I Never Thought I’d Make It To 30

During my time as a 20 something, I had a profound sense that I would never make it to 30 years old. It was weird; almost like my ability to see my future past that point just stopped. It was a somewhat unnerving, yet serene experience – one I faced with a surreal kind of acceptance of fate. I have told very few people about this, but now I am telling you.

You see, due to my lack of ability to see any future past the age of 30, I just came to terms with the thought that something would happen to me between now and then which I couldn’t foresee, but that would change my life immeasurably – naturally, I just figured that would be death, and the end of my time here amongst the living.

That might seem seriously morbid and unnecessarily extreme to the reader, but it’s how I felt, right or wrong. It was a weird feeling, and not really a though that scared me, which I found particularly interesting.

Well, I am now 30 years old, and racing at full speed through my 31st year on planet Earth on a collision course with my 32nd – and life has never been better. I’m more alive today than I have ever been, and I have one thing to thank for it – my future vision, my mission, my legacy. I am no longer limited in what I see for my future – in fact, I now see a legacy that stretches until the end of time itself. That’s not ego or greed, it’s a vision for the World and the part I play in it that is bigger than me and my life, and that will live long beyond the point at which my body decays and rots back into the ground from which I was born.

Through my early years, and especially my teens and my 20’s, I was extremely naive and thoroughly ignorant. I stopped learning when I left school, and when I decided to drop out of college to work full time at Pizza Hut so I could focus on my career as a musician (or as I affectionately referred to it at the time, a ‘rock star’) I seemed to leave my curiosity for the World at the college gates.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and to be quite frank, I didn’t care. I didn’t think it was important, and I didn’t think it applied to me. I thought I knew what I needed to know, and so I fumbled through life for years, blinding hitting wall after wall of dissatisfaction and despair.

In my 20’s, I hated my job, and spent my days daydreaming about when I would become a ‘rock star’ and everything would be okay. Fulfilment was a pipe-dream, and satisfaction seemed to live on another planet, whilst I wallowed in the mud of disillusionment, accepting little to no responsibility for my lot in life, or the path I had chosen to walk.

Then, at 25, I started to wake up.

I have since come to realise that the reason I could see no future past 30 was partly that 30 was a subconsciously important landmark in my life (mainly as a result of extensive social conditioning around the importance of that milestone), and because I had no vision for my future.

You future visions is everything – it’s what makes you hungry, and that fuels the fire in your belly to get out there and smash through your goals. It’s what makes life worth living, and what drives us forward against all odds, and immense adversity. My future vision today would drive me through hell and back, and in a lot of ways it already has, testing my determination and resolve almost to breaking point on many occasions.

Still, my determination is unwavering, and my vision propels me forward, leaving a legacy in it’s wake that my children and generations to come can be proud to model.

Calcifying my vision, my reason for living – my ‘why” – was one of the single most important aspects of deep personal introspection I have undertaken. It sparked a flame at the end of what was an extremely dark tunnel, and lit the way to fulfilment of my desires and passions, and that showed me how I could take that passion, amplify it, and share it with the World in ways that cause tidal waves of positive change across the face of the planet.

My vision keeps me going when there’s nothing else left.

So here’s my message to you; find yourself. Calcify your vision, and set about delivering your legacy to the World. Know who you are, and how you can add value to the World around you – EVERYONE has value to add, and everyone has a message to share that can positively affect the hearts and minds of people the World over.

What’s your message? What’s your vision? What will your legacy look like and how will it impact the World when your meat cart has rotted and returned to the roots of the Earth?

Know this; the value you have is everything inside of you. Know yourself, and then take that knowledge of self out to the World to share the intrinsic value of compounded experience you hold within. Everything you need is inside yourself, and everything the World needs is inside each and every one of us.

I spent my life climbing the mountain with my eyes closed, my ears deaf and my mind numb, but when I started to wake up at 25, I removed my limitations one by one, and started to give myself to the World wholly and completely. This 5 year turning point period in my life marked the final road to the top of that mountain – to the peaks of clarity, providing a 360 degree vision I had never before experienced. Stood here on the peak I can see for miles in every direction, and it’s so clear to me now. I have the foresight to see each and every path available to me, along with the challenges and achievements that come with each path.

But it’s not time to descend the mountain; oh no. There is no going down from here, like most people will joke about turning 30 years old. I’ve spent my life climbing the mountain, and now it’s my time to spread my wings, take my leap of faith, and soar.

Today is the first day of your life, and you are a gift – whoever you are, wherever you are, please don’t waste it.

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Mind Your Own Business

Yeah – that’s right; I’m talkin’ to YOU!

But I’m not saying what you think I’m saying. Rather than chastising you for poking your nose into areas of other’s lives that don’t concern you, I’m talking about running your own business.

I am a firm believer in the concept of the modern ‘entrepreneur revolution’, as written about by author and entrepreneur Daniel Priestley. As our technology advances exponentially, we are finding that machines and computers are taking more and more of our traditional ‘jobs’ and thus decimating the jobs market. This is inevitably leading to a World where people are having to become increasingly reliant on adding value to others through creative, esoteric and essentially human pursuits. Thanks to ‘Moore’s Law’, this trend shows no signs of abating any time soon – or, ever.

So, it’s time to adapt.

When I come across people who fight against change, too comfortable in what they know, and as a result slowing dying as their mental fortitude atrophies in the stark lack of adversity, I try to explain to them that change is the only thing that’s guaranteed in life and as such it is both senseless and futile to fight against it. Yet, so many do. So many are too comfortable in what they know, and have never been shown the intrinsic value in the realisation that life happens for us, rather than too us.

Anyone with their eyes open and head out of the sand can see that we are in a massive time of flux. Think about this; up until around 50-100 years ago, the rate of change in the World was relatively slow. It was unlikely that any one person would see any dramatic, global change in a single lifetime, and so our ancestors natural habitat was one of relative consistency (another point to consider is that people didn’t live as long back then, so were even less likely to experience any dramatic levels of socioeconomic change). That is no longer so. We have reached a pivotal point in the bellcurve of our technological advancement as a race, and as such we are now experiencing massive levels of change, not just within a single human lifetime, but within the space of a few years.

This effect – the quickening of the rate of socioeconomic change in the World – is compounding, and therefore ever expanding and becoming more and more pervasive in our everyday lives.

All the more reason to accept the argument that one of the smartest things you can do in life is to accept, and embrace change – move in flow with it, and expand your skills, abilities and consciousness along with the ever expanding seas of change.

So, back on to managing your own business.

Now, although I’m a huge advocate of setting up and owning (owning, not operating – there’s a massive difference) your own business, what I’m talking about here is not strictly limited to owning your own company. I mean to mind the business of your life! You see, even if you are happiest and most fulfilled in employment and therefore have no desire to own your own business, you still need to run your own business.

That business is managing and investing your money to create passive income streams.

Even the lowest paid workers are able to do this; the trouble is that hardly anyone knows how. The reason? Our education system is severely lacking, and antiquated in it’s content and methods. Our current education system was designed back in the industrial age, and is set up perfectly for training an obedient population of worker bees to go out and work in offices and factories across the land. This is an old model that no longer fits, nor is fit for purpose; the landscape has already changed significantly, and yet our model for how we educate the next generation of leaders is distinctly lacking.

Remember the entrepreneur revolution? All those jobs being done more reliably, more efficiently and with less error by computers and machines. The ever expanding sea of change is upon us, and it’s imperative for us to act in order to not be swept away in the tide.

One simple argument for managing your own business, regardless of your situation, is that there will be no state pension when my children retire – nor when I retire for that matter. In order for my generation, and all those that follow, to be comfortable in retirement we need to learn to manage our money, and to start right now.

Young people today need to adopt an upgraded perception of the World in order to realise the successes the dream of; education starts now. There are so many holes in the national curriculum that you have your work cut out for you when you leave the traditional education system. In the last year and a half alone I have listened to 17 solid days of audio books, and not a single one of them fiction. That investment of time in my own education has changed my life irrevocably, and will continue to do so, compounding as I learn more and more, adding knowledge and action onto knowledge and action; and so success is born.

If you don’t learn to look after yourself, no one else is going to do it for you, and odds are you’re going to allow yourself to get fucked by the system. Whether you like it or not, this life is a game – and you’re fucking playing it until you die. Now, you have two choices (and you always have a choice) – are you going to learn the rules of the game and play it to the best of your ability, embracing opportunity and opening doors for yourself along the way? Or are you going to fight it, kicking and screaming as it bends you over and degrades you into submission and misery?

I know which is my choice; I’d rather die fighting, having played all out despite the odds, than to arrive at my grave a slave to a life I surrendered myself to decades ago because I was too afraid or ignorant to take a chance on myself.

It’s your life, and your responsibility.

Make it count – learn the rules, and play the game.

Entitlement – Good or Bad?

Entitlement is a tricky subject these days, and it’s a word that often comes with negative connotations and pre-conceptions. Should a sense of entitlement be encouraged in children? What is the difference between someone with an attitude of entitlement, and someone without?

On the face of it, I would guess that most of you would associate the nurturing of entitlement in people negatively. We tend to think of entitled people as those who feel, act and live as if the World owes them something – as if they are born into this place automatically entitled to all the privileges life has to offer, without putting in any of the effort required to earn those privileges.

That, however, is a drastic oversimplification of the subject.

You see, entitlement can absolutely be a positive attribute in any person, but it relies on that sense of entitlement being nurtured in the correct way in order for it to be a positive attribute. You see, whereas believing you are entitled to privileges such as material possessions, a certain number of holidays a year or the undivided attention of your peer group with no consideration to earning those things or the effect such a sense of entitlement can have on those around you, it is imperative to success that everyone demonstrates a level of entitlement towards their lives.

If you don’t believe you are entitled to be successful in your career, will you be? If you don’t believe you are entitled to answers when you pose legitimate and thoughtful questions, will you actively seek out the answers your heart desires? Honestly, you probably won’t, and that results in a catastrophic dumbing down of society as a whole.

Too much these days do I see people who are all too willing to just accept the status quo as being the only version of reality available to them, instead of adopting an attitude of entitlement with regards to their intrinsic ability to shape their reality as they see fit. In order to achieve anything in life, we must first move to a space internally where we believe in our own capability, and in our inherent right to live the best life possible. But that takes work.

This is very different to the feeling of entitlement that disposes a person to believe that everything they want in life should be handed to them on a plate, and instead fosters a strong sense of self-belief that provides unwavering motivation and determination which propels us towards the achievement of our dreams and goals.

This is the main difference between the children of poor and middle class people, and wealthy people. Regardless of innate ability, the main determining factor of success in children is what social class they are born into. This may be hard to swallow for a lot of people, but extensive studies have shown this to be more true than most of us would like to believe.

The reason? Entitlement, or, practical intelligence.

One study followed children and parents of different socioeconomic backgrounds in an attempt to ascertain what the main factors were that determined success, and found that although children from poor families were better at being more independent, children from wealthier families were actively taught entitlement – they are encouraged to speak up if they are unhappy, and so develop a powerful ability to shape their environment to suit their needs. Now, there’s nothing to say that this has to be done at the expense of anyone else (as is associated with the word ‘entitlement’ in the usual sense), and in doing so empowers children from wealthier families to speak up and fight for the things they want to achieve in life. This is why these children tend to thrive – they customise their environment to suit their needs, and to set themselves up for success.

Although children from poorer backgrounds tend to be more independent, they often receive less praise and attention, and this is critical in developing a mindset of success. They learn fortitude and mental strength that empowers them to deal with and accept their hardships for what they are, but never empowers them to stand up and expect better. It breeds the ‘it is what it is’ attitude, and this only serves to suffocate and stifle in the long term. As Malcolm Gladwell so eloquently puts it in his book ‘Outliers: The Story of Success‘:

“In today’s World, a sense of entitlement makes you more suited to success than a sense of constraint.”

Where wealthier parents have more resources and time at their disposal to help foster their children’s passions by joining them at multiple after-school clubs, introducing them to new activities and experiences that force them to push the bounds of their perceived limitations, and other such activities such as public speaking and mixing with powerful and influential people which require their children to face their fears and develop a resistance to intimidation, the converse is strikingly different. Children from poorer backgrounds are faced with an environment where their parents are absent due to the hard work and time it’s often necessary for them to put in to make ends meet, and so were too busy to help cultivate the skills in their children afforded to those from wealthier backgrounds.

This observation is supported by Terman’s study of his ‘Termites’ – a group of children who were identified as intellectual ‘outliers’ at an early age, and who were observed as they developed into maturity. Terman’s final observations of this group of supposedly ‘gifted’ children are revealing indeed – although all of the children in the group were identified as gifted, their intellectual capacity was not the defining factor of success.

Indeed, Terman and others believed that having identified the a group of children with outstanding intellectual abilities, the expectation was that they would all, for the most part, excel in being high achievers – however, this was not the case. In fact, the results across the group of ‘Termites’ was mixed. So what was the determining factor? Class.

Even across a group of intellectually gifted children, it was found that those who came from wealthier backgrounds were much more likely to be successful in their lives and achieve great things, whereas those from poorer backgrounds achieved somewhat mediocre results, with some ending up in the clutches of addiction and squaller. It seems the defining factor was the way their parents showed up in their lives, and where the children from wealthier backgrounds had the resources and encouragement to develop a mindset of success, the children from poorer backgrounds were lacking in such qualities of mind despite being more independent.

As controversial as this conclusion may be, it’s hard to argue with the results of the various studies examining the subject. It’s something we should all take very seriously if we have our children’s best interests at heart, as I think it’s pretty safe to say that we all want the best for our kids, and we want them to have the level of success in their lives that they deserve – and every child deserves to be successful.

Really, it’s all down to mindset, and as parents and teachers we play such a profoundly important role in the development of our children’s thought processes. I honestly believe that 80% of everything is psychology, and only 20% the mechanics, and this holds true on the subject of success as it does in all walks of life.

The environment we build and perpetuate for our children has a massive effect on how they think about themselves and their World, and it’s potently important that we take such studies with more than just a pinch of salt. There is quite obviously a great divide between those who end up successful in life, and those who do not, and the only way we can hope to bridge that gap is by looking honestly at the facts, making a concerted effort to understand the things that make the difference in our lives, and the lives of our children.

In conclusion, it isn’t as easy as adopting the mindset that entitlement is a negative quality, and there’s a strong argument for fostering entitlement in our children – but in the right ways. Teach them to question authority, but balance that with a lust for learning through an inquisitive mind and a deep level of respect for their fellow human beings. Teach them to speak up when they are not happy with something, but balance that with an understanding that life isn’t always fair, and the trials and tribulations we face throughout our lives are a necessary and important part of the path to success in anything we do.

In understanding the social and environmental constraints we put on ourselves and those around us, we can provide the best of both Worlds for ourselves and our children – the strength and independence demonstrated by those from poorer backgrounds, and the success mindset able to stand up to their fears and challenge the status quo that ultimately allows us to evolve and grow as a race. Both are so important, and helping our children to develop with both in balance is one of the most valuable gifts we can give them as teachers, mentors and leaders.

Trading: The Basics

Trading the financial markets is, in my opinion, one of the best of several ways to turn the tables of wealth in your favour. That said, the scary fact is that 90% of retail traders lose money and fail at trading the markets. Why is this? Put simply, it’s because they are not trading – they’re gambling. Most people who jump into the markets have no idea what they’re doing, don’t bother to do any research or learn the skills required to be profitable consistently, and then wonder why they lose money hand over fist.

I know this, because that’s exactly the mistake I made when I first started trading.

I learned about what seemed to be a simple strategy using GUPPY Multiple Moving Averages crossing each other in a specific way and jumped straight into the markets with no idea what support and resistance even meant, and no concept of risk management. This was a big mistake, and although I closed many profitable trades using this method, my loses far exceeded my profits, and it wasn’t long before I had wiped out my account equity through risky emotional trading.

As I had no concept of risk management strategies, I used a ridiculous amount of leverage trading CFD’s and I engaged in dangerous ‘revenge’ trading after losing half of my account equity on a position that turned against me. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been using a strict trading plan to remove the emotion, but as it was I ended up moving my stop loss further and further away from my entry in the desperate hope the position would turn around and move back in my favour. I kept moving my stop loss until I was risking several times the value of the position, and it eventually took me out with over a 120% loss. To make matters even worse, the market then turned around and began moving back in my favour – you can imagine my complete and utter devastation.

This led to a bout of emotional revenge trading which saw me wipe out the rest of my account value, to the point where I didn’t even have enough left to open a new position.

I was beside myself, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to endure emotionally.

A lot of people make exactly the same mistake, and a lot of them make these mistakes using money borrowed from credit cards, friends or family – money that isn’t theirs, and which they certainly can’t afford to lose.

So, although I love trading, and have now come out the other side after immersing myself in learning and practice, I am acutely aware of the dangers and risks involved and it is for this reason that I want to help others avoid the same mistakes I made so they can get to a position of being consistently profitable much more quickly than I did, and with less heartache.

Trading – The Basics

Risk Management

Risk management is THE most important part of any trading plan; without it, it is extremely unlikely you will ever be consistently profitable. If you go on-line you’ll find tonnes of information about trading with people showing you 1000% gains per trade and other completely unrealistic nonsense. Be very careful what you believe and buy into when viewing material on-line, and if you see anyone pushing trading systems or indicators that purport to realise massive quick gains then avoid them at all costs.

Trading is NOT a get rich quick scheme – it takes time, practice and discipline to master, and the amount you are able to make/lose per trade is directly proportional to the value of your account equity.

You should always know exactly what price you are looking to enter a trade, and exactly what price level you are getting out of a trade – whether that’s being stopped out by your pre-determined stop loss because your prediction was wrong and the market moved against you, or being taken out at a pre-determined ‘take profit’ level.

There are three basic rules I work to when managing my risk in trading:

  1. Never risk more than 1% of your account equity per trade
  2. Always use a stop loss, and never move it once in the trade unless doing so is part of your pre-determined trading plan (for example, letting profits run and using a trailing stop loss behind significant candles or price structure)
  3. Do not enter a trade unless you have good reason to believe you can achieve at least a 1:1 risk/reward ratio on lower timeframe trades (5 minute charts), or a 1:3 risk/reward ratio on swing day trades on the higher timeframes (1 hour, 4 hour, and daily charts)

Analysis

Analysing the markets is so important before jumping into any positions – if you haven’t analysed the markets intelligently before opening a position, then your gambling and risking losing a serious amount of money based on a whim. There are two type of analysis when it comes to financial markets – technical analysis, and fundamental analysis.

Technical Analysis is the analysis is price action on the charts. It’s look at support and resistance zones created by historical price data, and the information conveyed through each individual candle stick. There are many technical analysis indicators out there, and certainly too many to go through here, but I would recommend ignoring most of them until you’ve mastered the basics and are working profitably consistently.

The technical indictors I use on a regular basis are as follows:

  1. Moving Averages – these are basically dynamic support and resistance zones that are based on information derived from a set period of historical price data. I use the 20, 50 and 200 period simple moving average, and the 8 period exponential moving average (I use different combinations of these depending on what strategy I’m using, but the 200SMA is one a use consistently across all markets as it’s one of the key indicators used by the large financial institutions)
  2. RSI – this is the relative strength index and put simply indicates buying or selling strength in a given market. Some people use this to trade trending channels, but I only use this as a rough reference and it doesn’t form a key part of my strategy – it’s more of an added confluence that would help confirm justification of a position along with other more potent reasons
  3. ATR – this is the Average True Range and is again based on a pre-defined period of historical price action. The ATR gives an indication of the level of volatility in a given market, and I use this to determine appropriate prices levels for my positions stop loses by keeping them wide of normal market volatility levels which can vary throughout the day
  4. Support & Resistance – this is probably the primary indicator I use when it comes to technical analysis, and are basically important prices levels determined by and derived from historical price data. They are basically levels where a given market has consistently struggled to break through, and so offer some indication of good levels to get in and out of trades. If I’m in a trade and it’s approaching a key daily or weekly support/resistance level, then I’ll be tightening my stops and closely managing the trade as there’s an increase probability of it turning around and moving against me when price action reaches these levels. Support and resistance is a great way to determine management levels for your trades and should never be ignored. Support is a price level where price action moves down to and then bounces upwards from, and resistance is a price level where price action moves up to and then bounces back down from
  5. Candle Sticks – candles tell us a lot about the sentiment in a given market by showing rejection from certain price levels and the shape of a fully formed candle can often be used a entry or exit signals for trades. There are many different names for different types of candle and candle stick formations, but the key ones I use on a consistent basis are the Pin Bar and Engulfing Candle

Fundamental analysis is a little more complex, and a little more involved if you’ve not done it before, and basically involves digging into the fundamental information about a stock or commodity to ascertain if there is a strong possibility of that stock going up or down in price. This often involves staying on top of financial and business news, and reading company reports and financial data. This is important and should not be ignored.

Most people will tend to favour one method of analysis over another, and that’s fine, but I would certainly recommend learning both as different strategies will require different skill sets and information sets. For example, when buying physical stock shares in companies my predominant method of analysis is through looking at fundamentals, but when day trading through CFD’s or Spread Bets I tend to favour technical analysis.

If I’m investing in company stock long term, then I want to be sure the company has strong financial data, low levels of debt in relation to it’s revenue, and healthy rising profits.

Your Trading Plan

Finally, it is of paramount importance that you have a written trading plan that you have back tested on the markets you wish to trade. Having a written plan helps to take the emotions out of trading, and gives you a strict set of rules to work to when opening, managing or closing positions in the markets.

A trading plan is just a set of rules that you stick to every time you enter into a trade, and that is based on the results of your back testing analysis through historical data. Always backtest your strategies using historical price data so you can form a meaningful and consistently profitable set of rules to work to when trading. I have several strategies that I’ve learned and devised that I’ve back tested over years of price data, and this is what gives me the confidence that overall my strategies are profitable. This is so important, as there will always be losing trades, and that’s fine so long as your using good risk management to cut your loses early and run your profits, and if you have faith in your plan being profitable over the long term because you’ve tested it on historical data.

Back testing might seem arduous and a lot of work, and although it can be a time consuming process, it’s well worth the time investment to ensure you’re operating a trading plan that is consistently profitable over a long period of time (years).

A trading plan is essential for removing the emotion from your trading – if you let your emotions tag along for the ride you WILL lose money. A good plan makes all your trading decisions for you, so you can’t get caught up in emotional trading when price action moves against you. Devise a good plan, and have the discipline to stick to it and you will be profitable over the long term.

Getting to grips with the basics I’ve outlined here will put you in a much stronger position than 90% of people who trade the financial markets, and although it takes time to learn and practice before refining your ability and techniques, mastering these basic concepts will start you on the path to consistently profitable trading.

If you’re interested in learning more, or in some private tuition on the basics of trading and understanding the markets, then get in touch with me at littlegreyjk@gmail.com for more information.

 

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch

As nice as it is to be warm, safe and comfortable, are they states that benefit us? Yes and no. In times of recovery, rest and recuperation, the luxury of being in a state, place or environment that facilitates, and even radiates, comfort, warmth and safety is absolutely beneficial for us, but we must not forget that we must first have reason to require time for rest in order to recover and recuperate.

If we need to recover from something, I think we can all agree that the something in question must have been an activity or situation that was either stressful, challenging or in some way outside of your ‘comfort zone’. That could be psychological or physiological; stressors followed by recovery is an important cycle for the optimal health of both.

Rest and recovery is great because it’s when we use what we’ve experienced to build our bodies and minds, and ultimately to grow in some way or other. But without this rest being preceded by some sort of effort, a source of stress on either the body or the mind, there is nothing to recover from, and so no recovery takes place. It is just rest. Rest for what sake? Everything has a purpose in life, and rest is important for recovery from stressful experiences or situations. Without this rest has no purpose and so becomes devoid of value and even detrimental to our health.

Perpetual rest is stillness. What else do we know of that is still with no purpose? Dead things. Cold things. Lifeless things. Movement is life – the more you move your body the more alive you feel, the more energy you have and the more powerful you are to take life by the reigns.

Yes, rest has it’s place, but it must be a balanced equation. You are either growing or you’re dying – you’re either building muscle through hypertrophy, or losing muscle through atrophy; there’s no middle ground. Growth is the only way to stay alive, because it keeps you moving forward.

That’s why it’s so important to have the courage to step outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Try new things, immerse yourself in new experiences, and visit new places. Always have an open mind and you’ll be amazed at the things you learn from the opportunities that come your way. When we are open to what life has to offer, we allow ourselves to see the abundant opportunity all around us.

Discomfort is a powerful catalyst for growth, and I urge you to harness it. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, do something that scares the shit out of you. Write down how it feels, and what you learn about yourself in the process. This is all about introspection, and self-analysis – the better you know yourself, the better you will both understand and command your World.

The more you do things the perpetuate growth like this, the more you will find your capacity for everything in life grows. The more you expand your experiences and understanding of yourself and the World around you, the more your comfort zone will expand and the more people and opportunities you will welcome into your field of view.

If you do the things you have always done, you will get the results you have always got. If you’re happy with where you are right now, then I congratulate you – you’re doing great. However, if you’re not so happy with where you are right now then it’s time to start thinking about doing some things differently. Start going to some different places, with some different people and having some different experiences to expand your World view and open yourself to a new way of seeing and being that better serves you.

Remember, fear never goes away for any of us, but the definition of courage is to act in spite of fear. So I challenge you to be courageous – you’re life depends on it.

Pain or Pleasure?

There are two prime movers in life that provide motivation to change where we are, and improve our position towards avoiding one, and moving towards the other; enter pain and pleasure. But, which is the more powerful motivating force in our lives?

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.”

– Tony Robbins

Ultimately, it comes down to these two things, and these two things alone. What are the sources of pain in our lives? These are the things we are motivated to move away from. Anything that causes us pain, will be a motivator for some sort of change in our lives as the only way to move away from a present source of pain is for it to be not so present anymore. If we change who are, who we associate with and how we behave then are able to facilitate changes in ourselves, and thus our lives, which reduces the amount of pain we feel.

Equally as important and motivating (especially for the male species it seems) is the desire to move towards experiences and behaviours that give us pleasure. Any experience that increases happiness, fulfilment or love in life is going to act as a powerful force pulling us towards more of the same. Who doesn’t want more pleasure in their lives, right?

But here’s the thing; are the two really equal in their power over us? Surprisingly, no.

“People will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure”

– Tony Robbins

It seems pain is a much more powerful agent for change than gaining pleasure – something Tony has noticed after working with millions of people over the course of his career in coaching people to ultimate personal success. Increase someone’s level of pain they feel around something they’re not happy with in their life and they’re considerably more likely to make the changes necessary, and more importantly to embed those changes as a new way of live, than they are if they were to attempt to motivate themselves with the promise of pleasure as a reward for changing.

There are a few reasons for this, and it makes sense when you think about it. Firstly, if you’re in a position where you are feeling deep pain it’s like being in an oven turned up to maximum heat. You will do anything to stop the pain because it’s very real in the here and now. The alternative you’re trying to move towards might not even be pleasure, but just a more benign state that is more bearable than the searing heat of your current situation. In a state of pain, the here and now is far from comfortable, and this is a huge motivating factor.

Conversely, if the level of pain is more bearable, and you are attempting to motivate change by focusing on the pleasure of achievement, of reaching your goals, then your here and now is a lot more comfortable. Sure, it would be great to lose that weight, or to get a better job that you enjoy more, but that seems like a lot of work compared with the relative comfort of your present position. When the current level of pain is tepid, the motivation to get off your arse and do what needs to be done can wane quickly, like water through a sieve. Comfort is a dangerous animal, and we should all take great care to not spend too much time there – when we’re comfortable, we aren’t capable of achieving our greatest potential for personal and professional growth.

“In this World you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow”

– Lou Holtz

In the words of T. Harv Eker; you have to grow you comfort zone to grow your money zone. This is true in all walks of life; you don’t grow a muscle without first stressing it through exercise, and pushing it to the limits of it’s capability. You don’t improve your VO2 Max or marathon time without stressing your cardiovascular system and pushing it to it’s limits on a regular basis. Stress is the prime mover for growth, whether it’s physical stress to strengthen the body, or psychological stress to strengthen the fortitude of the mind. Just take a look around you, look deeply at the World and you will see this law of nature all around you as you start to notice the mechanics of life.

This is why so many people talk about wanting to change – and they really do want to change – but never actually do. It’s because they’re too comfortable where they are, and although they aren’t happy with their situation, they aren’t in enough pain to get the motivation required to take action and make the changes they need in their lives. A typical example is someone who complains constantly about their work life; they hate their job, their boss is an arsehole and the office politics are unbearable. Yet, those same people are still in the same situation after years of suffering because they are too comfortable. They might hate their jobs, but they make excuses like; I have a family to feed, I have a mortgage, I have obligations and commitments, and that’s why I am stuck where I am.

Bullshit. You’re stuck where you are because ever day you wake up and make a conscious choice to stay in a life you despise. Take some responsibility, own your life and your decisions, because no one is holding a gun to your head. You and you alone are the sole person who has made all the choices in your life, and if you haven’t then you have let others make your choices for you – which is still you making a choice to abdicate from making your own choices.

I’ve been that person, so I speak from first hand experience.

So, if you are not happy with some aspect of your life you need to make the experience more painful. Take that pain dial and turn it up to 11! Trying to coax yourself to change by dangling the carrot of pleasure is unlikely to have the motivational power required to make the significant changes in life that can really move the needle in your level of happiness and fulfilment. Instead, step into the pain of where you are and amplify it. A great exercise you can practice to do this is to meditate on the things that you’re not happy with in your life, and imagine traveling through time into your future – 5 years, then 10 years, then 20 years…. and see yourself and your life as it will be if you don’t make the changes you need to make in your life. What have you lost? What opportunities did you miss? What does it feel like to deal with that level of pain and despondency for all those years? How bitter have you become as a result of your resentment and low self-esteem? As you move years into your hypothetical future amplifying those feels and seeing all the negative effects not changing has had on you, your loved ones and your life as a whole, a determination builds up in you like no other. When the pain is so great from being fully aware and present in how your lack of action will manifest in your life years from now, you will also find an overwhelming motivation to get in motion and start doing things differently. From that state, go back to the present and commit fully to making the changes you need to make in your life – the pain from your current path now being so great that staying there is unbearable, and moving away from it is a must. See how those changes play out in your life, and feel all the rewards, happiness and fulfilment they will bring you over the coming weeks, months and years. The more present you can be throughout this exercise, the more potent the experience will be.

This is such a powerful method for combining the power of both pain and pleasure as agents for change. It’s an experience I have personally been through, and I can tell you it was a like a roundhouse kick to the face in waking me up and getting me making the changes I needed to make in my life.

Amazing things happen when you stand up and take ownership of your choices in life – doors open that you never knew existed and everything starts to come together. Is it easy? Fuck no. Remember what this blog is about? You NEED discomfort to grow! You need pain because it is a powerful prime mover. We are all going to feel both pleasure and pain in our lives no matter what decisions we make, because we can’t get it right all the time. That being the case, we need to learn how to make the pain and pleasure we experience work to serve us and build our character.

Pain and pleasure are both wonderful teachers, and they each teach very different subjects. The lessons taught by painful experiences cannot be taught by pleasurable experiences, and vice versa. We need both to grow, and to live in harmony and balance. That can be a hard thing to accept, especially with some of the decadence and brutality we see in the World, but in accepting this we allow ourselves to take back control of our lives and our destiny.

Life doesn’t happen to you, life happens for you.

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

 

 

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.

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?

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.