Everything is Energy.
Your thoughts are energy
and everything we create begins with thinking first.
What to do when you feel like your life doesn’t align with your dreams. by Madeline Johnson
Your thoughts are energy
and everything we create begins with thinking first.
To be passionate about your dreams is one thing. To realize your dreams and create with purpose is completely another. Oh the danger of being drunk with passion and intoxicated with ideas.
When all we have is passion, we fall prey to being impatient while assuming we will succeed while overcoming our limitations. Limitations are real and something we need to see clearly or we will never make progress. Self-denial about our limitations let us miss where we need to grow and go. We risk the chance of becoming blinded by naive enthusiasm. We promise ourselves more than we can muster. It’s a delusional place to be.
But oh how much fun it can be.
We all know the loop. Take an idea, what seems like a very good idea and become really excited about that idea. Pumped. Stoked. On fire. We are filled with unbridled enthusiasm, perhaps what many people call passion.
That passion you feel, that deep desire to fulfill that dream, it’s the fire that fuels. Passion may very well be what kicks your ass out of bed in the morning and charges you to move forward, to go forth, to get on with it.
The Alchemy of Passion
Read: The Surprising Alchemy of Passion & Science from the MIT Leadership Center.
But, passion without execution and the ability to fail and endure is a trap.
Turning Passion into Progress
Turning your passion into reality requires something more. It requires progress. Sometimes painful progress. Progression – making headway towards your goals – can and should be measured and tracked with a daily dose of reality. What your passion requires is honesty and clarity.
It might also need a plan. A deliberate disciplined action strategy and of course the discipline to honor that purposeful plan every day. A blueprint of sorts. A guide. A map.
But how do you know if you’re really making progress? Harness the data. Measure the feedback. Track how far you’ve come and how far you need to go before your dream(s) are reality.
Planning the process and producing a bit each day, making progress. This is what transforms passion into progress. What makes those dreams come true.
Passionate activity without purpose is just noise. It might even mean just being busy.
Busy without being productive will keep you spinning your wheels while never making any real progress.
We can ward off that danger of being drunk with passion by being realistic about what we are doing. Staying in the moment, measuring our progress and making corrections to our course each day.
A Critical Look at Our Faults & Failures
The ability to evaluate one’s own ability and progress is an important skill to turning passion into progress. It requires a critical look at what needs to be improved. Including your skills. How good are you right now, really? How much more do you need to improve? to practice? to plan? to execute.
How are you sure that what you are doing is moving you forward?
Ryan Holiday’s Ego is the Enemy should be required reading for everyone, especially those with a dream, a vision and or a passion. I am finding his book to be one of the most grounding pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. Thank you Ryan.
Illustrator Ruben Ireland
Tomorrow is Today
Focusing on our future selves helps us to make new decisions about what we should be doing right now. With this vision and connection to our future self we can apply the action needed today to make the changes in order to be a more fantastic future versions of ourselves.
One caveat. It will take self-control.
So if you really want to be 20 lbs lighter in the future, put down that bag of chips right now and stop mindlessly eating at your desk.
The Future is Here
Want to know what your future will look like? Thanks to technology, you can get a glimpse. This website lets you talk to your future self using a sophisticated combination of motion capture software, speech recognition and 3D imaging. You will need to download the latest version of Chrome to check it out here. It’s really fun, I promise.
Need a bit of help with self-disclipine and control? Who doesn’t?
Instead of hanging on to hope and possibility, you can increase the probability of your success with these tools.
If you want to be Fabulously Fit
Stop hitting the gym like an amateur. Workout like a pro, forget CrossFit, practice mindful movement. Learn: Self-Limiting Movement
Boost up your cardio. Jump Rope Jump Rope Workouts: Cardio fitness for increased stamina, lean muscle building and fat burning
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Crushing it in Your Career
Rev up the motor. Move the Needle. Read this detailed system that will help you achieve your professional and personal goals.
I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet. I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.
“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.” – Marcus Aurelius
The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop – I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system. Some call it reinventing ourselves.
The Act of Envisioning the Future
The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.
Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.
I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.
Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.
Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones
Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body. Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.
The five blue zones are as follows:
The people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines. The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally. Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities. And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.
To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind. For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.
This list here includes some of the most important ways in which I wish to serve the world. I am sure it will grow and change as I progress. Does anything ring true with you? Anything you recommend to add?
I started this blog to connect with brilliant thinkers and doers like yourself with the intention of making new friends from all around the world so we can inspire each other to move in the direction of our dreams.
I recently discovered Johnathon Jones, creator of Building United. Johnathon is creating a community of readers and followers who have a vested interest in living a life full on consistent personal and professional growth. One of my favorite pieces of inspiration here.
Performance and Endurance
Johnathon is a runner. For most runners, a marathon is not just 26.2 miles of physical endurance – it means months and months of arduous, painstaking preparation.
Typically, those signing up commit to long periods of meticulous planning, a careful diet and a regimented program of progressively longer runs.
Here Johnathon gives his advice on creating a habit of deliberate practice for maximum results and success.
What is Deliberate Practice
Practice makes perfect. Practice like you play (or perform). Practice what you preach (do).
The list goes on, and I could spend the next several minutes reciting quotes about practice that we have all heard at some point in time. Practicing a skill, task, or act is vital to our long term success in achieving what the said skill or task prepares us to do.
However, there is a significant difference between the act of practicing in order to ‘get in your repetitions’ and deliberate practice in order to become better. There is a difference between going through the motions and passing time and spending time honing and refining a skill in attempt to perfect it.
Quality of Practice
After all, if you’re going to devote time out of your day towards bettering yourself at a particular undertaking, then it is in your best interest to focus your energies on being as productive as possible in that short amount of time.
The question I get asked, though, is “How can I be most effective in the little amount of time that I have?” In other words, how can I be deliberate in my efforts to maximize my results?
In my own experiences, I have found that utilizing a three step approach has been crucial to my development. For example, I began running on a consistent basis nearly 6 years ago. The goal was always to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In order to arrive at this goal, I had to be deliberate in my methods.
How did I get there? I implemented these three steps.
Step One – Dedicating a Time Slot
You must dedicate regular time slot intervals to deliberately practice. It needs to be built into your calendar, as do your work appointments, children’s activities, and family events. If it’s on the calendar, then you are committed to it. For me, I set an alarm nearly everyday for 4:30am or 5:00am to wake up and commit myself to training programs for various marathons. This is when my body functions best for this type of training. For you, it doesn’t need to be 5:00am, but it does need to be at a time when you feel best about working on that skill.
Step Two – Eliminating Other ‘To-Do’s
Let’s face it, we are all challenged with varying obligations each morning when we wake up – meeting a project deadline, meeting with a client, taking the kids to school – these activities can overwhelm our mental capacity. In your deliberate practice, it’s not only important, but necessary, to eliminate any fleeting thoughts of these other tasks. This will help you to better identify how you feel, what worked, what didn’t work, and what to improve upon next time. Moreover, this is the difference between ‘being present’ and ‘being in the moment’.
Step Three – Refine and Repeat
Even those who were born with natural tendencies and talents still had to work hard, and continue to work hard at their specific skill set in order to be the best they could possibly be. Michael Jordan never quit practicing throughout his entire NBA career, and is highly regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Steve Jobs never stopped refining his products and technological advances because it was necessary to grow Apple into the company that it is today. This is the step where you utilize and build upon what works well, and trash what wasn’t useful.
Achieving Your Goals
It took nearly five years for me to finally achieve a Boston Marathon qualifying time. It didn’t happen overnight, but that’s not important. What is important is the deliberate intention I had of achieving a goal.
This same principle is applicable in your own life. Consider how you can you apply it in your office, your marriage, friendships, etc.
Passion, Enthusiasm and Dedicated Work
Not only does being deliberate display a commitment to become better, but it also exemplifies and defines passion, enthusiasm and work ethic. I have never known someone whom had these three characteristics that didn’t achieve a goal.
How about you? When was the last time you were truly deliberate was about what is was you were engaging in? Did you feel the passion burning inside, the enthusiasm from without and the reward of working hard?
Moving forward, as you engage in practice, make it deliberate – intentional if you will. Implement the three step approach and see where it leads. Chances are, it will lead you directly where you want to go.
About Me Johnathon Jones
From a personal standpoint, running has been my true passion for nearly 6 years, but since moving to Denver, CO, I am spending quite a bit of time outdoors – hiking, road biking, climbing, etc. I’m a firm believer that those who achieve the most in life are the ones who take advantage of the opportunities that surround them. That being said, I love to travel (especially on the whim), cooking is a daily thing I love, and meeting people in order to build relationships.
Connect with Johnathon on LinkedIn
Join the Building United Community. Visit his blog
Learn more about refining your deliberate practice.
While I appreciate and follow the rational wisdom of stoics like Seneca and Aurelius, I have also been fascinated with the role of the Shaman, the healer, the medicine woman (and man) in tribes throughout the world. While throughout history these people have taken on the responsibility for the well-being and emotional balance of their villages, I ask myself, what is the role of a healer in today’s society and do we not all have the potential to heal each other?
A Shaman at The Soho House
My first encounter with a modern day Shaman was in the private screening room of The Soho House in Manhattan. Ridiculously ironic I know, but true just the same. Barnaby Ruhe leads an east and west cost circle collective to Shamandome at Burning Man every year.
From Woo Woo, to Wow, Wow
Just recently, I have been fortunate enough to have benefited greatly from a life energy and power animal healing session with Jennifer , a Life Energy Coach with a Masters in Natural Health based in San Francisco. I met her right here in the world of Word Press. It’s interesting to note that Jennifer is also a brilliant business strategist by day. She brings a great balance to the land of woo woo, which is exactly why I think her work bridges the magic of mysticism into modern day living so well.
As a coach, Jennifer helps people identify and integrate changes into their life through a variety of shamanic practices and techniques and the guidance of helpful spirits.
If you are interested in learning about the details of my experience with Jennifer, please comment below and I will be happy to go into further detail.
For this blog today, I asked Jennifer to answer a few questions.
MJ: Jennifer, please share some of the really amazing moments you had with the Mayan Shaman in the Yucatan that found you on your trip to Mexico. This, the beginning of your own shamanic journey.
JM: I had never heard of shamanism before my trip to Mexico a few years ago. That all changed on my third day of vacation. I decided to walk to the city square, but as usual, got lost. One of the local residents offered to help me find my way. We walked and talked, and when we got to the square, he told me that he needed to introduce me to someone. That someone turned out to be a Mayan Shaman.
There was an electric moment when we saw each other, a knowing that we were meant to meet.
The first thing the Shaman said to me was, “You have a very big heart.” He asked me what I did to make the energy of my heart so big, but before I could answer, he took my hand in his and curled his fingers around mine in such a manner that our fingers made a spiral. He explained to me that this was the symbol of the shaman, and went on to tell me about shamanism and how it heals.
He then said that he was going to perform a shamanic healing on me. He spent over 4 hours working on me – using stones, chanting, drumming and energy work. I knew he was the “real deal” when he explained that my energy was blocked due to two traumatic events in my life, and then went on to describe those events to me.
At one point, he took two raw chicken eggs. He had me shake them and then gently ran them over my body, many times. He told me they would remove negative energy. When he finished, he had me shake the eggs again. They were very heavy and sounded as if they were filled with gravel!
As he continued his healing work on me, I suddenly felt a huge opening in me. A wave of emotions swept over me—anger, joy, guilt, sadness—and I saw a vision of a snake slithering down the side of a pyramid. I felt shattered, but also felt an incredible sense of relief and peacefulness.
By the time he was done with the healing, he was covered in sweat. He told me that he normally would do this work over several sessions, but his spirit guides had told him I was coming and to do the work all in one night.
He began my shamanic training that first night and continued throughout my trip. On my last night there, he came with a gift for me: an 800+ year-old stone carving of Itzamna, the Mayan god of creation, writing, and divination. It had been carved from a million-year-old stalactite from a sacred cave and used in shamanic ceremonies since. Many people had wanted the carving, but it was not for sale.
When I asked him why he gave the carving to me, he said, “Because you are to become a shaman.”
Since then, I have gone back to Mexico several times for more training with him. We have traveled to many sacred archaeological sites together, where he has taught me how to increase my energy and power, read the energy of others, and how to heal.
MJ: Can you give an example of how your power animal has helped you discover yourself and grow with more happiness, self-love and power?
JM: My power animal works with me daily, for my personal healing and shamanic work. He shows up in shamanic journeys, dreams and visions. When I first became aware of shamanism, my power animal began teaching me shamanic techniques that were validated through training with the Mayan Shaman and others.
He will also bring in other power animals when I am dealing with a situation that would benefit from that animal’s strengths and wisdom. As I’ve been transitioning to doing shamanic work, my power animal has brought in Snake (transformation), Hawk (vision), Bear (strength), Vulture (purification and rebirth) and Crocodile (power and awareness) to share their life lessons with me. Years ago, my power animal brought Fawn in to help me through a difficult personal time in a beautiful, gentle way.
MJ: Why do you think more and more people are interested in Shamanistic healing now?
Shamanic healing has been around since the beginning of humankind. Society moved away from this type of healing with the advent of modern medicine, which typically has focused on the body part and not the whole person. I think more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that the body is a complete system that includes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. Shamans focus on all these areas when working with clients. I also think that modern medicine is becoming more open to including holistic approaches to healing. In California, one hospital combines modern and shamanic practices for healing. While it is the first hospital in the country to do this, I would expect to see more integration between different healing approaches in the future.
Learn more about the meaning of your power animal – Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small
Are the super successful achievers bestowed some special divine gift? Some inborn or innate ability? Is there such a thing as a natural born leader? Have you ever wondered what category you fit in? Are you destined for greatness? I could be wrong, but I imagine that any of us putting ourselves out there want to achieve some level of success, giving our greatest performances.
The Reality and Great “Secret” of Success
I was so lit up yesterday by an interview that I heard on the Unmistakable Creative podcast with Geoff Colvin who wrote a few books on the topic. His questions began with . . . What makes Tiger Woods great? What made Chairman Warren Buffett the world’s premier investor? We think we know: Each was a natural who came into the world with a gift for doing exactly what he ended up doing. As Buffett told Fortune not long ago, he was “wired at birth to allocate capital.” It’s a one-in-a-million thing. You’ve got it – or you don’t.
Well, it’s not so simple. For one thing, you do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist. (Sorry, Warren.) You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.
Read the entire Fortune article here and it turns out that Colvin was inspired by a study about daily demanding deliberate violinist practice that pushed them just a bit each day. Just a bit. You can read the original study on deliberate practice here.
The take away for me (and I would love your opinion). You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful. Great performances are available to all of us with daily deliberate practice.
Two books on my list to read this month –
Today I consider the question that baffles my mind, the question I love to hate most-How do we live our true purpose in life?
I actually considered banning this question from my thoughts, but was inspired this morning with this kind of awesome idea. It goes something like this –
Begin with – guarding our thoughts – The mind is everything. What you think you become. –Buddha
First we must carefully protect our minds. Our minds produce thoughts. Our thoughts will become our actions, which if done mindfully, will become our habits and our habits become our destiny. A possibility of a destiny of greatness. It starts there.
And then – Ask ourselves one very simple question.
Note – in order to find our passion and live with purpose – this question should be asked over and over again, momentarily, daily, weekly – right now. Especially when we feel confused, lost, disillusioned and worried.
What would the highest version of myself do in this moment? What would the bravest, fearless, strongest, happiest, calmest version of me do right now?
Then, we simply we remain open to the answer. Perhaps it is to apologize, share a kind word, maybe a compassionate hug, an encouraging email. Or perhaps it is the inspiration to go out for a long walk or simply to call a friend. Just do that highest version thing moment after moment and watch your true purpose unfold. Game on.
It is when we live like this that we are living with true purpose and intention. We are living a purpose that is in line with our highest self, while radiating hope, optimism, gratitude, kindness, creativity, energy, beauty, enthusiasm, courage, diligence, playfulness, patience, persistence and generosity.
Every moment we have a choice, we can step forward into the highest version of ourselves or back into the safe habits of how we were. We bear the choice, to go in one direction or another, backwards or forwards, right now.
Inspired by Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes
Consider the possibilities when we take a moment to spend our time in wonder and awe. To rest in this moment in grateful appreciation for the miracle that it is. To recognize and celebrate as we stop reducing time spent in the form of milestones and achievement.