons
1) Often when people ask questions there is something else, unsaid and affected by the person’s frame of reference, attached to the question: fear, mistrust; or even as simple as lack of vocabulary.
2) Part of what you’re doing when you’re giving people the space to ask questions and think things through—you’re also reading their body language and tone of voice for clues to help you explain yourself better or refine your message.
“I’m sensing by your tone of voice you might be skeptical.”
“I’m sensing by your arms crossed that you might be closed off to the idea.”
Then you get to ask why or go deeper on what you’re trying to expound upon. In some cases you won’t get another chance so A) you’ll learn to explain differently off the bat, or B) you can try again later in a different way, or C) you’ll learn that you need to learn more about the very thing you’re trying to explain
3) Helping people understand on their own and in their own way. This is something that people aren’t used to. If someone is in trouble or doesn’t understand, we want to fix the issue. But the problem is, we try to fix it in a way that makes sense to us, and not to the other person. You might find that it’s easier for you, for a variety of reasons to get to the highway using route A or the scenic route; but the other person might find using route B, the speedy route, is faster. Neither route is wrong for each respective person—each route leads to the highway—but give a person a route that makes little to no sense to them; and they may never get to the highway or worse, they’ll never try.
How do we give a person the space to understand on their own and in their own way? We listen both for verbal cues and for physical cues. Silence is great. People don’t often think well with a bunch of noise and demands on top of their thoughts. Asking questions is brilliant. “How can I help you understand this better?” “What part of this makes the least sense?” “Where did I lose you?”
The questions are great because you’re asking for instructions, you’re asking for permission from the other person rather than making demands (“no, you don’t get it, it’s like this” “listen to me explain it again”)—which is always a better way to approach a person.
If you want to sell that idea, make peace in the home, or help that person in crisis—try switching up or refining the way you explain yourself… but make it work for you in your own way. Take the words I wrote with a grain of salt, using the parts of it that work best for you (if any), while leaving the rest.
And yes, I’m aware of the irony that someone might read this and not understand it. And to you I ask, what part of this was difficult to understand and how can I explain it better?
Recycling isn’t only for the environmentally conscious do-gooder or your town’s sanitation department—it’s for the person strapped for time, energy, resources or ideas.
Recyclable (intangible) Items:
- A method that stopped working years ago
- An idea that at one point you had no time for
- A concept that, so far, has only made partial sense
There’s a good chance that within a new context, these recyclable items could serve an indispensable purpose for whatever it is your looking to do or achieve.
On a tangible level, think about the repurposing of clothing or home goods at a thrift or Goodwill store; a garage sale, or an antique shop. To take it to an extreme, yet cliched phrase—one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Why take all that time and energy to reinvent the wheel, when what you have is shiny plastic and all you’re truly looking to create is a hubcap?
So you’re not (entirely) happy about where you are with your career, your life, your family, your business, your fill-in-the-blank.
It’s a huge pain in the mild expletive. How and when are you—when am I—going to finally get there?
Bad news: I’m not really sure when things are going to finally change for you or me. The tarot card people and the Nostradamus society both kicked me out for not truly having “the gift.”
Good news: It’s a great sign that you’re frustrated and thinking about how and when things are going to change for you for the better.
Can you imagine if you thought to yourself, “things kinda suck right now,” and then thought, “screw it, I’ll just accept it as fate and be miserable.”
Hell no! Knowing that circumstances can be changed for the better in your life, being upset about it, and working to change those circumstances—that is living life, and a robust one at that.
There’s not a good book, play, film, or 13th century descriptive tapestry; that doesn’t have a story with a protagonist that wins or lives “happily ever after” without obstacles and push-back.
Get your sword out (be gentle with it), get your army together, and slay* that dragon.
*Slay it with mentors, friends, “I’m sorries,” market research, clever strategy, strategic alliances, and/or the discovery or invention of a new weapon you never knew existed.
Keep hustling and fighting through the frustration. You’re not where you want to be but you’re getting closer.
Recently I had some serious lower back pain for the second time ever and in less than one year. It was so bad I could barely walk and when I did my torso was at a 30 degree angle to the ground (it was a little funny to look at).
The first time I had the back pain, I was like “I’m about to turn thirty and I’m too young for this—it’ll never happen again.”
What I should have done the first time, was trace my steps back to find out how I got hurt. Then take notes every day I was in pain, figuring out what activities helped and what hurt. Finally I could have ventured to learn preventative measures against future back pain.
Days, months, and weeks are full of patterns that often repeat themselves. Instead of digging deep to create contingencies, crisis prevention plans, or damage control procedures—the idea that “this will never happen again so everything is all good” permeates.
Living in the moment is wonderful and a critical part of life; but planning for a future, whatever the outcome, is a must.
The good news is our primitive brains already know how to do this. You learned not to put your hand into an open flame, not to walk into moving traffic, and when to fight or fly.
But now it’s time to move past the primitive brain and take planning to a higher level—looking for patterns, refining the edges, and using the negative energy and processes against themselves. This is your Jedi training.
During a paid performance, the flying trapeze artist who flinches before she leaps is the flying trapeze artist who ends up breaking a leg (not in the good, show business way).
The way to avoid the hesitating flinch is… trust (duh, Josh).
The way to build the trust is rehearsal. Hundreds if not thousands of attempts to leap off of boards into the arms of a partner or the bar of a trapeze, several stories above the ground with a net underneath.
Back to trust. Know that the infrastructure you set up for yourself and the weeks you spent on rehearsal and preparation are good enough. Trust that your muscle memory is strong and the neuropaths within your brain are prepared for numerous outcomes.
Don’t flinch… go all in. Put away the technique from rehearsal and act in the present (not the future of “what might be” or the past of “what was”).
Sometimes it’s better to sell and convince based on your intent… and then work like hell to deliver what you promised.
The psychology behind the commitment you made (see: the book Influence by Robert Cialdini) will be too strong a motivator for you to give up or do anything but keep your promise. You’ll do anything and everything in your power to see that you succeed.
Selling and promising on intent is the secret voodoo behind some (if not all) of the world’s greatest innovations. It brings the impossible to I’Mpossible…
I’m thinking about world peace… My mind is bugging out on all the war and violence in the news over the past month or so.
There’s a good deal of awful things happening right now but there’s an abundance of beauty as well.
Instead of focusing on who is doing what to whom, or the overarching philosophy on good vs. evil inside human beings, or some magic potion to fix it all…
Let’s talk about a whole bunch of small actions that lead to our desired action—
The world needs more mentors—you and me.
1) Maybe you don’t know everything
2) Maybe you come with a lot of baggage.
3) Maybe you don’t have a lot of time.
4) Maybe you’ve been told repeatedly that you don’t offer value.
But it’s much more simple than that.
1) You only need to know something.
2) It’s all good, baggage makes you interesting
3) Totally cool, you don’t need to have a lot of time
4) You have value. Every person, whether they know it or not is a teacher.
Being a mentor is as simple as showing a kid how to hit a free-throw in basketball, how to tie their shoe, or your favorite technique on learning to be comfortable in your own skin.
Whatever you know—farming, love, money, relationships, proper flossing techniques—give a little of that knowledge away. We’re all in this together.
The mentorship you provide isn’t going to solve all of the world’s problems in one fell swoop—nor will the mentorship of one billion. But the abundance you provide to another person will help them give their own gifts to another person, providing space and time to find new and innovative ways to help the impoverished and hungry and war-stricken.
All it takes is one single act of kindness today—your finding the time to be a mentor.
You will have officially left the world better than when you found it, which is part of the ultimate goal while we’re spinning around on this rock.
I need to learn to wake board. I should start a side business. I’ve been working on this brick fireplace for three years and can’t finish. I wish I could learn Mandarin. I really have to start exercising soon.
I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do. I’m SO busy. There’s so much going on.
I feel that. People have children to deal with, unexpected life events, ridiculous work schedules, and they need some down time in between too (Harry Potter movie marathon anyone?).
The key to it all is maintaining a tight schedule… duh. Nothing you haven’t heard before. But I’ve got two little tricks, maybe stuff you’ve heard before but maybe not, that help me stick to keeping a tight schedule on a long-term basis… so I can be working on touring my one-man show, three new book series, consulting work, the beginnings of writing a new one-man show, and some down time in between—all at the same time.
1) Be the Chief and not the Hungry Hunter—Schedule your time at least one week in advance. This is assuming you schedule your time at all, which you should. If you wake up on any given day and map out what you want done, it tends to be an exercise in putting out fires of the immediate and the seemingly urgent—rather than a process in keeping one eye in the moment and one eye on the future. Or, in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it’s the difference of waking up and eating what you kill that very day, versus planning out how, when, and where you’re going to gather food for the tribe for the next week. In the former you’re the hungry hunter constantly chasing, while in the latter you’re able to be the Chief in planning for higher level activities like building a nice shelter, irrigation for the tribe, and building grain silos.
2) In case of Fire, Break Glass and… Schedule contingency time. Example: I know I need to get X, Y, Z done this week. I loaded up all my work on Monday though Thursday and even scheduled in my down time. While going through the week, I found that I played too hard on Wednesday (totally cool). I worked too long on X and Y on Thursday because I was in the zone. I even had an unexpected doctor visit on Tuesday.
But in my calendar when I was planning my week, I gave myself a block of time on Friday 2-6pm, as contingency time—time to work on all my leftovers from the week. So, I’m still able to complete most if not all of my tasks for the week. I don’t feel guilty for missing out on certain things throughout the week. And I’m able to work, play, and leave time for unexpected events—making for a well-rounded existence.
We all have 1440 minutes in the day—might as well put all of them to good use.
I hope these two little tricks are helpful.
I love sports—not enough to spend time watching hours of it, but enough to read about it and watch a few championship games.
Some of the greatest athletes in the world have a motivation to be the best in the world at their job—a drive that’s unparalleled.
But how does a person keep that motor revving at such a high level for extended periods of time? Loving your job isn’t simply enough of a motivator to complete your goals.
In the movie Rocky, the title character Rocky has a coach named Mick—a curmudgeon of an old man who gets every ounce of effort out of Rocky so he can eventually become a boxing champion (spoiler alert: he doesn’t become a champion until the second film). Mick knows how to push and pull Rocky—the right exercises and drills, what to say and how to say it.
We all have a Mick living inside us, and it’s the greatest athletes who know how to talk to their inner Mick so that he talks back. I call this, “learning to harness your motivator.”
For basketball players Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, they would remember slighted words spoken by an opponent and the next time they saw that opponent, they would compete harder than ever before against that opponent and succeed to unprecedented levels.
For some players their motivation is to help their family out of a desperate financial situation, for others it could be to lift up their entire neighborhood.
There’s so much to learn from the way these athletes approach their jobs to the way we approach our jobs, lives, and dreams.
It’s not always easy to stay motivated once we set ourselves on a certain path or paths: marriage, friendship, artistic pursuits, completing a long-held goal. But if we can harness our motivator, our inner-Mick; the determination… and achievement becomes manageable and tangible.
There are many reasons to set goals: altruism, fame, fortune, proving a person wrong, honor, and so on.
Harnessing your inner-Mick can be especially helpful if you dislike a certain situation you’re in—a crappy job, a bad friendship, a roadblock in your long-held goal. Asking “why am I doing this, and what’s my motivation,” can help (even in small increments) un-stick you when you’re stuck, provide the necessary mindset to go into a job you dislike while pursuing something you enjoy a little more, and even find the inspiration to stay or leave.
One caveat to this whole “Inner-Mick” analogy: in the film, Mick was a little verbally abusive to Rocky… you don’t get to do that to yourself. While you’re harnessing your motivation, it’s better to treat yourself kindly and say nice words, which are much more helpful than saying to yourself, “You’re nuttin’ but a bum.” (You had to see the movie to get the reference.)