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Auteur: Michel van Keeken

Life Lessons from the Mountains

Life Lessons from the Mountains

 “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
-Sir Edmund Hillary-

I am the last of four to reach the opening of cave. We just ascended with an easy cable car ride. In barely 15 minutes it took us from the Chamonix village to the top of Aiguille du Midi at 3,842 meters. Where the tourists and sight-seers go right, we go left. It’s time to put on my crampons. As I take my first steps onto the ice floor, the fresh breeze draws my attention to the opening of the cave. The excitement and anxiety of stepping into the unknown is perfectly illustrated by my cautious walking, getting a good footing on my crampons. I reach the end of the cave, giving me a clear view of the white mountain ridge. This is my first ever alpine experience and I am looking down a ridge of 40 centimeters wide, with very long and steep slopes running down on both sides. I have no time to appreciate the beauty. For now let’s get down this ridge…

Ever since I started working at an outdoor store during my studies, I thought about climbing a mountain. Adventure was already a main topic, but climbing mountains, in snow, at high altitude, was still far away. Talking about it with my colleagues and made it into a real thing. In the back of my mind I made a commitment that one day I would venture for a climbing experience.

With colleagues we joked about the idea, but with one colleague and friend I knew it was more than just an idea. Only when we talked later after we both had left the old job some time, it came to a real promise. And when I make a promise, I go all out to make it. We would set out to the Mont Blanc in France.

Although my preparation wasn’t the best, I was confident that I could handle it. But the first day I learned this was something else altogether. The guides had tested us on the first day, and were honest in two observations. First, the weather for our trip was not optimal. Bad weather meant clouds, bad visibility, and hard winds. This meant that even when it was safe enough, speed was the most important aspect to make the longer route to the Mont Blanc, via the Traverse route, into a success. Second, I wasn’t fast enough. I managed so far and took pride in my accomplishments, but according to the guides it wasn’t enough.

“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.”
-the three rules of mountaineering-

We decided to split up. Each heading out with one guide. My friend went for the long route to Mont Blanc, and I went to climb to Mont Blanc du Tacul. A technical and satisfying climb to a rocky summit at 4248 meters. In this article I want to address the things that went through my mind, when I rhythmically stomped my way up a mountain. One of the most adventurous, daring, and beautiful experiences of my life.

  1. A mountain doesn’t care about you, what you say, or how you feel

When you step onto the mountain, it doesn’t care what your level is. It doesn’t make it easier if you are a beginner. It is just big rock, with snow and ice. The weather can be unforgiving as well. You battle yourself and you battle nature. Nature doesn’t lose, and you can’t win.

  1. It is unforgiving

If you take a wrong step and fall into a crevasse you could be finished. If you just happen to walk under a serac and it crumbles, you are finished. If you fall of the wrong side of a rocky mountain, you could be finished. You don’t conquer a mountain, it lets you.

“Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.”
-Nemann Buhl-

  1. You can never plan or calculate everything

You set out on a voyage and there will definitively be things you didn’t count on. The weather, losing or breaking your gear, a delay that shakes up your schedule, or something even worse. Anyway you will have to get to the summit and get safely down again. There is simply no option for quitting.

  1. You set a goal without the guarantee you will make it

The randomness and chance factor can upset your plan completely. No matter how fixed your goal is, the power of the mountain can force you to change it. Determination and will are really important, but fighting nature is a battle you cannot win.

  1. One step at a time, is the only way to reach the summit

When I left in the middle of the night, I knew I had a long journey ahead. Eventually it would take 7 hours to reach the top and go back down. And then I had to go down to the valley. Although I had no idea on the mountain how long it would take, there is one thing that helped. Think only about the next step. And then the next one, and the next one. There is a trance like state in which you just think about the next step, a flow. It is the only way to reach the top, no skipping or cheating, you have to take every step.

  1. If you can climb a mountain, anything is possible

I understand why people have been attracted to climb mountains, and explore mountain regions. It is unbounded. If you climb a mountain, anything is possible. You have conquered your own mind. If you can climb a mountain, you can take on any journey. All it takes is one step at a time.

In many ways climbing a mountain is a metaphor for life. We all climb some sort of mountain. And the lessons learned at high altitude, made me think about the stuff at home or work in a different way. Whatever you take out of adventure or challenge is trivial. The most important thing is to put yourself in that position.

Challenge yourself!

“The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.”
-Victor Hugo-

 

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The Art of the Follow-through

The Art of the Follow-through

“It is the ‘follow through’ that makes the great difference between ultimate success and failure, because it is so easy to stop.”

–Charles Kettering

In Dutch we have a saying: “Wie A zegt moet ook B zeggen”. It means something like, when you start something need to finish it too (literally: when you say A, you have to say B). I like this thought, because it can help you overcome procrastination, inaction, and quitting.

We already saw that goal setting, or having new year’s resolutions are great ways to get going. But how many of your resolutions and goals still stand? How many times have you passed the gym and remembered your intention to lose weight? How many times have you spent your weekend doing jack shit, and realized you could have read books, studied, developed your side-business, or travel the country?

I love it when people say something like, I’m going to save up money and somewhere next year I’m leaving this country to start a diving school in Asia. I love it, because this person obviously has a great dream and vision for his future. Furthermore, he has a plan on how to get there. And lastly when I meet him the year after and the plan hasn’t been executed, I kind of know what type of person he is. All talk no action.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want people to give up their dream. Quite the opposite actually! But I do like that the follow-through is more important than the intention. And the fact that this is true for all people all over the world. It is easy to say you are going to do this and that. But it is hard to begin, and even harder to follow-through.

In my mind, an inherent magnanimous characteristic is the art of the follow-through. The fact that you can force yourself to do you what you say. Or shut up. And otherwise go after it, and succeed or fail. But never procrastinate or stop at the start.

It’s never too late to start. Now is always the best time to live your dream. Think clearly about what you want, and make sure you follow-through even when times get rough. It is the only way to reach your potential.

 

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Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

Face your Fear – It is no longer relevant

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”

–Judy Blume

On this website Danny and I talk a lot about achieving goals, results, goals, and going from where you are to where you want to be. Even more about overcoming struggles and obstacles, psychological imperfections and self-awareness. We try to share our experience on our journey, and hopefully you get something out of it.

What I notice in reactions to the blogs, talking to people, my own experience, and reading books about the topics, is that the one thing that is stopping people from doing something and thus achieving results, being successful, growing into a better you, or being happy, is FEAR. In this article I take a look at fear and why it is no longer relevant.

I read a book once by Steve Peters, the Chimp Paradox. In this book a theory is proposed of our brain having two parts, a rational part and an emotional part. The rational part is usually the one you think you use, but the emotional part has a much larger influence on you and your decisions than you might realize. The main thing I take out of it, is that the emotional or Chimp brain is in survival mode. And that it is not helping us in most modern day situations.

This survival brain has one job, to keep you safe and make sure you are reproducing your species. This of course very relevant in the hunter-gatherer days of the human species in which we spent more than 100.000 years (!). Don’t underestimate our hardwired survival brain. But nowadays this survival brain is mostly overreacting. Like thinking you are going to die, when you get a paper cut. Chill the fuck out. We are spoilt. We can get food ready-made at every corner, we drink water from the tap. We sleep in weatherproof housing. Because of technology and organization we are at the top of the food chain and have nothing to fear, but ourselves.

And that’s the whole point. We still fear stuff. Stuff we think are as real as a sabre tooth tiger jumping out of the trees, but are actually self-constructed thoughts. And that’s so unnecessary and sad with regards to achieving your own greatness or making the world a better place.

Let’s go into some tips I learned about facing fear and preparing yourself for it.

Breathe

When you are confronted with fear, don’t overreact. Get your shit together, breathe and stay calm. Take a Buddhist approach, and be in this moment. What exactly is happening at this specific moment. And what is a construct of your future projection of what might happen? Take a few deep breaths. If you have the time, step out of the moment and go outside, or do something else.

Every time when I experience a stressful moment on the job, I regain myself by focusing on the now. Literally taking some deep breaths helps a lot. Getting myself outdoors, or taking a walk. Simple things that clear the mind. It works.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

–Dale Carnegie

Remember your goal

When faced with a fear ask yourself, what do you really, really want? Why do it? What would your future-self think in this moment? What does your heart tell you?

Remembering your goals is a very powerful way to stay on track. When I have something on my mind, I remind myself constantly why I do it. If I will quit I know that my future me will regret it. And I don’t want to let myself down.

Grow up

A question that I got from the book The Chimp Paradox you can ask yourself is: “What would your grown up version do?” We all have some idea of what an uber wise, and calm grown-up would do in the face of fear. But doing it is another thing. Explicitly remind yourself, what would a wise grown-up do? This usually is enough to stop whining about the troubles ahead, to go ahead and be strong is face of resistance. Or to stop torturing yourself over the past, and focus on constructive ways to advance in the moment.

Get to know your fear 

Maybe you’ve encountered the fear a couple of times before. You might have an idea where it is coming from. Learn about your fear. What’s at the core? Why are you feeling the emotions connected with fear? The more you know about the root of your fear, the more you can do about it.

When I started a new company, I had some fears about if people would like it or not. This is at all not irrational if you are selling things to the same people. But when I realized the fear had more to do with the fear of public failing, I knew that I had to do it. Living with the fear of failing publicly is NOT what I want for myself. I am stronger than that. So I moved on.

The worst thing

What’s the worst thing that can happen? We don’t need to worry about food and water, large predators or life and death. At least in most civilized parts of the world. So what can happen if you face your fear?

Are you afraid to have no money? Guess what, most rich people are self-made, and had little money to start with. You can always start all over again, it’s not the end. Are you afraid of what others might think? Don’t worry about that. Globalization and access to the digital network will guarantee a place for everyone. No matter how crazy your niche, you will find folks that are like you.

So now you can remember yourself when facing fears to help you forward. Of course you can train yourself to be better and faster in overcoming fears. These are things I know help in preparing for fear.

Go extreme

Purposefully expand your limit. Do stuff that scares you! If you are afraid of heights, go high. If you are afraid of public speaking, speak. If you are afraid of being alone, travel abroad by yourself. The more things you do, the stronger you will be. And the less susceptible to fear.

Talk about it

Acknowledging that you have a certain block is the first step. Talk to people about how they got where you want to be. They probably had their fears as well. How did they cope? What can you learn from it?

Rationalize

Train your rational brain. Read books. Learn about how the world works, how your brain works, and about the subjects relative to your dreams and goals. Get the truth out. Use data and probabilities. Many people are afraid of dying from a terrorist attack, but get into their car without thinking. The actual probability to get killed in a car accident is much higher than a terrorist attack. The same thing with your own fears. Afraid of what your friends might think? Have you talked to them about it? And if they still don’t approve, is it so hard to find new friends? No.

Write it down

Confront yourself with your fears, your goals and dreams. Write empowering words, and read them to yourself. You can use them every day to prime yourself into a state of behavior. You might say to yourself that you are already successful in business, or you are already a very fit and professional athlete. If you say it to yourself, you will act like it. If you act like it, you will become it.

 

“We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”

–Marilyn Monroe

 

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When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

When Someone Says ‘No You Can’t’

I had a conversation with Danny yesterday, and as usual we had lots of things to discuss. In the last blog Danny talked about his path, and how he goes about it. One thing that crossed my mind was the reason why I eventually started to work as an entrepreneur, and why I jumped on the path I knew was right for me. I think it is something that maybe more of you can relate to, and could use as well.

Somewhere around 2011 or so, I finished my studies at the University. I learned a lot, but was definitively still a rookie. I knew that perfectly well. I was always interested in entrepreneurship, and knew I would end up on that path one way or another. I wanted to have my own business, but had no idea in what. I had no particular skills (as far as I thought could be monetized), and zero experience in the business world. So I did what any rookie does, find a job.

After some searching I went to a job market and got a job at an employment agency. I had to place technical guys on projects in technical companies. Not particularly my thing, but I saw it as a great way to learn sales skills. And sales skills are quintessential skills for entrepreneurship. So I got into it. And did the work.

But after 2 months I started to have doubts. It was my first ‘real’ job and I didn’t know if I would see myself do this for any longer. I was under a lot of pressure, but I learned and worked to the best of my abilities. But there was an inner resentment to the work, the place, the whole thing. I still don’t exactly know what it was. But I was unsure about continuing the job.

The company I worked with had set up individual coaching for every employee. So when I had my first meeting with my assigned coach I addressed my feeling. I didn’t feel in place, but I thought I needed this. For I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was asked what I wanted to be. And where I’d see myself in a couple of years. I told the coach I wanted to be an entrepreneur. She looked at the notes, my assessment, and quite quickly told me I wasn’t ready for that. She told it with such an uninterested voice, and with a flow that read something like ‘you can’t do that’.

I remember this sentence very well. I felt this burning in my torso. How dare she say that to me. You don’t know me. You can’t tell me what I can and cannot do. You definitively can’t tell me what I am capable of. At this moment it hit me. If I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I needed to be one. If you want to be a basketball player, you need to play basketball. If you want to be a pilot, get yourself in a cockpit. If you want to travel the world, stop dreaming, and book a ticket. You have to believe and act like the person you want to become.

I quit my job after 4 months. I traveled a bit, and started my own business. The rest is history. At first I was upset about the fact this ‘professional’ coach told me I wasn’t ready. But later I thanked her. I am grateful for the situation, the path. I am grateful for these explicit, direct words. It was exactly what I needed. It was the slap in the face, the breaking of the chain, or the spark to my fire that lit me up. It released me of the fear for the start. And now I had the extra willpower to show her and all others to show I could.

“If I would have listened to the naysayers, I would still be in the Austrian Alps yodeling.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger –

So my question to you is; Are you happy where you are now? Are you on the path you want to be on? Is there something you really want to do, but aren’t doing? Do you have people telling you, you can’t do something, or aren’t ready?

Let us know…

 

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Breathe and stay calm

Breathe and stay calm

Ever since I got involved in some business projects more than a year ago, every day I have experienced an increase in pressure. More things to do. More things that really need to be done. More things that really need to be done, now.

I always had a knack for challenges, and this is no different. But other than sports, this shows up every day, all day long. I need to remain calm.

When in stress, which I am apparently not immune to, I always think about this quote I came across:

 

“Nothing gives a person so much advantage as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

-Thomas Jefferson-

 

 

Every now and then stress pays me a visit, and I need to handle it. I either release the energy with doing something completely different (sport, reading, meditating) or I take it head on, and solve the issues. Anyhow, the only productive mode is a calm and actionable mode.

So that’s the way to roll. Always.

 

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Why do we Endure? Perseverance and Grit

Why do we Endure? Perseverance and Grit

“History is written by the victors.”

Winston Churchill

The past months I’ve seen a lot of roads, airports, and hotel rooms. I am almost regarding Germany as my second home after putting in a solid 12.000 km last three months. I have to skip sleeping, down time, and my BJJ classes. All things I’d rather not, but I made a conscious decision.

I made a decision to go full steam ahead for a business I am helping to build. We install pineapple-cutting machines in supermarkets, and the business is getting more and more traction. The whole operation rests on a small team, and I am (literally) flying all over the place to fix, promote, and sell. I am not even getting paid that much, especially if you consider the hours I put in. I need to have broad shoulders to carry all the responsibility and deal with the pressure. Without sales, the company will not lift off. My job; get it off the ground, no matter what. Use your business school background and your entrepreneurial spirit to get it done.

Why do I do it?

A question I sometimes ask myself when after a tough weekend promoting our machine at an event, without any sale.

Why not just quit?

When I am really having a hard time I might think this, especially when I have to pass on the BJJ class a second time on a row or leave the evening for work again.

Why put yourself through all this?

Cutting back on sleep is kryptonite to me, and I feel less energetic. And knowing that my girlfriend hears me getting out of bed to get in the car at 5 in the morning, and being away from home until the next evening makes me a bit sad.

Why you ask? The power of perseverance or grit.

Perseverance:

“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering: steadfastness”

Grit:

“firmness of mind or spirit: unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger managed to survive by his grit and guile”

When I was young I had some talents. I had some interests. And I had some goals. I also didn’t really go all in. I just kind of did this, and kind of did that. I don’t feel sorry, I have done a lot of cool things, and will keep doing them. But there’s missing this one thing. This big achievement. Something that puts me to the ultimate test. A thing that will push me down, again and again. This thing that is unforgiving, doesn’t care if I have talent, interests, or goal. This thing will kick me when I’m down and under, but will give me the ultimate reward when I persist and endure. This business venture is that thing.

I remember this quote:

“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”

– Josh Billings

It’s kind of stupid, but it really captures the feeling I have writing this article. There is something magical about holding on to something. Going further than others are willing to go. Working harder than you actually think is possible. Doing more and dreaming bigger than you ever did. Read a book about people that achieved something, and you will learn they persisted, and showed grit in times of trouble. Nothing worth having comes easy. So the message to myself every single day is, persevere.

 

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The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask Yourself

The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask Yourself

“All men of action are dreamers.”

James Huneker

The sun finally breaks through the hazy clouds. It’s a refreshing sight and puts a warm layer on the rough nature around us. We are walking on the Veluwe, a national park in the Netherlands. Together with my family and girlfriend, I am enjoying the mostly untouched nature of this place. One of my nieces is dragging along a tree branch she intends to use for something artsy. We all know she’ll drop it halfway, and she did.

But it is fun to see what make children decide on something and act. There is no or little restriction. There is no long process between idea and execution. There is also little planning involved, but that’s accepted and trained. What I found most appealing to this observation, and why I take it into this post is the questions we ask ourselves about what we do.

We say we want to be someone, reach something, or go down a different path. We have dreams, and we have options. But people are creatures of habit and often there is a too much room between idea and execution. There are restrictions and limitations. There’s no time. There’s no money. There are no resources, or we say “I don’t know how to do it”.

Magnanimous people were all born in times or situations of limitations. I think we can all see limitations with a certain perspective. But those same times and situations provide opportunity and options too. It’s just a matter of perspective. There’s always a way to find money, time, resources, and knowledge.

With that out of the way. What is holding you back? Nothing! So every day when you wake up, you go to work, or do the things you do, ask yourself this:

“Will reaching this goal bring me closer to or further from my major objective in life?”

Remind yourself every day of your major objective(s) in life. If you don’t have one, start doing things to find it. If you do have one, make sure you do something that progresses towards it, however small it may be.

Some years ago I didn’t know what I wanted with my life. I knew I wanted something in business, but had no clue what. But I knew I wanted to travel, so I made sure I could travel. I knew I wanted to do sports and try new things, so I made sure I did it. I needed to make money to pay the rent and feed my active lifestyle, so I worked and had jobs. But never was it exactly clear about what I wanted.

Looking back, it didn’t matter. I came across a business opportunity for me personally that had everything I wanted. I knew it was perfect. It is tough and will test me on everything regarding business and development, but it is what I want and need. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t yet found it, because I cultivated a habit of doing. A short line between idea and execution.

I didn’t know how to do things. Or where I could find the knowledge. That wasn’t the problem. I had the confidence and willpower to act on my decisions. The most powerful way to get from A to B. So grab that tree branch and drag it along. We need to embrace our dreams and objectives, by asking ourselves every day: “Will this bring me closer?”

 

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You don’t Know You – How to Become More Self-Aware

You don’t Know You – How to Become More Self-Aware

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”

Ralph Ellison

 

Self-awareness. It is a concept that’s at the source of it all. If you are talking about change, improvement, growth, learning and magnanimity. Self-awareness is where it all starts. If you are not self-aware, how can you know where you need to grow, what you need to learn, or why you keep making the same mistake over and over again.

That’s why I want to address it in this article and give some tips on achieving self-awareness. Important is to write down, when you go into the mental search. Your mind and memory can trick you, so make sure you put it in hard writing for revision. I write down a lot of stuff, because I know it works. It has helped me in my decision-making, goal-setting, and self-awareness.

Ok let’s go.

  1. Retrace your life story

Everybody has their own specific life path. Some grow up in the city, others in rural areas. Some have a broken family, others had trouble in school. Many factors come into play in the first 20 years of your life. They form a big part of your personality and becomes a fixed identity. For some people changing it is nearly impossible. Your life story are all the decisions and events that took you to the exact time and place where you are now. Retracing back, can give you insights into your personality or behavior at this moment.

 

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

Michel de Montaigne

 

  1. What are your strong and growth points

Look to yourself as if you were a business you could invest in. What strengths do you have? What are you good at? What have you been doing for such a long time, to make you an expert in it? What sets you apart from the next guy or girl? Don’t be disappointed if you have not found such a thing. It is sometimes not as clear as a certain skill. This is merely a self-awareness exercise. It shows you if you have already build up certain skills during your past life. Next to strong points, there are weak points. But I prefer to talk about growth points, because all weak points can be turned around if you really want it. Having weak points is not a bad thing though. I have weak points, and love them. Because it allows me to make better decisions of what I am, and what I am not.

  1. What are your habits

Everybody has habits, whether small or extensive. Write them down and see what makes up your day. Be honest. Self-awareness can be a slap in the face, or even a concrete chair thrown by The Hulk himself. Pretending to be studying or working out, could turn out to be snacking and watching YouTube. Having clear insight into the habit of every single day, is the key to knowing what makes you tick, and what does not.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Lao Tzu

 

  1. What motivates or delights you

To know what makes you happy or what gets you out of bed is paramount for achieving happiness. And I think we all want some happiness in our lives. Being self-aware of what motivates you and brings you pleasure can help understand yourself.

  1. What is your dream or life goal

Write down in a mind map, or make a list of how your life will be in 10 years. If you don’t know where to start you could ask yourself the question; “If I had all the time and money in the world, what would I be doing?” This life goal or dream represents your current wish for the future. You can use it as a picture of your current self-awareness, and use it as a map for the future.

  1. Get honest feedback

There is no better way to get to self-awareness than asking other people how they see you. No matter how well you think you know yourself, another person can bring you a fresh perspective on you. Make sure to get honest feedback. Some people who like you, can try to soften some feedback. That’s not always helpful when you want to get a full perspective of yourself. Also don’t go with just one person. The more people you ask that know you in different situations, the better.

 

“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

For me certainly, the realization of the importance of self-awareness created a real mind shift. I use it still to grow, learn, and ultimately be happy. It being the concept at the source, you should start to know yourself.

 

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Action – And the Power of Doing

Action – And the Power of Doing

“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

It’s 6:30 in the morning. I unwillingly turn around and hit the button that shuts up the fake bird sounds of my phone. The cold dark morning greets me indifferently, and I rise up. The day has started. I read something, make breakfast and get behind my computer. I do the hard ‘thinking’ stuff first and I roll through the day. I am ahead of everybody else, and all the things I needed to do, I get done. When the business hours are done, I get to my sports. I work myself in a sweat, and get back home. I am broken, yet revived. I get behind my laptop for other projects. I read to end the day, and make a to-do list for tomorrow.

A perfect working day like this, revolves around action. I have days, where I get only a couple things done, and the time does not feel well spent. I guess it is natural. You can’t be your best every day. Action and doing things gives me the best feeling possible. Especially when most of it involves things I like!

I love to do things. Preferably physical activities, but a good day reading, writing, emailing, and making calls beats doing nothing any day. I will have to see the long term results that come out of the work, but my guess is that it’ll all be worth it. That’s the reason why I wonder, when people want something (at least they say they want it) and they do nothing about it.

However vague your wish for the future might be, waiting for it to become clear is useless. There will not be someone that will tell you exactly what to do. It’s the same as if you are writing a book. It will form as soon as you start writing. If someone else tells you what to write, it is not your book anymore. The same thing applies to your life. You have to form your own vision. And you are the only one that can make it a reality.

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” – Peter Marshall

Action is key. And the first small step is the hardest. That’s why you need to think in small steps. A small and clearly defined step is so much more easier to accomplish, and thus paves the way for the next small step. Every big project is made up of a lot of small clearly defined steps. Starting a business, can for example start with defining exactly what customer you are serving, with what service or product. Then you dig into finding your company name, your logo, your mission statement, etc., etc.

Think in small steps that anyone can do. Like calling a client. Just pick up the phone and dial the number. Step into the ‘action zone’, and leave your brain at home. Focus on doing, doing and doing. You can laugh later at how you fucked up the introduction on the phone (happens to me all the time..).

Magnanimity, I believe has everything to do with doing. We have a lot of philosophers, thinkers, and dreamers in the world. But to become a truly Great Mind, we have to link that brain to our body and start doing.

You have to do.

 “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

 

 

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The Self-Help Generation

The Self-Help Generation

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” – Tony Robbins

If you take a look at my books, scattered around my ‘man cave’, you will see a lot of books that fit into the self-help category. I am not ashamed of it. Although I wonder, when I find another book from this category on my door mat, if I haven’t read enough by now. Not all, but definitively some books just get me fired up, especially the ones on business, growth, and learning.

In my eyes a good book, informs and educates me, but at the same time motivates me. It shows me the actions to take and why I should take them. Like a motivational speaker, the text grabs you by the throat and shakes your belief. You can do it, you will do it, you are on your way to success. Whatever success may means to you, I value the distant care of the writer for me to reach my success.

When I open Instagram, I get hit in the face with hundreds of motivational quotes and inspirational words. Wow! Although sometimes they seem somewhat superficial and corny, I happily take part and I write motivational words every day to myself, and anyone who’s interested. The fact that all the young people have access to these quotes and positive vibes is fascinating. Could we be part of the Self-Help Generation?

Do you believe in unlimited possibilities? Can anyone reach their life goal, just by believing? Will we see an entire generation living fulfilled lives? Who knows. I certainly hope so. The information, knowledge, and experiences of those who tell you how, is readily accessible. Books are cheap, internet is free and motivational speakers stalk you in every corner of Instagram. The power is yours.

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It’s true, that once you’ve read half a dozen books, you’ve read them all. But like Zig Ziglar said: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” And taking in motivational quotes, inspirational stories, and success tips is good, as long as you need it.

The thing I find most important about this development is the underlying mindset. I first learned about it in a Strategy course at University. The development of business strategy was portrayed as being on a continuum between Choice (or Free Will) versus Determinism. In what way could you fully decide the outcome of the future with choices made now. And in what way are you just a pawn on a chess board, outside of your control.

This suspense between choice and determinism can also be seen in our own lives. The strategy we pursue in our career, and how we handle health, family and love, are all part of our mindset. Are you more of a choice kind of person? Do you think you can control the outcome of your career, learn a skill you have no experience in, and influence the major flow of your life? Or are you more of a determinist? Do you think that things come as they come and you can’t do anything about it, do you think innate talent is the major determinant of where your career will lead you?

When you look at the scientific research the real world truth will of course lie somewhere in the middle. We have influence over major choices (at least we believe we do; our mind plays more tricks on us than we are aware of), and at the same time the world definitively has a lot more things going on that you can NOT influence. Just try to plan for a sunny weekend in the Netherlands.

My point is this. What counts is what you believe. And for me it is the belief that I do have influence over my future. Because this mindset WORKS for me. I can learn new skills. I can become who I want to be. I can design my career as I wish. I learn and become experienced. I will do things, make mistakes and grow. I will take full responsibility for my life. Not because it is the full scientific truth, but because it works for me. I design my life. I design my happiness. A choice mindset works for me. I am sure it will work for you too.

 

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