The Pursuit of Excellence Practical steps toward happiness


Are your thoughts holding you back?

Lance Armstrong

Believed cancer could not stop him

If my mind was a person, we probably wouldn't be friends.  Over the years it's told me I will never be wealthy, or happy.  That I can't quit smoking, or find a better job.  It's told me to give up on my dreams because they're too big, and it's told me to feel sorry for myself when I face challenges.

Because I trusted my mind, I believed everything it told me.  That was a mistake.

From childhood we all collect beliefs about the world, ones that either serve us or hurt us.  These beliefs literally create our reality, and can be especially dangerous when we are unaware of their effect on us.

Limiting beliefs keep us from our greatness

But I have good news: once you see them, you can pull them out by the roots.

Stephen Hawking

Beat serious limiting beliefs

When I was younger I had a terrible fear of speaking to new people.  My limiting belief was that I'd say something stupid, and be harshly judged for it.  Eventually I became so fed up with how it affected my life that I forced new operating instructions into my mind: that what I have to say is important, and that if other people don't like it, that's their problem.

I pushed myself to talk and it worked out great!  I no longer have trouble speaking to new people. In fact, I've noticed how many other people have a hard time speaking to me as a stranger, and because of my past experience I can empathize with them and help them open up.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” - Henry Ford

Your mind is only a tool that can be used to help or hurt; it is not in charge.  'You' are in charge.  Your being, your soul is in charge.  If you want something from life, don't let limiting beliefs block you from getting it.  You can turn your mind into a friend, but you have to give it clear expectations.

Now go out and get what you want.

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Act Like Your Heroes

Strong WomanI have vivid memories of a certain day in 2004 because late August gave us stereotypical barbecue weather.  The breeze on my skin was a perfect balance to the scorching sun.  The farmhouse looked so nostalgic against the wide sky.

I'm sure the man who spoke to the crowd has no idea that he changed the course of my life that day.  All he did was speak eloquently and from the heart about acting with integrity, especially when it's easier not to.  But when he was done, I decided that my future was in politics, and I spent five years working for him. Ontario's Premier, Dalton McGuinty, remains one of my heroes.

Heroes have been an important influence through my life.

Heroes serve as models for action, and sources of inspiration.

When I'm faced with a tough decision, I look for answers in their experiences.  When I lose my drive, I can turn to their stories to reignite my fire.

I don't believe in worshipping heroes, no matter how swell they may be.  Straying from admiration into idolatry will stunt the growth of your own identity. But you can live your own life while looking up to others.

Richard Branson founded Virgin Records with one store in 1972, and grew that business into a massive fortune that includes a record label, an airline, and now space travel.

Hillary Clinton texting
Sorry, all my hero worship slots are full

Simply making money doesn't impress me all that much, but because of the way he did it--with such spectacular courage and integrity--he's become another one of my heroes.

Noam Chomsky is a third member of my eclectic group of men and women who I look up to.  He is the most credible debater I've ever come across.  His arguments are reasoned, rational, and steeped in a fierce humanitarianism.  I admire that.  Not to mention, the man is a walking encyclopedia of current events.

Integrity, courage, humanitarianism: these values were important in my life before my heroes.  But my heroes have helped me better understand why that is.

Aspiring to be more like your heroes is an excellent opportunity for growth.  So act like your heroes.

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You’ve gotta dream

I love my life, but I'm working to create one that's even greater.  I'm doing it for me.  I want to know what I'm capable of.

Dreaming is my first step in getting there.  It's damn near impossible to create something you can't imagine.

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway

Venn Diagram

The sweet spot

I dream about finding work that feels like play; a calling that makes me lose track of time, and forget to eat.  Ideally I'm great at whatever this is, and I get paid like a rockstar.  I'll keep following this dream, but won't agonize because I don't have it figured out just yet.  In the meantime I'll keep learning while doing what I enjoy most.

I imagine meeting every challenge with courage--facing my worst fears, even welcoming them in.  I will always try to act with integrity.  I will not cheat, steal, or lie.  I will stand up for what I believe is right, especially when it's difficult.

I will try to love everyone unconditionally because that's how you create a better world.  When I meet others struggling with arrogance, hatred, and indifference, I will remember that those negative emotions are also opportunities for growth--theirs and mine.

I'm going to laugh more because life can be comical if you let it.  It's incredible, and beautiful, and terrible.  We have such a short time to experience it all, why not try to appreciate even the 'bad' parts?

I will work hard to publish a book, and to launch a business.  I will play guitar in a band, and get in the best shape of my life.  I will spend my winters somewhere warm.

My dreams are now in print for the world to see.

What are you dreaming about?

Filed under: Goals, Motivation 3 Comments

Give Yourself a Break

Being awesome is hard work.

I don't pretend to speak from experience, but I do watch people closely.  Nothing good comes easy, except to lottery winners and that one jerk at the office.  Exceptional humans work hard.


Better than a six pack

You want a six pack? Be willing to spend six hours a week at the gym for months and to give up your Baconators.  Want to make a million dollars?  Goodbye Saturday night benders.

You already know this, so let's move on.

Great people do something else: they give themselves a break.  If they miss a guitar practice session, or fail to study for 10 hours like they promised, they don't punish themselves (much.)

I know many highly motivated people--brimming with potential--who torment themselves because they aren't financially independent at 30.  That torment is not helpful.  Piling on stress and self-doubt because you fell short of your goal is devastating to your motivation.

The successful fail all the time.  They understand that failure is just a learning tool, and not a reflection on their being.  When they fail, they don't waste time with guilt or sorrow.

They DO comb the wreckage for valuable lessons, then tweak their behaviour.  Sometimes, they even laugh it off.

So how can we laugh it off, instead of whipping ourselves for our imperfections?


We 'aint found shit

1) Consciously relax before you start a project.  You'll have fun from the beginning, instead of stressed until you achieve the 'perfect outcome.'

2) Be grateful.  It's a popular tip lately, but it works.  When you are thankful, you'll realize that YOU are creating at least some of the good in your life, and your perceived shortcomings will matter less.

3) Spend less time thinking about the future.  Living in the past can lead to depression, the same way that living in the future can lead to anxiety.  Let go of the outcome, and enjoy the journey.

Being awesome is compatible with being good to yourself.  So be good.

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