The Jerk vs The Amazing

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Do you know these two people? Do you work with them? Are they your customers?

Editor’s note: I was eating dinner the other night at a restaurant with some friends and I was struck by the abrasive and rude nature of the table seated near us. I felt really bad for the waitress. These people were obnoxious, antagonistic and just plain offensive…boggles the mind how some people can go through life not knowing they are a jerk (let alone a whole table of them!) and treating people horribly.

The Jerk
The Jerk has the ability to suck the lifeblood out of you like a vampire. You can recognize The Jerk because he will be the person in a meeting, or the very rare customer, who meets every recommendation and suggestion that you make with obnoxious confrontation, condescension, and antagonism.

I am not sure about you, but I find that when I have this individual around that it’s awfully difficult to produce big ideas or provide ‘beyond expectation’ customer service.

The Amazing
The Amazing is not always easy to find, but they are the type of person we hope to surround ourselves with.

They might not always agree with you, or approve of your business practices.

The Amazing will certainly provide constructive criticism, but she will try to improve upon what you have done and encourage you to do better.

The Amazing wants you to be a change agent and trusts that you have the skills to do so.

Certainly, you know better than me, and I am not sure if it’s been scientifically proven, but I have a funny feeling that the type of people you come into contact with on a daily basis has a direct correlation on your productivity, creativity, and happiness.

Spend more time today with The Amazing and I have no doubt you will be doing great things.

image source: Vaguely Artistic

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For Sale: Used Backpack

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What is your story? Here is a small bit of mine…

I have this used backpack that has been intimately involved in my life since 1996.

To be sure, when I wrote this last week the backpack and I were on a bus from the border of El Salvador to Guatemala City.

You could hypothetically say that the backpack’s story is my story.

When my initial thoughts started surfacing that, perhaps, corporate life was not for me back in 1996 the backpack was the first purchase I made.

In fact, when I was denied a three-month leave of absence from my job (at a horrific pharmaceutical manufacturing company) the backpack was there.

The leave of absence incident, compounded with other office politic scenarios, prompted me to finally be fed up enough with my situation and helped me to move beyond fear and take my first large step.

Specifically, I quit my job and headed to Ecuador.

While in Ecuador I visited Quito, Montañita, Baños, and many other locales…and during my first real ‘mini-retirement’ the pack was there in the background.

Upon returning from Ecuador I learned that I was accepted into the Peace Corps and would be heading to the jungles of Papua New Guinea for my longest adventure yet.

And, yes, the backpack came along.

Post Peace Corps, whether it was packing for grad school, living in the South Pacific on the island of Samoa, or heading for the Caribbean the backpack was an ever present reminder of where I had come from and the fact that I was working towards a non-conformist and unconventional life.

Travel, like life, is not easy: rude people, delayed flights, unmet expectations, illness, and sub par accommodation are not uncommon.

However, it’s those golden moments that sustain you.

Like when you are traveling by local bus to your destination and in the air is the sweet musky smell of moist vegetation, mixed with wood fire smoke and just a hint of manure, that you feel most alive!

These are the experiences that make us who we are.

How is this relevant to you? (Or what the hell is this guy talking about?)

I feel passionate about the fact that as small business owners, risk takers, and travelers we all have stories that should be shared.

If this backpack has so much to say, imagine what stories you can come up with for your business, your life, or those projects you are working on. Which could result in more opportunities, more product sold, or even the chance to empower others.

What’s your story?

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What did you do to get started?

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I get a couple of emails every week seeking information on how to move to the Caribbean, start a business, etc… But today in my inbox was a simple, yet extremely important inquiry, and it’s something that we all must deal with as entrepreneurs and risk takers.

The question: What did you do to get started?

Here is my reply:

“In all honesty, I just took a first step and kept going from there.

Sometimes it helps me to write down the goals I have  for a project or how I envision it will look. Then I tell someone, typically my wife, and by discussing it…your plan becomes real.

Next, sketch out on a piece of paper what you want the website to look like. Contact a designer and you are on your way. :-)”

Really, it’s about taking that first step! And it was summed up quite eloquently in Seth Godin’s post, Nothing:

The only thing worse than starting something and failing… is not starting something.

Quite honestly, that is the mantra that would run through my mind when thinking about whether or not I should start Train for Humanity. No doubt about it, fear of failure can bring nausea inducing feelings.

But think of the alternative – – Doing NOTHING.

For those of you who struggle with what other people will think, please read this quote from Mark Twain:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Now I ask you, how did you get started?

Have a terrific weekend and thank you for stopping by!

image source: wallyg

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How to Achieve Your Goals Through Reverse Engineering

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If you are looking for a little reading…today I am guest posting over at Lateral Action:

How to Achieve Your Goals Through Reverse Engineering

In the post I discuss how I use the concept of reverse engineering and how I apply it to my goals, so that hopefully I will be successful.

If you find the post  helpful or interesting, I greatly appreciate a Tweet (tinyurl for ya’ or a Stumble.

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There’s a Lot of Mediocrity Out There: Where do you rank?

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mediocrity ~ the state or quality of being mediocre.

mediocre ~ rather poor or inferior.

Based on some interactions I have had recently, which left me questioning just what the frick is happening, I sent the following “Tweet” yesterday:

“You know, there is a tremendous amount of fricken mediocrity out there! But not you, you’re better than that.”

Perhaps, due to the economy (and stress associated with it), I am more sensitive when it comes to my daily interactions? I don’t know…however, I challenge you to keep a running tally one day of the mediocre vs astounding interactions that you have. I bet you the mediocre column dwarfs the exceptional.

But, here’s the thing that really gets me: We encounter so much mediocrity in general that it has almost become the norm.

The truly sad element in all of this is that it does not have to be that way! I am not certain if it has been scientifically proven, but I would like to think that it takes just as much energy to be mediocre as it does to be amazing, astonishing, and fabulous.

This is NOT intended to be a rant. In fact, I’m calling myself out. I have been sub-mediocre on a number of projects that I have going on right now and I need to take responsibility and change that.

How about you? Where do you rank?

(Thanks for reading and have a terrific weekend!)

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Embrace What You Have Today

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I woke up this morning feeling a little sorry for myself and somewhat pissed at the world. Not very typical of my personality, but I’ve had a long and  challenging week.

Today, while taking care of my usual responsibilities I received an email from a very selfless and kind friend with some news that a really bad situation had befallen his family.

It is not my place to go into detail, but it is the earth shattering kind of news that made me say out loud, “Holy Shit!” And it made me feel like someone punched me in my gut. (Especially since I had the audacity to actually be angry at the world this morning.)

Please, I know it’s cliché, but embrace what you have and your good fortune TODAY. I was going to compile a list on how to “Embrace what you have,” but that’s bull. We all know what we have to do, the actions we have to undertake, and the people we need to tell they are important.

If YOU are having a bad day, a troubling week, or a horrible month then I am sending you all of the good karma and thoughts that I can muster.

To my friend, if you read this, we are thinking of you in the Caribbean.


image source: kalandrakas

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