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The 3 Vital Steps Of The Apprenticeship Phase In Mastering Anything

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Robert Greene - Master Skills in Apprenticeship
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This post is an excerpt from Mastery by Robert Greene (Viking). Mastery is the latest book from the bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law.

In the stories of the greatest Masters, past and present, we can inevitably detect a phase in their lives in which all of their future powers were in development, like the chrysalis of a butterfly. This part of their lives—a largely self-directed apprenticeship that lasts some five to ten years—receives little attention because it does not contain stories of great achievement or discovery. Often in their Apprenticeship Phase, these types are not yet much different from anyone else. Under the surface, however, their minds are transforming in ways we cannot see but contain all of the seeds of their future success.

Much of how such Masters navigate this phase comes from an intuitive grasp of what is most important and essential for their development, but in studying what they did right we can learn some invaluable lessons for ourselves. In fact, a close examination of their lives reveals a pattern that transcends their various fields, indicating a kind of Ideal Apprenticeship for mastery. And to grasp this pattern, to follow it in our own ways, we must understand something about the very idea and necessity for passing through an apprenticeship.

In childhood we are inculcated in culture through a long period of dependency—far longer than any other animal. During this period we learn language, writing, math, and reasoning skills, along with a few others. Much of this happens under the watchful and loving guidance of parents and teachers. As we get older, greater emphasis is placed on book learning—absorbing as much information as possible about various subjects. Such knowledge of history, science, or literature is abstract, and the process of learning largely involves passive absorption. At the end of this process (usually somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five) we are then thrust into the cold, harsh work world to fend for ourselves.

When we emerge from the youthful state of dependency, we are not really ready to handle the transition to an entirely independent phase. We carry with us the habit of learning from books or teachers, which is largely unsuited for the practical, self-directed phase of life that comes next. We tend to be somewhat socially naïve and unprepared for the political games people play. Still uncertain as to our identity, we think that what matters in the work world is gaining attention and making friends. And these misconceptions and naïveté are brutally exposed in the light of the real world.

If we adjust over time, we might eventually find our way; but if we make too many mistakes, we create endless problems for ourselves. We spend too much time entangled in emotional issues, and we never quite have enough detachment to reflect and learn from our experiences. The apprenticeship, by its very nature, must be conducted by each individual in his or her own way. To follow precisely the lead of others or advice from a book is self-defeating. This is the phase in life in which we finally declare our independence and establish who we are. But for this second education in our lives, so critical to our future success, there are some powerful and essential lessons that we all can benefit from, that can guide us away from common mistakes and save us valuable time.

These lessons transcend all fields and historical periods because they are connected to something essential about human psychology and how the brain itself functions. They can be distilled into one overarching principle for the Apprenticeship Phase, and a process that loosely follows three steps.

The principle is simple and must be engraved deeply in your mind: the goal of an apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title, or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character—the first transformation on the way to mastery. You enter a career as an outsider. You are naïve and full of misconceptions about this new world. Your head is full of dreams and fantasies about the future. Your knowledge of the world is subjective, based on emotions, insecurities, and limited experience. Slowly, you will ground yourself in reality, in the objective world represented by the knowledge and skills that make people successful in it. You will learn how to work with others and handle criticism. In the process you will transform yourself from someone who is impatient and scattered into someone who is disciplined and focused, with a mind that can handle complexity. In the end, you will master yourself and all of your weaknesses.

This has a simple consequence: you must choose places of work and positions that offer the greatest possibilities for learning. Practical knowledge is the ultimate commodity, and is what will pay you dividends for decades to come—far more than the paltry increase in pay you might receive at some seemingly lucrative position that offers fewer learning opportunities. This means that you move toward challenges that will toughen and improve you, where you will get the most objective feedback on your performance and progress. You do not choose apprenticeships that seem easy and comfortable.

In this sense you must see yourself as following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin. You are finally on your own, on a voyage in which you will craft your own future. It is the time of youth and adventure—of exploring the world with an open mind and spirit. In fact, whenever you must learn a new skill or alter your career path later in life, you reconnect with that youthful, adventurous part of yourself. Darwin could have played it safe, collecting what was necessary, and spending more time on board studying instead of actively exploring. In that case, he would not have become an illustrious scientist, but just another collector. He constantly looked for challenges, pushing himself past his comfort zone. He used danger and difficulties as a way to measure his progress. You must adopt such a spirit and see your apprenticeship as a kind of journey in which you will transform yourself, rather than as a drab indoctrination into the work world.

 

The Apprenticeship Phase — The Three Steps or Modes

With the principle outlined above guiding you in your choices, you must think of three essential steps in your apprenticeship, each one overlapping the other. These steps are: Deep Observation (The Passive Mode), Skills Acquisition (The Practice Mode), and Experimentation (The Active Mode). Keep in mind that an apprenticeship can come in many different forms. It can happen at one place over several years, or it can consist of several different positions in different places, a kind of compound apprenticeship involving many different skills. It can include a mix of graduate school and practical experience. In all of these cases, it will help you to think in terms of these steps, although you may need to give added weight to a particular one depending on the nature of your field.

 

Step One: Deep Observation—The Passive Mode

Becoming A Master - Robert GreeneWhen you enter a career or new environment, you move into a world with its own rules, procedures, and social dynamic. For decades or even centuries, people have compiled knowledge of how to get things done in a particular field, each generation improving on the past. In addition, every workplace has its own conventions, rules of behavior, and work standards. There are also all kinds of power relationships that exist between individuals. All of this represents a reality that transcends your individual needs and desires. And so your task upon entering this world is to observe and absorb its reality as deeply as possible.

The greatest mistake you can make in the initial months of your apprenticeship is to imagine that you have to get attention, impress people, and prove yourself. These thoughts will dominate your mind and close it off from the reality around you. Any positive attention you receive is deceptive; it is not based on your skills or anything real, and it will turn against you. Instead, you will want to acknowledge the reality and submit to it, muting your colors and keeping in the background as much as possible, remaining passive and giving yourself the space to observe. You will also want to drop any preconceptions you might have about this world you are entering. If you impress people in these first months, it should be because of the seriousness of your desire to learn, not because you are trying to rise to the top before you are ready.

You will be observing two essential realities in this new world. First, you will observe the rules and procedures that govern success in this environment—in other words, “this is how we do things here.” Some of these rules will be communicated to you directly—generally the ones that are superficial and largely a matter of common sense. You must pay attention to these and observe them, but what is of more interest are the rules that are unstated and are part of the underlying work culture. These concern style and values that are considered important. They are often a reflection of the character of the man or woman on top.

You can observe such rules by looking at those who are on their way up in the hierarchy, who have a golden touch. More tellingly, you can observe those who are more awkward, who have been chastised for particular mistakes or even been fired. Such examples serve as negative trip wires: do things this way and you will suffer.

The second reality you will observe is the power relationships that exist within the group: who has real control; through whom do all communications flow; who is on the rise and who is on the decline. These procedural and political rules may be dysfunctional or counterproductive, but your job is not to moralize about this or complain, but merely to understand them, to get a complete lay of the land. You are like an anthropologist studying an alien culture, attuned to all of its nuances and conventions. You are not there to change that culture; you will only end up being killed, or in the case of work, fired. Later, when you have attained power and mastery, you will be the one to rewrite or destroy these same rules.

Every task you are given, no matter how menial, offers opportunities to observe this world at work. No detail about the people within it is too trivial. Everything you see or hear is a sign for you to decode. Over time, you will begin to see and understand more of the reality that eluded you at first. For instance, a person whom you initially thought had great power ended up being someone with more bark than bite. Slowly, you begin to see behind the appearances. As you amass more information about the rules and power dynamics of your new environment, you can begin to analyze why they exist, and how they relate to larger trends in the field. You move from observation to analysis, honing your reasoning skills, but only after months of careful attention.

We can see how Charles Darwin followed this step quite clearly. By spending the first few months studying life on board the ship and perceiving the unwritten rules, he made his time for science much more productive. By enabling himself to fit in, he was able to avoid needless battles that would have later disrupted his scientific work, not to mention the emotional turmoil these would have presented to him. He later practiced the same technique with gauchos and other local communities he came in contact with. This allowed him to extend the regions he could explore and the specimens he could collect. On another level, he slowly transformed himself into perhaps the most astute observer of nature the world has ever known. Emptying himself of any preconceptions about life and its origins, Darwin trained himself to see things as they are. He did not theorize or generalize about what he was seeing until he had amassed enough information. Submitting to and absorbing the reality of all aspects of this voyage, he ended up piercing one of the most fundamental realities of all—the evolution of all living forms.

Understand: there are several critical reasons why you must follow this step. First, knowing your environment inside and out will help you in navigating it and avoiding costly mistakes. You are like a hunter: your knowledge of every detail of the forest and of the ecosystem as a whole will give you many more options for survival and success. Second, the ability to observe any unfamiliar environment will become a critical lifelong skill. You will develop the habit of stilling your ego and looking outward instead of inward. You will see in any encounter what most people miss because they are thinking of themselves. You will cultivate a keen eye for human psychology, and strengthen your ability to focus. Finally, you will become accustomed to observing first, basing your ideas and theories on what you have seen with your eyes, and then analyzing what you find. This will be a very important skill for the next, creative phase in life.

 

Step Two: Skills Acquisition—The Practice Mode

Robert Greene - The Art Of MasteryAt some point, as you progress through the initial months of observation required in an apprenticeship, you will enter a critical stage: practice toward the acquisition of skills. Every human activity, endeavor, or career path involves the mastering of skills. In some fields, it is direct and obvious, like operating a tool or machine or creating something physical. In others, it is more of a mix of the physical and mental, such as the observing and collecting of specimens for Charles Darwin. In still others, the skills are more nebulous, such as handling people or researching and organizing information. As much as possible, you want to reduce these skills to something simple and essential—the core of what you need to get good at, skills that can be practiced.

In acquiring any kind of skill, there exists a natural learning process that coincides with the functioning of our brains. This learning process leads to what we shall call tacit knowledge—a feeling for what you are doing that is hard to put into words but easy to demonstrate in action. And to understand how this learning process operates, it is useful to look at the greatest system ever invented for the training of skills and the achievement of tacit knowledge—the apprenticeship system of the Middle Ages. This system arose as a solution to a problem: As business expanded in the Middle Ages, Masters of various crafts could no longer depend on family members to work in the shop. They needed more hands. But it was not worth it for them to bring in people who would come and go—they needed stability and time to build up skills in their workers. And so they developed the apprenticeship system, in which young people from approximately the ages of twelve to seventeen would enter work in a shop, signing a contract that would commit them for the term of seven years. At the end of this term, apprentices would have to pass a master test, or produce a master work, to prove their level of skill. Once passed, they were now elevated to the rank of journeymen and could travel wherever there was work, practicing the craft.

Because few books or drawings existed at the time, apprentices would learn the trade by watching Masters and imitating them as closely as possible. They learned through endless repetition and hands-on work, with very little verbal instruction (the word “apprentice” itself comes from the Latin prehendere, meaning to grasp with the hand). Because resources such as textiles, wood, and metals were expensive and could not be wasted on practice runs, apprentices would spend most of their time working directly on materials that would be used for the final product. They had to learn how to focus deeply on their work and not make mistakes.

If one added up the time that apprentices ended up working directly on materials in those years, it would amount to more than 10,000 hours, enough to establish exceptional skill level at a craft. The power of this form of tacit knowledge is embodied in the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe—masterpieces of beauty, craftsmanship, and stability, all erected without blueprints or books. These cathedrals represented the accumulated skills of numerous craftsmen and engineers.

What this means is simple: language, oral and written, is a relatively recent invention. Well before that time, our ancestors had to learn various skills—toolmaking, hunting, and so forth. The natural model for learning, largely based on the power of mirror neurons, came from watching and imitating others, then repeating the action over and over. Our brains are suited for this form of learning. In an activity such as riding a bicycle, we all know that it is easier to watch someone and follow their lead than to listen to or read instructions. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. Even with skills that are primarily mental, such as computer programming or speaking a foreign language, it remains the case that we learn best through practice and repetition—the natural learning process. We learn a foreign language by actually speaking it as much as possible, not by reading books and absorbing theories. The more we speak and practice, the more fluent we become.

Once you take this far enough, you enter a cycle of accelerated returns in which the practice becomes easier and more interesting, leading to the ability to practice for longer hours, which increases your skill level, which in turn makes practice even more interesting. Reaching this cycle is the goal you must set for yourself, and to get there you must understand some basic principles about skills themselves.

First, it is essential that you begin with one skill that you can master, and that serves as a foundation for acquiring others. You must avoid at all cost the idea that you can manage learning several skills at a time. You need to develop your powers of concentration, and understand that trying to multi task will be the death of the process.

Second, the initial stages of learning a skill invariably involve tedium. Yet rather than avoiding this inevitable tedium, you must accept and embrace it. The pain and boredom we experience in the initial stage of learning a skill toughens our minds, much like physical exercise. Too many people believe that everything must be pleasurable in life, which makes them constantly search for distractions and short-circuits the learning process. The pain is a kind of challenge your mind presents—will you learn how to focus and move past the boredom, or like a child will you succumb to the need for immediate pleasure and distraction? Much as with physical exercise, you can even get a kind of perverse pleasure out of this pain, knowing the benefits it will bring you. In any event, you must meet any boredom head-on and not try to avoid or repress it. Throughout your life you will encounter tedious situations, and you must cultivate the ability to handle them with discipline.

In practicing a skill in the initial stages, something happens neurologically to the brain that is important for you to understand. When you start something new, a large number of neurons in the frontal cortex (the higher, more conscious command area of the brain) are recruited and become active, helping you in the learning process. The brain has to deal with a large amount of new information, and this would be stressful and overwhelming if only a limited part of the brain were used to handle it. The frontal cortex even expands in size in this initial phase, as we focus hard on the task. But once something is repeated often enough, it becomes hardwired and automatic, and the neural pathways for this skill are delegated to other parts of the brain, farther down the cortex. Those neurons in the frontal cortex that we needed in the initial stages are now freed up to help in learning something else, and the area goes back to its normal size.

In the end, an entire network of neurons is developed to remember this single task, which accounts for the fact that we can still ride a bicycle years after we first learned how to do so. If we were to take a look at the frontal cortex of those who have mastered something through repetition, it would be remarkably still and inactive as they performed the skill. All of their brain activity is occurring in areas that are lower down and require much less conscious control.

This process of hardwiring cannot occur if you are constantly distracted, moving from one task to another. In such a case, the neural pathways dedicated to this skill never get established; what you learn is too tenuous to remain rooted in the brain. It is better to dedicate two or three hours of intense focus to a skill than to spend eight hours of diffused concentration on it. You want to be as immediately present to what you are doing as possible.

Once an action becomes automatic, you now have the mental space to observe yourself as you practice. You must use this distance to take note of your weaknesses or flaws that need correction—to analyze yourself. It helps also to gain as much feedback as possible from others, to have standards against which you can measure your progress so that you are aware of how far you have to go. People who do not practice and learn new skills never gain a proper sense of proportion or self-criticism. They think they can achieve anything without effort and have little contact with reality. Trying something over and over again grounds you in reality, making you deeply aware of your inadequacies and of what you can accomplish with more work and effort.

If you take this far enough, you will naturally enter the cycle of accelerated returns: As you learn and gain skills you can begin to vary what you do, finding nuances that you can develop in the work, so that it becomes more interesting. As elements become more automatic your mind is not exhausted by the effort and you can practice harder, which in turn brings greater skill and more pleasure. You can look for challenges, new areas to conquer, keeping your interest at a high level. As the cycle accelerates, you can reach a point where your mind is totally absorbed in the practice, entering a kind of flow in which everything else is blocked out. You become one with the tool or instrument or thing you are studying. Your skill is not something that can be put into words; it is embedded in your body and nervous system—it becomes tacit knowledge. Learning any kind of skill deeply prepares you for mastery. The sensation of flow and of being a part of the instrument is a precursor to the great pleasures that mastery can bring.

In essence, when you practice and develop any skill you transform yourself in the process. You reveal to yourself new capabilities that were previously latent, that are exposed as you progress. You develop emotionally. Your sense of pleasure becomes redefined. What offers immediate pleasure comes to seem like a distraction, an empty entertainment to help pass the time. Real pleasure comes from overcoming challenges, feeling confidence in your abilities, gaining fluency in skills, and experiencing the power this brings. You develop patience. Boredom no longer signals the need for distraction, but rather the need for new challenges to conquer.

Although it might seem that the time necessary to master the requisite skills and attain a level of expertise would depend on the field and your own talent level, those who have researched the subject repeatedly come up with the number of 10,000 hours. This seems to be the amount of quality practice time that is needed for someone to reach a high level of skill and it applies to composers, chess players, writers, and athletes, among others. This number has an almost magical or mystical resonance to it. It means that so much practice time—no matter the person or the field—leads to a qualitative change in the human brain. The mind has learned to organize and structure large amounts of information. With all of this tacit knowledge, it can now become creative and playful with it. Although the number of hours might seem high, it generally adds up to seven to ten years of sustained, solid practice—roughly the period of a traditional apprenticeship. In other words, concentrated practice over time cannot fail but produce results.

 

Step Three: Experimentation—The Active Mode

Experimenting and mastering a new skillThis is the shortest part of the process, but a critical component nonetheless. As you gain in skill and confidence, you must make the move to a more active mode of experimentation. This could mean taking on more responsibility, initiating a project of some sort, doing work that exposes you to the criticisms of peers or even the public. The point of this is to gauge your progress and whether there are still gaps in your knowledge. You are observing yourself in action and seeing how you respond to the judgments of others. Can you take criticism and use it constructively?

With Charles Darwin, as the voyage progressed and he began to entertain the notions that would lead to his theory of evolution, he decided to expose his ideas to others. First, on the Beagle, he discussed them with the captain and patiently absorbed his vehement criticisms of the idea. This, Darwin told himself, would be more or less the reaction of the public, and he would have to prepare himself for that. He also began to write letters to various scientists and scientific societies back in England. The responses he received indicated he was on to something, but that he would need some more research. For Leonardo da Vinci, as he progressed in his studio work for Verrocchio, he began to experiment and to assert his own style. He found to his surprise that the Master was impressed with his inventiveness. For Leonardo, this indicated that he was near the end of his apprenticeship.

Most people wait too long to take this step, generally out of fear. It is always easier to learn the rules and stay within your comfort zone. Often you must force yourself to initiate such actions or experiments before you think you are ready. You are testing your character, moving past your fears, and developing a sense of detachment to your work—looking at it through the eyes of others. You are getting a taste for the next phase in which what you produce will be under constant scrutiny.

You will know when your apprenticeship is over by the feeling that you have nothing left to learn in this environment. It is time to declare your independence or move to another place to continue your apprenticeship and expand your skill base. Later in life, when you are confronted with a career change or the need to learn new skills, having gone through this process before, it will become second nature. You have learned how to learn.

 

Robert Greene is an American author and speaker known for his books on strategy, power and seduction. He has written four international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Richard Anderson

    Jun 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, that is one deep article and takes some reading! When I look back at my career and learning process (I’m 53) I never gave any of this a thought. For me personally, I was fired by my enthusiasm for my craft and the new opportunities that lay ahead. This is an interesting piece for sure and I believe Maxwell Maltz’s ‘The New Psycho-Cybernertics’ and Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ add a clearer view of this complex subject for me.

  2. Rachel Hunter (TraderRach)

    May 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    The 3 steps of the Apprenticeship Phase describes the process to learn forex trading. I agree that many people take too long to get into the Active Mode out of fear. A comprehensive article thanks.

  3. Bakinson Olalekan

    May 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

    The very simple and careful delivery of this piece quickly brings to bare two things- confidence and assurance of success, if only one strictly adheres to these principles.

  4. dejiu

    May 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    WOW!
    That’s the best word to describe this article! You just gave ma a road map to become a Tycoon in any industry whatsoever! Thank you for the wonderful work!!

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Success Advice

How Writing For 1000 Days Straight Made Me A Real Man

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Writing was never my thing. I didn’t think of it as an art although in school I was told I was good at it. I never believed this compliment ever.

For more than 1000 days straight I’ve written consistently. While on holiday in San Fran, New Zealand and Japan I wrote. Waiting at the doctor’s office, I wrote. In line at the local vegetarian burger joint, I wrote. The things I’ve learned from writing have changed me from a spoilt little kid, into a real man.

Writing for 1000 days straight taught me:

 

Writing is my therapy.

My mentor Joel got a bit annoyed at me one day because he saw a few swear words in a blog post I published. I quickly realized what I’d done and then it came to me: I was swearing because it was how I released my frustration.

“Instead of seeing the Instagram culture and wanting to mass murder people like they do in America, writing was the channel I used as my therapy”

By writing about the things that upset me, I somehow felt less compelled to be angry at the world.

 

I found that my problems could be a source of inspiration for others.

You may not believe me but now I actually look forward to having problems.

Problems are what give me the fuel I need to write. Every problem becomes a solution for all of the readers that sit down and absorb my writing. Writing can inspire others and that’s what has helped me become a real man.

A real man, I believe, does things for more than just himself.

 

It taught me to stop chopping and changing.

I used to be a kid and would always throw in the towel when my passion or hobby got hard. Instead of pushing through the pain I’d just start something new. Writing made me a man by helping me realize that mastery and sticking at it is the real magic trick.

 

Happiness can be found in the strangest of places.

My dad was a writer and I always thought it was dumb. I never thought I’d ever do it myself. Doing something for more than 1000 days straight teaches you that you can find happiness in places you’d least expect. Try new things, find something that feels cool and stick at it.

 

It doesn’t have to be a book or blog.

Some days when I’m busy, I count my writing as inspiring emails to fans that can help them. Other days it’s replying to comments that people leave on my social media. We can fall into the trap of believing that writing only happens when it’s in the form of a book or blog post.

Let yourself off the hook. Write whenever you can and stop being so hard on yourself. Writing is writing chief.

 

Energy will determine the outcome.

I used the following to get more energy:
– On writing days I would sleep more the night before
– I didn’t drink alcohol on days where I planned to write a lot
– I drank mushroom coffee (recommended by Tim Ferriss) for a quick fix
– I ate energy-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and the odd avocado for brain power

“If you’re a sleepy zombie then you’ll never be able to find the energy to keep pushing through all of the hurdles you’re going to encounter with writing or any pursuit for that matter”

 

The power of a deadline.

Here’s an awesome little hack I used. I’m the biggest procrastinator you’ll ever meet. If I have all day to write, then I’ll spend the last hour before dinner writing if I’m lucky. What I did instead was book in social catch-ups, trips to the cinema’s, outings with the girlfriend and anything I could that involved other people.

This gave me a perceived sense of urgency and a deadline I couldn’t miss. What’s funny is the tighter the deadline, the more productive I became. Here’s what’s even crazier:

The blog posts I’ve written, that had the tightest deadline and the least amount of time to write them, have been my most popular.

Over thinking kills creativity and so does having too much time to fluff around. These deadlines have allowed me to produce lots of writing that have contributed to me becoming a real man.

 

Writing has uncovered raw emotion in me.

Raw emotion has changed the game for me. As I got past the 10-day mark, I stopped giving a F more and more. This brought out raw emotion in me that couldn’t be faked like an Instagram filter. It’s this raw emotion that got me more readers and allowed me to make a bigger difference in the world.

There’s something about someone who makes the bold decision to wear their heart on their sleeve. Writing heaps forces you to think deeper and to dig deeper every time you sit down at the computer.

Writing for more than 1000 days became like a game to see how much I could learn about myself. The words began to paint a picture of me that I had never seen or even dreamt of.

“These words that became pictures redefined who I was”

I used these pictures to become a new man and one I could be proud of. I want you to discover raw emotion for yourself. I want you to paint beautiful pictures with words that come from deep inside of you.

 

Just get started.

There were days when I couldn’t be bothered writing. I found that once I got started, the words would pour out of me. It was as if the words were dying to get out of me some days. Instead of giving yourself excuses, don’t try and have every day be the day you produce your best work.

Some of the blog posts I’ve written I thought were barely okay. These same posts have been highly shareable more than my so-called serious stuff. 1000 days of writing teaches you to disconnect yourself from the outcome and focus on the practice itself. Discipline has made me a real man.

 

You must like the topic.

I tried writing about stuff that people told me too. I found myself hating the process every time. Have a list of suggested topics that you’ve come up with and then write about the one that makes you feel good at the time.

 

Make it up as you go.

I invent words all the time like self-disrupt, fakepreneur and too many other ridiculous ones to mention here. I break grammar rules to suit myself and to make my writing easy on the eye. What will separate you from everyone else is when you decide to make up the rules.

It’s easier to be different than it is to be a better writer, or saxophone player or artist. A rule forces you to conform to everyone else’s expectations. What made me a real man was discovering the power of my own creativity and not listening to all the hype out there.

There’s a lot of noise and people that will tell you they have the secret chicken sauce. They’re selling lies to you to benefit their own selfish goals.

Be you and make up the rest as you go.

 

Reading fuels your creative brain.

I get asked all the time “Tim, where do you get all these writing ideas from?”

I wish I could tell you that I was some idea factory that could mass-produce amazing writing pieces. The truth is I’m not that smart. In conjunction with writing, I’ve also been reading like a KFC junkie addicted to hot sauce.

Books have opened up my world to what’s possible. Books have helped me see things in my life that I had previously ignored.

“Books sold me a truth that I couldn’t get from the Internet or TV”

Every word you read get’s stored in your computer brain and can be recalled later on without you probably even realizing. Reading has taught me the lessons that have made me a man and a blogger.

 

Authenticity and transparency, plus brutal honesty, is where it’s at.

In the beginning, I was a bit of a pussy. I hid parts of myself and didn’t tell the full story. In the first 10 days, I tried to be brutal. By the 1000th day, I had enough practice and had seen the audience react enough, that I showed everything in my stories. No detail was left out.

People read my stuff because they know it’s authentic and real. I’m brutally honest and not afraid to make fun of myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I too have once been a self-obsessed, immature, coward too. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.

This brutal honesty helps you be honest with yourself too. Through these honest moments, you learn a lot about who you are and who you can become. I think real honesty helped me become a real man. A man I can be proud of.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

3 Practical Ways Successful People Attract Money

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successful men

It takes more than just hard work, grinding and strategies to become successful. Do you actually know what subtle changes to make in order to reach the level of success and financial wealth you desire?

In our constantly changing world, those who are getting ahead in the game are individuals who are learning to raise their standards both personally and professionally. The age of the Internet has certainly brought a new dawn for the average person dialing up that inner craving for more freedom and a higher quality of life.

The opportunities and technological advancements are here, but one thing seems to be lagging: Our ability to produce and maintain the money we actually need to enjoy all that is currently available.

Everywhere you turn there is a new, sleeker, more advanced version of your favorite gizmo. Whether it’s your dream phone, car, computer, or designer clothes, they keep getting better and who doesn’t enjoy having the best of the best?

However, how can we have the best of the best when increasing income continues to be a struggle? As traditional methods of working and doing business radically transform, certain confusion arises especially amongst entrepreneurs.

This is why a recent conversation with my friend and owner of Walletisland, Adrian Brown, challenged me to reassess how I am approaching some of the things we tend to consider unimportant in the entrepreneurial space. I realised there are simple everyday shifts that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs which could be the key to increasing success and income.

For the majority of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs, the backstory is pretty much the same. We all grew up in less than abundant conditions. Our approach is for the most part pretty old fashioned when it comes to personal grooming and our relationship with money. But if there’s one thing I have come to realize when it comes to producing extraordinary results, it is this: Success and attracting money is all about mindset and the attitude one carries.

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.” – Peter Diamandis

This is a law based truth I am proving more and more as I interact, connect with and learn from other successful entrepreneurs. In my most recent mastermind with a like-minded individuals, we were able to uncover a few blind spots that continue to hinder many hard working entrepreneurs.

More specifically, we came to a consensus when it comes to attracting more wealth that most individuals hit these three blind spots which hopefully after today, you will no longer fall victim to.

  • Too many success seekers are neglecting their personal appearance and self-grooming. As entrepreneurs, we think only our skillsets should matter, but that’s never the case.
  • Most people are neglecting their everyday personal interaction with money. In other words, aside from the big general numbers they have to deal with in business, most men aren’t deliberately working on improving how they handle, carry and interact with money. Part of this might be old negative paradigms around money running the show.
  • Many business owners are struggling with unattractiveness and low confidence, which certainly hinders their ability to shine, stand out and magnetize success.

If any or all of these resonate, here’s what you can do about it today:

1. Polish your self-image and outer appearance

This doesn’t have to take up too much time. With a little more deliberate thought on the shoes you wear, the wallet you carry, the combination of your clothing, hair, body language and attitude you will not only raise your professional appearance but there is much research proving your earnings will increase too.  Keep it clean, simple, clutter free and corresponding to your business role.

2. Prep yourself for a “money shift”

Is there a psychological relationship between a someones’s wallet and their money? Absolutely. In fact when Adrian got into men’s fashion it was because he experienced firsthand “the money shift”. This happened when he stopped carrying around cheap, worn-out wallets and started carefully choosing the kind that made him feel most opulent.

I’m passionate about helping men strengthen their connection and interaction with money because I realize it’s not about fashion trends. A man’s wallet is something he interacts with daily. It should be a symbol of prosperity and help him de-clutter. It should also be a demonstration of his modern take on money because in our digital society, money is transforming and it’s in our best interest to catch up lest we suffer the consequences of holding on to limiting beliefs around money.”

I couldn’t agree more. Most of us will need to shed limiting beliefs, heal money wounds and learn to handle, carry and interact with money in ways that promote its presence. What money story is your wallet telling right now?

3. Work on your self-confidence and attractiveness

Those struggling with low self-confidence and feelings of unattractiveness need to make drastic changes. Why? According to research by Payscale, over the course of a lifetime, an “attractive person will end up making about 230,000 more than an unattractive person.”

That’s ridiculous especially since being attractive and confident isn’t just for the chosen few. Now that you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford to be bullied by invisible limiting beliefs that question how capable, attractive and confident you are.

If it naturally doesn’t come to you, there are various exercises you can do and small changes you can make in order to build yourself up and make up for any disadvantages you may have had in your upbringing.

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama

As entrepreneurs, we are inclined to focus more on strategies and tactics which will help us close the sale sometimes at the expense of our personal health and grooming. Let us refrain from assuming appearances do not count just because we are no longer climbing the corporate ladder.

If the vision is to enjoy a more opulent and enriching lifestyle, take time to align every aspect of your life with this new self-made, inspiring, influential leader you are aspiring to be. All successful people go into the game prepared for that win.

What personal changes will you make to prepare you for more wealth?

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5 Ways to Improve Your Audience Engagement

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When you first thought of your business idea and created your business, you were probably thinking about how much people needed what you had to offer and all of the people you were going to be able to help. Even though none of that has changed, it can be really discouraging to continue to post on social media, do Facebook lives, and try to make any kind of a call to action when all there is are crickets when you do.

Instead of banging your head against the wall, and trying to figure out what is wrong with your idea, let me give you 5 ways to improve your audience engagement:

1. Increase the amount of content you are putting out

Sometimes, the main reason why you are not seeing the engagement you are looking for is because people are not seeing your posts. Each social media platform has its own algorithm.

Even if you posted once or even twice that day, some of those algorithms can still make it possible for your people NOT to see even one of your posts. Posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement.

2. Ask the right questions

Remember when I said that posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement? The reason it should but may not increase your engagement is because you are not asking enough of the right questions.

You can post content that you like or are interested in, but you have to remember YOU are not the one buying your products and services. You need to learn what your target audience wants to see and talk about. Learn what gets them engaged and what keeps them engaged by asking the right questions.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.” Bono

3. Switch it up a little

Have you ever had a routine that was so dry and bland it made you dread doing it? That is exactly what your audience feels like when you post the same kind of content all the time. Everyone doesn’t like meatloaf every day. No matter what you are selling, your audience craves interesting, informative, and encouraging content. If you can give this to them consistently, they will fall in love with you and keep on coming back for more.

4. Analyze your data

When you increase the content you put out, you will have a lot more data to analyze so you can understand the people who you are trying to reach. This will help you to understand which kind of content is consumed more by your audience, what platform has better engagement, and what your audience is trying to tell you they want and need.

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”- Tim Berners-Lee

5. Calls to action are key

The last thing you want to do is to give your audience some amazing content and not have a place for them to go to learn or get more. Inviting yourself somewhere can be very awkward, so why would you want your audience to do that? They may want to connect with you but they don’t know where to go and how to connect. Invite them in and make them feel wanted and welcomed. This will cut out the awkwardness and also the confusion of how they can better connect with you.

Increasing your engagement can be done easily if you are willing to follow these 5 ways to improve your audience engagement. Once you have done that, the engagement will come and the sales are bound to follow.

How are you staying connected to your audience? Make sure to comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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A Tim Ferriss Like Japan Trip Rebuilt Me – Here’s Why

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“Art imitates life so you must experience life to create art” – Unknown (possibly Tim Ferriss)

This quote is the reason why I recently took a holiday to Japan and why from now on I will travel more. All of us have a dream, a vision, a goal, a business which is another word for our own “art.”

Anything worth doing has an element of creativity attached to it which in essence is art. While on the way to Japan listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, I heard this quote above. I realized that my life’s work had fizzled out somewhat because I needed to experience life more.

This whole blogging thing only works when I experience life – travel is the best way to do that. Second to that, I have been listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast for years, and he talks a lot about Japan and how the culture can really positively impact your life.

Hearing this advice second hand just wasn’t good enough for me. That’s why, in Timmy style, I booked an unplanned trip to Japan with only two days notice. It was what I called a Tim Ferriss like trip to Japan. I wanted to transcend my current circumstances and boy did I do that!

Things before Japan had become a bit stale. I wasn’t quite me and I needed rebuilding again. It was time to self-disrupt and grow more as a person. I’d stopped growing and that’s why I felt off. Japan changed all of that.

Here’s how this Japan trip rebuilt me:

 

We’re all the same: we’re all loved.

Sitting at the airport in Australia I saw everyone saying goodbye to their loved ones. I did the same and said goodbye to my family and girlfriend. I sat there for around ten minutes and realized that we’re all loved by someone.

We all have someone who would be sad or miss us if we didn’t return home. All of us want to come home safe and see our loved ones again. While tragedy can strike, these trips to places like Japan are a must – they’re part of our journey in life.

These journeys we take are how we find ourselves. Without travel, we become lost and can’t understand how we fit into this world.

Knowing I’m loved and knowing the importance of these journeys helped rebuild me.

 

Japan can show you what is wrong too.

So far I’ve made Japan sound like it’s all roses – it’s not. I saw people working ridiculous hours. I saw Japanese people who had become obsessed with meaningless westernized brands. I saw women who still appeared to be second class compared with men.

Japan didn’t show me perfection; it showed me reality and that means that there are always going to be things that need to change. Each of us can form part of that change.

 

Objectification of women has changed men in a bad way.

For some reason, Japan gave me immense clarity. I noticed that me (and all other men) have become hardwired to look at women’s bodies. Even the nicest most loyal men who treat women well have been affected. I noticed this unconscious behavior in myself while in Australia and began questioning it.

Do we need to look at women in such a physical way? Is it really necessary? Is this addiction taking up so much of our creative genius and potential?

The answer to all of these questions, after Japan, was that a problem exists and this addiction is not serving as well. I’m not proud of this fact and I for one plan on not only being aware of it but also changing it. This idea helped rebuild me.

 

The Samurai showed the benefits of discipline.

While being an Aussie tourist walking through the grounds of the Imperial Palace, I saw some of the emperors Samurai training. The facility was surrounded by fences but being a tall guy, I could still see over the fence.

I found these Samurai to be cool because they were laser-focused on what they were doing. The Samurai had purpose and precision accuracy. Their discipline taught them patience and you could see the courage in their actions. Everything was thought through and nothing was left to chance.

The Samurai helped me rebuild my life by reminding me of what discipline can do when we embrace it. A disorganized mind combined with actions that are all over the place results in a lot of nothingness. Start with being a master at one thing instead of trying to be mediocre at lots of things.

 

Concrete Jungle vs. Nature

Before Japan, I was obsessed with visiting places like San Fran and New York to see big concrete cities and skyscrapers. Now that I’ve been to Japan I’ve realized that I’m completely bored of that. Going to My Fuji and some of the mountains in Kyoto is far more impactful.

Concrete jungles are all the same once you’ve seen a few. They all have lots of box’s – some tall, some wide, some full of lights and some full of views. When you see enough of these, you no longer become impressed by them.

Nature is impossible to top though. No matter how many lakes, mountains, beaches or forests I visit, I never get sick of them. That’s because it’s in our human DNA to feel a connection with nature. Nature is a place we can relax and recharge the batteries.

Japan taught me that for the rest of my travel adventures I am going to focus on beautiful places that encompass nature instead of man-made structures and fake tourist attractions like theme parks. Knowing what nature means to me has helped me to rebuild myself.

 

See as many places as you can.

This trip to Japan made me see that I get bored after around five days in one country. I’ve discovered that it’s ideal to see as many places as you can. The more of this Earth you experience, the more your life changes.

 

Don’t forget attention to detail.

Japanese people, I learned, are obsessed with attention to detail. Everything from the signage at train stations to the way they present food has been thought of.

“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being purposeful”

It’s the little things that the Japanese people do that make you fall in love with them by the end of your stay in their country.

 

Manners feel good.

I quickly saw that Japanese people are very kind and have amazing manners. They say thank you so many times. As you walk out of a restaurant, the whole team say thank you like a giant choir. Being grateful and acknowledging each other is at the heart of their culture.

You can’t help but smile when you witness this way of treating one another. Not every stranger you meet in a foreign country is trying to commit a terrorist attack.

All I can say is manners just feel good and it put’s you in a positive mood. Plus, you walk around with a big fat smile on your face and that feels refreshing.

 

Connection through transport.

Japanese culture feels very connected and that’s partly to do with their very efficient transport system. There’s a subway station on practically every corner that’s affordable. Trains run every few minutes, so there’s never any need to run to the subway station to catch a train.

The bullet trains allow you to skip between states or regions in a very short amount of time. No need to board a plane or go through the razzle-dazzle of airport bureaucracy gone mad (thanks to perceived terrorism and the news).

While sitting on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, I saw families that were on their way to visit one another. They looked so relaxed and sat there enjoying the countryside of Japan as I did. It was a regular occurrence made possible by a fantastic transport system that is orderly and well thought out.

 

Technology is exhausting.

The negative side of technology is prominent in Japan. There are cities that are littered with giant LED screens, bright lights and technology on every corner. In these places, I felt unable to think clearly and the bright lights made me feel like I suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder.

There was technology within the toilet seat, on the plane, at restaurants and ugly vending machines selling fat causing sugar water on every corner.

On the flip side, what I loved about Japan was that talking loudly on a not so smart phone was prohibited in most places and there were locations where phones were non-existent. Japanese people seem to know how to balance life between being “ON” and being “OFF” when it comes to their phone.

“Instead of wasting your life away on your phone, Japan teaches you to become present and appreciate the here and now”

You notice things that you normally wouldn’t where I’m from in the Western World. With so much empty space, Japan is a great place to rebuild yourself. The rebuilding process needs thinking time away from phones.

 

Minimalism and being space conscious is beautiful.

The Japanese people are obsessed with being space conscious. They have double-decker car spaces, cube-shaped cars, cars made for people who must be three-foot tall, hotel rooms where you can barely open the door and space-saving retail shops like you’ve never seen.

 

Time is money in Japan.

My plane was on time to the second. Every train was on time. The tour guide at Mt Fuji was on time. The hotel cleaning was to the minute and so was the checkout. Time is money and it’s one resource we should take more seriously. Time gives you the opportunity to rebuild and grow.

 

Low energy states can be healed by travel.

More than a year since my last break, my energy levels in my career were at an all-time low. I had headaches every day and felt uninspired to a degree. It turns out all I needed was a holiday to rebuild.

Your body guides you.
Your heart guides you.
Your mind guides you.

This Japan trip taught me to take time to relax and recharge. Don’t ignore your body ever!

 

Climbing Japanese mountains is a metaphor for life.

I climbed this mountain in Kyoto. Halfway up I wanted to quit. I thought to myself “I’ve seen enough. Why go to the summit?”

That’s the problem right there. When we’re working on our goals, we give up too soon. We settle for okay instead of amazing. If this mountain were your life, would you give up when it got a bit hard? I’m telling you not to.

All the growth and everything you ever wanted comes from pushing that extra 2% to reach the top of the mountain. The feeling at the top is indescribable. Only those who are prepared to go the extra mile will know what it feels like to look down from the top.

Two more things to remember:

1. Once you reach the top, there’s always another mountain.

2. You must also help someone else climb the mountain to reach your full potential. Living is giving.

This mountain I climbed in Japan taught me so much about rebuilding my life (and yes I love mountain analogies).

 

There’s no place like a hot spring to contemplate life and rebuild your life.

While lying in a hot spring (Onsen) in Northern Tokyo, I sat there and thought I was going to be enjoying a relaxing time in a hot spring. What no one told me is that my entire life would replay before me. The onsen became a place to contemplate everything that had transpired thus far.

The hot water from the springs has a certain effect on your mind. I often find that my best thinking and ideas come from a shower and I’ve heard other people talk about this same experience.

“The hot spring sent my mind into deep thinking that I’ll never forget”

 

To enter a Japanese hot spring, you must be fully naked. You can’t bring clothes, material possessions, technology or a corporate mask. There’s nowhere to hide and no phone to look at. You sit there naked and bare your soul. It’s the one time where people can see you for exactly who you are.

Before contemplating my own life, I observed the men around me. Many of them seemed to be contemplating their life. Some looked tired and worn out from years of slaving away and doing hard labor.

Many of them looked like they were wasting away from years of working too hard and not remembering what truly matters. It was as if they had finally discovered what matters but that it was now too late. Then I saw the exact opposite – young men who had their whole lives ahead of them.

They too would sit there and weigh up their options. Should they follow their dream or fall for the Western myth that is collecting useless objects of little value? There were times where I wanted to answer this question for them.

I realized after a lot of thought that these young men had to come to that realization themselves. When you discover these truths of life yourself, everything changes and the principles stick.

I saw these young men by the end of my time in the hot spring for who they were and what they could become (their potential). I finally understood that they too could change the world in some impactful way if they chose too. We all have that choice and it’s ours to make.

“This stark comparison between the older men and the younger men was one of the most profound lessons of my Japan trip”

Both generations of men also looked up at the sky while doing this deep thinking. I found that quite bizarre and all of them did it.

What’s strange is that I also looked up at the sky without consciously being aware. Once I’d finished observing the men in the hot spring, I turned my thinking over to my own life. I had truth bomb after truth bomb as I sat there. I found myself running to the change room every 30 minutes to write stuff down.

What I had achieved so far and what I needed to do next became so clear. I sat in the hot spring proud of who I’ve become. For the first time in my life, I got to sit there and appreciate everything I’d put out into the world. I hadn’t stopped to see how far I’d come before this moment.

I was so focused on the present and trying to gain future success that I didn’t even know how proud I could be of myself. This fact has become the foundation of me going through the rebuilding phase yet again after five years since my last major self-renovation.

 

In summary….

Everyone reading this blog post has the opportunity to rebuild their life and consistently self-disrupt themselves. Going to places like Japan gives you the opportunity to experience life and see how far you’ve come. You can’t be ON 24/7 like those picture quotes tell you to be.

Once in a while, you need to be proud of who you are and think about who you can become.

Japan is a perfect place to do this and rebuild your life. Stay true to yourself and inspire others.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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How I Spent The Last 3 Years Becoming Minimalist And Why You Should Too

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It started after a record few years of earning more money than I could spend.

I accumulated junk and things I didn’t need.

I’d buy ten pairs of black shoes, a new shirt for every birthday party I attended and every piece of audio software that some guy I didn’t know told me to get. It got out of hand quickly. It was a time in my life where I hadn’t begun working on myself and I was pretty down a lot of the time.

Buying useless junk numbed the pain but only for a short while. The lies I’d tell myself about my bad habit were incredible. I’ve been having a serious go at becoming minimalist for the last three years. I actually started a few years prior and ended up having a few false starts.

Here’s how I became minimalist (I’d suggest doing the same if you can):

 

Start with the big stuff.

That BMW had to go. It was taking up so much of my time and money to keep on the road. It was like a screaming child, always wanting something. Unlike a child, I had no passion or drive to take care of this European piece of crap that society told me I needed to be successful.

I put the car online for sale. It was a painful process and every person that came to see it found problems with what I thought was a spotless car.

It was a negotiation tactic and it was stopping me from beginning a new life with this whole minimalist dream.

I ended up selling the car for much less than it was worth. I did the numbers and no matter what, even losing a bit of money on it still made sense. Once the car was gone, the process of becoming minimalist began.

 

You can easily forget how out of control you are.

At the start of this minimalism process I had 4 computers, 5 microphones, 2 laptops, 5 mobile phones, 2 iPads, 2 soundcards, 2 large sized wardrobes of clothes, more than 20 pairs of shoes, multiple spare car stereos, and a whole pile of CDs and DVDs that were overflowing from my draws.

As I read back the list I just wrote, I now see how out of control I was. Oh and I even had an old VCR with heaps of old cassette tapes that I kept telling myself I’d watch one day even though I hate the idea of having to fast forward through in real-time to find out what’s on the tapes. I was delusional about my junk habit, to say the least.

 

Trying to give stuff away is useless.

The delusion that is giving stuff away is why you are still not a minimalist. The key lesson I had to learn time and time again was to stop trying to give stuff away, Some of the stuff I wanted to chuck out was valuable to someone, somewhere.

The trouble is that it’s hard to find the right person, at the right time who may have the space for your item. I thought about all the time wasted giving stuff away. I thought about the effort it took to deliver my junk to people’s homes. I thought about all the space my junk took up in my life.

 

It just wasn’t worth it. If you are serious about becoming minimalist and the benefits that come with this lifestyle, you’ve got to marry the idea that you’ll need to throw things away.

 

Not used it in 12 months? Chuck it.

This question sent my minimalist quest into hyperdrive. When I looked at how much stuff I had that in some cases hadn’t been used for more than 5 years, I figured out that these were things that I should discard. We tell ourselves that one day we’ll use a particular item.

That one day never comes and these items become a burden the longer we hold onto them.

 

Support charity where you can.

You may be reading this blog post thinking “Who is this a**hole who’s so disrespectful to the environment?”

Well, you’d be wrong. I did consider the environment and people less fortunate than me. Where possible, I gave away lots of clothes, shoes and electronic items to charity. If you want to be minimalist, then I’d strongly urge you to do the same.

The cool thing is you get to clear out your junk, feel good, and help someone in need. There are just so many good reasons to become minimalist. Jump on the bandwagon!

 

Get some external motivation.

While going through the journey of becoming minimalist, I coincidently interviewed a blogger named Joshua Becker. He runs a blog called Becoming Minimalist. Joshua taught me so many awesome little hacks to clear out junk and he changed the way I was thinking about material possessions.

 

It’s not just the physical junk.

I was trying to be the next big music producer before my minimalism quest started and so I kept buying more audio gear. I somehow thought that the more gear I had, the more cool sounds I could create. The trouble was I always had to learn how to use new gear, so I never mastered one instrument or audio effect.

Meanwhile, back in France, Daft Punk would brag about how old their computer was and how they always used the same small number of instruments. No wonder they had such cool music.

“Daft Punk went for minimalism that led to mastery, while I was dabbling in being a master of everything”

 

The other point to consider is that junk is not just your material things. We also collect digital garbage now as well. I still have more than 10 TB of data to sort through. This excess storage on our computers slows our operating system down, makes it hard to find stuff and requires us to keep buying more storage.

Having lots of data also makes it difficult to back stuff up because storing things in the cloud becomes an expensive pursuit for a data hoarder.

 

Some of us like the idea of becoming minimalist but never do.

Is that you? It was certainly me. Having dreams of taking action is what’s holding you back. It may be affecting more than just your goal to get rid of junk. Don’t think about taking action: commit to it.

Here’s how:

Aim to throw away one piece of junk every week.

I did this little hack and it’s how I’ve now been able to free up space in my life for things that matter.

 

Minimalism allows for more of the good stuff.

Once I had heaps of room from clearing out my junk, I noticed my mind was less busy. One of the key pieces of junk that was very hard to throw away was my old Mac Pro computer. I kept telling myself I may need it in the future even though my current Mac laptop is more than good enough.

I’m dumbfounded at how much time I would spend every day thinking about whether I should throw out my very old 2009 Mac. Finally, I got pissed off. The thinking time wasted on this idea could be used to do other stuff. Ultimately, what convinced me to throw it away was the time I’d get back to keep blogging for all of you.

Having space in your home and mind allows you room for the stuff and ideas you actually want in your life. You feel so free when you get to this point.

 

It’s a long journey.

Keeping junk out of your life becomes the next challenge once you are free of all of your garbage. Every holiday I go on I’m tempted to collect souvenirs I’ll never look at again.

“Every trip to the shopping centre makes me feel like a gambler trying not to place a bet”

The temptation at these giant concrete shopping centres is to buy more clothes, more shoes and more things that will supposedly make you happy.

I’ve learned through minimalism that less is more and that’s what leaves me space to be happy. I can’t be happy when I’m simultaneously pissed off with all of the junk in my life.

 

Junk sucks up our time and that’s the one thing we should never waste.

Do you want to waste time thinking about and maintaining your junk or would you prefer to live a life where you have room for what personally matters to you?

Not being minimalist is costing you more than you think. It’s leading you down a path that makes other people big profits while keeping you both broke and with a mind not focused on your goals.

Get a divorce from the material world. Marry the empty space of what you love instead.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Richard Anderson

    Jun 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Wow, that is one deep article and takes some reading! When I look back at my career and learning process (I’m 53) I never gave any of this a thought. For me personally, I was fired by my enthusiasm for my craft and the new opportunities that lay ahead. This is an interesting piece for sure and I believe Maxwell Maltz’s ‘The New Psycho-Cybernertics’ and Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ add a clearer view of this complex subject for me.

  2. Rachel Hunter (TraderRach)

    May 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    The 3 steps of the Apprenticeship Phase describes the process to learn forex trading. I agree that many people take too long to get into the Active Mode out of fear. A comprehensive article thanks.

  3. Bakinson Olalekan

    May 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

    The very simple and careful delivery of this piece quickly brings to bare two things- confidence and assurance of success, if only one strictly adheres to these principles.

  4. dejiu

    May 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    WOW!
    That’s the best word to describe this article! You just gave ma a road map to become a Tycoon in any industry whatsoever! Thank you for the wonderful work!!

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Success Advice

How Writing For 1000 Days Straight Made Me A Real Man

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Writing was never my thing. I didn’t think of it as an art although in school I was told I was good at it. I never believed this compliment ever.

For more than 1000 days straight I’ve written consistently. While on holiday in San Fran, New Zealand and Japan I wrote. Waiting at the doctor’s office, I wrote. In line at the local vegetarian burger joint, I wrote. The things I’ve learned from writing have changed me from a spoilt little kid, into a real man.

Writing for 1000 days straight taught me:

 

Writing is my therapy.

My mentor Joel got a bit annoyed at me one day because he saw a few swear words in a blog post I published. I quickly realized what I’d done and then it came to me: I was swearing because it was how I released my frustration.

“Instead of seeing the Instagram culture and wanting to mass murder people like they do in America, writing was the channel I used as my therapy”

By writing about the things that upset me, I somehow felt less compelled to be angry at the world.

 

I found that my problems could be a source of inspiration for others.

You may not believe me but now I actually look forward to having problems.

Problems are what give me the fuel I need to write. Every problem becomes a solution for all of the readers that sit down and absorb my writing. Writing can inspire others and that’s what has helped me become a real man.

A real man, I believe, does things for more than just himself.

 

It taught me to stop chopping and changing.

I used to be a kid and would always throw in the towel when my passion or hobby got hard. Instead of pushing through the pain I’d just start something new. Writing made me a man by helping me realize that mastery and sticking at it is the real magic trick.

 

Happiness can be found in the strangest of places.

My dad was a writer and I always thought it was dumb. I never thought I’d ever do it myself. Doing something for more than 1000 days straight teaches you that you can find happiness in places you’d least expect. Try new things, find something that feels cool and stick at it.

 

It doesn’t have to be a book or blog.

Some days when I’m busy, I count my writing as inspiring emails to fans that can help them. Other days it’s replying to comments that people leave on my social media. We can fall into the trap of believing that writing only happens when it’s in the form of a book or blog post.

Let yourself off the hook. Write whenever you can and stop being so hard on yourself. Writing is writing chief.

 

Energy will determine the outcome.

I used the following to get more energy:
– On writing days I would sleep more the night before
– I didn’t drink alcohol on days where I planned to write a lot
– I drank mushroom coffee (recommended by Tim Ferriss) for a quick fix
– I ate energy-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and the odd avocado for brain power

“If you’re a sleepy zombie then you’ll never be able to find the energy to keep pushing through all of the hurdles you’re going to encounter with writing or any pursuit for that matter”

 

The power of a deadline.

Here’s an awesome little hack I used. I’m the biggest procrastinator you’ll ever meet. If I have all day to write, then I’ll spend the last hour before dinner writing if I’m lucky. What I did instead was book in social catch-ups, trips to the cinema’s, outings with the girlfriend and anything I could that involved other people.

This gave me a perceived sense of urgency and a deadline I couldn’t miss. What’s funny is the tighter the deadline, the more productive I became. Here’s what’s even crazier:

The blog posts I’ve written, that had the tightest deadline and the least amount of time to write them, have been my most popular.

Over thinking kills creativity and so does having too much time to fluff around. These deadlines have allowed me to produce lots of writing that have contributed to me becoming a real man.

 

Writing has uncovered raw emotion in me.

Raw emotion has changed the game for me. As I got past the 10-day mark, I stopped giving a F more and more. This brought out raw emotion in me that couldn’t be faked like an Instagram filter. It’s this raw emotion that got me more readers and allowed me to make a bigger difference in the world.

There’s something about someone who makes the bold decision to wear their heart on their sleeve. Writing heaps forces you to think deeper and to dig deeper every time you sit down at the computer.

Writing for more than 1000 days became like a game to see how much I could learn about myself. The words began to paint a picture of me that I had never seen or even dreamt of.

“These words that became pictures redefined who I was”

I used these pictures to become a new man and one I could be proud of. I want you to discover raw emotion for yourself. I want you to paint beautiful pictures with words that come from deep inside of you.

 

Just get started.

There were days when I couldn’t be bothered writing. I found that once I got started, the words would pour out of me. It was as if the words were dying to get out of me some days. Instead of giving yourself excuses, don’t try and have every day be the day you produce your best work.

Some of the blog posts I’ve written I thought were barely okay. These same posts have been highly shareable more than my so-called serious stuff. 1000 days of writing teaches you to disconnect yourself from the outcome and focus on the practice itself. Discipline has made me a real man.

 

You must like the topic.

I tried writing about stuff that people told me too. I found myself hating the process every time. Have a list of suggested topics that you’ve come up with and then write about the one that makes you feel good at the time.

 

Make it up as you go.

I invent words all the time like self-disrupt, fakepreneur and too many other ridiculous ones to mention here. I break grammar rules to suit myself and to make my writing easy on the eye. What will separate you from everyone else is when you decide to make up the rules.

It’s easier to be different than it is to be a better writer, or saxophone player or artist. A rule forces you to conform to everyone else’s expectations. What made me a real man was discovering the power of my own creativity and not listening to all the hype out there.

There’s a lot of noise and people that will tell you they have the secret chicken sauce. They’re selling lies to you to benefit their own selfish goals.

Be you and make up the rest as you go.

 

Reading fuels your creative brain.

I get asked all the time “Tim, where do you get all these writing ideas from?”

I wish I could tell you that I was some idea factory that could mass-produce amazing writing pieces. The truth is I’m not that smart. In conjunction with writing, I’ve also been reading like a KFC junkie addicted to hot sauce.

Books have opened up my world to what’s possible. Books have helped me see things in my life that I had previously ignored.

“Books sold me a truth that I couldn’t get from the Internet or TV”

Every word you read get’s stored in your computer brain and can be recalled later on without you probably even realizing. Reading has taught me the lessons that have made me a man and a blogger.

 

Authenticity and transparency, plus brutal honesty, is where it’s at.

In the beginning, I was a bit of a pussy. I hid parts of myself and didn’t tell the full story. In the first 10 days, I tried to be brutal. By the 1000th day, I had enough practice and had seen the audience react enough, that I showed everything in my stories. No detail was left out.

People read my stuff because they know it’s authentic and real. I’m brutally honest and not afraid to make fun of myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I too have once been a self-obsessed, immature, coward too. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.

This brutal honesty helps you be honest with yourself too. Through these honest moments, you learn a lot about who you are and who you can become. I think real honesty helped me become a real man. A man I can be proud of.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

3 Practical Ways Successful People Attract Money

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It takes more than just hard work, grinding and strategies to become successful. Do you actually know what subtle changes to make in order to reach the level of success and financial wealth you desire?

In our constantly changing world, those who are getting ahead in the game are individuals who are learning to raise their standards both personally and professionally. The age of the Internet has certainly brought a new dawn for the average person dialing up that inner craving for more freedom and a higher quality of life.

The opportunities and technological advancements are here, but one thing seems to be lagging: Our ability to produce and maintain the money we actually need to enjoy all that is currently available.

Everywhere you turn there is a new, sleeker, more advanced version of your favorite gizmo. Whether it’s your dream phone, car, computer, or designer clothes, they keep getting better and who doesn’t enjoy having the best of the best?

However, how can we have the best of the best when increasing income continues to be a struggle? As traditional methods of working and doing business radically transform, certain confusion arises especially amongst entrepreneurs.

This is why a recent conversation with my friend and owner of Walletisland, Adrian Brown, challenged me to reassess how I am approaching some of the things we tend to consider unimportant in the entrepreneurial space. I realised there are simple everyday shifts that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs which could be the key to increasing success and income.

For the majority of aspiring and budding entrepreneurs, the backstory is pretty much the same. We all grew up in less than abundant conditions. Our approach is for the most part pretty old fashioned when it comes to personal grooming and our relationship with money. But if there’s one thing I have come to realize when it comes to producing extraordinary results, it is this: Success and attracting money is all about mindset and the attitude one carries.

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make, to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.” – Peter Diamandis

This is a law based truth I am proving more and more as I interact, connect with and learn from other successful entrepreneurs. In my most recent mastermind with a like-minded individuals, we were able to uncover a few blind spots that continue to hinder many hard working entrepreneurs.

More specifically, we came to a consensus when it comes to attracting more wealth that most individuals hit these three blind spots which hopefully after today, you will no longer fall victim to.

  • Too many success seekers are neglecting their personal appearance and self-grooming. As entrepreneurs, we think only our skillsets should matter, but that’s never the case.
  • Most people are neglecting their everyday personal interaction with money. In other words, aside from the big general numbers they have to deal with in business, most men aren’t deliberately working on improving how they handle, carry and interact with money. Part of this might be old negative paradigms around money running the show.
  • Many business owners are struggling with unattractiveness and low confidence, which certainly hinders their ability to shine, stand out and magnetize success.

If any or all of these resonate, here’s what you can do about it today:

1. Polish your self-image and outer appearance

This doesn’t have to take up too much time. With a little more deliberate thought on the shoes you wear, the wallet you carry, the combination of your clothing, hair, body language and attitude you will not only raise your professional appearance but there is much research proving your earnings will increase too.  Keep it clean, simple, clutter free and corresponding to your business role.

2. Prep yourself for a “money shift”

Is there a psychological relationship between a someones’s wallet and their money? Absolutely. In fact when Adrian got into men’s fashion it was because he experienced firsthand “the money shift”. This happened when he stopped carrying around cheap, worn-out wallets and started carefully choosing the kind that made him feel most opulent.

I’m passionate about helping men strengthen their connection and interaction with money because I realize it’s not about fashion trends. A man’s wallet is something he interacts with daily. It should be a symbol of prosperity and help him de-clutter. It should also be a demonstration of his modern take on money because in our digital society, money is transforming and it’s in our best interest to catch up lest we suffer the consequences of holding on to limiting beliefs around money.”

I couldn’t agree more. Most of us will need to shed limiting beliefs, heal money wounds and learn to handle, carry and interact with money in ways that promote its presence. What money story is your wallet telling right now?

3. Work on your self-confidence and attractiveness

Those struggling with low self-confidence and feelings of unattractiveness need to make drastic changes. Why? According to research by Payscale, over the course of a lifetime, an “attractive person will end up making about 230,000 more than an unattractive person.”

That’s ridiculous especially since being attractive and confident isn’t just for the chosen few. Now that you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford to be bullied by invisible limiting beliefs that question how capable, attractive and confident you are.

If it naturally doesn’t come to you, there are various exercises you can do and small changes you can make in order to build yourself up and make up for any disadvantages you may have had in your upbringing.

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama

As entrepreneurs, we are inclined to focus more on strategies and tactics which will help us close the sale sometimes at the expense of our personal health and grooming. Let us refrain from assuming appearances do not count just because we are no longer climbing the corporate ladder.

If the vision is to enjoy a more opulent and enriching lifestyle, take time to align every aspect of your life with this new self-made, inspiring, influential leader you are aspiring to be. All successful people go into the game prepared for that win.

What personal changes will you make to prepare you for more wealth?

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5 Ways to Improve Your Audience Engagement

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When you first thought of your business idea and created your business, you were probably thinking about how much people needed what you had to offer and all of the people you were going to be able to help. Even though none of that has changed, it can be really discouraging to continue to post on social media, do Facebook lives, and try to make any kind of a call to action when all there is are crickets when you do.

Instead of banging your head against the wall, and trying to figure out what is wrong with your idea, let me give you 5 ways to improve your audience engagement:

1. Increase the amount of content you are putting out

Sometimes, the main reason why you are not seeing the engagement you are looking for is because people are not seeing your posts. Each social media platform has its own algorithm.

Even if you posted once or even twice that day, some of those algorithms can still make it possible for your people NOT to see even one of your posts. Posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement.

2. Ask the right questions

Remember when I said that posting a few to several times a day will increase the number of people seeing your posts which should, in turn, increase your engagement? The reason it should but may not increase your engagement is because you are not asking enough of the right questions.

You can post content that you like or are interested in, but you have to remember YOU are not the one buying your products and services. You need to learn what your target audience wants to see and talk about. Learn what gets them engaged and what keeps them engaged by asking the right questions.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.” Bono

3. Switch it up a little

Have you ever had a routine that was so dry and bland it made you dread doing it? That is exactly what your audience feels like when you post the same kind of content all the time. Everyone doesn’t like meatloaf every day. No matter what you are selling, your audience craves interesting, informative, and encouraging content. If you can give this to them consistently, they will fall in love with you and keep on coming back for more.

4. Analyze your data

When you increase the content you put out, you will have a lot more data to analyze so you can understand the people who you are trying to reach. This will help you to understand which kind of content is consumed more by your audience, what platform has better engagement, and what your audience is trying to tell you they want and need.

“It’s difficult to imagine the power that you’re going to have when so many different sorts of data are available.”- Tim Berners-Lee

5. Calls to action are key

The last thing you want to do is to give your audience some amazing content and not have a place for them to go to learn or get more. Inviting yourself somewhere can be very awkward, so why would you want your audience to do that? They may want to connect with you but they don’t know where to go and how to connect. Invite them in and make them feel wanted and welcomed. This will cut out the awkwardness and also the confusion of how they can better connect with you.

Increasing your engagement can be done easily if you are willing to follow these 5 ways to improve your audience engagement. Once you have done that, the engagement will come and the sales are bound to follow.

How are you staying connected to your audience? Make sure to comment below and let us know!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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A Tim Ferriss Like Japan Trip Rebuilt Me – Here’s Why

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“Art imitates life so you must experience life to create art” – Unknown (possibly Tim Ferriss)

This quote is the reason why I recently took a holiday to Japan and why from now on I will travel more. All of us have a dream, a vision, a goal, a business which is another word for our own “art.”

Anything worth doing has an element of creativity attached to it which in essence is art. While on the way to Japan listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast, I heard this quote above. I realized that my life’s work had fizzled out somewhat because I needed to experience life more.

This whole blogging thing only works when I experience life – travel is the best way to do that. Second to that, I have been listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast for years, and he talks a lot about Japan and how the culture can really positively impact your life.

Hearing this advice second hand just wasn’t good enough for me. That’s why, in Timmy style, I booked an unplanned trip to Japan with only two days notice. It was what I called a Tim Ferriss like trip to Japan. I wanted to transcend my current circumstances and boy did I do that!

Things before Japan had become a bit stale. I wasn’t quite me and I needed rebuilding again. It was time to self-disrupt and grow more as a person. I’d stopped growing and that’s why I felt off. Japan changed all of that.

Here’s how this Japan trip rebuilt me:

 

We’re all the same: we’re all loved.

Sitting at the airport in Australia I saw everyone saying goodbye to their loved ones. I did the same and said goodbye to my family and girlfriend. I sat there for around ten minutes and realized that we’re all loved by someone.

We all have someone who would be sad or miss us if we didn’t return home. All of us want to come home safe and see our loved ones again. While tragedy can strike, these trips to places like Japan are a must – they’re part of our journey in life.

These journeys we take are how we find ourselves. Without travel, we become lost and can’t understand how we fit into this world.

Knowing I’m loved and knowing the importance of these journeys helped rebuild me.

 

Japan can show you what is wrong too.

So far I’ve made Japan sound like it’s all roses – it’s not. I saw people working ridiculous hours. I saw Japanese people who had become obsessed with meaningless westernized brands. I saw women who still appeared to be second class compared with men.

Japan didn’t show me perfection; it showed me reality and that means that there are always going to be things that need to change. Each of us can form part of that change.

 

Objectification of women has changed men in a bad way.

For some reason, Japan gave me immense clarity. I noticed that me (and all other men) have become hardwired to look at women’s bodies. Even the nicest most loyal men who treat women well have been affected. I noticed this unconscious behavior in myself while in Australia and began questioning it.

Do we need to look at women in such a physical way? Is it really necessary? Is this addiction taking up so much of our creative genius and potential?

The answer to all of these questions, after Japan, was that a problem exists and this addiction is not serving as well. I’m not proud of this fact and I for one plan on not only being aware of it but also changing it. This idea helped rebuild me.

 

The Samurai showed the benefits of discipline.

While being an Aussie tourist walking through the grounds of the Imperial Palace, I saw some of the emperors Samurai training. The facility was surrounded by fences but being a tall guy, I could still see over the fence.

I found these Samurai to be cool because they were laser-focused on what they were doing. The Samurai had purpose and precision accuracy. Their discipline taught them patience and you could see the courage in their actions. Everything was thought through and nothing was left to chance.

The Samurai helped me rebuild my life by reminding me of what discipline can do when we embrace it. A disorganized mind combined with actions that are all over the place results in a lot of nothingness. Start with being a master at one thing instead of trying to be mediocre at lots of things.

 

Concrete Jungle vs. Nature

Before Japan, I was obsessed with visiting places like San Fran and New York to see big concrete cities and skyscrapers. Now that I’ve been to Japan I’ve realized that I’m completely bored of that. Going to My Fuji and some of the mountains in Kyoto is far more impactful.

Concrete jungles are all the same once you’ve seen a few. They all have lots of box’s – some tall, some wide, some full of lights and some full of views. When you see enough of these, you no longer become impressed by them.

Nature is impossible to top though. No matter how many lakes, mountains, beaches or forests I visit, I never get sick of them. That’s because it’s in our human DNA to feel a connection with nature. Nature is a place we can relax and recharge the batteries.

Japan taught me that for the rest of my travel adventures I am going to focus on beautiful places that encompass nature instead of man-made structures and fake tourist attractions like theme parks. Knowing what nature means to me has helped me to rebuild myself.

 

See as many places as you can.

This trip to Japan made me see that I get bored after around five days in one country. I’ve discovered that it’s ideal to see as many places as you can. The more of this Earth you experience, the more your life changes.

 

Don’t forget attention to detail.

Japanese people, I learned, are obsessed with attention to detail. Everything from the signage at train stations to the way they present food has been thought of.

“It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being purposeful”

It’s the little things that the Japanese people do that make you fall in love with them by the end of your stay in their country.

 

Manners feel good.

I quickly saw that Japanese people are very kind and have amazing manners. They say thank you so many times. As you walk out of a restaurant, the whole team say thank you like a giant choir. Being grateful and acknowledging each other is at the heart of their culture.

You can’t help but smile when you witness this way of treating one another. Not every stranger you meet in a foreign country is trying to commit a terrorist attack.

All I can say is manners just feel good and it put’s you in a positive mood. Plus, you walk around with a big fat smile on your face and that feels refreshing.

 

Connection through transport.

Japanese culture feels very connected and that’s partly to do with their very efficient transport system. There’s a subway station on practically every corner that’s affordable. Trains run every few minutes, so there’s never any need to run to the subway station to catch a train.

The bullet trains allow you to skip between states or regions in a very short amount of time. No need to board a plane or go through the razzle-dazzle of airport bureaucracy gone mad (thanks to perceived terrorism and the news).

While sitting on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, I saw families that were on their way to visit one another. They looked so relaxed and sat there enjoying the countryside of Japan as I did. It was a regular occurrence made possible by a fantastic transport system that is orderly and well thought out.

 

Technology is exhausting.

The negative side of technology is prominent in Japan. There are cities that are littered with giant LED screens, bright lights and technology on every corner. In these places, I felt unable to think clearly and the bright lights made me feel like I suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder.

There was technology within the toilet seat, on the plane, at restaurants and ugly vending machines selling fat causing sugar water on every corner.

On the flip side, what I loved about Japan was that talking loudly on a not so smart phone was prohibited in most places and there were locations where phones were non-existent. Japanese people seem to know how to balance life between being “ON” and being “OFF” when it comes to their phone.

“Instead of wasting your life away on your phone, Japan teaches you to become present and appreciate the here and now”

You notice things that you normally wouldn’t where I’m from in the Western World. With so much empty space, Japan is a great place to rebuild yourself. The rebuilding process needs thinking time away from phones.

 

Minimalism and being space conscious is beautiful.

The Japanese people are obsessed with being space conscious. They have double-decker car spaces, cube-shaped cars, cars made for people who must be three-foot tall, hotel rooms where you can barely open the door and space-saving retail shops like you’ve never seen.

 

Time is money in Japan.

My plane was on time to the second. Every train was on time. The tour guide at Mt Fuji was on time. The hotel cleaning was to the minute and so was the checkout. Time is money and it’s one resource we should take more seriously. Time gives you the opportunity to rebuild and grow.

 

Low energy states can be healed by travel.

More than a year since my last break, my energy levels in my career were at an all-time low. I had headaches every day and felt uninspired to a degree. It turns out all I needed was a holiday to rebuild.

Your body guides you.
Your heart guides you.
Your mind guides you.

This Japan trip taught me to take time to relax and recharge. Don’t ignore your body ever!

 

Climbing Japanese mountains is a metaphor for life.

I climbed this mountain in Kyoto. Halfway up I wanted to quit. I thought to myself “I’ve seen enough. Why go to the summit?”

That’s the problem right there. When we’re working on our goals, we give up too soon. We settle for okay instead of amazing. If this mountain were your life, would you give up when it got a bit hard? I’m telling you not to.

All the growth and everything you ever wanted comes from pushing that extra 2% to reach the top of the mountain. The feeling at the top is indescribable. Only those who are prepared to go the extra mile will know what it feels like to look down from the top.

Two more things to remember:

1. Once you reach the top, there’s always another mountain.

2. You must also help someone else climb the mountain to reach your full potential. Living is giving.

This mountain I climbed in Japan taught me so much about rebuilding my life (and yes I love mountain analogies).

 

There’s no place like a hot spring to contemplate life and rebuild your life.

While lying in a hot spring (Onsen) in Northern Tokyo, I sat there and thought I was going to be enjoying a relaxing time in a hot spring. What no one told me is that my entire life would replay before me. The onsen became a place to contemplate everything that had transpired thus far.

The hot water from the springs has a certain effect on your mind. I often find that my best thinking and ideas come from a shower and I’ve heard other people talk about this same experience.

“The hot spring sent my mind into deep thinking that I’ll never forget”

 

To enter a Japanese hot spring, you must be fully naked. You can’t bring clothes, material possessions, technology or a corporate mask. There’s nowhere to hide and no phone to look at. You sit there naked and bare your soul. It’s the one time where people can see you for exactly who you are.

Before contemplating my own life, I observed the men around me. Many of them seemed to be contemplating their life. Some looked tired and worn out from years of slaving away and doing hard labor.

Many of them looked like they were wasting away from years of working too hard and not remembering what truly matters. It was as if they had finally discovered what matters but that it was now too late. Then I saw the exact opposite – young men who had their whole lives ahead of them.

They too would sit there and weigh up their options. Should they follow their dream or fall for the Western myth that is collecting useless objects of little value? There were times where I wanted to answer this question for them.

I realized after a lot of thought that these young men had to come to that realization themselves. When you discover these truths of life yourself, everything changes and the principles stick.

I saw these young men by the end of my time in the hot spring for who they were and what they could become (their potential). I finally understood that they too could change the world in some impactful way if they chose too. We all have that choice and it’s ours to make.

“This stark comparison between the older men and the younger men was one of the most profound lessons of my Japan trip”

Both generations of men also looked up at the sky while doing this deep thinking. I found that quite bizarre and all of them did it.

What’s strange is that I also looked up at the sky without consciously being aware. Once I’d finished observing the men in the hot spring, I turned my thinking over to my own life. I had truth bomb after truth bomb as I sat there. I found myself running to the change room every 30 minutes to write stuff down.

What I had achieved so far and what I needed to do next became so clear. I sat in the hot spring proud of who I’ve become. For the first time in my life, I got to sit there and appreciate everything I’d put out into the world. I hadn’t stopped to see how far I’d come before this moment.

I was so focused on the present and trying to gain future success that I didn’t even know how proud I could be of myself. This fact has become the foundation of me going through the rebuilding phase yet again after five years since my last major self-renovation.

 

In summary….

Everyone reading this blog post has the opportunity to rebuild their life and consistently self-disrupt themselves. Going to places like Japan gives you the opportunity to experience life and see how far you’ve come. You can’t be ON 24/7 like those picture quotes tell you to be.

Once in a while, you need to be proud of who you are and think about who you can become.

Japan is a perfect place to do this and rebuild your life. Stay true to yourself and inspire others.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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