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Why is failure so important?

Failure, like death, is just an event. A dash with dates on both sides. The difference being death is permanent and failure is only temporary.

This is something I gleaned from Joshua Sheet – Radical Personal Finance. I took his words and made it my own but the basic premis holds true. Life is a series of events that take us on journeys and shape the way we view the world.

I know I have been speaking on death a lot but I think there is some real introspective value to it. Death is the final destination. Everything we do from the time we are born until death is what encompasses our life, or better said our life story. We are writing this story now. In the moment. Sitting down drinking a cup of coffee. Listening to kids playing in the grass. Watching the wind blow through the trees. Everything we experience is part of our life story. Including failure.

Failure itself is just another event like a cold or a skinned knee. It’s just something that happens. It’s how we perceive it (and anything else for that matter) which gives it meaning. It’s not a matter of if you will fail but when, and at what cost. Failure is going to happen and how prepared for it you are will determine how impactful it is on your life.

Failure can be many things but overall it should be a learning experience. Of all the things that come with failure knowledge is the one you should focus on. It’s this knowledge that should be used to evaluate future events. This knowledge sets the left and right limits of how you can approach things in the future. No failure is any less important so try to learn something from all of them.

Success is not defined by doing something great and not failing but rather failing enough and being persistent enough to stand behind what you believe until it becomes successful.

A great example of this is Andrew Cushman, a real estate investor who overcame his limits and persisted until he was able to be successful. Working toward his very first deal (2006) right before the market crash he made 4575 unsuccessful calls until on the 4576th he was able to find and secure a deal. That is massive persistence. That was his benchmark. 1 deal and then he could decide if it was worth it. How many times are you willing to fail before you are able to achieve success in whatever you are doing in life? How much do you believe in your goals and dreams? Enough to fail at them 4575 times? You can listen to his interview here in BiggerPockets.

Determination, persistence, bailie Bing in your goals and dreams and a lot of failure… Go after what you want no matter how hard and how long it takes. 

Posted in Life lessons, Real estate

Where is my mentor?? And why is he younger than I am?

 The eternal question for budding entrepreneurs and savvy people in general. Where is my mentor? How do I find him or her? Why or how on earth could he or she be younger than me?  For anyone venturing out into a new field there are a few things you should have in your backpack to cut the learning curve in half (and sometimes eliminate it all together). You should have your toothbrush and towel (I actually stole that from Douglas Adams). You should have a compass (moral or otherwise). You should always have a notepad of some sort (Evernote, slack, notes, insert favorite method here) and plenty of sharp pencils. A decent wad of cash in your pocket (for incidentals and buying coffee at a business meeting), and probably the most important is a mentor. 

But they are so hard to find you say? They are actually very easy to find depending on your definition of mentor. A mentor can come in many forms. Here are some examples: books, podcasts, blogs, forums, keynote speakers, TED talks, documentaries, your spouse, your kids, and of course the everyday run of the mill “normal-already-where-you-want-to-be-in-5-years” mentor. All of these things and people are your mentors. Let’s look at the core defenition: 

men·tor

ˈmenˌtôr,ˈmenˌtər/

noun

1. an experienced and trusted adviser.

“he was her friend and mentor until his death in 1915”

synonyms: adviser, guide, guru, counselor, consultant; confidant(e)

“his political mentors”

So just by definition – advice, consultation, guidance are things you should get from a mentor. This is one of those moments when you are thinking out of the box the box came in nodding your head up and down and having an aha moment. Yes, mentors can be anything and anybody where you draw knowledge.

There are really two things you have to know about mentors: 1)they like getting advice and value. 2)they like reciprocating advice and value. That’s it. Class over. But let’s just check this out.. In order to get the most value you have to be willing to give the most value. Value begets value. Offer first your unbiased and non business driven attention to someone you identify as a possible mentor. Be ready to build a relationship with that person. You may find out the person you want to mentor you is not compatible on a personal level. That is not a good choice. You have to be able to understand and be comfortable with them on a personal level. Once that is established then you can (and usually they will take the lead) start to bring the real meat and potatoes to the table but you will be starting that on an already level playing field. Have you ever been on a date and wasn’t really sure if you clicked with the other person… And then the very next week asked them to marry you? Probably not. Same goes for mentors.

Non-traditional mentors: are thing you use, let’s call them tools of the trade, which help better your understanding. The coolest thing about non traditional mentors is that you can learn such a broad spectrum of stuff. Well how will that help me figure out house hacking you say? It might not directly but you should always be looking to glean one or two key nuggets of information from everything you read or listen to or watch. If you shake the pan for a while and don’t see gold wash up then grab another pan full of silt. The gold is there, sometimes you just have to hunt for it. Again, cut the learning curve. Some of the best media I ingest leads me to at least 2-3 more sources of great info. The snowball rolls on from there. 

Let me talk about one last point.  Any point in the storm. We are all going through life and are all at different points in the storm figuratively or literally, on a personal or professional level. At any give point in time you could be a mentor or someone who is being mentored. Or both. Don’t ever think that the cycle stops just because you have found someone to walk you through the process. That is ultimately the best part of learning and growing (and the reason you are still reading this post)… Giving back and helping others achieve the same or better results as you from things you learned from someone else who learned those same things from someone before them. That is how you ultimately better society. It’s not by voting and going to church and  donating at the local food shelter. Those things are great, but giving some time back to mentor someone else is the best thing you can possibly do. You are passing on knowledge and knowledge is what sets us free.

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Minimalist thinking…

I’m not one to always conform but at the same time I am one to think some rules make sense. Either way I find myself outside the lines of life and have found myself there many times over the years. This morning I was struck with an email that pretty much sums up what I think about many things. I would try to contact James and ask permission but he doesn’t answer email or phone calls… So out of respect I will included the entire unabridged email with embedded links to his site. Thank you James Altucher for a great article. And thank you to everyone who has found their way here… Enjoy:

How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy

J

James Altucher

to me

16 hours ago
“I like to be a wanderer…”

How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy

By: James Altucher

(read on site)

  
I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.

Today I have no address. At this exact moment I am sitting in a restaurant and there’s no place for me to go to lie down.

By tonight I will find a place to lie down. Will that be my address? Probably not.
Am I minimalist? I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t like that word. I live the way I like to live no matter what label it has.

At any moment, you are exactly where you want to be, for better or worse.

A lot of people get minimalism confused.

It’s not necessarily a good way to live. Or a free way to live for many people. It’s just the way I like to live.

I like to be a wanderer. Without knowing where I am going to end up. To explore with no goal. To love without expectation.

For now. Maybe not for later. Maybe not yesterday.

“Does minimalism mean not having a lot of possessions?”

No, not at all. I think minimalism means having as little as you require. That means different things to everyone.

For me, having little means I don’t have to think about things that I own.

My brain is not so big. So now I can think about other things. I can explore other ways of living more easily.

Some people don’t like that. I know many people who love roots. Who love being sentimental towards items. This is fine. Who am I to judge?

The other day I threw out my college diploma that was in storage. I threw out everything I had in storage. The last objects left in my life.

At 48 years old I have nothing and nowhere. Other than the people I love and the experiences I love.

A friend asked me, “You worked hard for that diploma. Are you sure you want to throw it out?”

Yes. I’ve worked harder for other things since then. I don’t keep all of these things around either. They are gone.

Society tells us a diploma is a special life achievement. It isn’t. It’s yesterday. I don’t hold onto all the things society tells me to hold onto

“How do you deal with kids if you are a minimalist?”

Like 50% of Americans or more, I’m divorced. I have two beautiful children with my first wife. I love my children very much.

I miss them almost constantly. I’m not minimalist if minimalism means having zero attachments. I’m attached to my kids.

I see them as much as I can. Sometimes they visit me (wherever I am) and sometimes I visit them. And some times they stay with me for an extended period of time.

I hope to talk to them every day for the rest of my life. If they lived with me I probably wouldn’t be able to live the way I do and I probably wouldn’t want to.

But life has delivered me to this shore. So I pick myself up and explore the jungle on this new island.

“Do you have to get off the internet to be a minimalist?”

Sometimes. For four million years we were “disconnected.” For 20 years we have been “connected.”

I have 238,795 unread emails in my inbox. Emails are a suggestion but not an obligation.

Love and spirituality and gratitude are found in personal connection. Not in an email response.

Sometimes I might return an email ten years later. Those are fun. I pretend like I just got the email a second ago and I return it, “Sure I’ll meet you for coffee tomorrow!” I get fun responses.

I never answer the phone. I have no voicemail. My phone number is 203-512-2161. Try it and see.

I go on Twitter one hour a week to do a Q&A every Thursday from 3:30 – 4:30 EST. 

I’ve been doing that for six years.. I post articles on Facebook but don’t really use it for anything else.

I have a kindle app on my iPad mini and read all of my books there.

I understand real books are beautiful. So I go to bookstores for hours and read them. But I won’t own them because they won’t fit in my one bag.

I never read random articles on the Internet unless they are by people I know. Mostly I read books I love.

A friend asked me, when he heard all of this, “But aren’t you afraid you’re going to miss some information?”

I asked him, “What information?”

99% of information we read, we forget anyway. The best way to remember is to “DO.”

Otherwise, I look at nothing online.

Experiences happen when you disconnect. And I choose experiences over goods or information.

“Does minimalism mean having few emotional attachments?”

I love my friends. I love my children. I love talking to people at a party or a dinner or an event and learning from them.

Love is minimalism. Desire, possession, and control are not minimalism.

Minimalism of things? No. Minimalism of fear, anxiety, stress, mourning.

I don’t like any intrigue. I don’t like to gossip about people.

When I do that, I feel like I am carrying those people in my backpack. So the more I gossip, the heavier my baggage is.

I don’t like feeling bad if someone doesn’t like me. That’s also baggage. I try to leave that behind.

And we’re all different. You never really know why someone is doing the things they are doing.

Sometimes its for deeply sad reasons. 

Sometimes they are projecting. 

Sometimes they had a bad day, or a bad life. Sometimes It’s for reasons we’ll never understand.

“Why did they do this?” or “Why is this happening to me?” won’t fit in my one bag.

Did I check the box on physical health, emotional health, creativity, and compassion today?

Those items don’t need to fit in my bag. They are gone by end of day. I’ll find them again tomorrow.

How do you get rid of an attachment that is in your baggage? I don’t really know.

I certainly carry around extra baggage. So I just get back to the four items I said above starting with physical health.

Then I always find my baggage is a little lighter.

“Does minimalism mean having no accomplishments?”

No. If anything, the more you accomplish, the more you can afford to get rid of the things society uses to hold you down.

Or, the reverse. Either way.

“Is minimalism healthy?”

Yes. Sometimes. For instance, I don’t like to eat more than I need. Although going extreme on that becomes an obligation to carry around.

I don’t like to have experiences that are unhealthy.

For me, experiences are always more important than material goods. A story is more important than a gift.

A material good might not fit in my bag. But a joyful experience is lighter than an atom.

I get to look forward to it beforehand. I get to have it. I get to remember it forever afterwards and learn from it and love it. And it weighs nothing.

What if an experience is not so joyful.

One thing I know: joy is a choice inside and not an emotion given to you.

Sometimes I make the wrong choice. I can’t help it. But sometimes I make the right one. I hope today I will.

“What are minimalist emotions?”

Love, joy, wonder, curiosity, friendship connection. These are things you give away. Not take from others.

Emotions that can’t fit in my bag: possession, control, anxiety, fear.

I don’t include anger. Anger is just fear clothed. When I’m angry I try to find the underlying fear. Get naked with it.

Am I good at this? Not really. I try to get better.

If I judge myself for something I did wrong then I just did two things I don’t like to do: the wrong thing, and the judging.

Minimalism is about not judging yourself or others.

“You have to have goals to succeed! How can you be a minimalist with goals?”

Goals are ways the mind tries to control you. “I need X to be happy.”

When I feel like I need something outside of me to be happy, I have to make room in my bag for it.

I don’t have enough room. I have some shirts and pants and toothpaste and a few other things. Goals don’t fit.

I have interests and things that I love to do. If I get better at those things each day (or try to) I feel good.

When I have less things in my bag, I feel more free. Did I get 1% more “free” today, whatever free means?

When I spend time with friends, I find joy in the connection. Sometimes the only thing we need in life is not a goal achieved but a hand to hold.

These three above items catapult me to achieve every goal I never had.

It’s magic.

“Should I sell my house and get a smaller house?”

No. Or…I don’t know. Don’t do it for a label. If you like your house, keep it. If you like your job, keep it.

Figure out the 10-15 things you want in your bag before you die tomorrow.

“What’s the first step I should take? Should I throw things out?”

I have no clue.

This is the problem with self-help books. They seem to be written by someone on a pedestal giving advice without having any blemishes.

I have too many blemishes to give advice. I am a homeless man with no address, with some failures and some successes and no possessions.

Today I can start over. Or today I can ask too many times: “Why?”

But there’s one thing I can do: I can always help someone else. That makes my day and life lighter.

Anyone can have miracles in their life.

Miracles don’t happen. Miracles are given.

“If you are a minimalist how come sometimes you have really long articles?”

Because I don’t care what you think about me.

Sent to: john.a.mcconnell@gmail.com

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Why are the most important things important?

Do you ever get started on a project and wonder why you’re doing what you’re doing? You have this feeling in your gut that tells you something is worthwhile. Even if it isn’t worthwhile in the end the gut steers us in directions for reasons and it begs to questioned. Why do we follow it? What is that gut feeling trying to tell us. And ultimately, why not follow it into the depths of hell and back.

Our gut is sort of like our moral compass. It knows instinctively what is right and wrong and it automatically chooses based on some sort of algorithm that is programmed from our core values and beliefs. We may or may not know what those beliefs and values are but our brain and our gut (more importantly our soul) know. If this is the case then why wouldn’t we ever not trust our gut? Our monkey mind, bird brain, congnitive self. The conscious thoughts we have are there to question what our unconscious tells us. The amigdala and other parts throw fear and uncertainty into the pot to create a stew of doubt. Not only can this fear and doubt stifle us from the beginning but it can hamper us along the path as well. So just because you “go off your gut” doesn’t meant you are out of the forest. Not even close.

Along the way, once you’ve chose to follow the smarter of the shoulder pigeons (those entities of good and evil that tell you what to do… Also related to gut feelings) what happens next? Let me give you an example. 

I decide one day to rescue and animal from a shelter. I find an amazing cat and decide she is the one. I think I saw her twice. It was a timing decision as well as a gut decision. I wouldn’t call it pressure sales but similar. In cases like that you have to think quickly and you have to trust your instincts. Now we may say our instincts can lead us wrong… I beg to differ. I think your instincts can lead you right based off of your morals and core beliefs. If you question those morals and core beliefs then things could go wrong and internal conflict will happen. So back to the cat, Eden. The perfect name, the fervent but calm demeanor, the perfect color and pattern (silver Bengal). What could go wrong? The thing about animals from a shelter they are usually a crap shoot. No matter how loving they seem there are things under the surface that you can’t possibly understand without knowing the background. This particular cat was a first time show winner, bred a few times in a habitat full of cats with little personal space and even less one-on-one human interaction. She is an amazing cat with amazing qualities but she has some hidden demons(don’t we all). I spent the better part of a couple months doing everything I thought was right but not able to get her to fully come out of her shell. I was ready to give up thinking that she was just not happy. Truth is she wasn’t happy but there are ways to help bring her back to some kind of normalcy. Then the night before I was intending on bringing her back she decides to come out and spend time with me and show me affection like never before. What do you say to that? A sign from God maybe? Long story even longer I end up not bringing her back but being reinvigorated to try even harder. We are now on the third inning. But I’m not giving up on her. She deserves the best and she will eventually have it once she lets down her guard and trusts people again.

The thing is we give up. And sometimes we give up right on the cusp of things changing for the better. We put tons of effort into something only to give up before it has time to blossom. That’s where this gut feeling comes full circle. If your gut told you it was the right decision… And you continue to believe it is the right decision and trust your gut then eventually, it may take months or years sometimes, it will come to fruition. Your gut feeling is great but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You must have faith that your gut know what is best. And by having faith in your gut means you have faith in yourself. And that, is the most important thing of all. Elon musk started these companies, you may have heard of some of them and they were a result of him trusting his gut against all conventional wisdom. Are they booming companies now?? Yep. Were they all on the brink of failure and as a result left Elon to spend every last dollar he has to keep them afloat? Yes indeed. It took years and plenty of failure before SpaceX Tesla and SolarCity became what they are today. So you have to believe in you and be your own biggest fan. Sometimes, a lot of times, no one else will.

May your decisions be wise, your work be hard, your failures be many, and your harvest bountiful!

Farewell.

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Work harder not harder.

In life’s travels sometimes you end up putting in hours that you do not plan for.  At the end of the day there are a couple things that will keep you living a long life: Working hard and doing healthy things.  This is paraphrased from a man I met a couple weeks back who is now 99 years old.  Just to shake the hand of someone who has seen a century of life and to see he is still moving and vibrant at such an age is amazing in itself.  It brings me to wonder in my journey where will things lead and how long do I have.

Of all the things we keep track of and consider to be important to us there are expendable things and there are non-expendables.  I would consider money to be in the expendable category.  Although you need it to get through life, it is something that is replaceable.  I mean anyone can earn money.  Money is a venture sought by all in one way or another.  It magnifies what is already inside of us.  For some that may be greed.  For others that may be philanthropy.  Resources (usually exchanged for money) are also replaceable.  Things like cars and clothes and homes.  The one commodity that we have in limited supply and is not replaceable is time.  Time is of the essence.  Time is money.  Time … is on my side.  Time is an abstract thing to think about because we place constraints on it just in the way we describe it.  We call people old on one hand but clock our best lap around the track or fastest mile on the treadmill down to the second.  Ultimately we take time for granted.  Who is older a 10 year old child or an 80 year old man?  Depends on when they are scheduled to leave this life.  How about a 10 year old child with stage 4 cancer and a relatively healthy 80 year old man?  Changes things a bit doesn’t it?  We have to take a look and explore this in order to space out our decisions and goals.

We all try to practice some sort of time management but I ask is there a difference between someone who “uses their time wisely” or someone who is lackadaisical in their time consumption?  I think it ultimately comes down to one key thing.  Using our time to achieve our goals in life.  In order to do that in the most efficient way we have to know what we want.  This is probably the hardest thing to focus on because we have so many choices in this life of ours.  I know I am heading down a rabbit hole but bear with me, there is light at the end of this tunnel.  We are guided by what we see and hear.  We are also guided by our internal compass.  We know deep down what we really want to do but a lot of the time we are diverted into the “normal” life, depending on our surroundings.  It makes the difference between the 10,000 year old hunter/gatherer who evolves into a machine making, sword wielding, horse riding, manufacturing, technologically advanced being or just someone who continues to travel at the breakneck speed of the hunter/gatherer for millennium.  There are still people living in the 10,000 year old world today on this planet.  In the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People”, Covey describes the two circles of influence.  The inner (smaller) circle represents things within our control.  This smaller circle is super imposed inside of the larger circle which represents things out of our control.  When things in the larger circle impose their will on the things in the inner smaller circle that is when conflicts arise.  Mostly we should be concerned with things in the smaller circle because those are the things we can control.  Those are the things that ultimately matter and things that should shape and guide our decisions about what we want and who we aspire to become.  So it comes down to your sphere of influence and core values and beliefs.

Setting up your life to point toward what it is you want out of life frees up a ton of processing power on your brain.  This also allows you to make educated on-the-spot- decisions without overthinking if something is worth your time and effort.  The disclaimer to all of this would be that we are all human and are all capable of getting off track.  We are also all capable of much more than we could even dream of!  We have the ability to make massive changes in our worlds and powers beyond belief.  You just have to set yourself free from the stigmas and people around you who tell you things are impossible.  If that is your inner dialog then maybe its time you sit down with yourself and have a good heart to heart and let yourself know that you will not stand for mediocre thoughts and behaviors.

Don’t go at it alone.  Find someone or something to hold you accountable whether an app where you can put real money in escrow and that have that money go to your least favorite charity if you don’t stick to what you said you were going to do or someone who is maybe doing something similar to what you are trying to accomplish who helps push you (and you do the same for them).

Without going off on too many more tangents I will leave it at that.  Some things to think about when you have free time in front of the TV or you are just staring at your computer screen at work wondering why you are even there in the first place.  You would be surprised what a little introspective thought will do for you.  Don’t be too alarmed when you find out that things are not all that you planned for.  Don’t be alarmed when you find yourself a bit disappointed.  Just know there is always time to do course corrections.  Its never too late to change anything.

 

Enjoy!