Sometimes, taking a hard look at the worst case scenario is key to accomplishing great things.

There are many things in life that we just won’t do. We often feel like there’s no point, or we care too much about what others will think.

Yesterday, I encouraged you to email your heroes and apply for that awesome job. If you have some hesitations about doing those things, ask yourself this question posed by Tim Ferriss in his book, The 4 Hour Work Week:

If I do this, what’s the absolute worst case scenario? Could it have a major negative impact on my life? Do the potential benefits outweigh by the negative aspects?

Let’s take an example from above.

If you email your hero, the worst case scenario is that they won’t respond and nothing will ever come of it.

What’s the upside to this? I can tell you.

A few months ago, I emailed Derek Sivers, the former CEO of CD Baby, just to say hello.

The result? He emailed back.

Now I know Derek Sivers.

It’s that easy.

Don’t be afraid to do crazy things every now and then. And if you need a little bit of confidence, just take a moment to ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

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Spend five minutes on that exciting project that spins around in your head each night.

Apply for that job that you feel wildly unqualified for.

Send a sincere thank you to someone who’s done good by you.

Quit something that’s not worth your time.

Spend five minutes in a quiet place with your phone turned off.

Ask someone what their dream job is.

Send an email to your favorite author or famous mentor to compliment their work and wish them a nice day.

Buy doughnuts for a group of people.

Tell someone you’re proud of them.

Write down something positive and affirming about yourself in big, bold letters.

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How would you like to start a creative project that involved unlimited time and unlimited resources? Sad news – that project might just be doomed from the start.

Our creativity originates from and is motivated by our constraints. Limited time. Limited budget. Limited resources. Studies have shown that these characteristics lead to some of our best work.

Too much time can lead to procrastination.

Too many resources can lead to us squandering what’s available to us.

Take a look at some of the brilliant work by Austin Kleon, and you’ll see that being constrained is one of the primary drivers of his art.

Next time you want to kickstart your creative process, give yourself a hard deadline. The best way to avoid squandering your time is to limit how much of it is available to you in the first place.

Keep showing up, and stick to those deadlines. Good luck.

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Starting any new project takes quite a lot of guts and grit.

Whether you’re starting a blog, a company, a book, or any other project that requires high intensity over an extended period of time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting every step to be perfect.

As I’ve stated before, one of the biggest components of success is in simply showing up.

If you’re writing a book, write every day.

If you’re building a blog, find a schedule and stick to it.

Naturally, when we work on anything every day, there will come times when the quality of the work isn’t to our highest standard, and you need to let yourself be ok with this.

Taking blogging as an example, one of the biggest reasons most bloggers fail is not the occasional low quality post. It’s because those bloggers don’t put in the time and stay consistent.

If you write 150 words every day for an entire year, you’ll end with year with over 55,000 words. Within this novel-sized bag of words, you might just find your next great idea.

With consistency, you’ll become a better writer.

You’ll become a wiser entrepreneur.

You’ll fill your life with a huge backlog of ideas that can be pulled from at any time.

Above all else, just be consistent.

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In recent years, we’ve lost the feeling of mystery and wonder at the world around us. Other than the deep oceans, we’ve seemingly discovered every piece of the natural world.

I’ve often felt that there are no more grand secrets to be found in the world, and that the only remaining mysteries are left to the most brilliant scientists, thinkers, and engineers among us.

Peter Thiel describes this feeling in his book, Zero to One:

Why has so much of our society come to believe that there are no hard secrets left?

It might start with geography. There are no blank spaces left on the map anymore. If you grew up in the 18th century, there were still new places to go. After hearing tales of foreign adventure, you could become an explorer yourself.

Today, explorers are found mostly in history books or children’s tales.

But as Peter goes on to say, we’re not done finding secrets in the world around us. We haven’t yet solved all of the great mysteries and problems in the world.

From a business perspective, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp discovered the secret that people are eager for affordable and accessible ways to get where they need to go. This discovery led to the founding of Uber.

When secrets are found, what we’re discovering are opportunities for change and continued innovation.

We can’t let ourselves become cynical at our surroundings. When we open our minds to physical, mental, and spiritual ideas, we just may uncover new secrets.

What will you do with the secrets you discover?

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February 23, 2016

The Conversation Game

Next time you strike up a conversation with someone, I would encourage you to play the following game:

Avoid talking about yourself for as long as possible. You can only talk about yourself if the other person asks you something about yourself.

You may be surprised at how much the other person enjoys this game (but only if they don’t know you’re playing).

If you haven’t already noticed, most people really enjoy talking about themselves. Even those who claim to hate talking about themselves simply haven’t had someone show genuine interest in what they have to say.

Once you get good at the game, you’ll notice a trend of great conversations. You may even start feeling icky when you have to talk about yourself.

If you get really good at the game, people may just start playing the game against you.

And that, my friends, is how you become great at conversation.

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I’ve spent the past year writing about money. Here’s a list of the highlights that came out of it so far.

  1. Diversifying your income sources helps you sleep a bit better
  2. Having a cash buffer in your checking account is invaluable
  3. People get super weird when you talk about money
  4. Investing is much easier than you’d expect
  5. Your money habits are the best reflection of your personality
  6. It’s very possible to retire before you’re 65
  7. Being debt free amplifies wanderlust
  8. Paying off debt is just the beginning
  9. Market declines are normal and present some good opportunities
  10. Buying a house when you’re young isn’t always best
  11. Good money habits == happy marriage
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Look at this picture.

Look at it.

That’s the view twenty minutes from our apartment, and it’s even more incredible in person. That cow has no freaking idea how good he has it.

Yet, even though it’s a great view, I’m ashamed to say that I felt like I had fully absorbed the grandeur after only about half an hour. As humans, we’re incredibly good at getting tired of things at an alarmingly fast rate.

Don’t be like me.

One of my most vivid memories from my teenage years was taking a hike through North Carolina up throughout Wesser Bald. Growing up in the south, I rarely saw so much as a green hill when it comes to majestic landscapes. I had no concept of how big the world around me really was.

As we hiked through the heavily wooded trail, we came to the famed Wesser Bald Fire Tower. Climbing up to the top gave me a view that stuck with me even to this day, and I attribute it to my aching wanderlust.

Green mountains blanketed by fog stretching far into the distance.

Through a quick Google search, this is the very best I could find that captures the view I saw. I won’t blame you if you’re not terribly impressed.

Impressed or not, it was my first taste of awe.

I’ve been continually chasing that feeling throughout my life, and that chase has served me well thus far. Without a desire to venture out, we risk missing out on some of life’s best experiences.

Take time to be in awe once in a while.

Take time to seek out those experiences that might scare the hell out of you.

You can’t absorb grandeur in thirty minutes.

Look for sights that might make you forget everything you think you know about the world around you.

Take time to seek out these things, and don’t stop searching.

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February 18, 2016

The Wise Investor

The foolish investor works for every dollar. The wise investor lets every dollar work for them.

The foolish investor gambles. The wise investor doesn’t risk more than she’s willing to lose.

The foolish investor gains his investment knowledge through the news. The wise investor gains her investment knowledge through books.

The foolish investor sticks to minimal assets classes. The wise investor diversifies.

The foolish investor loses sleep over making money. The wise investor makes money in her sleep.

The foolish investor becomes fearful in market declines. The wise investor becomes greedy.

The foolish investor believes bull markets last forever. The wise investor knows that nothing lasts forever.

The foolish investor’s mood fluctuates with the stock price. The wise investor doesn’t let emotions get in the way.

The foolish investor questions when to start investing. The wise investor started investing yesterday.

The foolish investor blindly trusts investment advisors. The wise investor understands that investment advisors aren’t her friends.

The foolish investor follows fortune tellers. The wise investor follows fortune makers.

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February 17, 2016

You have to be wrong

Sometimes, for true change to happen in our lives, we have to face the thing many of us fear the most.

Let’s consider a quote from Mark Twain:

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

I generally hate being wrong. In fact, I’ve worked hard to weed out most of the wrong ideas and behaviors that I’m aware of up to this point in my life. At this moment, I can only think few small things that I might be wrong about.

And yet, in reality, I’m still wrong about over half of everything I know.

You don’t grow as a person, improve your mindset, refine processes, or become in any way better by being right all the time. It’s not until we realize our mistakes and admit them to ourselves that we can begin to make improvements in our lives.

Take pleasure in realizing you’re wrong, even when it’s difficult.

When someone calls you out on your mistake, they deserve your thanks.

Revel in your wrongness, and earn your ability to be right.

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