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.

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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

What Black Belt Means to Me

“The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups.”

– Bruce Lee

I began my training in the martial art of Tae Kwon Do in July 2013 – I remember it clearly, as the weekend I had planned to attend my first lesson was the weekend of the 2013 TAGB TKD World Championships. As a result, my first introductory lesson was the weekend after the big competition due to all the students and instructors attending the event. My instructor to be, Mr Martin Williams 6th Dan, told me about the event and that his club was closed that weekend due to their participation, but that I should come along and have a go the weekend after. I vividly remember thinking to myself at the time that there was no way I’d be competing, let alone be competing at the World Championships; the biggest event in the organisation.

I was very clear about my intentions going in; I wasn’t going to fight and I wasn’t going to compete. I was a complete pacifist at the time, and my motivation for wanting to give it a go was simply that it looked like fun and I thought I’d be good at it. In truth, the motivating factor that made me get up off my arse and find a club was that someone had posted a classic Bruce Lee video to my Facebook wall, and it inspired me to desire that level of greatness. It was a compilation of his different skills, from lighting matchsticks in mid air with nunchucks and his infamous 1-inch punch. From the moment I concluded my search for local clubs, bizarrely finding Mold to be my closest which is a good 45 minute drive from where I live, fate took control and the rest is history.

To say that Tae Kwon Do has changed my life would be an understatement of epic proportions. I met my soul mate through my club, and we now have two beautiful children together. It’s changed my whole outlook on, and approach to, life. It’s made me a better person in a multitude of ways, and for all the change it’s brought to my life I am truly grateful. Further to all that, it has provided me with a close knit circle of thoroughly decent human beings who are dedicated to helping raise each other up to higher and higher standards, with perpetual dedication, love and support. The people I have met through Tae Kwon Do are some of the most wonderful human beings on the planet, and I am privileged to call them my friends.

The most important thing that Tae Kwon Do has done for me that has been a catalyst for my personal growth has been to introduce me to myself. I know who I am better today than any prior point in my life. I know who I am, and more importantly I know the components of who I am. I know my fears and insecurities intimately, even as deeply as I know my capacity for love, compassion and servitude. I am rounded as a human being because of the deep level of self-knowledge my art has taught me. I know who I am in good times and bad times, I face adversity on a regular basis and that keeps me hungry and humble. I have such a profound level of respect for the people around me, and I  have a deep level of understanding of vastly different types of people and cultures as a result of the principals behind the punches and kicks I’ve been drilling for the last 3.5 years. As with the words of Bruce Lee in the quote at the start of this blog, the opponent is not the man stood across the ring – it’s the man within.

This is a concept my parents and some of my colleagues struggle to understand. Unless you have engaged in some form of martial art, it’s unlikely you’ve come across the life lessons that teach what is required to understand this. One of my favourite quotes is, ‘adversity introduces a man to himself’, and in my opinion, this couldn’t be more concise or more profound. The truth behind this one statement has the power to shatter your world as you know it… only for it to be reborn like the phoenix from the ashes. You know that people you talk to don’t get it when they say things like, ‘so you like fighting’ or ‘you just like beating people up’ – nothing could be further from the truth. A more accurate appraisal would be that I thrive in testing my level of skill and knowledge in a high risk environment because I know that to fail is to learn, and learning is the only way transmute the current version of myself into something better. I am testing my nerve every time I make myself step into the ring – I am facing my fear and my insecurities with that one simple, defying act. I am fueling the fire of confidence and knowledge of self by relentlessly feeding it my fears, my ego and my insecurities.

This coming April in 2017 marks a penultimate point in my journey to self-knowledge as a man and as a martial artist. This April, I grade for my Black Belt. For most, the minimum amount of time it takes to achieve this is 4 years, largely dependant on how much effort you put in and how often you grade. I have been driven to succeed since day one. Following my first class, I would go home and practise the most basic movements for hours at home to try and get the techniques down for my next lesson so I could turn up ready to learn more. I entered my first competition at yellow belt in October 2013, and came away with two gold trophies for my efforts. So much for never competing…

Today, 3.5 years later, I sit here a current World Champion and British Champion, along with several other titles from regional and national competitions across the country. I am lucky enough to have shelves (yes, plural!) filled with trophies and medals from my last 3 years of competition. I am honoured and privileged to have been taught by some of the best Tae Kwon Do practitioners in the World, often training with or under World and National Champions. The people I have trained with and under the instruction of, have helped me immeasurably to become the man I am today; instructors, students and competitors alike. They have provided the proving ground on which I was able to test myself against the best in the business, and the quality instruction that has guided me along the right path when I have wandered wayward. Everyone around me inspires me, filling me with gratitude; that is a truly beautiful place to be.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of people get their Black Belts over the last 3.5 years, and it’s been a wonderful vicarious experience for me to watch and be a part of their individual journey’s – as they have been, and continue to be, a part of mine. Becoming a black belt means different things to different people. For some it is just something they want for display – like a trophy that they can point to to prove how amazing they are. For others, it is a deeply symbolic achievement that says more about the person within than it necessarily says about their ability to kick people in the face.

For me, being a Black Belt comes with a high level of responsibility to respect and serve those around you; whether you like them or not. It is the difference between existing on a meandering and random trajectory through life, and living with purpose and meaning. It is a reminder that I need to do better tomorrow, regardless of how well I thought I did today. It is my commitment to serve and to make a positive difference in the lives of all who pass through my life. It is commitment to constant and never ending improvement, to mastery and excellence. It is my reminder to never give up, and to see the lesson in everything. It is my heart wrapped around my waist, it is the symbol of passion and purpose that I wear with pride and humility. It is the balance of my calm and my rage, my love and my hate – we are all composed of yin and yang, and it is balancing the two that delivers us to self-knowledge and acceptance of who we are and what we have. It reminds me to be grateful every single day – for the beautiful people in my life, for my health and for the important lessons life teaches us; be they easy or hard. I do not prey for an easier life, I work hard to ensure I have the ability and skills to endure a challenging one as I know that it is through challenge that we grow to become greater versions of ourselves. It is a symbol signifying a deep level of self-knowledge, and of understanding that bridges the chasms between our joys and our fears.

For me, being a Black Belt has nothing to do with the colour, the material or being able to kick people in the face. It represents integrity, perseverance, respect, self-control and courtesy. It represents never giving up, even when you feel like there is no way out, and nowhere to go. It is a deep level of strength more powerful than any muscle could ever be, yet it is as soft as a feather. It is the ability to mould to fit any challenge, and the knowledge that everything in life happens for a reason – each experience a package of lessons ready to be learned.

Yet, despite all this, I know that getting my Black Belt is just the end of the beginning. Like learning to drive and getting your licence, the real learning happens out on the road on your own after you’ve passed your test. That is when you find out what you’re made of.

My journey in Tae Kwon Do and in life has only just begun.

We Are The Wheels Behind Change

My life mission statement has changed an awful lot over the last 18 months.. the first major change being that I now have one! Parallel to the personal shift I have experienced, my professional mission statement and the way I view what I do and the effect that has on the World is also drastically different.

What Are Studio People?

Studio People are the magic behind the orchestra; the bit that everyone knows is there yet very few people pay any attention to. We are the magic that binds all the different instruments and sections together in space and time, with seemless form; we are the conductor. We play a vital role in the show, but nobody sees us. We are the cameras and the lights sitting just out of sight. Our mission is to focus flow, unabated and relentless, forming worlds within worlds as magical people enter spaces built not for them but for their creativity; their burning passion, the fire within. Spaces where anything and everything is possible, where the only limitation is the limitation you choose to impose upon yourself. We recognise that everything we see around us began as an idea, a thought within the mind of humankind – we create spaces where thoughts flow free in the hope that when cultivated and nurtured they will be born unto the World by their creator, set free and let loose to infect the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life; a global pandemic and an unstoppable force for change. It’s the people crazy enough to think they can change the World that do. So I guess we’re in the business of thought hotels; thoughts come in from all different societies, cultures and backgrounds and as we layer them down and play them out we learn new things about ourselves; we begin to understand our place in it all. We see – no, we feel the power of our creative energy touching everything around us, and it is our place in facilitating this internal paradigm shift in people the World over that drives us to do what we do. We are the wheels behind the change, and together we are changing the hearts and minds of the World.

This is what I see when I look at the business my family has worked hard to build over the last two decades, and it is a privilege to be a part of something that has the power and reach to change millions, if not billions, of lives all over the planet. We recognise the importance of content in a World as connected as the one we find ourselves in today, and we believe it is our duty to set people up for success in creating the most inspiring, paradigm shifting content possible. Content has already revolutionised the World, and we haven’t even seen the whole of the tip of the iceberg yet in terms of how connected the World can and will be and how much content we as a species will be hungrily digesting daily. We have the World at our fingertips, and it is our obligation to shape that World into something we can be proud to leave to our children and the generations to come – the content we create and broadcast is the instrument through which the songs of our lives come to life and become physical beings, empowered and tenacious, hungry to make a difference.

Now, if you’d have asked me the same question in the summer of 2015 you would have got a very different answer. I would have told you that we design and build recording studios, but don’t get excited because we’re basically just a glorified construction company. Bit of a difference, huh? Isn’t it amazing the difference clarity of vision and passion can make. I was obviously disillusioned, but why? It was the same business after all. It was because I desperately wanted to find my purpose in life, and I felt like I had none. I was wondering, lost in a World that seemed filled with pain, desperation and corruption. I couldn’t reconcile what I was doing with any higher purpose, and I had fallen prey of social conditioning that led me to believe that business was evil and only served selfish ends. Little did I realise that I was just naive and ignorant, commanding little understanding of, well, anything (apart from music and Tae Kwon Do). I had closed my mind to the the doors of possibility that were there all along, and so the things I saw in the World were just my reflection staring back at me. 

Now that I have this level of clarity, and command a deep understanding of what drives me through my life day by day, I am able to look back and see that there was always a thread that ran through my whole life; a series of events of the same or similar themes that provided clues as to my calling, my purpose. I look back now and see that the subject of my passion and purpose was there all along, I just didn’t see it. Looking back and seeing the dots link together like that never fails to amaze me, and it can be very difficult sometimes to ignore the reality of fate at work – that someone looking over your shoulder, nudging you in the right direction, and delivering you to experiences that you need in order to learn and grow as a human being.

Whatever you do, are doing or are about to do, I cannot understate the importance of finding the fuel for the fire of your passion; it will change your life forever in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. You are never just something, you are everything, you can be anything. It starts with a choice, a decision and massive passion in action every single day – two years ago I worked at a construction company, today I am Managing Director of a company that’s changing the World through content creation by creating spaces that allow people to attain states of flow and inspiration that even the best drugs can’t touch. 

The only thing that changed was me.

You can see more about my family’s business and keep up to date with our progress in working with our clients to change the World by visiting us at www.studiopeople.com – come and say hello a be a part of our mission for change, we would love to hear from you.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

As some of you will know, I have become deeply interested in trading the stock market via instruments like CFD’s and Spread Betting over the last couple of months. Whilst I am still achieving mixed results in terms of my overall profit and loss, one of the most challenging and interesting aspects of trading is the psychology. It is actually the hardest thing to master, and I believe this is true for most things in life. Holding your position on a trade that’s moving against you without giving in to your fear of losing money, or of diminishing any paper profits you might have made on that particular position, takes some serious self control.

I have engaged in trading courses, YouTube videos and books to help me improve on my knowledge of the stock market and how to trade with a consistently profitable system, but one of the books I’m listening to at the moment has really made me think. It’s a book on trading psychology, and aims to enable the reader to become their own trading coach. You can see more information about this book by clicking the following link:

The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist (Wiley Trading)

I was listening on my way to Tae Kwon Do training last night, and a very poignant lesson caught my attention and made me think. When trading, as with most things we do in life, we tend to have a running commentary of self talk as we run through our day. That self talk can either be positive or negative depending on our mental state at the time. One thing that tends to be particularly debilitating is negative self talk. Whether you’re berating yourself for missing a turning when driving to work which could potentially make you late, or in the case of the book, have entered into a bad position which results in a losing trade. The observation the author makes in the book is that this self talk tends to be very harsh, and so he suggests the following exercise; pay attention to the self talk going on in your head – observe the mental tone, the language used and the things you are berating yourself for. Now, having observed this negative chatter in some detail, reframe. This is a simple exercise whereby you imagine that instead of saying those things to yourself, a friend or colleague is saying them to you.

For example, you might say something like the following to yourself having missed a crucial turn off to get you to work on time:

“I can’t believe I missed that turning, I’m such an idiot! I drive this way every day and I can’t even get that right! I’m going to be late for work now, and it’s all because I couldn’t even pay attention to my surroundings. I’m going to get in trouble for being late, and be behind on my work because of my stupidity. Nice one.”

Now, this may seem like perfectly normal self talk that occurs when you make a mistake in life, but I think we can all agree that this level of negativity, even in the form of self talk, is far from healthy; it puts us into a totally unresourceful state and we are only at our best when we are in a positive and resourceful state. However, now let’s reframe this situation and imagine that it is your friend who is in the car with you who is saying this to you:

“I can’t believe you missed the turn, you’re such an idiot! You drive this way every day and you still can’t get it right! You’re going to be late for work now and it’s all your fault because you aren’t even capable of paying attention to what’s going on around you. You’re going to be in so much trouble for being late, and you’ll be behind on your work because of your stupidity. Nice one.”

When you flip the roles like this, and imagine a friend or someone close to you saying to you the things you say to yourself, you would be disgusted with the way they had spoken to you and treated you. They’re supposed to be your friend, so why are they putting you down like that? So, the question is this; if you wouldn’t tolerate being spoken to or treated in that way by the people you know, then why do you tolerate it from yourself?

Truth be told, if you have good friends and surround yourself with good people who truly add value to your life, they would never treat you that way. You shouldn’t either! Instead, your friend or colleague would tell you not to worry about it, it was a simple and easy mistake to make and if you’re late you can just say you got stuck in an unexpected bout of traffic. Your boss won’t mind, he’s a decent person, and everyone makes mistakes. It’s early in the morning, and no one is at their best first thing. Don’t sweat it!

A big difference, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Which would you prefer to hear from your friends or colleagues? Decide now, that if that’s the standard you have set for how others treat you, then you should have the same standard for the way you treat yourself. Another way of looking at it would be to ask yourself what you would say to a friend in a similar situation to that which you find yourself, and that which triggered the negative self talk. Observe the differences between what you had been saying to yourself and what you would say to your friend in the same situation; then change your internal dialogue to match what you would say to your friend. There is no good reason to treat yourself worse than you treat those around you, so level the paying field and give yourself the respect you deserve.

Don’t be so hard on yourself! Try the exercise above the next time you face a challenge in your life and you notice your own negative self talk – engage in the role play, and ask yourself if you would accept or tolerate being treated or spoken to in that way by others. If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t be treating yourself that way either.

Everyone makes mistakes in life, it’s a big part of how we learn and grow, but instead of putting ourselves down when we do, we should instead be picking ourselves up, dusting off the dirt and refocusing with determination and positivity. Easier said than done – I know – but nothing worth having in life comes easy, and reframing like this will make a massive difference in your ability to face and deal with adversity in life.

Have a beautiful day everyone – be kind to yourselves, and give yourselves the credit you deserve in both the good times, and the challenging times.

Know The Enemy & Know Yourself

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”

– Sun Tzu

The biggest problem with problems is the unknown. The worry and anxiety that sets in, the sheer blinding panic, is not the result of an objective assessment of the situation. Instead, those debilitating feelings and emotions are the result of missing information that is preying on your mind. It’s the missing details, the depths trouble that have yet to be revealed in your mind.

You could say, the biggest battle you will ever fight will be with yourself.

As in fighting, as in life, it is not usually the case that challenges and bumps in the road are insurmountable – though this is definitely how we seem to be programmed to see them (at least, for the most part). The biggest part of any challenge is convincing yourself you are a person worthy of it. Changing your focus in line with this alternative perception allows you to have control over the challenge, and more importantly how you view the challenge and your ability to not only meet, but exceed it.

Sun Tzu was an brilliant philosopher, studied by millions across the mighty span of history. His quote featured above is as true and poignant today as it has been since it left his mind to come forth and inspire the world all those years ago. Regardless of the problem, of it’s size and scope, of it’s breadth and depth, you must know it utterly and completely – this is the only path to overcoming it and growing from it. You must stare it straight in the face and, against all odds, study it’s features. Get to know it’s character – look deep into it’s eyes. If it’s core is dark and void of hope, then go there and find out exactly how void it is. Stroke it’s face – feel the potential pain it threatens, and embrace it – whether a challenge or fear, know it until you can know it now more because this and this alone gives you power.

Now look inside yourself. You have no choice but be honest about who you are, and what you stand for – you can bullshit yourself all day long if that’s the game you want to play, but we both know where that will lead you. It takes courage to look deep inside yourself like that – to stare yourself in the face and see all that you are. I know. You will see darkness in there – it’s in all of us – and you will see the purest of light. Most people just focus on the light, whilst simultaneously ignoring the stuff they don’t like. This is naive, and the result is stunted spiritual growth. That’s not knowing yourself, that’s knowing yourself selectively and failing to take responsibility for your own personal self improvement. As a friend said to me today – “the word ‘responsibility’ literally means to be able to respond effectively”. Paying attention to, and taking responsibility for yourself as a whole and complete being is the only way to truly know thyself. Who are you when your back’s up against the wall? Do you know? Do you have any control over that person? A lot of people don’t, falling straight their primal ‘fight or flight’ response and succumbing the powerful effects of their endocrine system, and the related antiquated operating system that governed us at a time when we had to worry about being eaten by lions. By all accounts, not a state of mind that is of much use in modern day struggles, so take my advice and leave it at the door.

Know your enemy and know yourself – become one with your challenges in life and instead of defeating you they will build you up, make you stronger and help you grow. In this day and age, being ignorant is a choice; know everything, and run from nothing – be the sponge that soaks in everything life has to offer you, and use the abundance of tools available to you. Learn from everything; light and dark are equally excellent teachers, and we have much to learn from both – do not run from either. Believe in yourself – the only limits on your life are those which you impose upon it; don’t make that mistake.

The bigger the challenge the better; the bigger the challenge, the more worthy of it you are.

Shifting Sleep: Going from Night Owl to Early Bird

My life was shifted in a rather serious way during the latter months of 2015, and little did I know at the time that I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life forever. This paradigm shift was the result of many factors, but one of the key lifestyle changes was without a doubt the inspiration I gained from reading Hal Elrod’s ‘The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM’. This fantastic little book talks in depth about the benefits of making the simple change of getting up a little earlier, and of adopting a morning routine.

I’ve talked about Hal’s work before, and how much it’s been an influence in my life, but I need to make clear how important this idea of a morning ritual is. So many of the World’s success stories have morning routines that they move through each and every morning to start their day in order to set themselves up for success. This practice not only serves to focus the mind on the goals and outcomes one wishes to achieve in any given day, but also is the reason and the motivation for rising early – it is the acknowledgement of the positive effect a morning routine can have on your day that makes you excited to get up and do it every day. No more hitting the snooze….

But, is it really that easy? You just decide one day that now you’re a morning person and you can spring out of bed with a smile on your face as you skip down the corridor to the bathroom to brush your teeth? Maybe for some. Not for me; and I’m sure there are many others in the same position. After making my commitment to myself and setting the alarm for 6am the night before with a renewed sense of purpose, I still didn’t want to get up. My eyes were fused shut until half way through the first cup of coffee and I don’t even know what I put on my toothbrush that day. The point is, just because it’s a great thing to do to set yourself up for the day for a multitude of reasons, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

For those of you who are trying to shift your lifestyle from night owl to early bird, having either been inspired by Hal’s work or by necessity, I want to share a few hints and tips on how you can adapt your lifestyle to rising earlier ready for your morning routine.

Avoid self talk when you first wake up – instead, count to five

One of the biggest problems for a lot of people is being unable to resist the temptation to hit the snooze button when their alarms go off in the morning; all the while completely disrespecting the fact that it was they who set the alarm for that time in the first place and therefore must have a had a good reason for doing so. An excellent way to set yourself up to fail. The best remedy to combat this that I’ve come across is to make the first thing you say to yourself when you wake up a simple count from 1 to 5. This serves to focus the mind on an innate task so it forgets to start that pesky internal dialogue which is eventually responsible for convincing you that it’s a good idea to disrespect your own intentions and hit the snooze button. What a waste of potential. As you count to five, slowly get out of bed and start to get dressed – by the time you’ve finished counting, you’re committed to starting your day, as your motivation level has been given a little more time to rise whilst you preoccupied your conscious mind. It also now involves some effort to remove clothes and go back to bed, so not quite as inviting as just staying where you are in a nice warm, cosy wrap.

Leave your phone downstairs, buy an alarm clock and put your alarm clock away from your bed

This is a classic tactic and works simply because it forces you to get up out of bed in order to be able to turn it off or hit the snooze button. This again serves to give more time for your motivation level (or WUML – Wake Up Motivation Level as Hal describes it) to rise and means it now takes effort to go back to bed, so you might as well get up. The added bonus to this one is where you have a family, partner or small children in the close vicinity – trust me, they don’t appreciate the annoying sound of an alarm clock at 6am so that alone serves as ample motivation to get your arse out of bed to turn it off!

Make your first job brushing your teeth

We all know it’s a jolly good idea to brush our teeth twice daily for strong healthy teeth, and making this the first job on the agenda once you’ve hauled yourself out of bed is another good way to give yourself a bit more time to wake up.

Have a reason to get up – make it compelling

So, for me it’s my morning routine. It’s having that time in the morning to set myself up for success, and do what I need to do before the rest of the house starts to rise and shine. Just having that time alone starts the day in such a relaxed fashion compared with rolling out of bed 10 minutes before you need to leave and guzzling a coffee as you hop out of the door. Just knowing you have plenty of time to do your morning routine, have breakfast with the family and prepare for your day leaves you calm and relaxed.

Another of my compelling reasons to get out of bed in the morning is because I want to smash my day. I am always learning and always working on multiple things so I’m always very excited to get up and start preparing for my day – the more I prepare, the more I set myself up for success. As the saying goes, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.

Go to bed earlier

This is really important; you can’t all of a sudden start getting up at 5am whilst still staying up until 2am. That’s called burning the candle at both ends, and will only lead to burnout after burnout. Getting enough sleep is so very important for your physical and mental health, and so it’s one of the most important things for you to take care of.

The best way to think about it is that you’re simply shifting your 7-8 hours sleep backwards around the clock. So if you were previously going to bed at 2am and waking at 8:30am, then in order to awake at 6am and maintain the same number of hours in bed you would have to shift your bedtime back to 11:30pm.

It is best to shift your sleeping patterns like this over time if possible as to make a shift of several hours straight away can be a shock to your system and all the more difficult to see through. Instead, try adjusting your bed/wake time routine in increments that suit you -a shift of 15 minutes per night would allow you to gradually ease into your new chosen routine, and you’ll be at your target times within a week or so (depending on how small or great the shift in time needs to be).

Drink less coffee, drink more water

Some great advice for general health and wellbeing is to not overdo the caffeine intake, as doing so can definitely affect your quality of sleep and leave you less likely to feel as rested as you should. I am a huge fan of coffee, and it’s my go to when I first get downstairs in the morning, but I try to limit my coffee intake to the mornings, and none after 12 noon, as this is what I’ve found has the least detrimental effect on the quality of my sleep. Ideally, it’s recommended to limit your coffee intake to 2-4 cups per day.

Drink plenty of water too; especially when you first get up in the morning. Remember, you’ve been asleep for 6-8 hours and not consumed any food or water in that same time period. You’ll be dehydrated first thing in the morning, so drinking a couple of glasses of water is a great way to get your body and brain rehydrated first thing in the morning.Drinking plenty of water has the added benefit of aiding fat loss too, so getting more water in your life is a win/win.

In summary, the above are some great hacks for adapting to getting up early that have worked well for me. The big one though is having a reason to get up at whatever time your predetermine (and stick to it) that is a must win. I feel so much better from doing my morning routine daily that I look forward to the benefits I get from it daily – it motivates me to make the effort to get the result. Having so much going on in my life and passionately working to smash it all is another hugely motivating factor in why I get up.

I’ve found my purpose in life, and it’s like a fire in my belly – when you have something as powerful as that fueling you there are no limits to what can be achieved. For that, we must train our bodies and our minds to do what we say, when we say, rather than letting them talk us out of committing and hitting the snooze button. Find your compelling reason to be alive, whatever it is, and use your mornings to focus yourself totally and utterly towards the fulfillment of that goal.

What more motivation to get up early in the morning do you need than that?

What is Money?

Money comes in many different forms; whether it be printed paper in the form of a fiat currency or 1’s and 0’s in a computer system. Then we have materials which posses intrinsic value, such as commodities in the form of gold, silver and platinum – these things have value because of their relative scarcity and ornamental beauty.

“In finance, intrinsic value refers to the value of a company, stock, currency or product determined through fundamental analysis without reference to its market value. It is also frequently called fundamental value”

Money is also used for many different things, from purchasing your morning coffee on the commute to work to acting as a tool of exchange on the black markets. As can be seen from my example, money can be used for bad and for good in equal measures. That fact, however, does not make money intrinsically good or bad in itself. Money is just a tool; a medium through which exterior forces act.

Ultimately, money is nothing more than a conceptual system – an idea – a perception of value relating to some element of physical matter (be that paper in the form of pound notes, or solid gold bars). Intrinsically, a ten pound note is worth nothing more than the paper (or more recently plastic) it is printed on – it’s the idea, or perceived value behind it that gives it the value that individuals, societies and countries are willing to exchange upon.

For example, printed money (otherwise known as IOU’s or fiat currency) used to be based on the gold standard. This meant that it’s value was backed by a quantity of gold held by the issuer of the printed money, to the same value as that of the printed money in circulation at any given time. Prior to that, our currencies were in the form of coins forged from precious metals that had a high perceived intrinsic value. We exchanged that actually material we considered to have intrinsic value, rather than a promissory note. The Bank Charter Act of 1844 marked the establishment of the gold standard in the UK, but our currencies are no longer backed by the equivalent value in precious metal holdings and so they are no longer backed by the gold standard. Instead, the value of a country’s currency is now based on the perceived value of it’s economy, which in turn is based on the overall financial performance of the country and it’s components as a whole. This is partly why currency exchange rates can be so volatile in times of uncertainty, or economic downturn.

Essentially, the point I’m trying to make is that money is nothing more than an idea or concept created within a human mind, with a physical system built around it. Thus, the concept is open to interpretation as a result of the differing perceptions and different viewpoints from which different people approach the concept. The result is the potential for increased dynamic leverage, with multiple approaches to deliver results in your favour – so long as you know the rules of engagement, and you understand what it is you are dealing with.

I used to be one of those people who thought that money was the scourge of the Earth; the most vile and evil instrument man ever created. The more educated I have become on what money truly is, and the potential is has as a tool to be leveraged, the more I have realised my prior assessment to be incorrect. It’s very easy to blame others or outside factors for our faults, or for things that don’t go our way in life, but ultimately we can only solve the problems and challenges we face in life when we look within. What about myself can I improve upon to help improve this situation? How can I change my outlook or my actions to produce a more positive result? These are excellent questions, and ones we are all guilty of not asking ourselves often enough.

Money is a tool; it gives us leverage, and the potential to move mountains, and that is very exciting for us as a race. Allow me to reframe; we have found a way to leverage the entirety of the human race towards a focused outcome.

“Money talks, bullshit walks”

When you see it for what it is, or rather what it has the potential to achieve, the concept of money actually becomes very exciting. Money is how we trade, it is a system we have built for ourselves that is recognised and leveraged Worldwide. Every person known to the global grid relies upon money in one form or another as a trading commodity to exchange various different goods and services. It’s the focus of direction we are lacking – we already have the perfect infrastructure to effect huge positive changes in the World, all we need is the collective focus of our species as a whole. This has never before been more possible than today – we are more connected now than we have ever been in recorded history, and we have information, quite literally, at our fingertips. We are the Gods of our time, commanding an understanding of the laws of our Universe and relative control of our immediate environment to an extent not previously realised. As our knowledge increases exponentially with time, so does our potential as a species.

Reality check.

The problem with money is how misunderstood it is, and how we misguidedly try to blame it for the wrong doing of the person doing wrong with it when it is not eligible as something to be blamed. It is inanimate. It is what we made it to be; for this we must surely take full responsibility! The simple fact is, we are misusing the system we created – we must strive to use it more wisely. There is a very good reason why most of the wealth in the World belongs to less than 0.1% of the global population; the variance in the level of financial literacy between people. You see, it’s not that the World is set up in favour of the rich, so much that the rich know the rules of the game, and therefore play it impeccably well. Think about it; if you’d never heard of Monopoly before, and then attempted to play against a seasoned pro, I’d lay money on you not faring very well and eventually suffering substantial losses to the more experienced player. In a lot of ways, games such as these serve to teach very important lessons about life, and how the World works. Unfortunately, our children don’t learn anything about financial literacy in school past how to add, divide and subtract (I’m of course exaggerating, but I hope you get my point – I would have been much better off learning about interest rates, investment portfolios and how to manage my household finances than learning pythagorus theorem which I have never used since!) and and thrust out into the World to ‘figure it out for themselves’. Hardly the best way to set our younger generations of leaders up for success.

Money is a powerful to leverage to get results in your life, whatever your goals may be. It is imperative that you strive to increase your financial IQ in order to better understand how you can leverage money to your advantage (and believe me, the ways are many), and how the economic and financial systems of the World work. You have unlimited access to all this information via your smartphone or iPad, so ignorance is no longer an excuse – it’s a choice. If you’re pissed off about so few people having so much of the money, whilst you’re left with pittance then get up off your arse and do something about it; learning the rules of the game is a great place to start.

These tricks of the trade, tax benefits and loopholes are available to everyone for the most part – the problem is that most people either don’t even know they exist, or have no idea how to find out, or don’t even think it’s possible for them to benefit from them. All you need to do is learn the rules of the game, because that’s all this is – from life, to your job, your social experiences and financial systems – it’s all just a game.

Learn to play the game – in a time when we are so connected, with limitless information at our fingertips, there is no excuse to not know the rules. The potential for greatness lies within all of us, and our level of success in life is determined by how much we strive to learn and improve daily and by how much action we take in our lives. Take action now!

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

– Bill Hicks