It’s Not Me, It’s You

Why You Absolutely Must Send Your Bad Clients Packing

In a perfect world you’d work with perfect clients to create perfect results and everybody’s happy.

Too bad we live in the real world.

In the real world, not everybody’s going to be a good fit for each other. Sometimes expectations are out of alignment with the reality of what you can do for your clients, or what your clients are expecting in contrast to what they’re willing to give for it.

I’ve worked with clients who turn out to be overly demanding. It’s a strategy that has gotten them what they want in the past, but what they’re really doing is expecting more for what they’ve agreed to give.

There’s a word for that. . . stealing!

You wind up giving up your nights & weekends to meet unrealistic expectations. Who winds up suffering for it? Not the client! You’ve given them your time & sanity to go above and beyond the contract, and they’re still not happy with the work. They’ve stolen your happiness. You’ve allowed them to take away time with your friends, your family, your partner, and your own self respect.

I once worked on a website I was building for a client on Valentine’s Day because I thought it would be done that night and I would get paid. Turns out it wasn’t “finished” for another 4 months. (More on this later in this article.)

Here are a couple things to think about in your business, and the people you work with.

1: Some People Are Simply Overly Demanding
They’ve gotten used abusing the “customer is always right” approach to business, so they nitpick & create problems where there aren’t any as a way to justify unreasonable demands. You can never please them. It’s never enough, and it’s not about you.

2: Some Clients Are Black Holes
It sounds awful, but it’s true. Their approach of demanding more than has been agreed upon has worked for them in the past, so why won’t it work now? They are hell-bent on taking as much as they can for as little as they can give.  You could devote 200% of your time to them alone, and it’ll still not be enough. (You’ve done it, in fact, and how well did that go for you?)

3: Awful Clients Keep You From The Real Work
Every minute you stay in a business relationship that doesn’t serve you is two minutes you’re not spending with the right client. There are clients who would be an exact fit for your expertise. They will listen to what you have to say, they will put in the work, and they will respect your guidance. Every ill-fitting client you keep is an opportunity distraction that’s costing you the possibility of working with your hero clients.

So why don’t you move on?

It boils down to fear.

You’re afraid to lose the client
Maybe this is the only client you have. Or maybe they’re the biggest fish on your line, and you need the money. No matter what shape that takes, it’s because you’re afraid you won’t be able to find a better fit.

You’re bad at establishing healthy boundaries
In the case of working on the website over Valentine’s Day, I have to take 100% responsibility for my lack of establishing clear boundaries. I hadn’t taken the time to communicate the scope of the work. I didn’t give the clear outline of 3 revisions before paying for each change from that point forward. You can’t just expect someone to know those things; you have to teach people how to be a good client.

You think they’ll change
“Once they see how good the work is, they’ll suddenly value all the nights and weekends I’ve spent!” Wrong. They don’t know how much time you’ve spent. You can tell them, but you’re the one who lived through it; they can’t fully understand what you’ve given. Besides; they’re not paying for your time. They’re paying for the results.

Takeaway

Not everybody is meant to work together. Whether it’s because you lack the skills to create & maintain healthy boundaries like I did, or they’re simply an unreasonable black hole of “never good enough” there are some people you simply shouldn’t work with.

Do yourself, your friends, your partner, and your clients a huge favor; send the bad relationships packing so you have time for the perfect fit!

Need help learning how to create, maintain, and repair healthy boundaries? Let’s work together!

Blinking In Business

If you’re a mentalist, like me, you’d instantly recognize the number 793.8. I’ve often thought of getting it tattooed somewhere on my body it’s that important.

What is it?

The Dewey Decimal number for the library’s Magic & Mentalism section.

First Mentors

The mountains of North Carolina isn’t well known for being a hotbed of magic, so the authors of the 5 or 6 books in the McDowell county library were my first mentors. Every day after school I’d spend 2 hours reading & re-reading every page of each magic book on the shelves.

If you’ve never read an instructional magic book, there’s a peculiar thing you’ve probably never thought about.

How do magicians practice without a volunteer?

The answer in all the magic books from the 50’s I grew up reading is to run through the routine while standing in front of a mirror. This gives you the best approximation of how a spectator would see your trick.

This helps you understand a volunteer’s sight lines, how to hold your hand to make sure nobody sees the card hidden there, and so on.

Mental Hiccup

There’s a peculiar thing that happens, though. When you’re practicing that secret move nobody is supposed to see, your brain “helps you out” by making sure you blink when you do it in the mirror.

It’s the weirdest thing.

To you, the trick looks perfect. Every time you do the “move,” there’s absolutely nothing to see. . . to you. In the mirror, it seems flawless.

You think you have all the moves down perfectly, but you’re completely unaware of your habit of blinking.

Until you try it out in real life, for a real person.

“I saw that.”

You’re more surprised it went wrong than they would be had it gone right.

“There’s no way they could have seen the move!” you think. But there’s no arguing they nailed you.

How?!

It’s a complete mystery to you.

The problem is, you’re completely unaware of your blinking habit. It’s completely subconscious.

Much like using verbal fillers like “uhhh,” “umm,” “like,” “ya know,” etc. They fly right under the radar.

Flash Forward 70 Years

Nowadays everybody has a whole production studio in their pocket; HD video cameras in every phone.

They see everything.

Now, you can record your routine, and replay it exactly as you performed it.

The camera doesn’t blink.

Now you can get an unbiased (and brutally honest) view of how you’re actually performing. No illusions.

You need an outside view of your performance to identify your weak areas. Improving is almost impossible without it. Otherwise your tendency to blink will keep you blind to what’s going wrong.

Blinking In Business

How many managers & CEOs have you seen who are driving their business into the ground, but they’d rate themselves as fantastic leaders?

Weird, right?

It’s the same mental hiccup that helps you protect the idea of who you are against the reality of who you are when they’re in conflict.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Few people are capable of honestly & accurately evaluating themselves.

Fewer still are willing.

Better Than Video

As good as having an unblinking eye is for improving, there’s something that works even better: a real life mentor.

Having someone who is an expert at identifying where you’re “blinking” in business & life, and who can show you what to do instead, will help you improve the absolute fastest way possible.

It’s an unfortunate reality that those who would benefit the most from this kind of help are the least likely to seek it out.

If you, however, are interested in helping yourself get more out of life, let’s talk.

I’d love to help you stop fooling yourself.

How I Made $9,000 an Hour #ClickBait

The internet is absolutely chock full of gurus, consultants, mavens, and thought leaders who are more than eager to tell you exactly how they made some ungodly amount of money. . .

For the low low price $99 (that’s $500 off the regular asking price!), of course.

This is not that kind of story.

The story I’m about to tell you is a peek behind their curtain, and all about how (if you do the math right) I made $9,000 an hour for a project.

Penn&Teller Fool Us

A couple years ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with the Penn&Teller crew for their show “Fool Us.” It’s a magic show where magicians try to fool P&T. If successful, the magician is awarded bragging rights in the magic community, and a big-ass trophy with an even bigger “FU” prominently featured on it, too.

Magicians & audience members see it as a contest of skill & a battle of wits between P&T and the contestant.

Really clever people realize P&T love magic with all their heart, and they figured out a dynamic for a show that will get people to watch. But, in reality, it’s a clever platform to share the work of some of the finest magicians in the world.

And they asked me to be on the show.

My segment was going to be 8 minutes. Even better? They were going to pay me $1,200+travel for the opportunity.

Like I said, P&T love magic and it shows. Most people would try to get you to show up for free. Not P&T.

The Math

If we take 60 minutes and divide by 8 you get 7.5. Multiply 7.5 by 1,200 and you get 9,000.

$9,000 for an hour’s worth of work.

But if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice I wasn’t working for an hour. I was working for 8 minutes.

Gold star for you.

The Truth

What’s funny, however, is I was working for 4 days to make that 8 minutes look as good as it could possibly look. I flew in a couple days early. I talked with the producers. I talked with my props guy in Vegas. I talked with the show director. I talked with my creative consultant. I talked with wardrobe. I went to rehearsals. I filmed B-Roll.

It was exhausting. Fun, but exhausting.

More Truth

I wasn’t also getting paid to be in Vegas to film the show. I was getting paid to not be anywhere else in the world. Saying yes to the show meant having to say no to any other opportunity that happened at the same time.

I turned down a couple shows that pay better money for a single day’s work (instead of 4) that were in conflict with the show because I valued the opportunity to add a clip of me on a national TV show to my promo reel.

Final Reveal

Numbers don’t lie, but people do. Any time someone’s bragging about how much money they’re making, you don’t know how much they’re actually making.

You don’t know how much it cost them to bring in that much money.

Who cares if you’re making $1,000,000 if it takes $3,000,000 to do it?

You don’t know what it’s costing their personal relationships. You don’t know what it’s costing their mental & physical health. You flat out don’t know.

All you see are the numbers, so be wary of people who shout the promise of an immediate payday that’s too good to be true.

It probably is.

What Happened?

Turns out, even though I went through the whole filming process my segment never made it to air. I got a very nice letter from the producers informing me that my segment wouldn’t be included in this year’s season, so won’t you please apply for next year.

And that’s a lesson all itself; it’s not done until it airs.

But, hey. I got to meet Alyson Hannigan!

(and I still got paid.)

Embrace Uncertainty

In Schrödinger’s famous torture chamber, thought experiment he puts a cat in a box whose life hangs in the balance of a single radioactive isotope which might, or might not kill the cat. The idea being that the cat is both alive & dead until the situation is observed from the outside, thereby resolving the two possibilities into a single certainty.

Life

Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Answers feel so much better than questions.

(Want proof? Watch any child and see how excited they get when they recognize a character they like on TV.)

We all need certainty in our lives. For example, we need to know that the ground we’re walking on won’t collapse under us.

But there needs to be balance.

If you’re solely focused on certainty, you’ll tend to stay too far in your safe zone.

“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” ~Folk wisdom using scare tactics to advocate for the status quo

If you have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what’s going to happen when you do it, then you’re probably not going to get outside your current frame of reference. Guess where all your growth happens, though; stepping outside your comfort zone!

In my own life, I’ve missed out on more opportunities than not because I was more interested in what something is than what it could be.

Of all my superhuman talents, I’d have to say building an extremely high tolerance for uncertainty is one of my most valuable.

Here’s why.

Context

Every time I’ve worked on a TV project, there’s a ton of uncertainty.

What do the producers want to see? How many people will be in the audience? Will I be able to set my own props? Am I supposed to look at the camera during filming? Will I get paid? When will I get paid? When will it air? Will it air at all?

It can be exhausting never getting a firm answer to any of these questions.

But I know the answer I don’t want.

“Thanks for your time, but we’re going in another direction.”

That answer is certain. It’s definitive.

There’s no going back.

The more comfortable you are with the extremely uncomfortable dynamic of not knowing the answers, the farther into the process you’ll get. You’ll learn a lot more from the experience of enduring the situation than you will trying to nail down exactly what it all means.

Takeaway

Embrace uncertainty.

Let a couple unanswered questions into your life, and you’ll instantly increase the number of opportunities you have available to you.

Don’t Lose Your Color

After my mind reading shows and speaking engagements, I invariably have people say:

“You’re living the dream! You get to travel the world, see all sorts of exciting places, meet incredible people, AND get paid to do it all. I can’t even imagine living like that.”

And they really can’t imagine it. That spark of light that tells them life can be full of joy & play has been snuffed out by people who have let their own light grow dim.

This is devastating.

If you don’t realize just how important living your life in all its colors is, take 8 minutes to remind yourself that you’re worth it. Watch this short animated case for living life in color. A bright life is possible, and you can imagine it.

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Just like my incredible teachers did for me, I’m going to do for you.

You have my permission to be the amazing person you know is in there.

4 Elements of My Daily Practice

When life is going sideways, it’s easy to get short-sighted. You get focused on the immediate things you need to get done to survive one more day, and you wind up reacting to what’s out there instead of taking control of the situation.

It’s also easy to feel like nothing you’re doing is working, and that no matter how hard you try, nothing changes. You’ve tried this thing, or that thing, and nothing works like its promised.

I’ve been there myself. For a long time, matter of fact.

Eventually I figured out there are 4 things I need to do every day if I want things to change. They have to do with the 4 areas of your life that you have to own if you’re going to make a lasting difference.

1. Body

You do not have a body. You are a body.

The more you ignore it, the more problems you’re going to have. That’s why I make time every single day to do something that challenges this big ol’ meat puppet I call “my body.”

My preferred method of getting exercise is practicing Kung Fu. As soon as I get out of bed, I go go through the forms of the system.

I’m also partial to body weight exercises. This is due to my crazy travel schedule; I want to be able to stay fit while on the move without relying on bulky equipment or finding the closest gym. Nope, I want to be able to do a complete workout in my hotel room.

The 6 movements I focus on are push-ups, pull-ups (often times I can find a stairwell that works), sit-ups, back bridges, squats, & handstands. There are variations for each that are as easy or difficult as you need (all without the need for a gym membership).

These exercises & changing my eating habits is how I dropped 45 pounds (and kept it off for a couple years now).

So no matter what shape your exercise takes, your body requires daily attention & movement. Ignore it at your own peril, and pay the price later.

2. Mind

Just like you gotta flex your muscles, you gotta flex your mind. Do something fun. Learn something. Work on your creativity.

Creativity is a skill, not an in-born gift.

If you’re used to turning your brain off and watching TV as soon as you get home, your creativity will atrophy. You’ll be less likely to come up with that idea that will get you out of the 9 to 5 prison.

Creating > Consuming

When was the last time you created something? Performed something? Made something that never existed before?

Make the act of creation a daily habit, and you’ll discover it becomes easier and easier to have better and better ideas.

Personally I try to write often (like this post!), learn a new language (been learning Mandarin), work on new show material, write new presentations for speaking engagements, reach out to people who could use my services, create speaking opportunities, and so on.

Every day.

People look at all the incredible things I do, and think “Boy, he sure is lucky.” Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s a daily practice of getting creative about what opportunities I can create for myself.

3. Feel

Emotions are a fantastic barometer for how well your needs are being met. Most of us, however, can rarely even tell what emotion we’re currently feeling.

Our daily lives are spent distracting ourselves in order to numb ourselves against how unhappy we are. Our work lacks emotional content.

This excerpt from Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” is a glimpse into what that means.

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The more you tune into your emotional environment, the better you get at understanding how the situations, people, and thoughts you have affect how you feel about yourself & your ability to accomplish what you want to achieve.

Is your friend making you feel awful about the new hobby you want to work on? Reduce the amount of time you spend with them.

You are under no obligation to sacrifice your happiness on the altar of friendship, family, or work. It’s entirely possible to live a life where the people & things in it are a source of support and encouragement; not a constant drain of your emotional well being.

4. Appreciate

Gratitude has recently enjoyed an increase of research showing how it can increase happiness, reduce depression, and improve self-esteem.

I think the benefits have been misattributed.

Gratitude is outwardly focused. Thanking someone else for what you have. Being thankful for the scraps you manage to scrounge together.

You should be grateful for what you have.

No. It’s ok to want more. It’s ok to improve your situation. It’s ok to want something other than what you have.

What you’re looking for, instead, is an appreciation for where you are.

You don’t have to like it.

Appreciation does not automatically equate with happiness or complacency.

Appreciation is taking the time to consider your situation. Consider the resources available to you. Consider the options you have at any given moment.

Most unhappiness and lack of effectiveness in life comes from a lack of appreciation.

That’s why it’s so important to take time, every day, to appreciate what you do have so you can put it to use most effectively.

So don’t be grateful for your scraps. Appreciate your resources, so you can make the best use of them as you can.

Everyday

I try to start everyday with a mind to develop each of these 4 areas in my life. Ignore any of them, and my life falls apart.

And just like with any practice, the longer you do it, the sooner you notice the impact when I miss a day.

Also remember: It’s called “practice” for a reason. It’s not called the “daily already perfect state of being.” It requires daily effort. No coasting allowed, but also be forgiving towards yourself when you stumble along the way.

Doing Slowly > Not Trying At All

So how about you? What are the elements that make up the best days for you? Do you intentionally put them into practice everyday? What are your physical, mental, emotional, and reflective practices?

I’d love to know what’s worked for you in the past. Leave a comment, or drop me a line; I’d love to hear from you.

6 Ways to Make Huge Mistakes

Cell phones are one of the most amazing devices ever created by human beings, and they don’t exist on accident. They’re the result of thousands of people making millions of decisions about every aspect of their function.

Same goes for your life; its quality is the direct result of the choices you make every day, all day long.

If you want better results, you have to make better choices.

Fortunately for you I’ve made tons of really bad choices in my life. This gives me a certain expertise on what, exactly, a bad choice looks like.

No matter what flavor bad choice I’ve made, they all seemed to have 6 things in common. I wanted to tell you what those are so you can run your next big idea by this checklist to see if you should give it the green light, or pull the plug.

If you recognize that you’re doing these things in your own life, you’re screwing up, man.

1. You’re Not Talking About It.

When you surround yourself with amazing people who are incredibly talented, kind, caring, & smart you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t bounce your big idea off your brain trust.

And you’re not.

This should be a massive blip on your “I’m about to do something stupid” radar. You’re probably basing your choices of how you think things are instead of playing out all the possible outcomes.

Your plan is only as good as the information it’s based on, so give yourself the freedom to game it out with other people.

More communication is better than no communication. Keeping everything to yourself is a recipe for disaster.

2. You’re Managing the Narrative.

So maybe you do share your plans with the important people in your life; but you’re not giving them all the details.

You’re leaving out key pieces of the puzzle, and maybe omitting things that would be less than flattering.

There’s another term for a “managed narrative,” and that’s “lying.”

If you’re lying to the most important people in your life, you’re making a huge mistake. You’re going to ruin any shred of trust you’ve established, your reputation will be ruined, and the whole truth will always come to light.

3. You Know Better.

This is a big one. It sounds too simple, but it’s not.

Sometimes listening to that quiet voice inside telling you, “You shouldn’t be doing this” is the hardest thing to do.

It’s easy for Shakespeare to say “To thine own self be true” but living it in real time takes monumental effort.

You may not always be crystal clear about what you want, but when your intuition is whispering at you the sooner you start listening, the better things with be for you.

I’ve made some bad choices because I knew that’s what was expected of me (but not what I actually wanted). I explained away my voice telling me not to go through with it as “everyone has doubts, right?” I ignored that voice for the next couple years until I hit the big red self destruct button. That voice had been slowly getting louder & louder until it was screaming at me.

To thine own self be true. You know better. Don’t live the voice of society, your friends, or even your family; you absolutely must live your own truth.

Not doing so is a massive mistake.

4. You’re Worn Out.

It takes energy maintaining a false reality. Whether you’re lying to yourself or others, it takes a lot of brain&willpower to pull off convincingly.

Also, great choices tend to be a source of energy & excitement. They should get you fired up about what’s on the horizon.

If, on the other hand, you’re constantly worn out, you’re probably making some bad choices along the way.

5. You’re freaked out.

Do a quick check in with your internal state. Are you anxious? Are you nervous? Are you angry?

Intense negative emotions centered around a decision is usually a huge red flag that you’re not onboard with it. You might be trying to convince yourself it’s a good idea, but if the lizard part of your brain is on high alert, there’s probably a reason.

Ignore it at your own peril and suffer the consequences of prolonged negative emotional states.

6. You’re Rushing.

If you’re totally freaked out, you’re probably going to start operating in “Fight or Flight” mode which is rarely good for making well-reasoned decisions.

Moving too quickly is a sure-fire sign that you’re making a bad choice.

This is different than having instant clarity about what you want; moving too fast is moving for the sake of movement which only serves to bleed out your energy, erode your emotional reserves, and lead to degraded willpower.

If you’re rushing, it means you’re only making choices on your pre-existing decision making heuristics. This can only get you the results you’ve always gotten. If you want something different, you have to take the time to think of better options for yourself.

Conclusion

Any time I’m keeping things from my friends, I know I’m messing up. Any time I’m moving too quickly, I know I’m messing up. Any time I’m ignoring my truth, I know I’m messing up.

Hopefully these 6 signs will help you identify less-than-great choices before you’ve made them, so you can take time to do things the right way.

How ’bout you? What signals have you noticed around your bad choices? I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line on Facebook; I’d love to hear your horror stories.

4 Adventure Buddy Questions

I’ve traveled the world, been on incredible adventures, and lived a lot of life in my years.

Most of them were spent alone.

Traveling by yourself is especially difficult. Imagine you’re in an airport and you need to go to the restroom. When you’re alone, you have to drag all your bags & crap with you in there (and those stalls are not what you’d call “spacious“).

If you’re traveling with a buddy, however, you can each take turns watching the stuff while you both go to the restroom, grab lunch, or do whatever needs doing.

Pick the right partner, and adventures become much easier (and more fun by extension). No wonder Einstein said relationships are the most powerful force in the universe.

Whether you’re talking about your personal life, or your business life, it stays the same: picking the right partner is one of the most important decisions you can ever make.

Easier Said Than Done

How do you know you’ve picked the right one? How do you know the problems you’ll invariably have are healthy issues, and not huge red flags that you can’t ignore?

No matter how healthy your relationship, the road will get bumpy. Problems creep up, and cracks start to form in the perfect veneer. Maybe things get really bad.

It can be tough to know whether you should stick it out, or cut your losses while you can. Confusion sets in, and making a good decision gets more and more difficult the longer you stay frozen in indecision.

In a healthy relationship, challenges help you grow as a person. They foster communication skills. You’re forced to face your own shortcomings & work on improving yourself in ways you’d never need to if you were by yourself.

In an unhealthy relationship, you spend so much time on fighting, avoiding conflict, pulling the weight of two people, and much of your energy on being anxious about what fresh hell you’re going to run into tomorrow.

The very real impact of both of these dynamics ripples out into every single area of your life. (I don’t care how good you think you are at compartmentalizing. All areas are affected.)

To help you cut through the weeds of mental doubt, use the following 4 questions. If you answer “yes” to them, you’re heading the right direction. If you answer “no” it might be time to start looking at exit strategies. . .

The 4 Essential Adventure Buddy Questions

1. Do You Both Have the Same Fundamental Principles?

I don’t care how much you love each other. I don’t care how much you respect each other. If you do not share the same core beliefs about the world, yourself, the nature of relationships, or what you want out of your time on this planet, things are not going to go smoothly.

I used to be married to an incredible woman. She’s one of the smartest, kindest, most wonderful people I’ve ever known; it’s no wonder I fell in love with her. We got along great, and we were madly in love, so we decided to get married.

One hiccup: we didn’t have the same fundamental beliefs. Our core structures were not in alignment, and over time those cracks widened into a canyon that became impossible to cross. Cue major issues.

I put this question first because it is absolutely the most important question. If you disagree on this single issue, you’re doomed from the start, no matter how much you want it to be otherwise. So make sure you can answer this one “yes” without hesitation before even worrying about the others.

2. Are You Each Pulling Your Weight?

I get it. People get tired. You might fall down, and need some help getting back on your feet. But, on a broad scale, are you both pulling your own weight? You don’t have to both do 50% of every activity. Maybe you do 100% of one thing, and they do 100% of another. Strengths and weaknesses can complement each other in a healthy relationship.

What is important, however, is that you’re both committed to the success of the relationship. You’re both willing to put in the hard work required for even the easiest relationships. The instant you go on auto-pilot is when your relationship starts dying.

So each person should contribute according to their ability, and put in effort to sustain the relationship.

If you’re the only one putting in effort, you’re putting in twice as much energy for half as many results. Not good.

3. Do You Feel Challenged to Be At Your Best?

People say they want to be with someone where they can “just be me,” but you know what? You’re a procrastinator. You don’t remember birthdays. You can eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting (and often do).

In short, you’re basically an awful person.

Turns out, being that version of ourselves is not what makes us happy.

What does make us happy, is being with someone who challenges us to be our ideal selves.

This is akin to “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” But instead of “dog,” substitute “partner.”

Living up to that ideal will encourage you to go after those big projects. You’ll put more effort into making things happen for yourself.

As a consequence, you’ll wind up winning more often, which will give you something to talk about other than this week’s Netflix binge session.

Plus, you’ll get better at celebrating other people’s success, too, which is a huge marker of emotional maturity & relationship strength.

Win-Win-Win

4. Does Spending Time With This Person Make You Feel Safe?

Are they more like a harbor (calm)? Or are they a whirlpool(drama llama)? Do they help you feel calm when you’re stressed out? Or does the thought of being in the same room have you looking for an exit?

This can happen in all sorts of relationships.

Some clients are a dream to work with. They value your expertise, they trust your decisions, and encourage you to innovate.

Some clients are a nightmare to work with. They constantly change direction, tell you “some person you’ve never heard of said they don’t like that color, so I’m going to change the whole website design,” and try to get discounts.

Same goes for business partners. Same goes for romantic partners. Same goes for movie date partners.

Same goes for everyone.

Each relationship has the potential to be a net calming effect in your life, or a net stressor in your life.

If they’re an energy vampire, time to invest in some relationship garlic. #ForcedMetaphor

Relationship Audit

So how do the relationships in your life stack up? How many people can you honestly say are whole-hearted YESES on all counts?

I’ve worked very hard to make sure that I live my life in a way where I only spend time with people who are like that. Everyone in my life is a 10/10 on the awesome scale for each one of these four questions.

If they aren’t, I never see them again.

It takes a lot of courage, time, & energy to live like this, but the alternative is slow suicide.

Need help figuring out how to build your life like that? Let’s talk.

A Warrior’s Mindset

There’s no shortage of articles explaining how “business is war,” and they almost all start with pull quotes from Sun-Tzu’s Art of War. They go into granular detail about the strategies & tactics of warfare as a way to help you understand how to apply those lessons in the boardroom.

They explain how to deceive your enemies. Confuse your competitors. Outsmart those who want to eat your lunch.

But they’re almost all missing a key component:

Mindset.

The mind of a warrior is their most valuable weapon; this can’t be overstated.

To achieve the mood of a warrior is not a simple matter. It is a revolution. To regard the lion and the water rats and our fellow men as equals is a magnificent act of a warrior’s spirit. It takes power to do that.
~Carlos Castaneda

A warrior understands to underestimate an opponent could spell disaster. Treating everyone & everything as your equal is a way of respecting their potential to teach you something (like you’re mortal).

3 Aspects of a Warrior’s Mindset

1. Focus on Victory

The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means.
~Miyamoto Musashi

Complete focus & dedication to success is absolutely essential in making it a reality.

If your mind is concerned with anything other than the job at hand, you will lose.

Most people are “interested in being interested.” They dabble. They dip their toe into the water. Their mind is always distracted with “what if.”

They have crippling FOMO.

Those who lack total commitment to their goals wind up drifting through life. They never enjoy the benefits of a hard-earned reward. They go for the easy route.

You, on the other hand, can sustain a laser-like focus on what you want. Dedicate your incredible willpower to making it happen, no matter what stands between you and what you want.

There will be people who will tell you ambition is unsustainable. This is their own fear of failure being projected on you. They love you, and don’t want you to suffer the pain of disappointment when it doesn’t work out (like what happened to them).

Don’t limit your life to someone else’s comfort zone.

Be of a single mind that is solely focused on success.

2. Know Your Capacity

“I was just doing what anyone in my situation would have done.”
~Every Single Hero on TV

There’s more inside you than you realize. You are capable of amazing things; both good & bad. Familiarize yourself with your potential, and then train it to a high degree.

This takes incredible mental strength that is already inside you.

The trick, then, is to create a safe setting where you can explore your inner warrior so you can learn how to call on it. Just like you can find yourself in a state of flow, you can develop a sense for your own inner warrior who is capable of fighting tooth & nail like your life depends on it.

Because it does.

What would you do differently if you found out you’re dying? Would you call the people you love? Would you finally start that hobby you’ve been putting off?

Because you’re dying. Right now. And so is everyone you know.

None of us is getting off this ride alive.

Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.
~Miyamoto Musashi

So don’t hold back. Don’t wait for a better time. Train your mind to be its best.

Now.

3. Advance

Approach the enemy with the attitude of defeating him without delay.
~Miyamoto Musashi

It’s an unnatural thing to move towards danger. Our first instinct is to withdraw to a safe distance.

This helps those who would do you harm.

If, on the other hand, you move towards a person/situation, it will surprise them. It stifles how much room they have to maneuver around you.

In life, every action you take has the potential to be good or bad. Only move if the odds are heavily in your favor; otherwise, stay put.

Moving with no clear purpose only serves to expend your energy, and cloud your ability to see the most advantageous options available to you.

When making a big decision, don’t rely solely on momentary consideration. Really lay out everything that could go right & wrong.

Want to start your own business? Make a list.

Want to pursue a new relationship? Make a list.

No matter what the decision, make a list.

This will keep you from reacting to momentary distractions. This will help you consider all possibilities, and avoid the pitfalls of moving for moving’s sake.

To ignore this detail is to invite disaster.

So move when it’s in your favor. Stay put otherwise.

Retreat only when absolutely necessary.

Conclusion

Most people are content with their lives. They’re fine with cruise-control, and letting others set their course.

This article was not for them.

If you’ve made it this far, it’s likely that you understand that you have to fight to stay human, & the most important part of that process is the mental part.

Hopefully you’ve gotten something worthwhile out of the article, and if you think someone you know would appreciate it to, be sure to share it with them.

Sidenote: You might have noticed several of the quotes were from the same person, Miyamoto Musashi. He has a fascinating story. He was a samurai who fought his first duel at age 13, killing his much more experienced opponent. He eventually won 60+ duels before retiring from a life of fighting where he spent years reflecting on the nature of life. You can read his book, “the Book of the 5 Rings” to find out more.