Why I Left a Perfectly Good Job (again)

This past week I resigned from my job.

I was 6-months in, and by all outward appearances, was doing really good.

I had excellent benefits, a lucrative compensation package, the ability to often work from home, and a great team at my side to support me.

I had a better-than-average commission structure, was working for a winning company, and had a LOT of potential ahead of me.

But I also had a nagging feeling in my gut.

I had taken the job (my first “real” one since quitting my last “real” one in 2010) with the idea that the extra money I would be making would help to fuel my own business and help me scale up to the next level.

6-months in, and I was full-on in business mode. I was making more money than I had in quite a while, and things were good.

But, “Good is the enemy of great.” – Jim Collins

Somewhere along the line, I had lost site of my North star goal: To take the extra cash I was making and use it to fuel my business to new heights.

I had embraced this wonderful company and was a full-on employee, putting my best time and energy into my job. It was good.

I had made a ton of new professional connections, met new friends, and learned an incredible amount about an industry that I had previously known very little about. Life was good.

But good is the enemy of great.

Losing my momentum

One of the many benefits I had at this job was that when it came time to head into the office, I had a fairly lengthy commute. This would normally be viewed as a bad thing to most employees,  but I used it as time to catch up on some great podcasts and audio books. (SIDE NOTE: Some of my favorite podcasts I listened to along the way came from Lewis Howes, Pat Flynn, Chris Ducker, Tim Ferriss, Stephen Warley, Dan Carlin, and Joel Runyon – all of which I highly recommend to those reading this!)

One such book that I enjoyed listening to over and over was Donald Trump’s Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and LifeThe Donald shares some great wisdom he’s learned along the way of failing his way to success. My favorite part is chapter 7, “The Big Mo'”, in which he talks about momentum.

As I had listened again to this chapter for the ____th time, I started to listen to the example he gives in the beginning of someone who had lost their momentum. While cruising along NY’s Interstate 90 at 75ish MPH, it hit me like I was a head-on collision…

He was talking about me.

Good is the enemy of great

I had let my own business – the engine for which many of my life’s goals will be produced over the coming years – fall almost completely by the wayside.

I had lost my momentum!

The problem that I now had come to grips with, was that I had worked myself into a corner. So deeply involved with, and committed to my job, that I did not have the time now to put into my own business. It was either/or, instead of both/and like I had originally envisioned it to be.

The very next day, I had received something related to my business in my inbox and I got a sick feeling in my stomach. My baby, that I’d created, had been neglected. Not only had it shrunk in my mind, but it shrunk on paper as well.

It was time for a change.

Strive for Greatness

One of my favorite athletes is LeBron James.

All opinions from the readers aside, he’s at the top of his game and he’s still hungry.

Following him on Instagram, I saw some everyday mundane post that he put up about something he was doing in life, and tagged it with the same hashtag he often does – #striveforgreatness.

That’s what I need in my life, because good is the enemy of great.

Last week, I resigned from my perfectly good job. It had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with what I had been wasting.

So now, I’m writing this post to you, many of whom are my personal friends, as a call to action.

Thank you for loving me, thank you for supporting me, and thank you in advance for keeping me accountable.

Don’t let me waste what I’ve been given. Don’t let me lose focus. Don’t let me settle for good when great is within reach.

 

 

I’m back.

 

 

– JC

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On Facing Criticism

In the midst of pounding out some meaningful work recently, I’ve come across criticism of various sorts.

The following excerpt from this Reddit post has been helpful. (I’m sharing it here because I’m not sure everyone who reads this website also reads Reddit)

Author Dan Brown on Criticism

The question was asked to Dan Brown,

“Your work receives a lot of criticism from the world of literary “experts,” and yet is incredibly well-received in the marketplace. Ignoring both your critics and your financial success, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your career as a writer?”

His response:

“People for whom creativity is a profession have little choice but to take their critics lightly. The alternative is to care deeply what people think… and, in doing so, lose all spontaneity and creativity. As crazy as this may sound, I would much prefer to write a book that sparks passionate reaction (even a negative one) than to write a book that evokes apathy or indifference. Yes, I wish everyone loved the books I write, but that’s not how it works for me… or any author, for that matter. When you’re a creative person—whether a writer, a painter, or a composer—all you have to guide the process is your own taste. You create the novel/painting/symphony that you yourself like, and then you pray like hell that someone shares your taste. Those who do are fans…and those who don’t are your critics. As for the aspect of success that is most rewarding to me…it is the luxury of engaging in the creative process every day as a job. I learned long ago that if I’m not actively creating something, I’m not happy.”

Here’s the link again if you want to contribute to his discussion.

5 Gems Discovered in 2012

Quick update for RSS subscribers – If you’ve been subscribing via email, I’ve been changing things up. Because I don’t want to be spammy, if you want to continue subscribing, could you do me a quick favor and subscribe here? Thanks! You’re the best!

 

I always like reading end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year posts from different authors, bloggers, and everyday folks.

It’s a chance to reflect, to see what went well, and what didn’t go so well.

It’s a time to learn from the past, pause, sharpen things, and prepare for the future.

With that said, here’s 5 major biggies I learned personally in 2012.

1. Travel is an incredible teacher

A good portion of 2012 was spent for me on the road, in airports, and on busses traveling about the U.S. North, South, East and West were all destinations and stops along the way.

Sitting in an airport, or on a plane, or on a bus, gives you great time to think and pause from the everyday thoughts you might normally be focusing on.

It gives a pause, a respite. It allows you to think through lots of life-decisions and plan for more.

It’s also a great chance to meet some new people.

I met a lot of folks this past year that I might never have otherwise met if it weren’t for going to their home, their state. One biggie that I learned across the board? For the most part, people are generally nice and warmly responsive if you give them the time of day and have an honest conversation with them. This was just as true in the generally-perceived “hospitable” South as it was in the generally-perceived in the “cold” North (As a matter of fact, some of the nicest people I’ve ever met in all of my travels, shocking as this may be to people who haven’t traveled there yet, were from major cities like New York).

Want to make some changes in your life or experience things that will give you new perspective? Hop in the car and take a drive. Buy that plane ticket. Plan a road trip.

Action item – I’m a member of the Travel Hacking Cartel (affiliate link), a service that teaches its members how to rapidly accumulate frequent airline miles without a lot of extra spending. If you’re interested in racking up the miles for some free trips, or maybe just making your next trip extra special (EX: Like my wife and I did, when we were able to fly first class to Dallas, TX this year for FREE because of miles earned), then check it out.

2. You eat an elephant one bite at a time

Back in April, Srini Rao posted a quick question on his Facebook page talking about this book that he’d been using that helped him accomplish some pretty amazing things. He had an extra copy and said he’d be willing to mail it to anyone who posted a comment explaining why they’d want it or need it most.

Well, God decided to look favorably upon me that day, and Srini picked me.

The book he was describing was a copy of Seth Godin’s/Zig Ziglar’s Pick Four book (aff link). He got my address, gave me a quick overview of what it was about, and sent it.

It showed up a few weeks later, but I didn’t bother cracking it open. I was “too busy” with other stuff. What a mistake.

A month or so later, Srini messaged me again asking how things were going, and I ashamedly admitted that I hadn’t started. He shared some more fired-up stuff about how well it was working for him, and so I caved and decided to start it that week.

AMAZING!

The process by which the book describes (I won’t spoil it all here) is very liberating in turning your dreams and wishes into actual, actionable items.

Before I knew it, I had hit 2 of my major goals within 8 weeks (the book runs for 12 weeks).

Again, AMAZING!

Daily, simple action adds up into big things.

Drip, drip, drip, and all of a sudden, you have a waterfall.

3. D.I.Y. – Do It Yourself

One of my adventures this past summer led me to the wonderful wilderness of Arkansas.

I was on a business trip in Little Rock, and gave a call to my friend Tom. He has come up to New York a few times with his family during the summers (the whole family is a bluegrass band, how cool is that?), but although I had told him I’d come visit him, I had never actually cashed in on that promise.

Well, enough was enough.

Once he found out I would be in Little Rock, it would only be a short half-day’s drive to his house. He and his family welcomed me to their home, and little did I know, I was in store for one of the most fun weekends of the year.

What made it so fun with Tom and his family was the fact that they live very simply. They’re not Amish, but they don’t stress over most of the stuff that a “city boy” (even though I live in the sort-of country) would fret about.

He’s been very big lately on what he calls “living off of the land” – Growing, hunting, and catching your own food. Even though there was a significant drought across the U.S. this summer, the system he uses (gleaned from this video – worth the time to watch) WORKS. I’ve never had such juicy fruit and veggies in all my life. And the fish they caught? Magnifique!

The point of all of this?

When we were eating dinner on Saturday night, Tom told his children and me, that not even the richest man in town could tell you where his food came from. That it was a true blessing to know that they all had a hand in what they were eating, and that doing things yourself sometimes can really pay off. It was one of the most subtle, yet incredible experiences of my year, and I’ve thought about it almost every day since then.

As someone who just picked up hunting for the first time last year, I can understand the sentiment that Tom has towards doing things like providing food for your family by yourself, by not depending on someone else’s labor.

No, this isn’t a rant against genetically-modified farming, grocery stores, or non-organic foods. Just a simple and beautiful observation I made visiting a good friend this summer.

Doing things yourself pays off.

4. Wear what she likes

For a long time, I have thought my wonderful wife has wanted to make me look like some kind of a goofball that I clearly am not. I resisted for almost 5 years.

Until a much-wiser-than-me older friend came along and shared this bit of advice with me:

“Josh, you should just wear the type of clothes that your wife wants you to wear. Don’t you realize that what she picks out for you are the types of things that she finds you attractive in?

Woah.

You mean to tell me that the woman who I love the most in this world, who I’m constantly pursuing and trying to stay attracted to me is actually dropping HINTS for how I can do just that?

(Bangs head on table repeatedly)

What an idiot I am.

So this year, finally, in 2012, I started taking her advice. Harnessing the power of (what, to a man, appears to be the biggest time waster in the world that women love) Pinterest, I asked her to set up a pin board of outfits that she would like to see me wear. Using the amazing wonders of technology, I subscribed to that board using Google Reader. So every time she posted a new outfit, it came across my radar.

Voila!

All of a sudden, people start commenting about how they like this shirt or they like that outfit. Had it been left up to me to decide what to wear, I’d probably be bumming around in sweatpants and a football jersey —–> Not sexy!

So thank you, wonderful wife, for being patient enough to work with your stubborn husband and show him the way. I love you. 🙂

5. Fail often

This one will be short and sweet.

In reference to the Pick Four book mentioned above, it wasn’t until I was making failure after failure (and writing them down, and learning from them), that I started to see success.

I could go into a long rant about how successful people have failed far more times than they’ve succeeded. There’s many videos out there that share the same story.

However, I’ll just say this: It’s true.

It’s very difficult to steer a parked car. Planning out every last detail before you take any action on any goal or decision will paralyze you. Taking the first step, the first piece of action, gets things moving. It’s far easier (and less mentally-taxing in the long run) to start moving and then correct course than it is to guess the correct course without moving.

Take action, learn from your mistakes, correct course, struggle, struggle, struggle, rinse, repeat, succeed.

It’s that simple.

Looking ahead

I haven’t yet taken time to plan things out for 2013 totally. Matter of fact, I’m in week 2 of another Pick Four book as this is being written, and I’m not sure I quite want to share all the details about it just yet.

But I know this, it’s important to write things down, learn from them, and enjoy where you’re at.

I’m looking forward to 2013, and am actually already working on things to make it better.

If you’ve got anything cool you’re working on you want to share with the rest of us, we’d love to hear it. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Happy New Year!

– JC

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Lessons from Ahhhhnold

I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook version of Total Recall – My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Wow.

Not only is it very entertaining to listen to Arnold read the first and last few chapters, but I learned quite a lot from this incredible guy.

I was under the assumption that he was just a bumbling muscular idiot that shot people in movies and spoke in brief one-liners.

Was I ever wrong.

Some Arnold Facts

  • He had a brother growing up, who died in his early twenties in a car crash.
  • His father was a policeman in Austria.
  • He’s very good at math and crunching numbers, earning quite a lot of money when he first moved to California from real estate.
  • He’s a Republican who married into a Democratic family.
  • While a champion of fitness, he enjoys smoking cigars.
  • While an environmentalist, he says Hummers are some of his favorite cars to drive.
  • His success was pointed, goal-oriented, and systematic.
  • He rose to fame and fortune in bodybuilding, acting, and governing by deciding to be the best at each of them.

It’s those last two listed above that really inspired me.

Arnold believed that, like bodybuilding, every part of his life could be successful if he followed the right path and “did the reps”. Everything was repetitions to him.

Becoming the 5-time world champion bodybuilder? Do the reps in the weight room and repeat your poses.

Flip-cock a shotgun while riding on a Harley without looking as the Terminator? Reps and more reps.

Giving a speech before the United Nations on the environment as governor of California? Reps, reps, and more reps (he practiced his speech more than 50 times).

There are 24 hours in the day

(This will be my last spoiler)

One time, as Governor, Arnold gave a speech before a group of college students. He was asked a difficult question about what he (as a representative of the state) was going to do in order to make things easier for college students.

Rather than talking policy, the Governator talked one on one with this college student, making the question very personal, and used examples from his own life of how he had overcome hardship.

He explained how even as a teenager learning bodybuilding for the first time, he needed to use his time wisely.

“Theah ahh twenteeey fouah howas in de day” he said, “Cchow much of dose ahh you wastingk?” – Challenging all those in attendance (and those reading/listening to his autobiography) to take a hard look at where our time is spent.

This stood out to me the most. I’ve become pretty lax with the time that’s given to me, and doing a time-audit, I find that I waste a lot more of it than I realize.

Get to the choppa!

Have you ever noticed that people who have changed the world seemed to be in a real hurry to do so?

Maybe it’s because they have taken note of the very short amount of time that they have on the earth.

The thing I really liked about Arnold in reading this book? He isn’t showing signs of stopping.

Yes, his days of governing are over. Yes, he has endured some family problems as of late. Yes, he’s not in as great of shape as he once was.

But he’s still striving, still pushing toward his goals, still improving himself.

Listening to a guy like this, I believe him when he says, “I’ll be back”.

Photo

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Becoming Captain America – How to train for, and dominate, the Tough Mudder

(Note: Not an actual photo of me)

We need a team

To say that I’m excited for the May 4th release of Marvel’s The Avengers is an extreme understatement. I’m PUMPED! As a matter of fact, let’s take a break for a second to watch a preview:

 

Ahh, can’t wait!

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

Probably the toughest event on the planet

In case you’ve been living under a rock for a while, there’s this 12 mile adventure race that’s come out in the past few years called the Tough Mudder. Some of the goodies one can expect to encounter during this event:

  • Running through fire
  • Swimming through ice cold water
  • Crawling through dark tunnels underground, and in some cases, partially under water
  • Slopping through miles of energy-sapping mud
  • Finishing the race by being jolted with 10,000 volts of electricity

Not your average walk in the park.

Intimidating. Difficult. Painful. Exhausting. Potentially dangerous.

Exactly the type of thing worth doing

Cap can’t do it alone

For those who have seen Captain America: The First Avenger, you’ll recall that Captain Steve Rogers wasn’t able to defeat the Red Skull or HYDRA on his own. It took a team of heroes along with him to squash the bad guys.

While I have yet to see The Avengers (soooo excited!), I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t go this one alone either.

Step 1 to dominating the Tough Mudder, or outer space aliens

Find a group of rough, tough dudes who are willing to face the challenge with you.

Friends, let me introduce you to Thor, The Hulk, and Iron Man. My teammates.

Not only is it cool to dress up like superheroes for an adventure race, it’s even cooler to run said race with a team of dudes that have been preparing for it together.

Step 2 (which really kind of precedes step 1, but who’s counting?)

Train like a mad mother for it!

This video from this article was the first of many cold, wet training sessions in the hilly woods of upstate New York and Northeast Pennsylvania.

Once we all had paid into the race financially, the real price needed to be paid, in blood and sweat.

Why pay so much?

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest excuses I’ve heard from other would-be Mudders as to why they “couldn’t” (or rather, WON’T) do the Tough Mudder, is the cost. Yes, it cost each of us roughly $180 to participate in this event. And I can somewhat understand how that may be a daunting price to pay for 3-ish hours of seeming torture.

But the people that think that way are missing all of the pieces of the puzzle.

They weren’t there in the woods or the weight room, sweating it out, freezing it out, bleeding it out, with us.

They weren’t the ones flipping tires.

They didn’t run the hills.

They didn’t swim through ponds or creeks in February and March, take ice baths or cold showers.

They didn’t see the investment that we were making.

Better because of it

$180 does seem like a lot of money. But not for me, and not for my Avenger buddies. I see it as a simple “tax” that we had to pay to become better.

Better at fitness.

Better at toughness.

Better at life.

It’s the type of investment we pay to do what my buddy Steve Kamb calls “leveling up your life“.

And to my bros and me, and all those who walked away from PA this past weekend with the orange headband, it’s worth it.

Ding!

One goal down, 11 more to go.

I’ll leave with 2 questions: What are you doing to move toward your next goal? To level up?

and…

Will I see you at next year’s Tough Mudder?

Talk to y’all soon.

– JC

Photo

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Getting Mentally Organized…For Dummies!

Check! Check! Check!

It feels good to get things done.

For many years now (let’s just roughly say, two decades), I have been a procrastinator, delay-er, and have been a generally un-organized dude.

Thanks to marrying a really great woman, and with the help of some excellent reading, some of the externally-disorganized areas of my life have come into order.

The one area of my life that I could never seem to get in order was my lousy brain.

It could generate incredible, problem solving ideas, creative thoughts, amazing jokes, and funny stories…But they would be lost in an instant, my mind catering to the next big interruption. It was a traffic jam of thoughts, quotes, ideas, and knowledge that wasn’t really rooted anywhere, and was completely disorganized.

If a photo could be taken of my mind, it would look something like a post-tornado trailer park, a crashed cargo train, or the bedroom of a teenage football player who also plays a lot of computer games –> A MESS!

Have you ever experienced this?

David Allen to the rescue!

Photo

Look at that handsome dude, all casually-smiling and whatnot, hands in his pockets, ready to solve problems with ease. I think I may actually love him.

As mentioned in a recent update, I’d first heard about David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, through a Lifestyle Business Podcast. It was added to my book-reading queue, and then after a year (yes, a YEAR) I finally started to read it.

Why, oh why, did I wait so long?

In the weeks that have followed since finishing the book, I have been able to complete more projects, come up with more ideas for future (and current) projects, and have felt an incredible sense of being fully-present in the moment like no other I’ve felt before.

Check! Check! Check!

It’s actually fun now to write everything down, get it properly processed, and create what David calls a “Mind like water” – able to adapt and be present to any situation that’s placed before it.

What is this “mind like water” you speak of?

Getting Things Done does one of the best jobs, in my opinion, of comparing the brain (mind) to a computer.

In a computer (if you didn’t know this already), there are storage points known as RAM – Random Access Memory. This is what allows multiple programs/apps to remain open and functioning, or multitasking, at the same time. It’s like a waitress carrying a tray. She has two arms, two trays. She can only hold so much.

It’s once the RAM, or the waitress’ trays get overloaded, that the real problems start to come in.

How many times have you forgotten someone’s birthday? Or driven multiple times past the grocery store, forgetting the whole time you were supposed to stop and buy milk? Or had an incredible idea, only to have it wash away from your brain later?

Why does this happen?

Easy – Overload.

The trays are too full. The RAM is over capacity. This is where stress, anxiety, and a general mindset of procrastination and in-action comes in.

Bad dog! Roll up a newspaper and swat yourself on the nose.

Freeing up space

One of the amazing functions of our brain is not only its ability to remember things long term (like a computer’s hard drive storage space), short term (like the RAM/tray example above), or even its ability to process information (like a computer’s processor, which in this case, GTD actually helps to increase the mental capacity to process information), but its ability to create. 

Creation. New art, new ideas, new solutions to problems, new pathways. New!

When the RAM portion of the brain is overloaded, a midst a flood of information, things to remember, mental lists, and other distractions, the brain’s ability to create and to focus is hindered. It’s like a very delicate flower that requires protection, sunlight, and a lot of love (maybe not REAL love, but run with me on this one, ok?).

This creative portion of the brain, which helps partially in the processing of information, can get snuffed out, like the flame of a candle, by more urgent and pressing matters.

The goal that I needed from this book (which thankfully, I’ve achieved and am continuing to perfect), was to be able to protect those creative juices from getting sopped up by having to remember and focus on everything else.

How to get things done

This will not be a summary of the book. Hopefully, if I’ve done it right, you’ll want to go out and read it for yourself and apply it. I will share some thoughts at a later date (once I get some feedback from you, the handsome/gorgeous reader) on how I apply some of David’s paper-and-pen principles to a digital age. I DO still use paper and pencil, but love to use the glorious powers of iPhone and Android for just about everything else.

This chart is the main premise of the entire book, and one I still refer to (keeping a copy by my desk at work, and carrying a printed copy of it in my “man book” – a folder that has a pad & pen for note-taking):

(Source for the photo)

We all have “stuff” in our lives.

Projects we’re working on. Ideas that we’d like to act upon some day. Responsibilities we have at/in our home/job/church/business/team/life. A whole bucket list of things we’d love to get done and goals we want to achieve.

Step 1 to all of this is getting it written down and out of your mind.

If you’re worrying about something right now, it’s not out of your mind.

David suggests this at the very beginning of the book, and this step alone changed my entire outlook on mental capacity and actually getting things done in my own life. It’s amazing what happened to me when I no longer had to focus on worrisome things, knowing full-well that they would eventually be processed (via the steps listed in the chart above) soon.

I was free! I was present! I had a mind like water.

Boom!

The two best questions I gained from this book

I have to stop myself. I’m so tempted to continue to give away info from this book, but it wouldn’t help any of you. PLEASE go buy this book and read it. You can thank me later.

Back to the topic at hand.

There were two essential questions that the book covered, which are both listed in the chart above.

  1. Is it actionable?
  2. What’s the next action?
Is it actionable?
You can see above in the chart, that there is a process to answering this question. If you have something written down, this is a question that needs to be answered.

Take your email inbox for example. Most people have never read the Four Hour Workweek, so they don’t understand the power that “inbox zero” can bring to productivity. Their email inboxes are disaster zones!

Asking this question alone, when approaching email, can make the difference between inbox-zero, and having thousands upon thousands of unread, or worse yet, un-actionable (sometimes un-answered) emails waiting. No wonder stuff like this happens at work.

“Is it actionable” requires the next question to be asked, and then answered. This perhaps, is the most powerful question in the book.

What’s the next action?

I want you to try something if you’ll play along.

Next time you’re in a meeting, be it a business/work meeting, a family pow-wow, or even a 1-on-1 with a friend, date, or spouse, ask this question when a new idea comes up. I’ll give you an example:

“I think I’d like to start a business this year.”

“Really? Cool! So what’s the next action (step)?

At this point, a number of different options exist. The person who wants to start a business could say something like:

“I need to come up with an idea for a product or service.”

“I need to research successful businesses that have worked out that I could model mine after.”

“I should dig deeper into what it is that I really enjoy doing, and find out if that coincides with me making money.”

“I should dig deeper into what it is that people want to pay money for, and then meet that need.”

What would happen if the next-action-step question was never asked?

I’ll tell you, fine lads and lasses: nothing would happen.

AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM!

Left un-checked, un-asked, and even un-answered, that potential idea of the person wanting to start a business would simply remain just that – an idea.

Asking, “What’s the next action?” puts legs on ideas that are just floating up in the clouds, and causes the rubber to meet the road.

A crazy side effect

Asking this question also helps to take gigantic, scary ideas, and breaks them down into simple, day-to-day stuff.

It may be daunting for any one of us to think up something like, “Gee, I really think I’d like to start a business this year”. There are a LOT of options (I only listed a tiny, tiny amount of them in the example above).

But it’s not so daunting to take 10 minutes and do something as simple as taking a look at the list of the top 10 Amazon sellers for a potential product idea. Any old Joe could do that. As a matter of fact, the schmuck writing this article did just that! Easy peasy, boss.

We’ve all heard the stories and anecdotes of how persistence pays off. Of how in the battle between running water and a rock, the water always wins. Or how the most important swing of the ax on a tree is not the first or the last, but all of them together. Asking, “What’s the next action?” is THE question that breaks down huge tasks and makes them simple, every day, easy.

And when you add all those tasks up, you get some serious compounded action! My buddy Joel wrote about this recently, and while reading GTD and since finishing, I think his post on The Surprising Effects of Compound Action may be my favorite Internet-find of the past 6 months. It’s one of those things that when I read it, it hit me right between the eyes and was the perfect article at the time. I’ve gone back and read it about 10 times since he posted it. If you have 2 minutes, it’s worth your time.

The Fellowship of the Doers

How can I leave without at least finding some way of trying to work Teddy Roosevelt into this? 🙂

Last year I finished reading a lengthy book on the youth and rise to power of Theodore Roosevelt. As a young boy, TR realized the power, clarity of mind, and sense of purpose that was associated with DOING things (and not just talking about them). He surrounded himself with such people that took on the same mindset, calling themselves “The Fellowship of the Doers”.

I feel like Getting Things Done has helped to give my brain the type of effect that steroids would give muscles (minus all the side effects and health problems, of course). It has given me a shortcut to moving from someone who is not simply just a “thinker”, but more importantly, a doer. I can’t describe how cool this feels to be able to plan things out, process them, cross them off a list. It’s incredible!

And while I know that some won’t buy the book and check it out (and that’s totally fine with me, I understand and my feelings aren’t hurt), some will. When you’re done, let’s connect. I want to swap notes and see how we can help each other.

Chopping down the tree, one swing of the ax at a time.

🙂

– JC

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Weekly Roundup (the first of potentially many)!

Greetings Earthlings!

While in the midst of multiple projects, I thought it’d be fun to do a little weekly round-up.

This will be a summary of some of the things I’ve come across on the web this week, with mild commentary, that I’ve found funny, interesting, or just plain cool.

A special mention to refreshing my memory for this week needs to go to Patchlife. They’re a pretty cool social-archive site, that combines all the networks you allow into a sort-of scrapbook of all that you’ve posted online. Their tag line – Sign up and refresh your memory. Pretty cool!

(Oh, before we begin, for all my hundreds [kidding] of FTC readers, this post does include at least one few affiliate link, which will be appropriately identified)

Here we goooooo!

Cool – New Blogcastfm site and LOOK magazine

The Batman and Robin of the Internet (I’ll let them decide who is who in that tandem), David Crandall and Srini Rao have unleashed their gorgeous new website this week, along with the first of many issues of LOOK Magazine. I’ll admit with no apologies, that LOOK was the first online magazine that I read from start to finish (You can’t really say, “cover to cover”, can you?). It’s gorgeous, and loaded with good info! My favorite article: “Getting Physical in the Digital Space. Check it!

Engaging – The Hunger Games series

The hype surrounding these books became so loud to me this month that I finally gave in and downloaded book one of The Hunger Games on my Kindle 2 weeks ago. 9 days later, I finished the 3rd book in the series.

It’s that good.

I won’t go into any more details about the book. If you have an e-reader, at the very least, download the first chapter to see what all the hype is about. Not into reading? Don’t worry, the MOVIE is coming out soon. Here’s the trailer:

Cool – Tough Mudder is coming to my neck of the woods!

I was excited to see an email from Tough Mudder this week letting me know that they’ll be having a venue in my city next year. Who’s ready to run it with me?

Funny – Guy on a Buffalo

WARNING: This is pure Internet stupidity. It will probably catch on, like the Trolololo guy did, but regardless, idiots like me find this stuff funny.

Special thanks to @jkunynghame for letting me know about this one.


For more Guy on a Buffalo hilarity, check out the band’s sub-website here.

Cool, and Funny – Dollarshaveclub.com

I’ll let Mike do the talking first:


What a great friggin’ idea!

As a guy who shaves every day, and pays a gazillion dollars for razors every month (at least when I remember to buy them), this product is a great idea. Not only that, but this is the first time that a single video had me sold. I was clicking through to the website and signing up for their $6 razor subscription as soon as the video was over.

Their website is pretty dang funny too.

So let’s review: Great product, hilarious marketing, ingenious website design (which is also funny too), easy sign up process….check!

Oh, you’re interested? You can order some here ( <— ok FTC guys, this is my affiliate link). If someone orders through this link, I get a month of razors free. Not interested in hooking me up with a month free? That’s cool. I’m excited to get them for cheap anyways. Here’s the non-aff link.

Happy shaving!

Well, that was actually fun!

And thus we cap off the business week and head into a soon-to-be-springtime here in the Northern hemisphere.

Anybody have any cool stuff going on this weekend?

Talk to y’all soon.

– JC

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Getting Things Done and Looking Dumb

Greetings peeps!

Today will be a quick post.

Like, super quick.

Currently Reading

If you’ve been here lately and seen the right-hand side of this page, you may have spotted this image:

Always wanting to keep on top of new books, I decided to throw that little widget up there to let you good folks know what I’m mentally digesting as of late.

Getting Things Done

While I’m not yet finished with the book (about another day to go at the time of this writing), David Allen’s Getting Things Done is working wonders in my daily life. I first heard about GTD through Dan & Ian’s podcast many, many moons ago. Ironically, I procrastinated in reading this book, and am now kicking my past self for waiting so long to read it.

Wow!

There will be more to come soon on this book, including how I’m implementing what’s taught into a (mostly) digital life. Until then, go grab the book if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet!

Looking dumb for the sake of the team

The Tough Mudder is coming.

As one of my 2012 goals, I’m running in one of these delightful adventure races this year. The team has finally assembled, and training has begun.

I’m also running my first triathlon this year. Mr. Impossible laid out the challenge, and I accepted. (By the way, The Impossible Tri training program is almost here. If you’re interested in running your first triathlon semi-with me, check it out here)

To prove to my Tough Mudder teammates that I haven’t been slacking, and also to give the world (yet another) chance to see me looking stupid, I give you my most recent training video. Don’t laugh (too hard) 🙂

I’ll check back with you guys soon 🙂

– JC

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Out of the Woodwork, and Into 2012

Every now and then, folks on the interwebs will disappear.

Then they’ll come back again, apologizing to their readers about their absence.

Sorry

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on to what’s next (weeeeeeeeee)!

2012

This is the year that everything is supposed to end. (Isn’t it?)

If that’s the case, then there’s no time to waste!

With that in mind, let’s talk goals.

I wanted to wait a week or so to post my 2012 goals, not because I wasn’t prepared come 12:01 on New Year’s Day, but to wait until most people had shared theirs. That way I knew I could get a decent amount of eyeballs to see what I’m planning (nothing like a little online accountability, eh?).

2011 was one of the first years that I didn’t really set any specific goals. Looking back in retrospect, there wasn’t much that I felt like I was pursuing. Not to say that it wasn’t a great year, it was! There were many highs, and a few lows.

But…

It’s time to get back in the saddle. It’s time to write some things down and make them happen.

My goal ahead of all these goals would be this: That they were pursued with such a passion and fury that I’m forced to write many new goals in 3, 4, or 6 months.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

My 2012 Goals

(in no particular order, with reasons why following the list)

     – Run in the Tough Mudder
     – Keuka Lake Short Triathlon
     – 400,000 Airline miles, for the purpose of…
     – …Travel to France, Germany, and UK with Bethany
     – Take a trip with Bethany and the girls in a train
     – Go to a Dallas Cowboys home game
     – Less Facebook, more Twitter
     – Increased reading speed
     – Become SCUBA certified
     – Purchase, and learn to use a nice DSLR camera
     – Skydive
     – Learn to code

RUN IN THE TOUGH MUDDER

Way back in 2007, in the red clay hills of Fort Benning, GA, my love for obstacle courses was reborn. I say “re”born, because what kid doesn’t love obstacle courses?

As a Basic Trainee in the U.S. Army, the obstacle course was required for graduation. I remember thinking, “We’re actually getting PAID to do this stuff?!” In the past 5 years, with a military job that’s often limited from doing cool stuff like this (I’m an engineer), I’m anxious to run around, over, and through obstacles once again.

What a great time to do the Tough Mudder!

Thankfully, I won’t be alone doing it either, as an alpha-dawg team of friends who will be running with me is assembling as you’re reading this. Pictures and videos will be sure to follow!

KEUKA LAKE SHORT TRIATHLON

Joel Runyon recently issued the challenge to his audience that this is the year they (we) should run a triathlon. After a brief convo with Mr. Impossible, I decided to take him up on his challenge.

Yes, this will be a “sprint” triathlon (not a full-distance one), but it’ll also be the first race of its kind that I’ve ever done. Sitting here at my laptop, clicking through to sign up and pay for this race, I’m very-near crapping my pants.

Why?

Because it’s stepping into the unknown.

Even though I personally know people who have competed in triathlons, I have never experienced it myself. The question that friends have asked is this:

“What do you think the hardest part will be for you? Running, biking, or swimming?”

My answer – “Showing up.”

I’ll report in from the finish line. 🙂

400k FOR EURO TRAVEL

Speaking of things that make us crap our pants….

Neither my wife nor I have ever traveled outside of the U.S. (No, Canada and a cruise to the Bahamas don’t count)

***CHEESY MOMENT ALERT***

The night that I asked Bethany to marry me, after she’d already said “yes” (whew!), I distinctly remember telling her, “Marry me, and I’ll show you the world.” (Awwwwwwwwww!)

Now, of course, at the time I had no solid plans for what that meant, or whether it was even literal or metaphorical.

But now, it’s 7 years later, and so far, I’ve really sucked at the literal portion of that promise.

Not any more!

Last year, through the help of Chris Guillebeau‘s Frequent Flyer Master ebook and Travel Hacking Cartel subscription, I was able to take my total airline points (miles) from 19,000 to 154,000 miles in less than 4 months, with only 15,000 of those points coming from ACTUAL flights I took(!).

How can this happen? Click those links about Chris, and also check here to read how Chief NerdFitness Rebel Steve Kamb was able to travel around the world for only $418.

Now that I know my way around some of these hacking tools, I’ve set the lofty goal of being able to acquire over 400,000 miles in 2012. Will it be hard? Maybe. Will it be worth it? Hell ya!

TAKE A TRAIN TRIP WITH MY FAMILY

This one is simple to execute, something that my oldest daughter (3 years old) has been asking about since she was able to talk, but something that we’ve seemed to simply neglect over the past few years.

Not this time sucka!

Much like I plan on taking many of these airline trips for free, I plan on using some of Nathan Agin‘s tactics for our train travel. Booyah!

GO TO A DALLAS COWBOYS HOME GAME

Although I live in the heart of Buffalo Bill country, I’ve been a Dallas Cowboys fan since I was a young lad. With a friend’s wedding coming up in the fall of 2012 in Dallas, what better time to visit the world’s best football stadium and watch my favorite team play?

Dallas is also the home to my bro dawg, David Crandall. Expect to see some adventures and mischief come from the two of us when I visit Texas this year.

LESS FACEBOOK – MORE TWITTER

Not really a high and lofty goal, but for those that spend any serious time online, you can tell the difference between the types of interactions each platform allows you to have.

My most basic observation about the two is this: The successful people that I want to be like use Twitter more. Plain and simple. Not that I dislike Facebook, it’s just that there somehow seems to be some communicational (is that a George W. Bush word?) magic to being limited to 140 characters.

Speaking of Twitter, have we met?

INCREASE MY READING SPEED

Since my graduation from military training in 2007, I’ve really come to love books, reading on average, about 25 books per year.

One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve had to wanting to take in (and share) more, is how fast I’m able to read. With the help of Spreeder (and other tools), I think I’ll finally be able to bust through my speed limit and work my way up to book-aholic status (here’s looking at you, Annie).

BECOME SCUBA CERTIFIED

My extended family took a rockin’ cruise in April of 2011 (also a first for me and my family). While on the cruise in the Bahamas, I had about 6 hours to myself where I was able to go snorkeling.

The underwater world is fascinating!

I could SEE the difference in the size and color of fish simply by swimming out just a little farther. In most cases, I would see the exact same species of fish, but the fish were much bigger when the water was 40 feet deep instead of 20.

I kept wanting to dive deeper, but was limited by my feeble lung capacity (hopefully something that my Tough Mudder and triathlon training will help to increase).

Enter SCUBA certification.

A friend let me know that there’s a local SCUBA club that does all of the certifications, equipment rentals, and paperwork over the course of a few weeks at a local high school. Sweet! Be on the lookout for some GoPRO footage from yours truly when I cross this one off my list.

PURCHASE, AND LEARN TO USE A NICE DSLR CAMERA

Since high school, great photography and videography has always been so beautiful to me.

The Internetz (I can’t take credit for that spelling – thanks JC) is chock full of people ready and willing to teach you how to shoot great videos and take great pictures. I’d really love to learn this skill this year.

I’ll keep y’all posted on this one as it progresses.

SKYDIVE

I hope my wife doesn’t read this post, because she’s coming along too. 🙂

Not sure if this is something that we’ll do locally or venture out somewhere else in the world to experience. If you’ve got suggestions of great places to go to skydive, I’m all ears!

LEARN TO CODE

This is one of those skill sets that I keep putting off to do “someday”.

As all great goal-setters tell those who aren’t that good at it (and I’m throwing myself in with the latter crowd), “Someday isn’t a day of the week.”

Someday starts today.

Thanks to the folks at Codeacademy, I’ll be working through their Codeyear program every week this year. The big picture here would be to create my first iPhone app, but that may change as I progress and learn more (hence the reason you don’t see it on this list).

YOUR TURN

And that’s my list for 2012!

I will give progress reports as each one gets crossed off the list, and am actually reading through a really great book right now that will help to make sure the achieving of these goals becomes a reality.

With all that said, let me finish with a question:

What big goals and dreams do you have for 2012?

Talk to y’all soon.

– JC

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