A Book To Build Creative Skills And Become A Writer

“Empty Your Mind To Free Your Soul” — Matthew Wetmore

A Book Recommendation To Build Creative Skills And Become A Writer

One afternoon I perused around my local bookstore to poke around at some of the latest book releases. This happened to be right around the time that I desired to become a better writer but didn’t have many tools.

I was missing the classics; Elements of Style, Writing Tools, On Writing, and many others.

I’m glad I can say I’ve since read, applied, and continue to use these almost every day as I work on my craft.

Again, I walked around with no intention at the time but one book stuck out.

How to be a Writer — Building your creative skills through practice and play, by Barbara Baig

I almost didn’t buy it. I googled it and only found a few results and nearly psyched myself out. But I did; this book never left my side all summer.

Barbara Baig is a devoted writer and teacher. She was the Writing instructor at Harvard Divinity School for 20+ years and is now teaching in the MFA Program at Lesley University.

Freewriting

If you have any desire to write you need to start here.

Freewriting does WONDERS for your creative skills and helps you escape your mind. When you freewrite you allow yourself to think freely and your mind to flow into new dimensions of thought that are unable to be obtained unless you enter the deep, focused state of mind.

Do this for just 10 minutes. Write about your day, your week, your life, your relationship; anything you want.

An important thing to note is not to stop writing. Keep the pen or pencil moving. This won’t be easy at first but you’ll learn that the more you “think” when you write, the harder it is for words to come to your mind.

Focused Freewriting

This is an excellent way to study, prepare for a meeting, learn new subjects, and assess your own level of knowledge.

No matter what subject you are studying or interested in, focused freewriting can help you find information and knowledge on a particular subject that you may not be aware you know.

Often times our subconscious mind holds on to a TON of information with which the only way to access it is through deep stimulation.

A good example of this would be remembering character names from movies, books, or TV shows. Another would be the quote you loved so much by your favorite philosopher.

Write your topic at the top, set your timer for 10–15 minutes (or however long you’re comfortable with) and begin. Don’t stop writing until the time is up.

Try writing about a favorite vacation, experience, memory, or freewrite for new blog ideas.

Another way to use focused freewriting is to apply it to get in the “zone” for your job. I worked in cyber security and used this method to learn the technology, lingo, and get my mind ready to discuss security with people much smarter than I.

Why I Recommend Her Book

This book forever changed how I approach writing. It’s made my 1,000 words/day goal a piece of cake. I’m somewhere around 3,000 words today.

I’m also up late on a Monday writing this for my day 4/30 posting on Medium and my blog.

This book showed me how much I had to learn about writing, the world, and myself. Writers are vulnerable people who often see life through a lens which only words can explain.

Barbara will teach you how to look at the world in a new way. Take the journey into this book to expand your curiosity, learn more, have fun, and continue to grow as a writer.

Whether you write blogs, fiction, nonfiction, or poetry there is a place for Baig’s book in your library.

Have you read it before? What did you think? Share below or comment and let me know how you use freewriting in your life!

10 Books That Inspired me to Change my Life

After two rough drafts of this exercise today I’ve realized that I don’t enjoy making lists. For some reason, my mind feels the need to explain things in great amounts of detail rather than short summaries. So instead of going crazy and overthinking this entire post, I’ve decided to make a list of the top 10 books that inspired exponential change and rapid growth in my life.

“The man who does not read good books have no advantage over the man who does not read” – Mark Twain

Books have helped educate me on becoming better in the critical areas of my life; son, brother, lover, communicator, employee, and overall contributor to humanity. I say this because we all have a past. For me, I lost a lot of confidence when I made a big mistake months ago now. I’ve since made a substantial change in my daily routine and activities. I realize now how lucky I am to be alive and how much greatness I have to contribute back to society. When I came to the realization of the skills, knowledge, and capability I had is when I changed my habits. I woke up and said I no longer want to be apart of the 99%. I want to be apart of the 1% that values giving over receiving. I desire to lead by example and be remembered for what I did right not what I did wrong. It’s easy to be negative, complain, and talk about what is wrong in your life or the world around you. I’ve committed myself to no longer blaming anyone else in my life for downfalls except myself. To no longer thinking about what is wrong in my life and focusing on what is right. I’ve taken action to change the course of my life and want to share what I’ve learned with you.

Here are 10 books that I’ve read this year that changed my perspective on life and redirected my future. They have all been read in the past 3 months. Check out the links for details and more.

1) “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek

Why? I consider this the most simple yet powerful question known to man. The ability to ask yourself why and understand the importance of your purpose. Simon Sinek does an incredible job of explaining his message of “how great leaders inspire everyone to take action”. I received this book from a previous employer in the midst of an early twenties career change. I picked it up and finished it within a week.  It changed my life. I began asking myself difficult questions and working to answer them to help determine my purpose in life. My why. This question can change the course of your life, career, family and more. Become crystal clear on your why. Why do you want that job? Why do you need to go on vacation? Why do you want that promotion? Why do you want more money? Why did you choose this career? If you keep digging around your ‘why’ you’ll surely find your ‘how’ and your ‘what’ right around the corner. Check out a review I did of his book in more detail here.

“And it’s those who start with why, that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” – Simon Sinek

2) “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

It is rare to not come across this book high on the list of some of the worlds most successful people. I’m glad to be apart of that list and believe that it is one of the most inspirational books today. It has inspired me to change how I dealt with other people. I now make a conscious and consistent effort (even when I’m not feeling it) to be as genuinely interested in the lives of other people as possible. Here is what I’ve personally used this book for:

  • Sincerity and appreciation
  • Smiling, even when I’m not feeling it
  • Remembering and using other people’s names. Everyone loves this.
  • Genuinely listening to others and understanding their story.
  • Admitting when I am wrong.

For a more complete list of what this book can inspire in you, check out this simple summary on Wikipedia.

“Let us praise even the slightest improvement. That inspires the other person to keep on improving” – Dale Carnegie

3) “How Successful People Think” by John C. Maxwell

This book comes everywhere with me. I have the print copy and am in the middle of a second reading. It is remarkable how much a second reading can deepen your understanding of a book. The second reading for me is the application of the material. First is understanding, then the application. This time I’m annotating the book and asking myself questions of each of the different thinking styles. If you haven’t read this one yet I can promise it will be worth it. Here are John C. Maxwells’ “Final Thoughts” towards the end that may inspire you to give it a chance:

  • Everything begins with a thought
  • What we think determines who we are. Who we are, determines what we do
  • Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy
  • People who go to the top think differently than others
  • We can change the way we think

You will not regret reading this short but incredibly insightful book. Mine never leaves my side.

Successful people…focus on the rewards of success: Learning from their mistakes and thinking about how they can improve themselves and their situations.” – John C. Maxwell

4) “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren

Go read this book. I don’t even want to summarize it. The title explains it all. If you think you know how to read, you’re wrong. If you haven’t read this book you are wrong. It may be the single book that has given me the ability to learn and understand things I read better than ever before. This includes articles, magazines, books, periodicals, news, social media, and more. If you are looking to start a new habit of reading, look no further and start here. It is a simple book that will have a profound impact on your ability to understand the meaning of books at a deeper level.

“Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men” – Mortimer Adler

5) “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

I have these 7 habits highlighted on the vision board in my office. For anyone who has NOT yet read this book, it is vitally important to understand that these habits are divided into two sections: independent and interdependent, and a third called ‘sharpening the saw’. As Covey explains, personal victory comes before public victory. For us to serve others, we must be capable of best serving ourselves. So work on yourself; Be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. Once you have a foundation of yourself you can begin incorporating some other disciplines impacting the lives of others. This is another timeless book that has changed the lives of many successors over the years.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey

6) “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn

“OF COURSE” this book is on my list. I have Jim Rohn’s words echoing in my ears each and every day. If you want to change your life, design your future and pursue your dreams this is a must read/listen. His recordings are powerful and will help you reassess your life and establish clarity through disciplining your life, changing your habits, setting goals and more.

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better” – Jim Rohn

7) “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

Life is all habit. The book incorporates an extensive amount of research and science backed studies to explain how habits run our lives. At the core of every habit is something called the ‘the habit loop, explains MIT Researchers. It consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward. He explains many scenarios proving this research correct and will certainly get you thinking about your daily routine and habits that you have now and are probably unaware of. Any habit can change as Duhigg explains here. This process starts by identifying the routine of your habit, finding your rewards and experimenting with new ones, isolating the cue of your habit and having a plan when that cue occurs. Trust him over me, but it will work.

“More than 40% of the actions people perform each day, aren’t actual decisions, but habits” – The Power of Habit

8) “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy

What is 1×1? 2. What is 2×2? 4. What is 10×10? 100. The message I received from the compound effect is this. Similar to interest compounding daily, weekly, monthly or annually, our habits and disciplines do the same. If we treat our bodies poorly, the health risks will compound over time leading to the negative results. Instead, if we exercise daily and eat healthily, the health benefits will compound over time leading to longevity and a better quality life. It is important to know that the Compound Effect works both ways. It is a great extension from “The Art of Exceptional Living” by Jim Rohn to help set goals and design your life. To assess your surroundings and who is affecting your life. You are one discipline or decision away from a different life. Take control of future and change your life.

Check out Darren Daily for his daily mentoring emails which will keep you inspired and focused on your purpose each day!

“The accomplishment of any goal is the progressive accumulation, or compound effect, of small steps taken consistently over time” – Darren Hardy

9) “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins

Here is my review of her book I did recently. Mel Robbins does an incredible job with her audio book on this one. A very personal, comforting tone throughout. She explains how decisions are made within five seconds and how this rule or ‘tool’ as she refers has changed her life and the lives of many others. Take a look and if you struggle with decision making or simply getting out bed in the morning, her tool will help you make those critical decisions to changing your life. One small 5-second decision at a time.

“If you only ever did the things you don’t to do, you’d have everything you’ve ever wanted” – Mel Robbins

10) “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson

Well, this book takes a different approach opposed to most of the books above. This book says f*ck positivity, and stop giving a f*ck. Stop thinking that you need motivation and positive thinking to lead a successful life. This is not the case. Mark explains how so many of us focus so much on being happy, that we give too many f*cks about being happy, only to never end up happy. Maybe that is true? Regardless this book sheds some great insight into reality and for someone going through extensive personal development was a great wake up call to stop giving a f*ck. In reality, it is true. We need to stop creating fear while worrying about what other people may say or do. We spend so much of our time over-thinking our lives that we never end of taking action. I decided that I was going to stop giving a f*ck about that and live my life. This blog is a start, right?

“To not give a fuck is to stare down life’s most terrifying and difficult challenges and still take action” – Mark Manson

| The ‘write’ to remember |

Wrightsville Beach Sunrise
7/13/17 Sunrise @ Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina!

Why do I write?

This is a great question for me as I continuously debate the purpose of my blog. Do I err on the professional side or share more of the personal connection and detail of my life? I think a good combination of both will do well. What do you think?

Writing is my way of bringing together the non-stop flow of ideas and madness that occurs in my mind.

It is my way of not only expressing myself and my thoughts but having them join forces. I’ve found endless inspiration from a variety of books lately that have changed my life from all different platforms (Print, Kindle, and Audible). Every Author intends for their message to be interpreted well by the end but this is sometimes unclear. Writing helps me to connect the message of each book I dive into while incorporating the concepts, philosophy, strategies and more into my life (or not).

Not only is writing valuable to increase learning, but enhance the memories of your life.

The time I spend ‘reflective writing’ has helped me recall my experiences in vast detail compared to memories that seem ‘foggy’, not hangovers I promise (although plenty of those exist). As a twenty-something, I am enthusiastic and grateful for life yet struggling to clarify what brings me the greatest joy in life. Writing is either making this process easier or worse (I am not quite sure yet). It certainly helps to remember both the good and the bad.

Recently I’ve implemented the habits of writing a 5MJ (inspired by Tim Ferriss) and 3 long-hand  “Morning Pages” from the book “The Artist’s Way”, by Julia Cameron. These two habits combined each morning have enhanced my creativity and serve as a vital part of my morning to help me understand the responsibilities and goals ahead of me that day. Since the beginning, it has been a lot of ‘soul searching’ as I continue my journey towards sharing my gift of life with the world.

I ask of you the same question. Why do you write? What does writing do for you?

Writing brings me to life. I feel it is my way of adding the utmost value to the world. I write about my experiences, travel, emotions, feelings, thoughts, ideas, the past, present, future and much more. I find it crucial to write about my life experiences such as; Hiking Mt. Washington, snowboarding in Colorado at Breckenridge, or learning how to surf. It helps to solidify these memories in my mind so I can remember the subtle details that so many forget. I write to remember, but most importantly I write because it brings me joy.

One of the hardest things I’ve realized recently is actually hitting “publish”.

We all have this problem, right…?

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!

Take action to get what you want!|Mel Robbins – “The 5 Second Rule”

Hello everyone – I need to share the insight I’ve gained from such an incredible book by Mel Robbins, “The 5 Second Rule”. I added it to my Audible library after it was recommended to me at a book publishing seminar where I was lucky to meet some truly inspirational people last weekend. I made a decision and showed up! I won’t get into too much detail, but I will summarize the book and my thoughts on how the book could help so many of you that have suffered as I have. Check out her site and page for more details. https://melrobbins.com/the-5-second-rule/

We are all the same in the sense that we only get one life and like many I’ve also experienced loads of stress, anxiety, fear, regret, and more – you get the picture. The concept is opposed to waiting, thinking and debating what could possibly go wrong or right with a decision, to count backward from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go. Take action, physically move your body to take the decision from your subconscious mind to your prefrontal cortex. You begin the process of creating new habits that will indeed change your life whether you realize it or not. Listen to her book for more scientific research, evidence, testimonials, studies, and more around how applying this rule or ‘tool’ can and will benefit your life. What I found most interesting in her research and explanations was how a 5-second decision has been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries in the world. This includes businesses, ideas, products, services, books, relationships and so much more. The decision to talk to that girl at the bar or at the coffee shop. The decision to eat healthily or raise your hand with an idea in a business meeting. We’ve all been there. I’ve been the guy sitting there, palms sweating, heart racing, waiting to share my great idea or insight with the company. Only to wait until the meeting is over, tell a colleague that I had this idea and wished I said something, only to regret not speaking up. Life is about showing up and making decisions. Don’t let life control you, take control of the decisions you make and put yourself out there, you’ll be glad you did!

Also, I’d challenge you to attempt her 90-day challenge. 90 days of getting out of bed when your alarm goes off! No snooze, no waiting, no falling back to sleep, just get up and go move. I’d recommend using her tool to move your body first thing in the morning. Get the blood flowing through your body and mind, awaken your spirit and get ready to take charge of your day. As Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Research and studies have shown that the most productive hours of the day are the first three hours after you wake up. Make those hours count. Don’t waste them in bed, watching Netflix, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or worse, watching what all of the people you follow on Snapchat did the night before. This won’t help motivate you. This will provoke negative thoughts of jealousy, envy, regret, anxiety and more. Where you COULD have been or who you COULD have seen. Take control, make a decision, and most importantly SHOW UP!

Most importantly, this book has worked. I’ve met 5 CEO’s and Business Executives specifically at Starbucks in the last 3 days from the application of this, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ‘tool’. It has helped me engage in conversation with strangers while eliminating any doubt my mind might throw at me. When your heart starts racing, chest beating, palms sweating, that is the time to count down and leverage the excitement that is building opposed to letting your mind convince you otherwise. Follow the inspiration of life and when it feels right, don’t think, act. I’ve engaged woman way out of my league and had a date with someone incredible using this ‘tool’. Have you read or listening to her book yet? If you have I’d love to hear how it has helped you. As Tony Robbins said, “At any moment, the decision you make can change the course of your life FOREVER.” It is in the key moments of making decisions that your destiny is shaped. If you have even slightly struggled with decision making this book will dramatically benefit your personal life, career, relationships and more! So get out of your own head, follow your inspiration, your gut, and most importantly take MASSIVE ACTION!

“Start with Why, by Simon Sinek – My WHY

Why, How THEN What

Simon Sinek has quite a rather unique take on millennials and business as he talks at length about in his book “Start with Why” which he published in 2009.  He explains how great leaders inspire everyone to take action.  At the surface level you may think that Simon Sinek’s book will be motivational in nature, and to an extent you are correct.  But this does not come without great praise and recognition of industry leaders and their stories.  My WHY has inspired me to become a better person and re-evaluate almost every aspect of my life.  Why am I working in Sales?  Why do I work in technology?  I began this rigorous analysis of my life inclusive of far more detailed questions I had never thought before.  It was intoxicating.  I found myself thinking deeply about exactly why I did what I did, and why I needed to change. I was unhappy in many ways that I was unaware of and the “Golden Circle” concept came to me at the perfect time in my professional life. What do I want to do? How do I want to do it? Most importantly, WHY do I want to do it?

As he repeats often, good organizations and people know what they do and how they do it, but great ones know WHY.  Simon explains how most people and organizations know what they do and how they do it but the WHY is usually unclear. I now study most organizations and what their WHY is. An organization that has a clear mission, vision and purpose often have a WHY that resonates well within the employees. One of my favorite parts of his book is the deep analysis around organizations that do NOT succeed or when their WHY goes fuzzy and they experience a split.  It happens, don’t kid yourself.  In my opinion, the analysis of failures is one of the greatest strengths that we have.  Understanding exactly why, how and what a company may have done wrong and being able to see that vividly is powerful. Learning from previous failures while applying triumphant innovative concepts is a formula for future success.  What worked before? What didn’t? What is working now? How can we apply it? How can we improve?

Apple is the ‘vehicle’ that Simon bases a lot of his ideas on. Apple is not a computer company, they are a company that knows it’s’ WHY, and happens to make computers.  I’m paraphrasing, check out his book for the actual phrase. That statement is powerful when thought about on a grand scale.  Why?  Maybe it is that Apple has trust, loyalty and one of the most recognizable brands on the planet.  Maybe not?  I think it is true because Steve Jobs and “Woz” had a true sense of purpose together.  When you big picture this and continue to hire a staff and inspire them to believe exactly what you believe, amazing things happen. Go study the company for yourself and see what you can find out.

Simon ensures that the material and content in his book very comprehensible.  He does get into some brain discussion around biology and how we are ‘programmed’, but to him, that is important to his message being properly internalized. There is also a sense of repetition for retention or enhancing his point, this is unclear to me. The type of enthusiasm and passion speaks volumes to how much he supports his own WHY and vision. Gary Vee speaks with a similar form of passion, maybe a bit more energy. The mutual connection is that of a burning desire for following dreams, passions and finding out your internal and external WHY.

This book is needed in our world today. His message relates to people in everyday life.  The significance of knowing WHY you do what you do, HOW you do it and WHAT you do is vital.  This will only open up your mind to ideas that you may not have previously considered.  Maybe you are unhappy and it took a bit of inspiration to expand your mind around exactly what you are doing and how it could be different.  My opinion:  We live in a world of opportunity that is thriving each day.  We see it in every form of life.  So why wait?  Why contemplate the decision of striving for a better future.  Would you rather take the path of least resistance or the path less traveled?  I’m taking the path that I didn’t know existed.  I’m creating it.  So in the words of Simon Sinek, “START WITH WHY”.

Appreciation or Lack Thereof

Reluctant is not a strong enough way to describe my initial thought on listening to Audible. To begin listening to books was a foreign thing to me and I was unsure if I would retain the content in a way that would be of value. Admittedly, this was truly a mistake. I have since found immense value and appreciation for Audible books when I choose the right content for me. I’ve listened to quite a few so far, but one sticks out drastically more than others and that is: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, by Dale Carnegie. Listening to this book narrated by Andrew MacMillan engages you through detailed stories and inspiration content. If you have never read or listened to his book I highly recommend it. This book has exponentially changed the direction of my life, specifically to show more appreciation for each day I get to thrive.

An example of this came clear to me yesterday. I found myself at the grocer in Boston after a long day of work. Mentally and physically drained from a remarkably productive day. I was mindlessly walking around the store to find some meals to hold me over for a few days. Chicken, Eggs, Greek Yogurt, Veggies you know, the good stuff to keep me running on all cylinders. As I approached the checkout counter this gentleman seemed in a daze. He appeared as a zombie merely checking and bagging groceries with very little stimulation. I approached him with a smile asking for his name as it was blocked by his apron. He looked at me, smiled and says “I’m Chris”, in a stunned voice. Then only proceeding to stop everything he was doing to reach out and shake my hand. It took him a second to almost remember his own name with a stare like that of a zombie. Christian was his full name, I said: “Christian I am Matt, it is great to meet you and I appreciate you helping me out with my groceries today.” He was an older gentleman and you could tell he was impressed. I proceeded to ask Christian how many folks had asked of his name or called him by his name that day. Must I even need to tell you the result? I was in disbelief as well. Not one person that he could recall had called him by his name that was on his shirt all day long. A very busy grocery store that been working at all day and must have interacted with at least 100 people. As I left him, thanking him again and wishing him a great evening. As I left, the gratification came from my peering over my shoulder only to see him smiling and chatting with his next customer. What joy.

The message I’m hoping to accomplish here is that maybe one more out of the hundreds of customers recognizes that a simple outreach and genuine conversation can leave a long-term lasting impact on that person.  A sign of respect. In my studies of success and psychology, I’ve developed extensive people skills’ and from this book I felt it was time to get my words out there. This helps me apply the things I’ve learned from minds far greater than my own. You could apply these same tactics as well. We all have potential in things that we are unaware of and this ability goes untapped due to lack of appreciation for the small victories in life. Moral of my story, appreciate more people and take chances on things you may be a bit uncomfortable diving into. It took a boost of confidence and dedication to start listening to a book, let alone start reading books again. They have changed my outlook and direction in life dramatically. So maybe if you start appreciating the little things in life, your mission and purpose may start clarifying to live a happier more successful life.