Life Lessons

Stop Convincing Yourself You Can’t Do Something. Now.

Photo by  Jason Rosewell  on  Unsplash

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” — Henry Ford

How many times have you not done something because you thought it would be too hard to do?

If you’re like most of us, frequently right?

For the longest time I thought there was no way I could draw. I’m a programmer by trade, and perform well with things that relate to logic.

I had tried a few times but always ended stopping before even really giving it a chance.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

Similarly, I’ve always had tiny legs. It had been pointed out to me on many occasions while in high-school. Some might call it bullying, but maybe I was too dumb to realize I was actually getting bullied.

I’m an ectomorph. For me, gaining weight is terribly hard. I know a lot of people would love to have this problem, but they’re wrong. It’s just as bad as being overweight. Especially for men.

I was never able to put weight on. I tried eating ridiculous amounts of calories. Simple workouts. Nothing worked.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

 

The Turning Point

I can now draw, and my legs have started growing in ways I never thought would be possible.

But what changed you ask?

I think it comes down to two things:

1. A Mindset Shift

When you reject the idea that something is not feasible, it becomes feasible.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” — Henry Ford

I know this sounds cliché or too obvious, but it’s not.

Next time you think you can’t do something, stop yourself.

Take time to think.

Can you really not do it?

With careful planning, consistent execution and constant monitoring of results, you can achieve almost anything.

Kyle Maynard is a quadruple amputee. That guy climbed Kilimanjaro! If that doesn’t inspire you to do things you think you can’t, I don’t know what will.

When I started writing a few months ago, I shared a short story about a guy named Phil.

I won’t go into details, but the guy didn’t have a truck or a car to pick up a bookshelf I was selling, so he brought it on two public buses home. Who does that? Anyone would have given up on the bookshelf, but man did he want it!

2. A Simple Habit

Around the same time that mindset shift happened to me, I developed a framework I never knew would set me up for success.

I frequently write about it, so I won’t go into the details here, but basically, every month, I learn 3 new skills. I plan for it every end of month. I execute consistently every day for the whole month. I quantify and qualify the results.

At the end of the month, I’m usually quite good doing the skill.

This is how I learned to draw.

I rejected the idea that a programmer cannot draw.

I planned my learning process. I set deadlines. I set milestones. I drew every day by following tutorials online. By the end of the month, I could sketch, do line art, and colouring.

I won’t make a career out of it, but now I can sketch for my artists as needed and understand when they tell me things related to art.

When I rejected the fact that my legs could never grow bigger, I figured out a path to success. I did the right exercises and the right amount of repetitions. I was consistent in doing them everyday.

When I rejected the idea that an introvert can’t tell a good story, I studied methods that work. I practiced public speaking and writing consistently. I researched what makes a good story good. I learned to be authentic. That’s how I became a top writer on Medium.

 

It’s Actually Easy

It turns out, it wasn’t even hard to learn to draw. It wasn’t even hard to grow the legs. It wasn’t even hard to tell stories.

“Showing up is half the battle.” — Woody Allen

I believe that. I’ve been there.

In the course of 6 months, I learned to draw, I learned some machine learning techniques, I learned a lot of Spanish, I learned to give public speeches, I learned to tell stories, I learned to write, I learned some basic Norwegian, I learned to Meditate, I learned to Journal. And more.

I’ve since become a top writer on Medium, started two new businesses, got my third professional photography gig, built my own personal brand, hired 5 people, wrote two books, released a video game, and more.

And I’m not saying that to brag.

I just want you to realize that things are not always as hard as they seem.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping, and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/stop-convincing-yourself-you-cant-do-something-now-5704d48fd149

Just Take Action!

Ideas And Questions To Help You Take Action

When you say you’re going to do something, how long does it actually take you to do it?

I had a colleague a few years ago who said he was going to quit his job. At first, we took him seriously. A week later, he was still there. The next problem happened, and he said that this time, for sure, he was going to quit.

Ultimately, it took him two years after saying it first.

I understand it’s not always easy. It’s not black and white. But I can’t help but wonder why it took so long after mentioning it, and how emotionally stable he was during this whole time.

He was one of the smartest guys I knew, so it’s not like he couldn’t find another job if he quit.

How long does it take for you to take action?

I was talking to my mentee the other day about something I wanted to do/try. I scheduled a small block of time to experiment with the idea, and the next day I had done it.

He was amazed at how fast I executed on it. It’s a pattern he noticed in me: I act fast. I didn’t notice that until he mentioned it.

With that same company I mentioned above, when I said I wanted to quit, I did it the next week. I didn’t quit because I didn’t like it, I quit because I wasn’t learning as much anymore, and found something else that gave me that opportunity.

Impulsiveness

I bet that’s the first word that came to mind to you as you read that. Danny is just an impulsive guy. I like to think that it’s not the case. I very much follow this principle:

“Think things through then follow through” — Eddie Rickenbacker

For the thing I wanted to try that I had discussed with my mentee, I saw that I had a block of two hours to spare the next day. I spent half of it researching approaches on how to do it, and the other half implementing it. Or trying at least.

And that’s the key here: trying.

Experiment

The moment you realize that life is just a series of experiments, you’ll see that taking action isn’t that hard anymore.

Ask yourself this:

  • What’s the worst that can happen if you take action?

  • What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t take action?

A lot of times you’ll have fears. Some fears are legit, but here’s one I don’t believe in: fear of failing.

Failure

If you find yourself fearing failure, you’ve got this all wrong. There is no “failure”. Failure is the result of an experiment. It’s a learning experience. If anything, failure is the desired outcome many times.

Try things, fail fast, learn from it, try better.

“I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison

That pushes me to action.

“Who Cares” Attitude

If me taking action does not affect anyone negatively and I’ve got the time to experiment, I don’t see the point of inaction.

Who cares if I fail? Who cares if choosing Action A ended up not being better than choosing Action B?

I’m not always going to take the best possible decisions. Even when I plan really well.

But is not taking any action at all the best way to go if it doesn’t impact others negatively and you’ve got time?

Conclusion

The important lesson here is to realize that the consequences to actions are not necessarily as dramatic as you think they are.

Think about Rickenbacker’s quote. If you thought things through and it was sound, just do it.

Think about Edison. Do you see him as a failure? I hope you don’t.

To make things easy, ask yourself this:

  • What’s the worst that can happen if you take action?

  • What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t take action?

Think deeply, objectively. Answer these questions honestly, without any thought that one is better than the other, you can judge after reflection.

  • What have you been procrastinating doing that you know you should act on?

  • What’s holding you back?

  • What are your fears?

  • If you don’t try, do you even have a chance to succeed?

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” –Charles Dickens

You can do this!

Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/just-take-action-c223f2262957

How Many Meaningful Relationships Do You Have, And Why Does It Matter?

Photo by  @mahkeo  on  Unsplash

Photo by @mahkeo on Unsplash

Let’s first start by defining what a meaningful relationship is:

“A meaningful relationship is one that’s open and honest in a way that lets people be straight with each other” — Ray Dalio

  • Who can you tell it to when they’re on the wrong path, in health, wealth, love and happiness?

  • Who tells you when that happens do you?

  • How many people are open and honest with you?

  • How many people do you dare be open and honest with?

I’m willing to bet it’s hard to come up with a large list of people for these questions.

Ideally, you would have the same names in all lists. It’s a relationship after all! If you are open and honest with someone and vice versa, then it’s a truly meaningful relationship.

Why It Matters

Identifying your meaningful relationships is important to understand who to 1) go to in times of need, and 2) get valuable feedback on important decisions.

It is the people you surround yourself with in business and in life. It’s your business partners, your spouse, your parents, your children, etc.

A meaningful relationship is strong. You know the other person’s got your back. If something is wrong, they’ll tell you straight, and you’ll grow from it.

You don’t grow from people hiding the truth from you. It might feel good initially to not face the brutal truth, but it will eventually hurt when you fall.

I learned to embrace the brutal truth a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact point in time, but I know since then I’ve had more “success” in whatever I’m doing since then.

I’m happily married and our relationship is based on trust. We can tell each other the brutal truth. We’re stronger for it. We’ve been together 14 years. I’m only 31.

In business, I try to surround myself with people who won’t shy away from telling me when I do something wrong. I always ask for feedback from people I trust. In return, they trust that I’ll do the same.

Obviously, there are ways to give brutally honest feedback, and not everyone can word it properly, but sometimes you have to read between the lines.

I personally like when someone tells me something I did is s***, provided they have points to back their opinion up.

You don’t have to agree with everything, but that’s what being “open” means. Understand and value the person’s opinion, and make up your own opinion based on that.

Conclusion

Take time to reflect on the meaningful relationships you have. Make a list. Make those connections even stronger.

Strive to build more relationships based on openness and honesty. You’ll grow as a person and you’ll become a better business partner, spouse, parent, etc.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/how-many-meaningful-relationships-do-you-have-and-why-does-it-matter-1abd53568e4e

If Only I Had Known It Would Be That Easy…

Photo by  @jakobowens1  on  Unsplash

How many times have you not done something because you thought it would be too hard to do?

If you’re like most of us, frequently right?

For the longest time I thought there was no way I could draw. I’m a programmer by trade, and perform well with things that relate to logic.

I had tried a few times but always ended stopping before even really giving it a chance.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

Similarly, I’ve always had tiny legs. It had been pointed out to me on many occasions while in high-school. Some might call it bullying, but maybe I was too dumb to realize I was actually getting bullied.

I’m an ectomorph. For me, gaining weight is terribly hard. I know a lot of people would love to have this problem, but they’re wrong. It’s just as bad as being overweight. Especially for men.

I was never able to put weight on. I tried eating ridiculous amounts of calories. Simple workouts. Nothing worked.

It was too hard for me to do. I had given up.

The Turning Point

I can now draw, and my legs have started growing in ways I never thought would be possible.

But what changed you ask?

I think it comes down to two things:

1. A Mindset Shift

When you reject the idea that something is not feasible, it becomes feasible.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”—Henry Ford

I know this sounds cliché or too obvious, but it’s not.

Next time you think you can’t do something, stop yourself.

Take time to think.

Can you really not do it?

With careful planning, consistent execution and constant monitoring of results, you can achieve almost anything.

Kyle Maynard is a quadruple amputee. That guy climbed Kilimanjaro! If that doesn’t inspire you to do things you think you can’t, I don’t know what will.

When I started writing a few months ago, I shared a short story about a guy named Phil.

I won’t go into details, but the guy didn’t have a truck or a car to pick up a bookshelf I was selling, so he brought it on two public buses home. Who does that? Anyone would have given up on the bookshelf, but man did he want it!

2. A Simple Habit

Around the same time that mindset shift happened to me, I developed a framework I never knew would set me up for success.

I frequently write about it, so I won’t go into the details here, but basically, every month, I learn 3 new skills. I plan for it every end of month. I execute consistently every day for the whole month. I quantify and qualify the results.

At the end of the month, I’m usually quite good doing the skill.

This is how I learned to draw.

I rejected the idea that a programmer cannot draw.

I planned my learning process. I set deadlines. I set milestones. I drew every day by following tutorials online. By the end of the month, I could sketch, do line art, and colouring.

I won’t make a career out of it, but now I can sketch for my artists as needed and understand when they tell me things related to art.

When I rejected the fact that my legs could never grow bigger, I figured out a path to success. I did the right exercises and the right amount of repetitions. I was consistent in doing them everyday.

When I rejected the idea that an introvert can’t tell a good story, I studied methods that work. I practiced public speaking and writing consistently. I researched what makes a good story good. I learned to be authentic. That’s how I became a top writer on Medium.

It’s Actually Easy

It turns out, it wasn’t even hard to learn to draw. It wasn’t even hard to grow the legs. It wasn’t even hard to tell stories.

“Showing up is half the battle.” — Woody Allen

I believe that. I’ve been there.

In the course of 6 months, I learned to draw, I learned some machine learning techniques, I learned a lot of Spanish, I learned to give public speeches, I learned to tell stories, I learned to write, I learned some basic Norwegian, I learned to Meditate, I learned to Journal. And more.

I’ve since become a top writer on Medium, started two new businesses, got my first professional photography gig, built my own personal brand, hired 5 people, wrote a book, started working on a podcast, and I’ll be releasing my game at the end of the month.

And I’m not saying that to brag.

I just want you to realize that things are not always as hard as they seem.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading and sharing ! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/@danny_forest/if-only-i-had-known-it-would-be-that-easy-415b8b9b90ba

Is Impatience A Weakness Or A Skill?

This is a serious question to you.

You commonly hear people say: “patient is a virtue”. Here are some other patience quotes:

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” — Napoleon Hill

“Though patience, great things are accomplished.” — Imam Ali

I personally like this one best:

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” — author unknown

I’m a very impatient person. I started working on farms when I was 8 years oldand was getting paid by productivity.

Obviously that changed my whole perspective on efficiency from a very early age. For better or worse.

The Good (In My Mind)

I have this obsession with time. About not wasting any of it. I always try to find ways to learn new things as efficiently as possible.

When I was 29 years old, I was afraid of the 30s, thinking I hadn’t accomplished enough for my age. Yet I was (and still am) happily married, had a college degree, had sold a property for great profit, started 4 businesses, had done over 10 different jobs, stayed mid-term in other countries, traveled around the world to over 45 countries, and why not: finished over 200 video games.

I’m 31 years old and find the 30s amazing. I’m wiser, more interesting, and learn at a faster pace than ever before. I talk more about that in How To Frequently Trigger Happy Accidents And Why It Matters.

I learn 3 new skills per month because I find our regular day-to-day learning pace to be too slow for me. Heck, I dropped out of Software Engineering school because the learning pace was too slow and not focused enough the software classes.

From the outside world, I get criticized for lacking focus, yet I work at least 10 hours per day on Soul Reaper and have been working on the game on/off for 4 years. That’s some serious focus and dedication in my mind.

So on that, Impatience seems like a skill to me.

The Bad (In My Mind)

It hurts me deep inside when things are slow:

  • Waiting on a red light kills me.

  • Waiting for the bus kills me.

  • A flight that is delayed kills me.

  • A deadline that is not met kills me.

  • A person who arrives late for any reason kills me.

  • A computer or phone that takes forever to open something kills me.

  • Waiting for an elevator kills me.

You get the point.

And being in Spain right now, things are just at a different pace I’m used to (no discrimination here).

They take the time to “enjoy life”. They put a lot of emphasis on social interactions. Which is good, in my opinion. I’m way more social since I’m here.

But damn does it bother me that 8pm means 10pm for them!

Waiting for things makes me anxious. I’m boiling deep inside. Seriously. I try to hide it. Most people probably can’t tell, but my wife knows every time.

So on that, Impatience feels very much like a weakness to me.

So I re-iterate my question here:

Is Impatience A Weakness Or A Skill?

What are your thoughts on this?

Is impatience a weakness?

Or impatience is a skill?

On a personal level? On a professional level?

Are you impatient?

If so, how do you calm your mind when you feel impatient?

I genuinely would love to hear your thoughts on that. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Thanks for reading and sharing! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/is-impatience-a-weakness-or-a-skill-f65eb38f3a9c

You Are A Polymath, You Just Don’t Know It

Am I the only one who is tired of reading articles about focusing on one specific thing you’re really good at to be successful?

If you ask me what I’m best at, I don’t think I can answer the question.

If you think you can answer that question, you’re probably wrong.

For those who don’t know, a polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

Following Dreams

I knew very early on that I wanted to build games growing up. I directed my life to reach that goal. In my teenage years, I built games using free software like RPG Maker and Game Maker. I later learned to program in college. As soon as I could get in the industry, I did. It was great. I was very good at it.

I shifted gears 5 or 6 years later and worked for a non-game company. It was great. I was very good at it.

I left 6 months later to travel around the world. I tried as many things as I could. Things I had no idea if I’d be good at it or not. But I tried. I surprised myself most of the time. I was very good at other non-programming related tasks.

“If you can dream it, you can do it” — Walt Disney

“Becoming” A Polymath

This realization put me in a year of self-doubt about the direction of my life after I came back from that trip a year later. Some people travel to find themselves, I was definitely more lost than I was when I left.

It’s then the I started experimenting on every new skill I could pick up. I became good at lots of things. I’ve since then developed this framework where I learn (at least) 3 new skills every month.

In a very short timespan, I:

  • started getting contracts for taking professional photos;

  • started writing semi-professionally;

  • started an eCommerce selling Viking gear;

  • built the (self-proclaimed) best yet-to-be-released Text-to-Speech app;

  • started speaking other languages;

  • gave talks on time management & productivity;

  • gave English classes;

  • and more.

And that’s only the professional skills I’ve learned. I tried many new sports, I did sleep experiments, food experiments and more.

You Are A Polymath, You Just Don’t Know It

I am certainly no genius. I know people much smarter than me. The only difference is I dare push myself into doing things out of my comfort zone. It’s not easy at first, but the first wins lead the way to more and more wins.

You work in tech? Dare try creative work. I did, I can draw using Photoshop now.

You are a creative person? Dare try programming. Follow tutorials. Start with games.

You do manual work? Try mental work.

You take photos? Try being the model.

You take videos? Try being the actor.

You work in healthcare? Try working in third-world countries with Doctors Without Borders or another NGO.

You speak only one language? Go to a country where the language is somewhat similar as a first step. Go to India or East Asia next.

“To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” — Socrates

Success

How would you know what you can do if you don’t even try? How can you safely say what you’re best at if you haven’t tried anything else. Sure you might have success doing what you know how to do, but maybe there’s something else you could do better?

But then, who cares if you’re not doing what you’re best at.

I’m certainly not the best photographer.

I’m certainly not the best writer.

I’m certainly not the best programmer.

I do all those things at a level people qualify as very good. Probably just “good” for writing since it’s all new to me.

And I’m doing pretty well for myself. I may not be rich and famous, but I’m ridiculously happy.

I can relate to a lot of people on so many levels. I think that makes me a better person overall. Being a better person for other people, to me, is a better definition of success.

Conclusion

Screw one-trick-ponies; dare be good at many things. Get out of your comfort zone and do things you want, not things you can. Do things you don’t want to do to teach your brain that you can actually do it. Expand your horizons.

Become the polymath that’s hidden inside you.

You can do this!

Thanks for reading! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/you-are-a-polymath-you-just-dont-know-it-b501ffbf0601

A Single Mom, Strawberries and Rain — A True Story About Real Hard Work And Perseverance

Step 1: A Single Mom

My three brothers and I grew up in a poor family, raised by a single mom. My mom was always working really hard to make sure we always had food and a roof over our heads. She would always find ways to give us gifts on our birthdays and at Christmas. But apart from that, we couldn’t get any luxury.

Because of that, I had every reason to want to chase money. To want to end this “miserable” life.

The thing is, I never actually cared for money. Strange isn’t it?

Step 2: Strawberries

It’s made stranger by the fact that I started working on the farm (strawberry picking) when I was 8 years old. I was getting paid by productivity. The more baskets I filled, the more money I made.

By the age of 12, I was one of the best, if not the best. Jealous kids thought I was cheating, grown-ups looked up to me. And that’s what I cared for. Being treated like a grown-up and learning from them. I was hanging out with people 3–4 times my age. Even today, I have much deeper conversations with people who are older than me.

But back then I was a kid. I had not realized the truth of it. I thought I was doing it for the money. Heck, I remember that summer when I was 11 years old. I had bought a 27 inch TV (back then, that was impressive), a Playstation, a surround sound system and tons of games. When other kids told me their parents bought them a Playstation, I was so much more proud to say to I had bought my own.

The truth is, that money and what I bought back then is long gone. Long gone.

What is not gone are the lessons and skills I learned so early in life: Working hard (as if I couldn’t bring food on the table), perseverance, waking up early, listening to “mentors” and more.

“Become a millionaire not for the million dollars, but for what it will make of you to achieve it.” — Jim Rohn

Back when I was the king of the field, I didn’t make the most money because I chased it, but because I aimed for excellence. I worked harder than the rest, I woke up earlier than the rest, I listened to advice and I showed up consistently. Rain or shine, literally.

Money was more of a metric. Like a scale when you work towards gain or losing weight. It was a good way to gauge if my learning was progressing or not.

Step 3: Rain

I met my wife in the strawberry fields when she was 15 years old. We had plans to go out to the movies and to the restaurant with friends for her 16th birthday.

I remember that day so well not because it was magical or anything, but because it was a *shitty day (pardon the term). It was down-pouring rain, but our boss would not allow us to stop. There was at least 10 cm of rain on the ground and we were all down on our knees picking the strawberries up. Definitely no enjoyable experience. For a normal person.

While most gave in and left, I was still there picking strawberries. Remember, rain or shine. I had to brave this rainstorm. If my mom could raise four brats by herself with nothing, there’s no way that rainstorm would win against me! My memory may serve me wrong here, but I think I had a record day that day.

Lessons Learned

And this is how I approach life. It took me years to realize it, but now I get it. Real hard work and perseverance matter. That is how you reach your craziest goals.

I’m leaving you with great quotes that resonate with the lessons I learned from these early experiences:

There’s no substitute for hard work — Thomas A. Edison

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance — Samuel Johnson

“…I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” — Louisa May Alcott

“No one succeeds without effort… Those who succeed owe their success to perseverance.” — Ramana Maharshi

Thanks for reading! :)

First published here: https://theascent.pub/a-single-mom-strawberries-and-rain-a-true-story-about-real-hard-work-and-perseverance-12f3ecb99145

Be Aware Of All The Greatness Around You

When’s the last time you stopped and looked around?

When’s the last time you took the time to observe, for real, your surroundings?

I don’t know where you’re going to be reading this story from, but I have a feeling that if you look around you right now, you can see someone or something you like or inspire you.

Hopefully you don’t have to look too far or think too hard.

The first step towards change is awareness, the second step is acceptance. — Nathaniel Branden

When you open all your senses to your surroundings, that’s when you discover that the world around you is much greater than you could imagine.

People who, on the surface, may look normal to you at first, start to become incredible and inspiring. Everyone has their own story and have something you can learn from.

A park you walk by every morning starts to have its own story. It’s visited by different kinds of people all with different backgrounds and motivations in life. Let that inspire you.

The Mind Shift

The day I started to be aware of my surroundings is the day my perspective on everything changed. I let everyone and everything inspire me. I’m more positive and more productive. I’m motivated and achieve so much more than I did before.

The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness. — Lao Tzu

I’m a different person than I was six months ago when I left the comfort of my home in Canada. I met incredible people in my nomadic life since then. But I didn’t recognize it at first.

I started to realize it when people took interest in my stories. In my journey. I did not understand how my journey inspired them, when in reality, I realized that I found THEIR journey more inspiring.

The more people I inspired, the more I became aware of everyone and everything that shaped me. It’s when I wrote my first story to ever get published about gratefulness and happiness as a side effect.

My mind has shifted and I’m happier and a better person for it.

Conclusion

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness. — James Thurber

It’s when I started to be aware of all the greatness around me that I realized I could achieve (almost) anything I wanted if I set my mind to it.

Look around you. See the greatness. Let it teach you. Let it inspire you. It changed my life and can change yours too!

You can do this!

Thanks for reading! :)

First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/be-aware-of-all-the-greatness-around-you-9ff3f61149e4