The Key to Unlocking Life’s Potential

To say that my unabated pursuit of education and personal development has shifted the gears on my life to another level would be the understatement of the century. The knowledge I have gained from experts, books, on-line media and individuals through my mastermind groups has provided me with the tools I needed to build a platform from which I could launch my journey of exponential growth. It has been a journey filled with lofty highs and chasmic lows, and everything in between, yet it has been one of the most rewarding journeys I could have chosen to embark upon.

Education truly is the key to unlocking the dormant potential in your life – taking action on the things you learn is putting that key into the lock of life and turning it until your potential transforms into results.

The world is full of people who are excellent at complaining about everything they see as holding them back in their lives, yet paradoxically, they are the same people who take no action to change the things they complain about. Their world is full of reasons why not that you and I know are better described as excuses. We’ve all heard them, and we’ve all used them at some point or other in our lives – I haven’t got the time, I haven’t got the money, I don’t know the right people etc. Sound familiar? I know they do to me.

This was my consistent rhetoric for the first 26 years of my life, and my results over those initial 26 years show it. Some people are multi-millionaires by the time they hit their early 20’s, and others have travelled the world and already ticked multiple activities and experiences off their bucket list. Not me. My main real-world achievement in my early 20’s was getting myself on the property ladder (with the help and support of my savvy parents) but everything else in my life was severely lacking.

I always seemed to find the wrong women to fall in love with, never had any time or money to do the things I enjoyed, and what the fuck was a bucket list anyway?

In this sense, I felt very much like a late starter in life. Everyone around me seemed to have a clear sense of direction, and knew exactly how to channel their passion and purpose in ways that were congruent and synergistic with their life’s goals. Where did they get this deep level of clarity from? And where was mine!

The answer came to me when one day I started to do things differently.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein

Dear old Albert said it so well. Thinking about it, isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same things whilst expecting different results? Simple really, yet some many people and businesses fail on this very concept. Businesses fall into the trap of thinking that in order to grow their company they need to do more of what they did to get them to the point they are currently at. Big mistake. More of the same is only going to get you the same results, and more importantly will only serve to stunt and limit your growth, whether personally or professionally.

Doing things differently to how we’ve previously done them is key to growth in any area of life, and growth is key to success. Growth is the primary result of expanding our knowledge though education, and success comes from taking massive and consistent action on the knowledge we learn, collect and assemble to serve as the driving force for both our personal and professional development and evolution.

Are you frustrated with your life right now? Are there things about your currently situation that you wish could be different? Do you wish you could earn more money, or be financially free? Do you wish you had more time to send with your family and friends, doing the things you love? If the answer is yes to even one of these questions, then all you need to do is follow these two simple steps – increase your knowledge in the area of your life you want to change, and then take massive action by consistently putting your newly acquired knowledge into practice. Following these two simple steps will change your life in more ways than you can imagine, and the more you learn and put into practice in your life, the more the effects compounds for you and delivers ever increasing results. Progress may be slow at first – this is a completely normal and necessary stage of your self-evolution – but as time progresses and your learning and new found skills compound, you will start to see bigger and bigger shifts in the way you show up in your life and the results you get. This will build your confidence in all areas of your life, and is an amazingly valuable way to build your own self-belief. After all….

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – youre right” – Henry Ford

Often, our own minds are our own worst enemy. Many a time has a person failed themselves by putting the brakes on before they’ve even left the starting blocks – all because they have no faith in their ability to achieve their dreams and goals. If you don’t believe you stand any chance of success, are you really going to put your all into a new hobby, business or endeavour? Will you even start? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. Self-belief is the first stage to achieving anything, and self-belief is fuelled by one powerful thing – your ‘why’.

If the ‘why’ motivating your decision to act is powerful and speaks to the depths of your soul then you are more likely to do whatever it takes to achieve your vision, dreams and goals in life. It’s that simple. A weak ‘why’ will result in a weak drive, a lack of passion and a lack of personal power, which will kill motivation and increase the volume of the limiting voice in your head telling you it can’t be done so why even bother trying. Fuck that voice. Find meaning in the things you want in life that gives you the power to succeed by making the focus of your dreams and goals about others, rather than about yourself. For me, one of my main goals in life is to be financially free – not because I want to drive fast cars and holiday 11 months of the year (though, those will be great side benefits), but because when I am financially free I will have the resources to help more people get more out of life. If I am worrying about money, and servicing my own family, then that takes focus away from my desire to help others, and my lack of financial resources means I have less left to give. I see my own attainment of financial freedom not only resulting in a better life for me and my family, but also for every single human being on this planet that I can touch through my work; work that I choose to do, not that I am forced to do.

The more I invest in my education, the more my education invests in me. Whether it’s listening to my audio books on my drive to work, reading an interesting book on the toilet, or attending a weekend long full immersion seminar on a given topic, I am able to learn something new every single day. What’s more, I can learn something on my 7 minute drive to work that I can implement in my life as soon as I get out of the car at the other end, and it’s these baby steps that add up over time and compound to produce astonishing results. Money isn’t the only thing that benefits from the wonders of compounding… education does too.

Think about it; if I could learn and implement even one small thing per week, over the course of a year that would amount to 52 new skills or ideas that I have taken action on in my life. Do you think 52 new skills or ideas has the power to move the needle when it comes to the results I get? You bet it does! Imagine what sort of a difference implementing 52 new ideas or skills into your life would make over the course of the next 12 months – and all it takes is learning one new skill or idea per week. We can all manage that.

One of my favourite pursuits is to look at where there’s ‘dead time’ in my life, and explore ways in which I can hack that ‘dead time’ and make it work for me. Situations where most people experience dead time are typically driving, taking a shower, using the toilet or waiting in line. These are hours of your life that you will NEVER get back! Even if you have nothing to do with the stock market, everyone is an investor – we all choose how we invest each minute we are alive, and the investment of our time is one of the most important investments we can or will ever make. Invest in yourself, invest your time wisely and don’t let a single second go to waste.

The cost of learning can be a big limitation for some people – especially with courses that cost thousands of pounds. That said, most people don’t do due diligence by comparing the cost of such education to the cost of the alternative; ignorance. Which do you think will be most expensive in the long run? My bet is that education will pay back to you a million times over, whilst ignorance leaves MILLIONS of pounds on the table. You have to think of your on-going education as an investment that when implemented in your life will pay for itself and more – in fact, good education will return value to you exponentially for the rest of your life IF you take consistent action in its implementation. Ignorance will cost you a fortune, and leave you wondering why wealth always seems to flow in the opposite direction to your bank account.

“There is not a lack of money in the World; there is a lack of creativity when it comes to accessing it”

Education helps feed the creature of creativity within each of us, and this is one of the most poignant reasons why wealthy people have dedicated their lives to education, and continue to do so long after they have achieved massive levels of financial wealth and freedom. They know that spending £9,000.00 on a seminar in their chosen field will not only pay for itself, but will realise millions for them over the following weeks, months and years. Not only that, they are decision makers – people who are courageous in the face of fear, people who act in spite of any self-doubt they may harbour. They learn and grow, then implement their new strategies and grow some more – both spiritually and financially (yes, the two do go hand in hand – don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise).

I am currently working on getting creative so I can fund my on-going education, and my partner thinks I’m crazy for believing I can get the funds I need for my new stage of learning and growth, but I know that the money exists in the world and all I have to do is be creative enough to unlock it – and that once I do, that education will pay for itself by return, and will provide a financial return on my initial investment 1000 times over (at least). There is always a way – our job is to find it; that is the true purpose of life.

My most recent investment in my on-going education is this book by Tim Ferriss:

I can’t wait to get stuck in!

Believe in yourself, Invest in yourself – and take massive consistent action! The results will blow you away.

You can spend years figuring life out for yourself with mediocre results, or you can literally stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from all the great philosophers, business owners, entrepreneurs and successful people who have populated the expanse of human history, and build on their teachings to propel yourself up to a new level of life mastery. I know what my preferred route is, and I have no desire to sacrifice progress for the pride in figuring it all out myself. Learn from the mistakes of others, and build on their successes and insights so we can all get to the next level together.

Finally, remember; when you reach that platform of life mastery, don’t forget to reach down and give a helping hand to others on their way up. The more we increase our capacity to receive, the more we also increase our capacity to give, and this is my prime motivation and drive for success – so I can reach down and help more people up when I get there.

What can you learn today that can take you to the next level?

It’s MY Life

This blog is for all my fellow MMI graduates, and anyone interested in what the Millionaire Mind Intensive is all about – it was an amazing event, and if you haven’t been, you should!

 

On Sunday afternoon we were re-introduced to this song by Bon Jovi in a way I’ll never forget, and this song now holds so much potency for me that it will serve as a powerful reminder of the lessons we learned that day for the rest of my life.

 

I’ve always liked this song, however following the amazing weekend we had in London this song has become a powerful and emotive anchor for me – I will remember that Sunday afternoon vividly to the day I die; it will be my source of strength, and a potent voice reminding me that I CREATE MY LIFE. Here’s why…

 

After two and a half long days of unlearning the bullshit conditioning that prevailed in one form or another for most of the people at the event, and subsequently re-learning and re-conditioning my mind and body at a cellular level with an approach of congruent empowerment and spiritual enlightenment (yes, that’s right – money, wealth and spirituality go hand in hand), what we experienced that Sunday afternoon changed the way I view myself and my world forever.

 

That afternoon, as Marcus stood on stage and began explaining what we were about to do, my emotions (and, I imagine, those of everyone in the room) were running high. The energy was immense, but even that was about to be blown through the roof.

 

As the disclaimer forms were handed out for us all to sign, Marcus explained that we were all about to be provided with the ultimate opportunity to break through our bullshit limiting beliefs… we were to break a hunting arrow, with the point resting on the soft parts of our necks just above the sternum and the opposite end firmly supported against a partners hand. That’s right, we were to snap an arrow with our necks. The game was on.

 

As we patiently listened to his explanation of what was to follow I could feel the tension in the room rising. Were we really about to do this? What if it didn’t work? What if it pierced our necks, impaling ourselves on our arrows – a tool used to realise the state of death as it’s primary intended purpose? I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure my fellow graduates will agree, the mind chatter was almost intolerable. Fear was taking hold and ripping us away from ourselves, toying with us, doing everything is could – saying everything imaginable – to scare us into submission and to keep us firmly stuck where we were; knee deep in our own shit.

 

How you anything is how you do everything.

 

This was the ultimate test – and I thought walking on a bed of hot coals at UPW at the end of April was going to be a challenge!

 

So, the room of over 1000 people signed the forms and split into groups of 10, and each designated a leader for the group – I was the leader of mine. I gathered the forms to hand back to the trainers, and as I handed over our forms, I was handed back 10 arrows, a heavy duty safety glove and protective glasses for each member of my group. Shit was getting real.

 

Were we really going to do this?

 

As I handed out the arrows to each member of my group, none of us could resist the temptation of testing the point to try and get a feel for what we were about to do. Now, the point wasn’t to a fine to point, but even slightly rounded it felt very uncomfortable even testing it on the area of my neck which was to be the primary pressure point for the break. Again, the volume of the mind chatter was rising – what the fuck am I doing? What if..? What if? What if? A lot of what if’s were going through my mind – my conscious self was trying to take me out of the game, and it was a constant battle between the fear in my mind, and the courage in my heart. I knew I needed to do this, but even then I had no idea how powerful the experience was going to be.

 

You see, the minds primary role is for protection against change, derived from millennia of evolution to that end. It’s always done a fairly good job of stopping us from being eaten by large wild predators, however these days that same mechanism is mostly responsible for our ability to create our own limiting beliefs which take us out of the game of life as we squash any opportunity that comes our way which puts us outside our nice little comfort zone. The problem is, you can only grow so much in that comfortable little zone, and the people in life who achieve great things – whether that be great wealth, great feats of nature and great success – make it their life’s mission to put themselves outside their comfort zone at every opportunity.

 

As we learned over the course of the weekend, as you grow your comfort zone, you grow your money/income zone.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch 
I have found this to be true in other aspects of my life over recent years, particularly in regards to my Tae Kwon Do career, but what we were about to experience was about to calcify the truth in this statement in a way that left a lasting impression on all of us.

 

In that moment, as we stood there in our groups with our arrows and equipment, we had to make a choice – were we prepared to break through out bullshit limiting beliefs once and for all? Were we prepared to do whatever it takes? For me, the answer was a nervous, yet resounding, YES!

 

Before we could commence the exercise we had one job left to do; pick our most potent limiting belief and write it on our arrows to symbolise breaking through those beliefs as we broke through our fears and through our arrows.

 

As the martial artist in the group, and being the leader, I put on the protective glove and sat into my stance to brace the arrows for my partners. One by one they conquered their fears, showed unwavering courage, and smashed through themselves. Each and every one of us stepped up the stage, placed the point of the arrow on our necks as we had been directed, and pushed ourselves into the point.

 

We all snapped our arrows; the resulting rush of emotions and biochemicals was exhilarating, liberating and empowering as they coursed through our minds and bodies.

 

We celebrated like crazy after each person snapped their arrows, with high fives all round in recognition of each persons fortitude towards breaking through their fears and limiting beliefs. After everyone was done, the music came on full volume and the room exploded! They played Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ and although I’ve heard that song a hundred times before, it played with so much more power and meaning that day and became a powerful anchor for the experience we had just shared together.

 

Let me tell you, being part of a group of a thousand people all operating at that level of empowerment and exhilaration was an amazing environment to be a part of, and a feeling I will never forget as long as I live.

 

What did it teach me? It taught me that fear kills dreams, and also that all we have to do to get where we want to be in life is to recognise that internal self-talk for what it is, say ‘thank you for sharing’ as we push it to one side, and move forward anyway. It taught me that dipping my toe in the waters on my dreams is painful, the same way pushing our necks against those arrows slowly and cautiously was so much more painful than pushing into it with force and congruent determination. If you’re going to do something in life, then fucking do it – don’t dip your toe in the waters of your dreams, jump the fuck in and go for a swim. Immerse yourself in your dreams, and immerse yourself in the attainment of them. Push straight into the arrows in your life – your dreams and goals – and do so with power, purpose and passion.

 

It reminded me that I can do whatever I decide I want to do, it reminded me that the only person responsible for creating my life is me. I make my own opportunities, I decide who I am going to be, and I decide what level I play at when working towards my dreams and goals. I am the sole person responsible where I am right now, and I am the only one who can change that – all it takes is making a choice to step outside that comfort zone, say thank you for sharing to my mind and its attempts to protect me from success by keeping me in my comfort zone, and to do the work that speaks to my heart by playing all out, full on, at 110%.

 

It was also a powerful reminder of how important it is to have a good team around you, whether in life or in business. Having my strong team around me providing their unwavering support and cheering me on only served to add to my resolve and helped to calcify my belief in my ability to succeed. The power of having a good team around you cannot be understated in anything you do, and this powerful lesson was a healthy reminder of that fact. We shared our apprehensions and fears, and we shared our success – supporting my fellow team mates as they broke their arrows, and celebrating with them was almost as powerful and rewarding as completing the exercise myself – another important lesson; the fruits of success aren’t just derived from our own achievements, but also from serving others and being a part of their success. After all, what’s the point of developing ourselves if we don’t then use our new found power, skills and abilities to help others do the same, to help others rise to their challenges, overcome them and win the day. Your own personal success is only part of the equation, the other part is the role we play in the success of others.

 

This experience changed my life; it taught me so much about who I am, and who I have the potential to be. It taught me that I am responsible, and I have the power to create whatever life I want – all I have to do is recognise, understand and push through my fears and limiting beliefs, to step outside of my familiar zone of comfort, and do whatever it takes, within moral and legal boundaries, to create the opportunities in my life that will deliver me to the success I dream of.

 

And do you know what’s particularly exciting about this? Everyone can do it, all it takes is a choice.

 

Check out the song below, and have an amazing day:

 

 

Edit: Here’s a photo of the remains of the arrow I talk about in this blog – I’ve stuck it atop my computer at work to serve as a perpetual reminder of the experience and what I learned. I said I would post a photo in the comments, but am not able to do so which is why I’m posting it here at the end of the article.

Jamie Keeling Little Grey JK Arrow Break

Remnants of my arrow from the arrow break exercise – MMI 31/03/17 to 02/04/17

 

 

The Entrepreneur Revolution

Today’s post is inspired both by the conversations I’ve been having with other business owners and entrepreneurs over the last few weeks, and by the inspiring book by Daniel Priestley – Entrepreneur Revolution: How to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and start a business that works. It’s an excellent read, filled with inspiring and thought provoking insights into the emerging world of entrepreneurs.

Obviously, entrepreneurial types have been around for as long as social groups have existed, so the existence of such people in the world should come as no surprise. However, we are now witnessing an acute landscape of change, and one in which the entrepreneurial mindset is not only fertile, but also increasingly more necessary.

Jason Silva made an interesting point in a recent interview with BUILD in New York City when he talked about how the rate of change in the world, like technology, is increasing exponentially. That means there is more change happening at a faster pace now than ever before, and it is getting faster and time moves on. The result of this has found us standing on the precipice of a serious paradigm shift. Right now, at this point in time, the rate of change in the world has increased to the point at which that process of change is now noticeable across one human lifetime, and this has never before been the case.

Sure, there have been major catastrophic events that have caused mass extinctions and had a major affect on the flora and fauna of the Earth, but I am talking about the rate of progress and that’s completely different. I’m talking about the progress we are making in our technological advances, the progress we are making in medicine and understanding the laws that govern life on this planet and beyond, and the progress we are making in understanding the universe we live in and how we relate to each other on an energetic level.

And so here on the precipice we stand. What lies ahead, we can only begin to imagine – but it’s so important we take that jump. In fact, we no longer have the choice. The momentum we have built to this point will push us through and into our next phase of existence as a race. These are exciting times, as this has massive potential to be a very positive shift for us spiritually and culturally.

Even our parents didn’t grow up in a world where the rate of societal change was so profound, and maybe this goes some way to explaining why they can sometimes so easily be left dazzled by the onslaught of the technological world the now engulfs us. Maybe is goes some way to help explain why they struggle to let go, when by comparison the younger generations adapt to change as easily as a leaf shifts it’s flight path in a gust of wind.

My generation and younger have grown up with this level of change – we grew up with it, watching it mutate and transform the world around us, even as we ourselves transform from babies, to teenagers, to adults. We have lived this pace every second of our lives; it’s part of us, and it even helped to shape who we have grown up to be, as it will for every generation that follows.

This observation blew me away, as it makes so much sense.

Relating this to business, it tells us that there is no longer any space in the market for company’s who wish to find a niche and rest on their laurels, failing to adapt and grow with the market place. This is where modern entrepreneurs thrive. They move at a fast pace and they are always thinking 10 steps ahead of where they are, with clear vision and passion driving them to get to where they need to be. Standing on the verge of a major paradigm shift, with change the only thing in life that comes with a 100% guarantee, now is the time of entrepreneurs.

This position is further compounded by the exponential advancement of technology – specifically, automated robotics. Make no mistake, technology is decimating the jobs market and it will continue to do so at an ever increasing rate over the coming months and years.

Elon Musk has recently been in the news speaking of his advocation for a basic minimum financial allowance for everyone on the basis of the same argument. With the way that technology is evolving, and the speed at which advances are being made, it isn’t going to be long before most service and engineering jobs are fulfilled by machines. Robots already build our vehicles, and we are already serving ourselves via supermarket ‘self-service’ checkouts. That time is all but here. Ask yourself – could your job be done more cost effectively and more efficiently by a machine utilising technology that exists today? For a lot of people, the answer will be a resounding yes.

So, what does this mean for the jobs market?

In my opinion, it will result in an inevitable shift of focus to creative pursuits and will therefore result in more innovation at an exponential rate. If people aren’t able to take the millions of jobs they currently utilise for income because those jobs are now taken by machines, then what will they do? Become entrepreneurs that have the freedom and time to perpetually innovate, dream and speculate. Can you imagine the power of an intelligent species that has taken care of everyday needs through the development and implementation of advanced technology, and who therefore has ever waking hour to think about, plan and take acton on making the world a better place and exploring the expanses of the universe?

It’s a powerful vision at the very least.

Who knows what the future holds in store for us, but given the way the landscape looks right now, I would say that the age of the entrepreneur is well and truly upon us.

It’s time to start thinking a little differently, and, as Daniel Priestley would say, it’s time to make a Dent

Take Responsibility for Where You Are

“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life”

– Hal Elrod

One of the biggest societal challenges we face in this modern, often faceless, digital World is a complete lack of accountability. This is mainly the result of a lot of people in society – I would argue most from my own personal experience – being completely unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, their decisions and actions, and ultimately taking every opportunity to blame external forces as a way of explaining away the point at which they find themselves in their lives, and why they aren’t where they want to be.

These people are lying to themselves.

I tend to hear the same old excuses time and time again – I don’t have time, I can’t afford it, I’m not qualified, I haven’t got the right education, I don’t know the right people.

All nothing more than excuses, and when you hear someone speak in this way it’s usually the first tell tale sign that they are ignorantly drifting through life on a whim and a prayer whilst blaming others for their misfortunes or lack of opportunity. For goodness sake, please don’t be one of those people.

Do you think you would hear those excuses from someone society would deem to be classed as ‘successful’? No chance.

You have the same number of hours available to you each day as Richard BransonElon Musk and Warren Buffet. You don’t need money to make money, so ‘I can’t afford it’ is not a valid excuse – Robert Kiyosaki and his wife started with nothing, living out of a beaten up old car for weeks when they first started their journey as entrepreneurs, and yet they are now multi millionaires with international businesses that help educate people worldwide. Besides, most people who use the excuse of having no money usually still spend money on liabilities that they don’t need (like the latest technological gadgets, and generally bigger and better material belongings) so it’s more a case of their operating on a values hierarchy that is out of alignment with their desired outcome. If someone values partying at the weekend more than investing in their future then they won’t ever have any money spare to invest in themselves because that isn’t a high enough priority in their values hierarchy (yet they still complain at every opportunity about how life isn’t fair and the system is out to get them).

Don’t get me wrong, there are most certainly many underprivileged people in the world – even today in the 21st century – and for clarity, I am not talking about these people (though the same principals can apply, just in vastly different circumstances and at a different scale). I’m talking about the guy down the street who earns £60,000 a year and still complains that he doesn’t have enough money, that he hates his job and that there’s nothing he can do about it because the system has him held to ransom. I’m talking about the people who complain that immigrants are taking all their jobs leaving their landscape of opportunity a barren waste land of hopelessness and despair, whist simultaneously denouncing those same immigrants for sapping the country through their unjust benefit claims. Well, which is it – are they stealing our jobs or sucking the country’s benefits system dry and sending all the money overseas? When you hear someone making claims such as these, it’s an early warning sign that whoever you’re talking to is desperately grasping at any excuse they can find to explain why they’re not responsible for the situation they are in.

The sad thing that people with such attitudes seem to fail to realise is that by taking this approach – that being the approach of blaming everyone but yourself for your failings and shortcomings – they are disempowering themselves, and removing their control over the direction their lives are taking. These people are not directing their own lives – their lives are directing them. They believe that in order to be happy they have to control things that cannot be controlled – like other people behaviour – rather than seeing that the only person they need to master control over is themselves. This is a surefire way to leave yourself feeling like a victim of life’s whims, with no way to change anything in your life for the better. Hell, most people have never even given any thought to where they want to be or what their end goal is, so how on Earth do they expect to get to a destination, or travel a life path, that leaves them happy and fulfilled when they don’t know what makes them happy and fulfilled? Most people understand that if you get in your car without knowing where you’re going you’re unlikely to get to a destination you find desirable – you’ll get to a destination, but without the proper route planning it’s pot luck as to whether you end up somewhere you want to be or not. Unfortunately, this is how most people seem to be living their lives – no direction, no responsibility and no congruent focus.

I cannot control what others say to me, but I can control what I say to others. I cannot control the economy, but I can control my investments in a way that evolves as the markets evolve, I cannot change a bank’s decision to reject an application for a loan but I can control my thinking in such a way that I allow myself to consider what other options are available thus increasing my resourcefulness and therefore increasing the resources available to me. I cannot control the way things are in the World, but I can control my perception of those those things and make an effort to learn something from each situation that allows even the biggest challenges and setbacks to add value to my life. Focus on controlling what you can and being aware of and learning from the rest, rather than focusing on the things you can’t control and allowing those things to define you.

Do you see now how ridiculous it is to blame circumstances outside your control for what you perceive as your life’s shortcomings? The first step to changing this is to accept the things you cannot change and have the courage to change the things you can. It is the realisation that although you have no control over what life throws at you, you have every control over how you react to it. For example, if someone verbally insults you then you have a choice; you can’t change that fact that someone has verbally insulted you, but you can decide how you react to it and thus whether you give that event any power over your life. You could choose to get really upset and return some verbal abuse of your own, and then spend the rest of the day complaining to everyone you see about how vile people are and how the youth of today are moronic thugs. You could pick the victim mentality, and ask self-defeating questions like, ‘why do people hate me?’, ‘why can’t I even walk down the street without people hurling abuse at me?’, and ‘this always happens to me’. self-deprecation gets us nowhere, and has an immense power to instantly put you in one of the most unresourceful states imaginable. When this happens, we find ourselves with a lack of resources and therefore do not have the tools we need to achieve the results we desire.

Read that last bit again, but backwards; we aren’t getting the results we desire, because we don’t have the tools to achieve those results, and we don’t have the tools because we chose to react negatively to an externally driven situation and put ourselves in an unresourceful state.

An example of how we might be unresourceful following the example detailed above, is that because of our negative self talk we have put ourselves in a depressed state where we feel valueless. This results in a lack of focus on the things that are important to us, and we don’t get the results we want because we have failed to focus on the things that will get us those results – we were too busy focusing on the negative event of earlier that day, allowing it to negatively shape our thoughts, degrade our view of our own self-worth and infect every action that followed by diverting our focus and attention away from what’s important to us. Successful people realise that when that happens it’s because of a choice they made and they take responsibility – not only that, but they are highly self-aware and because they have taken responsibility they empower themselves to make the necessary changes in their life to grow from the experience and to do better next time. Unsuccessful people blame others, and as a result give themselves no opportunity to learn from the experience and grow from it emotionally. What they fail to see is that it is they who have taken away their own opportunity for growth!

Conversely, someone who gives no power to negative events, but instead makes every effort to see the lesson in them, no matter how hard that may be sometimes, will keep their focus on what’s important to them and will realise a level of personal growth incomparable to those who choose to adopt the ‘victim’ mentality. Those who keep their focus on the things that empower them and add value to their lives and the lives of others, whilst being aware of and learning the lessons from the challenges they face along the way, are the ones who have the most resources available to them because they make a conscious effort to exist in a resourceful state. These people don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking – they kick the door in and introduce themselves. They don’t wait for or expect someone else to make them happy of fulfilled – they see the best in everyone, take the best from every experience, and take responsibility for their own happiness and fulfilment in life. After all, allowing your happiness to be dependant on the whims of others or other external factors is a surefire way to completely give away any control you might otherwise have, leaving yourself powerless to live the life you truly want.

No one can change a challenge into an opportunity if they don’t first take personal responsibility for their lives. How can you expect to solve a problem if you don’t know there is even a problem in the first place? Be honest with yourself – it will pay dividends in the long run.

It has been a long hard road for me, and the challenges will never end, yet I take responsibility for everything in my life; good and bad. I understand that no matter what life throws at me, it is always an opportunity to learn something and to use that new knowledge to be a better person, and to give myself better tools with which to leverage my life and give me the resources I need to reach my desired outcomes. This approach to life is what gives me the ability to continuously build and adapt my own personal road map for success.

We each need our own road map, and we are each responsible for building our own from our dreams, experiences and values. I am a huge advocate of modelling successful people (a concept first introduced to me by the infamous Tony Robbins) but we are all individuals in this world and so although it is important to model others who already have a proven model for getting to where we want to be, it is also imperative to adapt the models of others in accordance with your own experiences and values so as to evolve what you learn into a road map for success that’s personalised for you as an individual. This is something I have been studying fervently for the last 4 years, and I can help you do the same. The effect that living in this way has had on my life has been nothing short of astounding – I am a million miles from the person I was even a year ago and not because I have changed as such, but because I have taken the best bits of who was an evolved them into being even better whilst taking the bits I wasn’t happy with and evolving them into things that work for me rather than against me.

The first step is the hardest part, but it’s the best thing you’ll ever do and once you see the results, you’ll never look back.

Take responsibility for where you are, and then take responsibility for getting to where you want to be. All it takes is a choice – everything starts in your head, and where most people fail is getting their dreams and ideas out of their heads and into reality.

If you want help getting your dreams out of your head and onto an achievable personalised roadmap to get you on the path to achieving your dreams and goals you can e-mail me at littlegreyjk@gmail.com or fill out the contact form below for a no obligation consultation.

Financial Wealth: What, How & Why

On the back of Tony Robbins releasing his latest book Unshakeable: Your Guide to Financial Freedom, I want to talk a bit about how my philosophy on financial wealth has evolved over the last couple of years and my current view on why building personal wealth is so important.

We’re all aware (or at least should be) that there are many definitions of what wealth means to a person. There are many extremely wealthy people in the World who have very limited resources – for example, people who are blessed with the unwavering love of a family and support network yet barely scrape enough money together to pay the household bills each month. These people are emotionally wealthy, whilst being financially poor.

Accepting this, today’s focus is going to be around describing what financial wealth is, how it is generated and why it is important to build personal wealth in the first place.

First, some background.

Over the last 10 years I have managed to do a complete 360 on what money and financial wealth means to me, and how I leverage it in my life. When I was in my early 20’s I was playing in a rock band and living for the many and varied social experiences that provided for me. I was also hanging around with people who called themselves socialists, and who generally had a very dim view on money and the effect it has on people – in their eyes, and mine at the time, money was the source of all evil.

My view today couldn’t be more different and I wrote a full post describing my current view on money explaining how it is one of the most ingenious systems we have devised, with it having the power to harness the resources and will of an entire global species – it is the ultimate tool for progress and provides and incredible amount of leverage to get things done. What let’s it down is the people behind it – not the system itself. You can read more of my thoughts on the subject HERE.

Money often gets a bad name because of the unethical and dishonest intentions driving it. After all, it’s like any other tool – if it’s put in the wrong hands it can be extremely destructive. With a system or tool that possesses the insane amount of leverage that money commands, the downside has the potential to be as powerful as the upside. This is why, as we all know, it is so important to ensure the powerful systems we design are used correctly, and with the best of intentions. A bullet in a gun can either be used to kill food to feed your starving family, or it can be used to murder them – same tool, same level power/consequence, completely different outcome as a result of the different intentions driving it.

I hope you can see how ridiculous it is to blame money – or any other tool for that matter – for our short comings. It’s about time we take responsibility for ourselves, so we can harness the full potential power of the systems we’ve designed to effect massive evolution on our planet before it’s too late.

So, what is financial wealth?

Simply put, healthy financial wealth is when you stop working for money and start making your money work for you. Most of us are stuck in jobs that leave us feeling overworked, under-appreciated and under-paid. We have locked ourselves into this limiting pattern where we have convinced ourselves that our only options for increasing our personal wealth is to work harder, more often and for longer. Is it any wonder most people just accept their situation for what it is and make do? It doesn’t make sense to do more of what you hate to realise a relatively insignificant rise in personal income whilst in turn leaving you with less free personal time to enjoy the additional income. Besides, even earning hundreds of thousands per year through employed income would mean paying significant sums of money over to the tax man and you would still have to put most of that away to be able to have any hope of saving enough for retirement.

Financial wealth is a change in mindset from exchanging your time for money, to making your money generate income you can live off so you can focus your time and energy on leading a fulfilling life. The key to financial wealth is working less, not more!

Remember what ‘job’ stands for – ‘Just Over Broke’

Now I’m not saying you should go out and quit your job tomorrow, and neither am I suggesting that this path is any easier to walk than the job route, but the journey is rich with fulfilling experiences and can be extremely rewarding when you know what the rules are and how to play the game. For most people who don’t have rich parents or a nest egg of savings they can call on, a job will be necessary to fund the first few years of the wealth building process but it should only be seen as one of the many stepping stones to the attainment of financial freedom and as such, only temporary.

How can the average person achieve financial wealth?

Financial wealth, and ultimately freedom, is something that is an inalienable human right and that can be achieved by anyone in the western world who makes the effort to take the steps required of them. This involves learning the rules of the game, increasing your financial literacy and intelligence, and putting what you’ve learned into action.

Remember, knowledge is only potential power – real power is in putting that knowledge into action in your life.

In the beginning, I recommend reading a lot of books, watching a lot of on-line content and talking to knowledgable people who are already executing their plan to realise their own financial freedom (or even better, those who have already got there). I didn’t say it would be easy, and I certainly didn’t say it wasn’t going to take hard work and dedication – suck it up; if you want the life you’re dreaming of then you’re going to have to damn well work for it. This, and this reason alone, is why most people will never achieve financial freedom – they are lazy, comfortable and apathetic. These are the people who focus on wealth for the wrong reasons and who have no purpose behind their actions, as we shall discuss in more detail in the ‘why’ section that follows.

Building wealth starts with saving some money; remember, money is a tool with the power of leverage and as you will see, utilising as much leverage as your personal risk/reward plan allows is key to expediting the process of wealth building. The best way to save money is to open a separate account where it can be stored safely without getting mixed up with your personal family finances. It really doesn’t matter how much you save per week or month, just that you save something. Everyone can save something – even if that’s 50p a week in a jar on your bedroom windowsill. If you never start – even with saving relatively small amounts – you’re guaranteed to fail. By starting with even the smallest contribution to your fund, you are growing your financial freedom fund every day/week/month/year and as it starts to grow in value, so does the power of leverage you are able to command.

Once you have a pot of money – whether it’s a few hundred or a few thousand – you need to start thinking about shifting your focus on how you can start making that pot of money generate income for you. There are many ways to do this, and my top five are listed below:

  1. Investing in the stock market – Tony Robbins recommends a well balanced portfolio of index funds to keep fees and costs to a minimum and to achieve market based returns
  2. Investing in commodities like Gold and Silver – commodities like gold and silver should be, in my opinion, part of any sensible investors portfolio for the simple reason that as the stock market goes down, commodity prices rise and vice versa providing a level of security against such bearish markets
  3. Investing in property for capital gains – there are two property investment strategies, and this is one of them; it should be noted that there is no guarantee that property prices will continue to rise, though overall they do tend to follow a similar sort of pattern to the stock market – although it does regularly crash, the floor it hits is usually higher than the floor it hit during the previous bearish period and it usually returns to strength hitting new all time highs. This being the case, and as with stock market holdings, investors should be prepared to hold their investment interests for long periods in order to realise the best returns. Be warned though that profits from gains will be subject to CGT and this should be accounted for when calculating your potential returns
  4. Investment in property for cash flow – this is my preferred property investment strategy and is not concerned with repaying the principal loan of a given property resulting in an increased cash flow from rent due to utilising the leverage of interest only mortgage repayments. The amount of leverage it is possible to utilise in these types of property investments can be insane when structured correctly, and can be a very lucrative source of increased personal cash flow. Buy to let mortgages are assessed on the ability of the property in question to generate roughly 1.25x the monthly mortgage repayment, and so in theory there is no limit to how many properties you can structure under this arrangement within reason and assuming you manage your portfolio effectively. A small portfolio of 10 or so rental properties realising a couple of hundred pounds in additional cashflow each month is going to get you to a point whereby your living expenses are covered by your passive income relatively quickly and is not subject to the same volatility as the stock market or ‘flipping’ properties – in fact, in difficult financial times, rental demand tends to increase and so rental property investments are extremely good at weathering the storm of a financial crisis… so long as the bank doesn’t pull the rug out from underneath you
  5. Start a business – this one by far is going to take the most amount of time and effort and so should not be considered lightly. On average 400,000 businesses are incorporated each year in the UK alone, and of these 20% will no longer be around after 1 year. 50% will have failed within the first 3 years. Again, the reason behind this shocking level of failure is that the people starting these businesses often don’t do what is required to really set themselves up for success. They don’t embark on the journey of learning the new skills required to set themselves up for success, and thus the pitfalls of business eventually catch them out along the way and force the closure of their baby. Owning your own business can be an excellent investment if you put the effort into it, as you are investing in something in which you have a legal insiders view that you have significant control over – there is no such thing as a risky investment, just risky uneducated investors. Whether you build your business to provide regular income, to solve a need (such as a property management business to manage your investment property portfolio) or to eventually sell for billions it can be a fantastic way to build long term wealth

Anyone can incorporate their own business, save a few quid a week towards their wealth building fund and invest their money in accessible ways that will begin the process of making their money work for them rather than the other way around. All it takes is the desire for something better, and the willingness to learn.

But, why?

Ah, the million dollar question.

I’m sure most of you are expecting the following answer at this point; you should focus on building personal wealth so you can be comfortable in life, provide for your family, have a life rich with experiences of all shapes and sizes and not have to waste your time going to work every day for a boss you despise.

Well, yes but that answer only focuses on the effect increased personal financial wealth will have on you and your immediate family. Although these are excellent reasons which should not be discounted, and that I’m sure highly motivating, I have a much better one.

We all have an obligation to build personal financial wealth to the point where we all have financial freedom not because of what that freedom means for us but because of what that freedom means for what we are then able to give back to the World around us.

Money is a tool which provides a powerful leverage over the World we live in. We have a duty to ensure that there are more good people wielding that kind of leverage than bad people in the World, and that we use the leverage we hold power over to consciously go out and make a difference in people’s lives. I have met so many millionaires over the last few months and there are two things that consistently amaze me – how much of a difference they are personally making to the underprivileged and under resourced people in the World, and how little we hear about it in the media.

If it bleeds, it leads. Rich people building schools and wells in Africa who bypass the system of charity organisations because they want to make sure 100% of their money goes to the cause as opposed to being swallowed up by the operating costs of some not-for-profit doesn’t sell newspapers or hook people into news shows. It’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless. These people are not interested in fame or fortune – they are interested in, and solely focused on using their power of leverage to change the World for the better.

This is why YOU have a duty to become financially free and to build your own personal wealth. The Governments of the World are part of the problem, on average only 8-10% of the money you donate to charity actually makes it’s way to the front line, and most people are too lazy and comfortable in their sheltered existence to give a shit. If you truly want to see a better World then you have an obligation to get up off your arse and start being the change you want to see – if you want to see a World filled with people who are financially free, living their dreams and furthering the evolution of the human species, then step up – change starts at home. Lead by example, show others the limits they’ve previously imposed on themselves are a choice, and light the way by using the leverage you empower yourself with to help build a World where everyone is afforded a basic standard of living.

If that’s not something worth building wealth for, then I don’t know what is. The personal benefits are just a pleasant side effect.

Thank you for reading, and I hope my words have helped you think about wealth and money in a slightly different way. This can be a particularly emotive topic for some people, and I would like to encourage active discussion in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if this has changed how you think about money in your life I’d love to hear how.

If you would like to discuss any of the subjects in today’s post in more depth, or discuss strategies you can implement in your life to set yourself up for success, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at littlegreyjk@gmail.com – I am in the process of launching a coaching service around business, health and personal development and would love to hear from you.

Have a fantastic day!

Are You Being Honest With Yourself?

Pain is a common experience in life; one that we will all have to deal with at some point or other for a multitude of different reasons.

Pain is a symptom of some underlying cause – no one in history has woken up one and being in physical or emotional pain for no reason. There’s always a catalyst. Physical pain is usually the result of physical damage to your physical being; your body. Whether it’s cut and bruises or a broken arm, damage to your physical self will result in a pain signal being generated which triggers a heightened awareness of the damaged area (as well as notifying you that potentially serious damage has been caused) and kicks various bodily processes into gear to begin repairing the damage.

Emotional – or mental – pain is no different.

When we find ourselves experiencing emotional pain, it too is a symptom with an underlying issue as it’s cause. Whilst we are usually aware of this fact, we tend to only scratch the surface in our analysis of the problem. For example, I may be angry (anger, depression, anxiety, jealousy, envy as all forms of emotional pain – categorised as such because they are detrimental to both our mental and physical wellbeing) because of things said in an argument with someone close to me and my initial reaction would be to assess my anger as being the result of factors external to myself – the callous and untrue things the other person said to me in that argument. This though, is the first mistake.

Whenever we blame factors external to ourselves we immediately relinquish all control over the situation and our reaction to it to others – other people or other factors outside of our control. This immediately puts us into a completely unresourceful state by demanding that we adopt a victim mentality. You see this through all walks of life – if someone loses their job they blame the economy, if marriage breaks up each party more often than not blames the other, and if employees in your business fail to perform and deliver results then it’s their fault for being incompetent and lazy.

Taking this attitude is the fastest and surest way to guarantee repeated and perpetual failure; the result of which being a frustrating life filled with lack of direction and lack of fulfilment. After all, if you have given away control of your life to others by blaming everyone around you for your problems then how can you possibly hope to put yourself in a position to empower yourself to solve the challenges YOU face?

Another great example is when trying to explain someone to another person. The first reaction most people default to when trying to explain something the other person doesn’t understand is to blame them – we say things to ourselves like, ‘why is this person so stupid that they can’t grasp this simple concept?’. Notice that this again puts the blame onto the other party – but did you stop to consider that you had done a shit job of explaining it? It might make sense to you, but it’s your idea – if it doesn’t make sense to you then you shouldn’t even be talking about it outside the framework of speculation and philosophy! When we blame the other person, we end up putting ourselves in a position whereby we find ourselves banging our heads up against a brick wall as we get more and more frustrated with the other person for not understanding. This approach will more often end in a disagreement and bad feeling, and is therefore completely unproductive – even counterproductive.

However, when we shift the focus back to ourselves and take responsibility for not explaining the idea in a way that others can understand we immediately empower ourselves to do better in getting our message across. You see, you have no control over others – but you have every control over yourself (or at least you should be aiming to achieve this level of self control).

“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is!”

Take ownership. Take Responsibility. You and you alone are responsible for your life and how you deal with what it chooses to throw at you. There is value in everything, and it’s your job to find it.

It is this lack of ownership that causes people to experience emotional pain, and it’s a direct result of not being honest with yourself. In the example above, I am not being honest with myself if I blame the other person’s apparent stupidity before first looking within. I am relinquishing control over that element of my life to forces I have no control over because I am not being honest with myself about my ability to explain my idea. It’s the easy way out to blame others, it’s a lot hard to be introspective and self-critical in the way I have described. No one likes to admit fault or being wrong, yet it is one of the most important skills you can learn to set yourself up for massive success in life.

No matter what life throws at you, or what situations you find yourself in, it is so important to take ownership for how you got there in the first place to empower you and give yourself the tools you need to get the best out of each situation. You must be honest with yourself, as if you can do this consistently it will be sure to drastically reduce the amount of emotional pain you feel throughout life. When you feel emotional distress or pain, go deep. Go past the situation that appears to be the cause of the problem, and look at the underlying causes that sit behind it. Ask yourself, ‘am I being honest with myself about the details of this situation, and am I taking ownership of my role in this? Am I blaming others when I should be looking at how I could have handled that situation better?’

Life really is whatever we make it, but there is a level of ownership and responsibility that comes with learning how to build the lives we desire. Pain is a clue that there are things in your life that are out of alignment with your core values. It is a clear signal of a severe lack of congruence between the way you think a situation is and the way it actually is. With this in mind, use pain for the purpose it was designed for – to increase your introspective awareness of yourself and how you are interacting with your environment so you can take ownership and move forward. Pain is a clue, and a big red flag that most people fail to address because they have surrendered their power to do so to the situation itself. Take the hint, and look at yourself and the part you play more deeply.

So many people spend their lives looking outside themselves for the answers to their questions when all the answers they need they can find within themselves if they bother to look. It is in the ability to do this – be self-observant and introspective – where true personal power is realised, and this power potential exists in all of us. The only difference between us is our motivation to put feet to the dirt and ask the tough questions of ourselves to uncover and harness it in all it’s glory.

You might get away with lying to others, but you can never lie to yourself.

If you do one thing in life – be honest with yourself.

What Is Music?

“An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions insignificant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and colour

– Dictionary Definition of ‘Music

Music, to me, is many different things.

My first experience of music were the songs I heard on the radio as a child, and even then I saw the power music seemed to have over the human psyche. Family car journeys that started out tense due to some sort of family disagreement (usually us kids arguing or otherwise acting up) would quickly evaporate into singing and smiles after a few of our favourite songs had blared out of the speakers. Music can change your mood in an instant, and that is a powerful attribute in it’s own right.

My next experience of music was way more intense.

I really started to ‘get’ music and start forming my own taste when I met my best friend in primary school. He was a huge influence on me musically, and I soaked up all the different rock ‘n’ roll bands he used to introduce me to playing his old style records on a secondhand turntable in his box room. Those were great times. Hearing all that rich music gave me a taste for the world that, until that point, had lay relatively hidden from me. All these different tastes, styles and influences – so much to take in!

It was Jake who piqued my interest in becoming a musician back when I met him in primary school, and I remember begging him for two years to let me join his band, but to no avail. Alas, they had all the members they needed and I was surplus to requirements (I couldn’t even play an instrument at the time, but I planned on figuring that out once I’d got a place in the band). That changed when we all went our separate ways to secondary school, which resulted in half of the band going to one school and the other half another. This was inconvenient for rehearsals, as these usually took place during school time, and so they band split. That was my opportunity! Hence, my first band was born in a dingy practise room in the depths of the Meole Brace School music department (Meole Brace Science College these days).

Writing and playing music in a band was a completely different experience to sitting in my mate’s room listening to an LP on a record player. The sheer energy and emotion behind the live music were the most intense and surreal feelings I had ever experienced at that point in my life. It was like the notes flowed through me, connecting me with my voice in a way I had never experienced before; I remember feeling almost naked when I used to sing, because writing lyrics was like taking my heart out of my chest and putting it on display for all to see. It was such as emotive experience, and so totally powerful.

Writing was something else again. The best way I have come up with to describe the writing process for me is that I don’t actually write the songs; they’re already written. All I have to do is enter my flow state and pull the different pieces from the ether before piecing them back together in the rehearsal room. Now, that may sound a little crazy to some of you if you’re never had this sort of experience, but this is the best way I can describe to you the way it feels for me. It was like channeling a special sort of energy that gave me access to a realm of limitless creativity, multiple perspectives and hyper-connectivity. It was, and still is for me, the purest form of flow I have ever experienced in my life. Standing on stage with a group of people you share that level of depth and connection with, pumping out your emotions in waves of sound that connect and morph in the air around you to create a magical charge of electrical energy in the room, is one of the most enchanting experiences I have had to this day. It is unlike any drug out there, or that I have experienced at least. That state takes you somewhere else – somewhere where ideas gain clarity and focus, connecting is all sorts of weird and wonderful ways, which allows you to see the world a little differently from others; it adds a special kind of perspective.

It’s so easy to get lost in that energy.

Music is also a time capsule. Who hasn’t been driving along when a song they haven’t heard in years randomly comes on the radio and before you know it you’re swept back 10 years into your past to an experience you remember like it was yesterday? You can smell the smells, hears the sounds and feel the sensations of your memory as if it were happening all over again. It can be a surreal experience, and I think it’s amazing how a simple song can trigger such a powerfully cognitive, and often physiological response as the nostalgia sweeps over you.

Songs that hold deep meaning for us at any given time have amazing power to lock potent experiences into your memory for later recall; the song the acting as the trigger at some point in the future.

Music is also, at it’s most basic level, sound. This may sound obvious, but bear with me.

With each passing day, scientists are discovering more and more about the power of sound and it’s potential effect on matter. We now know that we can use certain frequencies as destructive weapons by focusing beams of sound energy, it can be used to levitate physical objects and for brain wave entrainment through the use of Binaural Beats. Music and sound in general literally affect the oscillations of brain waves, so can be a useful tool in changing how we feel by having a direct physiological effect on our bodies. This is useful as a tool to help put you in a resourceful state and empower you with feelings of confidence so you can face the challenges of your day. It can also help you wind down after a long or stressful day at work – there is a piece of music for every state imaginable.

I had a laminated piece of card in the room for years when I was growing up that read ‘Music is medicine, it can cure anything’. Now, saying that it can cure anything is quite a lofty claim, as I’m sure you’ll agree, but it has certainly helped me through some pretty dismal times in my life, whilst also providing the soundtrack to my ebb and flow of my myriad experiences over the years. To this day there are songs that make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when they come on the radio, and I have never lost my ability to tap into that pure state of flow that comes with writing and performing music live.

Music can be all things, and it can be whatever you need or want it to be. It can be hard or soft, fast or slow – these days we are lucky enough to access via the internet to pretty much anything we want, and music is a tool you just can’t afford to not have accompany you through life. It has powerful abilities as a state changer, and so is useful for this purpose alone.

For me, it is a form of expression so deep and powerful that I feel I am ripping open my chest and baring my soul to the world when I write and perform. It is the purest form of communication I know of, and one that transcends geography, culture and differences. It is form of communication that transcends language, communicating thoughts and feelings on so many different levels that it can only be felt and never described. Music is a vehicle for unity, understanding and connectivity. If you read between the lines, you will see an underlying emotional message lurking between the rhythm and rhyme – a message so potent that words are powerless to describe it. It is a vicarious rollercoaster ride of emotional experience that can make you laugh or cry.

Whether it’s uppers or downers you’re looking for, music has a pill for you…

You’re Either Growing Or You’re Dying

You’re either growing or dying – there really is no middle ground.

Whilst it may seem like we’re neither growing nor dying due to a lack of noticeable motion towards one or the other, that sense of static is nothing more than the illusion of stillness resulting from a temporary equilibrium in your movement between each polar opposite. To say it another way, you are dying equally as much as you are growing, and the result is the illusion of stillness. Maybe if you were able to measure your movement towards growth and death at a smaller scale, you would see that you’re not still at all, but always moving towards one or the other.

Unless we make a conscious effort to make progress towards our growth, the default of death and decay takes over. It’s so important to pump life into our actions – passion and purpose – because without this life force injection, everything slows down and stops. When you stop, you die. You’re heart STOPS beating. Your nervous system STOPS transmitting or receiving. Your brain STOPS thinking. The more life you can put into each action, the movement you will conjure and the more alive you will be able to be. Movement is life, and movement thought of in a different way is simply perpetual change.

Change is the only thing that’s guaranteed in life, and change is what keeps us alive.

I’ve never understood people who are afraid of change, and who find themselves unwilling to move with the motion of life’s natural flow. It is what gives us energy, it defines the very nature of our existence. Change should be embraced, because change is overflowing with potential power waiting to be harnessed. When things change, you make a choice to either focus on the loss or the new opportunity – with every change comes fresh new opportunities. Are you going to wallow in an non-resourceful state as a result of the way you have chosen to view a given situation, or are you going to take off the blinkers by accepting the situation for what it is and opening your mind to new opportunities?

The wings of change can be a lot of different things, but one thing is guaranteed – they will always be there to drive motion into our lives. Accept that, learn to move with them, and you will find it much easier to jump into life’s flow. Flow is an amazing state – one I have personally experienced in both my career as a musician and as a martial artist. It is a state of being completely at one with the Universe, with no thought, yet acutely aware of, and connected to, everything. It is a sense of knowing deeper than any other I have ever experienced. It is a feeling of connection, gratitude and acceptance so deep and powerful that it’s a million times more potent an experience than any drug on the market. There is nothing like it.

If you’re interested in the subject of flow and want to learn more, I highly recommend the following book by Steven Kotler where he delves deep into the subject of flow states and how super athletes have been tapping into these states of decades to push the limits of human potential (click the picture below for more information):

The principal of being either in a state of growth or a state of dying is applicable to all aspects of life. It is as true for the muscles in our bodies, as it is for business and for our mental fortitude.

If we lift weights and exercise, then we are building muscle by facilitating muscle growth through movement and by making the muscles we want to grow do work. However, if we stop lifting weights or exercising then we will see our muscle mass decrease as our muscles atrophy as a direct result of a lack of sufficient levels of exercise or movement. Now, as described earlier, it may be that our muscle mass and relative strength stay at a consistent level but this does not mean it’s neither growing nor dying. All this means is that you are doing sufficient levels of work through movement and exercise to facilitate the same level of growth as the level of atrophy – the result being neutral overall. The muscle is still atrophying, and it is still growing; you just don’t see the physical effects of either because one is balanced out by the other.

This principal can also be applied to business. A business is either growing, or it is dying. Now, a business can be growing in different areas at different times, and this doesn’t mean that in order for a business to be successful it has to be growing all aspects of it’s operations all the time, at the same time. For example, you may focus on increasing – or growing – your turnover during the first two quarters, and then switch your growth focus to systems and processes so they can be developed to support the new turnover level. You may then chose to shift your growth focus to your team, or asset base. Even though the growth focus shifts to different areas of the business during different parts of it’s life cycle, the nett effect is the same – the business is growing in one way or another.

It is important to ensure that you cycle your growth focus in your business as described above, especially if you don’t have the physical resources to grow every aspect of the business at once. If you leave one area of the business behind whilst you grow others – for example, growing your turnover without growing the systems and processes to support it – you will be setting yourself up for a mighty crash. Trust me – I know from experience by having had to take this hard road in my business.

Think of your business like the building in which it resides; if you simply carry on with your day to day business and make no effort to undertake general repairs and maintenance to the building, over the years it will deteriorate and, if no work is undertaken to remedy the effect of time, will crumble back into the Earth. However, if you carry out the periodic maintenance, repairs and improvements as required, not only will you continue to occupy a premises that meets the needs of your daily business activities, but that will also have continued to grow in value as time moves on. The point? Whether it’s HR or customer service, make sure you’re undertaking maintenance, repairs and improvements to all aspects of your business perpetually. If you’re not, someone else is, and it won’t be long before they overtake you.

This principal is also true of your cognition and mental fortitude, and can be thought of in much the same way as the analogy with the muscle. If you don’t feed your mind, it will wither and die.

“Education isn’t something you can finish.”

– Isaac Asimov

Failing to feed your mind by learning new skills, seeing new sights, and engaging in new experiences is a surefire way to result in atrophy of the mind. The more you learn, and the more effort you put into understanding the World around you, the more motion you give to your thoughts and creativity and it is this force of motion that breeds life. Want to feel more alive? Get more motion into your thoughts! Think about more things, and think about them in different ways and alternate perspectives – do it as often as possible. Nurture your natural thought processes to promote growth of the mind, and to increase it’s capacity for learning and understanding. The more we learn, the more we understand. The more we understand, the less we realise we know and the more we want to learn! A beautiful feedback loop, and a powerful one at that. The more you use your mind, the sharper a tool it will become and the more potential power you will realise that can then be used to really move the dial in your life and the World at large.

You’re either growing or you’re dying – which one are you?

Learning How To Learn

“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.”

– Brian Herbert

I am a firm believer that in this day and age, with the information highway quite literally at our fingertips, ignorance is a choice. No longer do we have the excuse of lack of resources by which to feed our minds, with the dawn of an intrinsically and globally connected human race. Got a question? Ask Google. You don’t even have to go to the library anymore – all you have to do is pull out your relatively tiny personal computer (your iPhone or android), tap the touch screen and within seconds the answer to your question appears on screen. In fact, thousands, if not millions of different answers or different versions of the answer appear on the screen! We are literally spoilt for choice.

It is for this reason that my mind is still baffled when I come across people who answer ‘I don’t know’ to a question without following it up with a Google search and discovery of the answer. How can these people be satisfied living in their ignorance? What on Earth possesses people to make the conscious choice to live in the darkness of ignorance when they have such limitless educational resources available to them? I’m still searching for the answer… maybe ignorance really is bliss. Regardless, mastery doesn’t come without a deep knowledge of a given subject, and mastery is what I’m all about. Learning, and constant never ending improvement is so important to me because of the unfathomably positive effect it has had on my life over the last few years, and continues to have to this day. There are few things more empowering than listening to an audio book on the way to work that teaches you something that you can implement in your life the second you arrive at work and start your day; instant added value, and I love adding value.

Learning is easy for some, and not so easy for others. One type of learning, say practical experience, is natural to one person, yet completely unnatural to someone who could be considered an academic.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.”

– Albert Einstein

The above quote from dear Albert is so true, and does an excellent job of highlighting the main issue with the educational institutions we have built to educate the generations that follow in our footsteps. All said and done, we’ve done a pretty shit job of catering for the widely diverse range of characters, skill sets and natural abilities and tendencies of our young. It’s a one size fits all approach to education, and it’s destroying the hearts and minds of young people the World over. They are told that if they fail in this ‘one size fits all’ system, then they will fail in life.

What a crock of shit.

My father left school with but two O-levels, and heaps of tenacity, drive and passion for electronics. He has built several businesses during his lifetime, including his most recent, The Studio People. Was it his two O-levels that facilitated such achievements? Doubtful. Was it his persistent drive, passion and tenacity? Absolutely. Perhaps we should shift the developmental focus of the next generation of thinkers and World leaders then to teaching those things that made my Dad successful, and indeed the same characteristics and attributes that resulted in the success of all the great entrepreneurs over the last few decades; Richard BransonElon Musk and Anthony Robbins to name but a few. It wasn’t GCSE’s or A-levels that got them to where they are today, it was their fiery passion fuelled tenacity, and as these men have demonstrated, it is these attributes that give them the power to go out and change the World as we know it.

Understanding why we need to perpetually educate ourselves and others, and understanding what to learn is one thing, but how to learn is something I haven’t seen covered a great deal and was something I struggled with in my earlier years of life. I never thought I was that bright, but I always seemed to have this uncanny ability to pick things up very quickly once my interest had been piqued. I often found myself frustrated though when I’d try to get into learning something new and would be left feeling like I was studying something that was written in a foreign language. I’d study a paper or read an exercise and one or two things would kind of make sense to me, but in the context of the whole, the information was nothing more than gibberish.

This experience left me feeling like I was of less than average intelligence, despite my ability to learn quickly and often discouraged me. Good job I’m a particularly tenacious individual, and that I don’t like to lose.

Self-knowledge and learning in general has been a massive part of my life over the last 3-4 years, and it’s opened doors for me in my life like you wouldn’t believe. I managed to figure out how I learn, and what the process and mechanism entails for me. I am very mechanical in my approach to things, and so I like to breaks things down into easily digestible pieces. I also love a challenge, so have no problem throwing myself in at the deep end of a completely new subject and seeing how I fare. The difference for me now is that I know it will be a challenge, and I’m expecting it. I have realised and accepted over the last few years that when I first start digging into a subject, I understand fuck all; but more importantly, I know that this is the first step to me understanding a bit, then a little and then a lot. Each of these steps in so important in the attainment of mastery in any skill or subject, and for me it was just a case of accepting that this is how I learn.

So, when I delving into something new, I know I have to find it stimulating and interesting. It has to challenge me, and it has to add some value to my life. I also know, and more importantly accept, that I won’t understand very much when I first start the learning process, and that even if I do understand the wealth of information I’m digesting, it is highly unlikely that I will retain a high percentage of it at first. These things that I once used to find demoralising and frustrating, have become part of the process of learning for me, and my acceptance of them as important parts of the puzzle to get me to where I want to be has been liberating and helps to keep me motivated and driven.

It might take several books, articles and conversations with experts before I start to grasp some of the basic concepts, but I trust in the fact that over time, so long as I stick at it and keep digesting information in my chosen field, that clarity and understanding will come. I’ve observed this process in my learning over many years now, and it is this self-observation that gives me the faith and confidence that, even though I feel like I’m getting nowhere to start with, I am building the foundations of knowledge in the subject before I can start to build the structure above of knowledge and understanding. As with building a house and looking upon the work from afar, you see nothing whilst the foundations are being dug and laid. It is only when the walls start to go up that you start to notice the progress and start to see the structure coming together before your eyes.

Don’t be afraid of laying the foundations, and don’t put yourself down because you’re ‘not getting it’. You won’t, at first, and that is the first and most important step to learning new skills and subjects. Knowing and accepting this is the best way to clear your mind so it is free from negativity and thus able to focus fully on the task at hand; being a better version of you through the attainment of knowledge.

Don’t be afraid of learning in different ways too; my MMA instructor once said to me that people learn in three different ways, and each of those ways will teach you things the others cannot. They are to be told/shown, to do, and to teach. You must learn a subject or skill through each of these mediums in order to achieve true mastery and a complete knowledge in any given interest. The teaching part usually comes last, because you need to be able to explain and demonstrate a skill yourself before you can possibly consider teaching it, yet you go into teaching prior to achieving mastery, because it is only through completing this third and final stage that you are taught the final lessons by way of seeing your existing knowledge in a new light, from a different angle/perspective. I’ve learned things about throwing basic kicks from teaching white belts that I could never have learned from being shown or actually performing them myself, though this is an element of the journey of growth and self-improvement that is often neglected by practitioners, and because they fail to embrace this ever such important part of the learning process, they never achieve true mastery. So, if you are a student of anything in life, remember that the very act of your teacher teaching is providing a lesson for them too – they are learning about the subject from a different perspective now, opening their minds to a deeper understanding of their subject/skill and putting them one step closer to mastery.

Everyone I know or have studied who has mastered something in their lives has taught others and realises this to be a key element of their own process of learning and self-discovery. This should serve to highlight the importance of ‘paying it back’ in life, and servitude to others, helping others be better versions of themselves, is the third and final step in the process of helping yourself. Everything is cyclical, everything is connected – service to others is so important. We owe it to ourselves to facilitate our attainment of mastery in our lives, we owe it to others to learn through their experiences what we were unable to learn through our own, and we owe it to the World and the generations that follow to ensure we have an army of masters in their respective fields to push the human race forward so that we, as a race, are perpetually committed to doing things better than we have previously done them. We have an obligation to ourselves and to our children to leave the World a better place than we found it – learning and teaching help us to bridge that gap.

Remember, we’re all geniuses; we just need to do the work to figure out what sort, and once found to pursue it with passion and tenacity. Together, we are changing the World – what part are you playing?

“We have a moral obligation to leave this World a better place than the World that we’ve found.”

– Tim McIlrath