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3 Lessons That Got Me Out of Homelessness

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Homeless becoming successful inspirational story

Andy Andrews is a New York Times best-selling author and speaker. He’s spoken in front of four U.S. presidents and Zig Ziglar described him as “the best speaker I have ever seen.” But he wasn’t always that way.

In fact, he was homeless when he started his career.

Enjoy the story of the old man who taught him how to overcome his circumstances and achieve success.

His name was Jones.

Not Mr. Jones. Just Jones.

I was 23 years old and living underneath a pier on Alabama’s Gulf Coast when I met him. I was alone, scared, and, most of all, angry.

Life had not turned out the way I had wanted it. Both of my parents were dead—my mom from cancer and my dad from a car accident—and, other than the small amount of money I made cleaning fish, I didn’t have a penny to my name.

One question kept rolling around in my head: Is life just a lottery ticket?

Does one person get a family and happiness while another ends up under a pier?

And that’s when I met Jones.

He was a peculiar old man who happened to show up one night underneath the pier where I was living. He was a friend when I didn’t have one and told me the truth when I didn’t want to hear it.

Jones taught me more than anyone else I’ve ever met, and if it weren’t for these three lessons in particular, I might still be under that pier:

 

1. Successful people read. A lot.

That very first night I met Jones under the pier, he asked me a question before he left: “Do you read?

As I nodded, he added, “I’m not asking if you can read; I’m asking if you do.

At that point in my life, I’d always been more of a Sports Illustrated kind of guy when it came to reading, so I wasn’t too excited when Jones pulled three small, orange hardcover books from his suitcase.

Seeing the names on the books, I asked, “Biographies?

No, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “adventure stories! Success, failure, romance, intrigue, tragedy, and triumph—and the best part is that every word is true!

What he said next is something that has stuck in my mind forever: “Remember, young man, experience is not the best teacher. Other people’s experience is the best teacher. By reading about the lives of great people, you can unlock the secrets to what made them great.

I read Winston Churchill until dawn. When I finished the three Jones left me, I returned them to the library and checked out three more. Over time, I read more than 200 biographies. The insights into what it takes to be successful, combined with action, are what got me out from under the pier.

 

2. Don’t be average.

Jones had many sayings—things that seemed like they should be on a poster in a classroom or etched on a monument somewhere. This one has been a source of confidence and encouragement every time I’ve attempted to do something that made everyone in my life think I was crazy (like doing stand-up comedy, becoming a speaker, and writing a best-selling novel).

If you are doing what everyone else is doing, you are doing something wrong. Because most people are not obtaining results that are considered extraordinary.

Do you want extraordinary results in your life? If you’re on this website, the answer is most likely “yes.” If that’s the case, then it is critical that you differentiate the way you think from the vast majority of people. If you don’t, you will continue to achieve results in your life that are merely average.

And extraordinary people are not average.

 

3. Become a “noticer.” (Keep things in perspective)

I never found out what Jones did for a living, or even where he slept for that matter. He simply always seemed to be “around.

He, however, did have a name for what he did—he called himself a “noticer.

While others may be able to sing well or run fast, I notice things that other people overlook,” he explained. “I notice things about situations and people that produce perspective. That’s what most folks lack—perspective—a broader view.

That “broader view” is exactly what Jones gave me, and taught me to give others.

One day shortly after we met, Jones said he had a feast to share with me. At that time, I was a “one-meal-a-day” kind of guy, so you can imagine my excitement. That excitement, however, soon turned to disappointment when I saw that his “feast” consisted of a couple tins of Vienna sausages and sardines.

Since passing on a meal wasn’t really an option, I went ahead and ate with the old man. It wasn’t long before he resumed his habit of asking me annoying questions to which I thought the answers were obvious.

What are you eating?” was the question this time.

Incredulous, I replied, “Vienna sausages and sardines…

Where?

In the sand.

He smiled to himself and kept eating. “I thought so,” he mumbled.

Now I was mad. “What are you talking about?” I demanded.

Young man,” he said, “you see only the sand at your feet and what you are eating that you wish was something else. Incidentally, you ate sardines and Vienna sausages in the sand. I dined on surf and turf with an ocean view.

He slapped me on the back and quickly added, “It’s all about perspective.

Think about this as you go through your day—what in your life are you currently looking at with the wrong perspective? What seemingly bad situations could actually be blessings in disguise?

Our realities are always shaped and molded by our perspective. If you want your reality to be defined by success, know this—a lack of perspective will make even your greatest successes seem like failures.

Stop for a moment. Look. Listen. Learn. Watch for opportunities to provide perspective. And when you do, don’t keep it to yourself. Those who bring perspective to others are often accepted as leaders and valued greatly in today’s world.

 

Make sure you get your hands on Andy’s latest book, based on his experiences with Jones, The Noticer Returns.

Andy Andrews is the author of the New York Times bestsellers How Do You Kill 11 Million People?, The Noticer, and The Traveler's Gift, and is also an in-demand speaker for the world's largest organizations. Zig Ziglar said, "Andy Andrews is the best speaker I have ever seen."

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3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself and Change Your Life

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Warren Buffett once said, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself. Time and money spent on bettering yourself are never considered a waste. Whether it’s through learning how to make money online, exploring new ways to increase your financial security, or watching TED talks to expand your knowledge. Do not be stingy when it comes to self-improvement because it will definitely pay off in the end. 

Need some ideas to get started on your journey to becoming a better you? Here are 5 ways to invest in yourself and transform your life. 

1. Change Your Self-Concept

Having a negative self-concept can have a tremendous impact on your life. Limiting beliefs and self-doubt are some of the main reasons why many never achieve or attempt to pursue their dreams. Take a moment and think about all the negative thoughts you have repeated to yourself throughout your life. How have these thoughts impacted the way you live life? From now on, create a new self-image by turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and appreciate your good qualities. 

2. Sign Up For An Online Course

If you’ve been wanting to brush up on your Photoshop skills or learn how to code professionally, this is the perfect time to get started. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can access an endless amount of valuable information online. For example, sites like Coursera and Youtube are both awesome resources for online learning. With a few search strings and clicks, you can find all the information you need. 

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” – Robin Sharma

3. Learn From a Mentor

No matter which stage of your life you are currently in, working with a mentor can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Not only can they guide you in the right direction, but also transform your vision, provide you with new insights, and connect you with amazing resources. If you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure about what you want to do in life, consider finding a mentor to help you navigate this process. 

4. Start A Side Hustle

The salary from a 9-5 job would rarely allow you to reach your maximum income potential. Why not achieve financial success while pursuing your passion by starting a side hustle? Whether it’s through starting an ecommerce business, freelance writing on the side, or starting a Youtube channel. There are infinite numbers of ways to make money, and there is bound to be one out there that fits your passion and skills. 

5. Nourish Your Body

As many may say, “health is the new wealth”. Without a healthy and functioning body, living a fulfilling and comfortable life becomes difficult. To take care of your body and prioritize your wellbeing, start with small habits such as eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Bike or walk to work instead of taking the car, and opt for a healthy protein bowl instead of greasy burgers at Burger King. With time, these small habits can make an incredible difference.

Check out the infographic below, to see more ways you can invest in yourself:

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