What is my value?

What am I worth? Everyone goes through situations where they feel like they have little value to offer to others. The fact is, there is no possibility that I know every single fact that you know and you do not know everything that I know. Whether it’s facts related to our mainstream subjects such as math, science, history, literature, etc. Cultural facts gathered from a lifetime of exposure. Wisdom that comes from experiencing situations that books cannot begin to grasp. Character from a lifetime of learning what’s right and what’s wrong. We are all so different and have something to offer to each other. I say this again and again but I always feel every single person potentially has something to offer me of value, if I’m willing to listen. Even the homeless man on the street corner knows something that could open your mind to a new world of possibilities and perspective. One of my old bosses used to send out texts to all 150 employees, every… single… day… At 6AM, a blinking light would come on my phone and I would see these words of motivation or words of wisdom. One day I asked him why he takes the time to do that when it’s likely most people will not read it because it is not relevant to them? He told me this. “Tim, every person is going through a different time in their life and I know the relevance of what I send does not apply to everyone. However, if one person that day, that week, that month,  that year- If one person gets something from it, then I will have made an impact that could lead to a breakthrough or an eventual change. And that makes it worth it.” This is a person that was focused not only on his business but on the development of others because he understands that if he brings other people up, it will inadvertently help his business.

“Never try and be better than someone else. Always learn from others. Compete only with yourself. Be the best you can be because that is under your control. If you get too involved with things that you have no control over then it will have an adverse affect on things which you do have control. ” -John Wooden



Try something new

What makes something remarkable? Something that is worth remarking about. The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets purchased and what gets built.

Imagine you are driving on the road and you see a cow on the side of the road. You might look for a second but you continue driving because, well, cows are not unusual. But if that same cow was purple. Suddenly, it holds your gaze a little longer and you might even remark on it. It’s novel, it’s different.

What is remarkable, is new. I think it is very important to get involved with new experiences. Bombard the brain with new experiences because those are the opportunities for growth. Scientists have found that learning something new can release a similar amount of dopamine as taking drugs. You can “get high” from learning. Embrace new experiences. The brain is an old machine and it’s main job is to conserve energy. And the way it achieves this, is through short cuts. The more you feed into the brain, the more your mind is able to look at the world through a new lens. Sometimes that just means getting outside of your office. Going out experiencing new events, new places, new eats, new people. In order to force the brain to see things differently, you must find new and novel ways to help the brain perceive information differently. The brain must be provided with something that it has never before processed to force it out of predictable perceptions.

“You can tell the size of a man by the size of the problem that has got him down”

-Eric Worre

This past weekend, I competed in a Toastmaster’s humor speech competition. It was my first time competing and I must’ve hatched a hundred butterflies for the occasion. I was nervous. It was an experience I was elated that I took part in and really gave me a lens into a new world. It allowed me to realize how many things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. There are so many things that I know I don’t know, like how to solve world peace, a safe way to get rid of toxic waste, global warming, but I digress. This recognition helped me grasp that there is even more that I don’t know I don’t know. The world is such a huge and wonderful place. Go out and experience it.

Choose your words wisely

Every day, I am setting goals as well as personal mantras to live by. I’ve come to the realization that the way I word my goals affects my ability to complete them. I have found that I am much more successful when I write my goals and values as verbs instead of nouns. For example, I can tell myself to have integrity when dealing with clients but it is hard to follow because it is not something that is tangible. Instead, a better value proposition might be to put “Do the right thing.” This is much easier to follow. Instead of be productive, put read 100 pages or answer 50 math questions, etc. Verbs are more effective because they are action plans and provide something that is clear to follow.

Language may have an impact on our own lives, but it has an even greater affect on others. Here are some subjective words I’ve found useful to avoid in conversation.

  • Obviously and clearly.
    • Many things in this world are not obvious and even fewer things are clear. Instead of saying “clearly it’s x” or “obviously it’s y” it may be better to use “it appears that x is based on y and z.”
  • Never and always.
    • Never and always are not precise and statistically improbable. Usually used as an exaggeration. Instead of “never” or “always,” give a definitive number or use “seldom” and “frequently.”
  • Actually.
    • In cases of Correction, actually signifies that the speaker is very certain the other person is wrong before an explanation is even offered. Meeting with a possible and so is not a good way to get results. Instead of saying “actually,” a better start could be, “I don’t believe…”
  • It goes without saying…
    • If something is important, then it definitely goes WITH saying. This is probably something to avoid using altogether.



Life in pieces

Yesterday I was asked during an interview, “How much time do you spend on the internet and social media?” Whenever I put deep thought into this question, I realize the answer is always, too much.

To a very extreme degree, we are all addicted to looking at social media and other items on the internet. Not only that, but what we are looking at is not only useless, but terrible content. We read stories about what the Kardashians are doing, what your friend on Facebook just ate, who just dropped the n-word, another cute cat photo. Well, ok the last one is awesome, but the rest, not so much . Imagine, if all the Facebook stories that you were looking at and all the random celebrity stories, and everything else was put into a book, would you read it? No. In fact, it would be the worst book ever. We have all these opportunities to read novels and amazing research stories that people have dedicated her life to. Instead, we pump our time into this quick fix drug of social media for a little bit of entertainment that has no value and will reap no benefits. Go dark, read a book. Stop cycling through those same 4 websites and apps like a drug addict.



Just wake up

4AM. The magic hour. Night owls have gone to bed, the morning joggers have not yet woken up. It’s a serene period and as cars drive by, you wonder, why are they awake? I have always valued time and the need to be productive but I have never been able to become the 4AM man. I appreciate the few times I am awake at this time because it feels like a scene from the twilight zone. If you want to feel like a different person, start waking up at this time. I have realized that to make my own life work, I will have to start my day at this time. I have always had goals and when the dead line approaches, my actual accomplishments often fall a little short of my set goals. Although I’ve become a better person in reaching for my goals, there is much more to be done. The one constant in life is change. Who you are is transient. 1 year, 5 years, 10 years from now, you won’t be who you are at this moment. In fact, the present doesn’t even exist – only the past and the future. When you finish processing a thought or event, it has already occurred and passed. When you are looking at something, the time it took the light to hit your eye, the object is now a little bit different than when you perceive it. Changes made now will compound into differences in the future. Like the butterfly effect, the flap of a butterflies’ wings can cause tsunamis on the other side of the world, the small act of waking up a little bit earlier will reap compounding differences in your overall being.

“I’ve always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger





The more you devote to something the greater the value?

My friend has been broken up with an ex girlfriend for a while and while we were talking today, he admitted to me that he still wasn’t over her. To top it off, it was a relationship that had only lasted a month and the breakup happened 5 months ago. I think that most people would agree that he should be over her by now. When I asked him about it, I realized something. The things he talked about were not focused around the features of the girl, but rather, the time as well as money spent. He admitted to spending quite exorbitantly, taking her to a $$$$ restaurant for a second date, Disneyland for the third, Seeing a Broadway shows and so much more, all of which came out of his pocket. He also said that he had fun with her… but that seemed to be secondary to how he felt about spending so much money. I started wondering if he actually missed her, or just felt like he didn’t get a return on his investment.

“The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” -Unknown

This reminds me of my working life. When I put a lot of time and sweat equity into something, the achievement seems so much greater. I always set goals for myself in order to have something to aim for but what I have found is the goal is not as important. What I become in the process of chasing the goal becomes greater than the goal itself.

However, this idea seems to have created an averse affect on my friend as he feels the need to justify the sunk costs. A study was done where people were asked to value something once they had waited in line to get it versus when there was no line. It turns out that people who waited in line, ended up feeling more enjoyment out of a product when compared to those who did not have to wait at all. This goes against all economic beliefs where optimization is achieved when pricing is set at a point where there is no waiting required. Having a line may actually give you greater happiness. So get yourself waiting in more lines because, as it turns out, if we have to work for something, we also feel a greater sense of happiness once we attain it.


How to become more effective at anything

Sometimes I’m doing work and I find myself putting in the least amount of effort to produce what others would consider a sufficient amount of outcome. I usually live by the mantra that if you are going to spend time doing something, then do it to the best of your efforts; but I can honestly say that every so often, I slip off the wagon.

Yesterday i was hanging out with my friend and he had gone through some life changes. The biggest one was moving out on his own and out of his mom’s house. They loved each other but there was constant squabble and lack of communication. He said something to me that stuck with me, “You know, since I’ve moved out, I actually miss my mom. I take the time to check in on her and look forward to seeing her.” It had only been a brief moment since he had moved, but his attitude had completely shifted. It was touching.

This made me think about how I handle my own obstacles. Being conscious what what I’m thinking about during my time of low efforts made me realize. When my efforts are low in anything, I am usually focused on approaching the task as an obligation and not as an opportunity. I am doing something that someone wishes they could be doing and I am living a lifestyle someone out there is hoping to someday achieve. Just like my friend, he now looks at time with his mom has an opportunity as opposed to an obligation and it has created a newfound rapport.

One story that always sticks with me is the story of two masons who are building a wall. One mason is working very diligently and excited, the other is down in the dumps, doing work that is barely acceptable. A passerby approached the unenthusiastic worker and asked him what he was doing. The worker responded that he is building a wall, and this wall is never ending, there’s just more and more wall. Everyday i go home knowing that I have to put up more bricks and all I will have done with my life is build a wall. Then the passerby goes to the assiduous worker and asks him the same question. “What are you doing?” The worker responds, I’m building the Sistine chapel! I get the opportunity to be a part of building something amazing that one day people from around the world will come to admire. Both workers are doing the same thing, they are building a wall. One has found purpose and this purpose is what helps get us through life. Look at everything as an opportunity. To be alive is an opportunity.