≡ Menu

FearlessJames.Com

I have a confession. I’m terrible at spending time. It could be that I’m not always wise in my spending decisions or, more likely, the universe is shorting me my 168 hour weekly due. Whatever the reason, I’m fearful that I may not have enough time left-over for retirement.

This is a scary thought. Instead of leisurely strolling Miami Beach looking for my car, I’m squatting on the curb in the watch district with a cardboard sign reading, “Buddy, can you spare a second?”

I’ve tried different approaches. I’ve tracked time, scheduled time, even considered buying a time-share (it must be more efficient to share time, right?). I’ve practiced Daylight Savings Time religiously but have come to the end of summer without any daylight or time left over.

Where does it all go? I don’t know, but I do have an idea. Here’s my theory:

Life is the Target store of time.

You know Target, right? It’s the store that sells milk and a DVDs at a decent price. So you go there to get both and you walk out with only a new Keurig Coffee Maker which you didn’t need because you already have one.
Target sucks your money; life sucks your time dry – especially virtual life. You know, the Internet, the web, the ADD capital of the world. I mean, unless somebody printed this up and mailed it to you, you’re most likely using it right now.

You log on to your email to get that one coupon you need and two hours later your viciously attacking some guy from Secaucus because he thinks Han shot first. Finally, in desperation, you brace yourself against the time-sucking winds of Internet and press Start so you can Stop and the computer shuts down. Phew!

But you forgot your coupon.

If the Internet was the only culprit, then the solution would be easy. But there are others. Television for one.

You click on local news to get today’s weather and instead you get a teaser forecast with an overly happy person telling you to stay tuned for the tornado forecast. Tornado? Damn, I have to sit here through the commercials which are dangerous themselves. Many of them offer you more Internet research possibilities. Is My Pillow really the best pillow? Did its creator indeed try every pillow on the market? Never mind, tornado! You have to stay focused.

The news comes back on and you wait through sixty seven other stories before you get to the tornado forecast, which, it turns out, there’s zero percent chance of a tornado today. But, stay tuned to find out how this Chihuahua saved its owner’s life from a grain thresher.

Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking — into the future. I want to fly like a seagull, to Wendy’s. Wait. That’s not right. Now I have to look up lyrics.

What’s more insidious is the rich time-happy fat cats have determined to separate us even more from our precious time. They’ve combined Internet and Television in a nefarious medium code-named Netflix. It’s supposed to be a time-saver because you can watch shows and movies whenever you want without waiting. And, to save you even more time, they’ll auto play the next episode so you don’t have to go looking for that wandering remote control.

You didn’t pick your child up from practice. You didn’t take the chicken out to thaw so now it’s dead. You forgot about that little thing you needed to do called work. But you did learn that Firefly ended in the most disappointing way. Good job. Make sure you put that in your journal for future generations.

Do you have time saved up for retirement? Time moves pretty fast. If you don’t start saving your precious seconds in a time-savings-account, you could miss it.

As for me, I’m going to Google why Firefly was canceled.

0 comments

The Careful Man – A Poem

Man on beach ocean

This post represents a turning point in this blog. Up until now, my vision has been clouded. Now, while it’s not as clear as the skies over the Sahara, I have a heading.

I’m going back to the original purpose of this blog: to track my life and personal growth journey. That purpose has failed mainly because I have the attention span of a flea on a sugar-high.

There are new, ambitious goals in every area of my life. I’ve narrowed my focus in every area to only those things that are most important. Most I will share with you. Some I may not.

Part of that turning point was the inspiration behind this poem. I’d love for you to try to deduce its meaning it the comments.

The Careful Man 

I know a careful man who toiled away

He worked hard on his life almost every day

He worked on his diet and exercise plan

He envisioned how he could be a better man

He fretted his future; conceived a career

He planned his finances for when old-age drew near

He schemed and he wrote and considered all ends

He pondered his wife, his family, his friends

He thought of tomorrow as the sun passed today

He said, Next week, when things didn’t go his way

He crafted and adjusted until everything aligned

He died broke and alone for he never left his mind

 

0 comments
Edelman Amazing Catch in Super Bowl 51

“Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” – Oliver Wendell Homes

If you hate sports, hate football, hate the Patriots, or just hate Tom Brady, there are still lessons the Patriots can teach us about life and success. Not just from the super-amazing-spectacular-awe-inspiring Super Bowl win, but from how they built the most consistently dominating NFL team within the past sixteen years.

It’s good to be living in Boston right now. The Patriots just won Super Bowl LI (51, because we have to use Roman Numerals for an American game) in overtime coming back from the largest deficit in Super Bowl history. But, it wasn’t always this way. Before 2001, the Patriots had not won a Super Bowl. Ever.

What does this have to do with you? If you couldn’t care less about sports and are like a Facebook friend of mine who always sarcastically posts “Shoot the hoop into the puck! Yay, sportsball!” There are lessons here, the few simple thing that the Patriots always seem to get right.

A History of the Patriots’ Success

Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, hired head coach Bill Belichick in January of 2000. Three months later, Belichick selects Tom Brady in the NFL draft. Brady was not a standout among college players but he was decent. But according to metrics coaches and scouts use, he was lacking. He was not the shining college football hero that everybody salivates after, hoping their turn in the draft comes up before he’s taken.

Brady was drafted in the 6th round. That means all 32 teams in the NFL, including the Patriots, already chose 5 players each before coming to Brady. He was the 199th pick out of 256 players drafted. So he wasn’t the last kid up against the wall, but he was standing next to the kid with the chronic sinus issues.

The Patriots two starting wide receivers last season were Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. Amendola wasn’t even drafted in 2008. He was left standing on the wall while drafted players were busy guzzling Asti in celebration (or Sprite if they were drafted out of high-school). And he’s not the only undrafted player on the Patriots’ starting roster for the Super Bowl. Julian Edelman was drafted in 2007 – pick number 232 (round 7).

Bill Belichick has a philosophy that can be summed up in 3 areas we can apply to our lives:

1. Don’t Accept Another’s Assessment (especially your own)

Just because some generic metrics (the NFL runs a series of pre-draft drills known as the Scouting Combine) gives you information, it

Tom Brady 2000 draft photo

doesn’t tell the whole story. Brady was slow, a little awkward and gawky looking. Amendola and Edelman’s numbers didn’t turn too many heads either.

Look at your life. Do you sell yourself short because of that one time at that party, or the project you blew, or you tried writing that story, starting that business, or getting in shape but didn’t? The numbers just weren’t there. But those metrics and past performances don’t matter either. They don’t define you.

What does Belichick look for more than anything else?

The ability to work as a cohesive team and go the extra mile. In a word: grit. If having a star quarterback is all a team needed, the Greenbay Packers would be in every Super Bowl. Their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has a stronger arm, is faster, more athletic, and makes just as good decisions on the field compared to Tom Brady. But when you have a few players trying to be stand-out stars, teamwork suffers.

If you’ve never been a stand-out in any one area, then there’s hope for you! Talent cannot replace the hard work and determination of grit.

Whether it’s your own opinion, or someone else’s, it is not the final verdict for your life. More than anything, Grit matters. In Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit, she defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (see this great article on Forbes for more information).

“Grit is perseverance and passion for long-term goals” – Angela Duckworth

2. Demand More from Yourself than Others Expect

There are no overnight successes in life. Whether that success is material, financial, personal, marital, or health.

Imagine this scenario:

“How did you loose 150lbs and run a marathon?” asks the enthusiastic onlooker.

“Oh, I woke up one morning and the fat was gone. Then I saw a race was starting the next day so I figured, ‘Heck, I’m not doing anything and I’m thin now -why not?'” the marathoner responded.

Yeah – never going to happen. Here’s a real answer:

“I busted my ass, got out of bed every single morning whether it was warm, hot, freezing, snowing, or raining. I ran. The first day it was a hundred feet. Then it was a hundred-fifty. Then around the block. I avoided bread like the plague, and if I missed a day, I was back at it the next. It took me two years but I never looked back.”

Nobody who is successful in any area got to where they are by being lazy, half-hearted, or distracted (trust me on the last one).

Julian Edelman didn’t become a star wide receiver by signing a contract and doing a few commercials. He got there by demanding more, competing against himself, and improving in every area that mattered season after season.

3. Do Your Job (aka focus on the task at hand)

If it’s worth pursuing, it’s worth pursuing to the end. Sometimes we say, “Never give up!” It’s an overused and under-appreciated mantra. Maybe we encourage our kids to not give up their sport, their clarinet lessons, their desire to be a world champion hot dog eater, but that voice fades when we’re looking in the mirror contemplating whether we should go to the gym that morning or just resign ourselves to the fact that we’re a pizza addict and that’s just the way things are.

Coach Belichick has a mantra that, if you watched any Patriots games, you’ve probably seen plastered on signs in the stands. It’s: Do Your Job. It’s not “Play your best”, or “Give your all”, or “Win one for the Gipper.” It’s just, “Do your job!”

Every part of a football team is important. It’s not just a spectacular quarterback or a magically-athletic running back who wins games. It’s the offensive and defensive linemen, the blockers, decoys, practice squad, and coaches. They all play a part. Doing Your Job means doing every little thing with purpose and dedication and to do it with the best of your ability.

When the odds seem insurmountable (for instance, 25 point deficit against a world class team in a Super Bowl with only 17 minutes left in a 60-minute game) it’s easy to give up, to think requirements outweigh your ability. Instead, the Patriots focused on the moment and doing their jobs, one second at a time.

When your goal to be healthy is waning, don’t focus on the big goal, go for the run – do your job. The career path is not what you wanted? Change it – don’t worry about the 5-10 years it might take to arrive at your dream, do your job – take the course, take on new responsibilities, read, learn, and network. Do your job! Regardless of what others say your odds are, do your job.

Conclusion

As I approach middle-age I see a lot of fellow Gen-Xers settling into their position in life. For some, that’s corporate, financial, or other success. For most others, it’s just settling – thinking that they made the wrong turn in Albuquerque and there’s no going back. This is the hand that life dealt. It’s not.

Again…

1) Don’t accept your boss’s, your family’s, your friends’, or your own negative assessment of where you are and what you’re capable of. The truth is, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re tested and try again and again.

2) Raise your standards. Expect more from yourself and don’t give in to that little voice in your head that tells you why you can’t. Look instead for why you can and will.

3) Set the big goal, but focus on the task at hand – the next step, the next call, the next class, the next workout. Do your job.

Maybe it’s too late to be a star quarterback, but it’s not too late to become the best version of you.

0 comments

Only those closest to me know I hate teeth. Hate is a strong word – perhaps despise is better. I despise looking at them, thinking about them, or considering them at all. I especially despise other people’s teeth. I can watch shows with a decapitation, amputation, and disembowelment without issue. But the one episode of Supernatural where a woman begins brushing her teeth only to have them tumble out of her head and into the sink made me sick. I avert my eyes when America’s Funniest Videos shows a tooth-pulling clip. Are we clear?

Ironic then that I’ve become the go-to parent for my daughter’s orthodontic treatments. Lucky me. But I’m the one with a flexible schedule so the choice was obvious (and my wife does 99% of everything). I was lucky enough to never need braces so my level of education on the subject was essentially nil.

Of all the medieval devices available to the Orthodontist, the first thing they installed in my daughter’s tiny, angelic, chicken-devouring mouth was a metallic crab-like thing called the palatal expander. It latches on to her molars on the roof of her mouth and takes a portion of her meals so it has the energy needed to lay its eggs in her gums – or so my wild, Star-Trek-fed imaginings told me.

palatal expander

Crab-Like torture device (aka palatal expander)

In the middle of the contraption is a wheel. Every night I had the honor of sticking a long metal rod into my daughter’s face and giving this thing one turn. What did it do? It made that tiny mouth expand. It pushed her face apart until gaps appeared between her teeth. I thought for sure that her skull would eventually split and was shocked to learn that the Orthodontist wanted more space. “I can’t quite fit my head in her mouth yet so you have to keep turning it for a couple more weeks.”

“Great!” I replied as genuinely as a child winning a lifetime supply of Brussels sprouts.

Through two more weeks of turning, my daughter eventually transformed into a little, white girly version of Michael Strahan. She also whistled a little when she spoke — but only all the time. By some miracle of heaven, her head remained in one piece.

She finally had her bottom braces installed this morning so she’s resting and reading another Rick Riordan book and delirious from the intoxicating effects of ibuprofen.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

What does this have to do with being fearless? I’m not going to tell you I faced my fear of teeth. I still run away. But the palatal expander – that food-sucking egg-laying device – gave me a clue.

We go day-to-day through our little routines, get up, get ready, get to work, get home, get fed, and get sleep. In the process, our lives get as small and cramped as the mouth of a twelve-year-old girl. We get used to this comfort-zone and assume that this is the way life is supposed to be. But it’s not. As long as we are living and breathing we have only two choices: grow or die.

Die –

Give up on your dreams. Give up on that dunlap (your belly had dun lapped over your belt). Give up on having an excellent relationship and be content you have someone. Plain ole vanilla life guaranteed to have an early expiration date.

Grow –

Revive your dream or adapt it. Resolve to get in the best shape of your life – forget being 18 again, put that kid to shame! Write that novel, run that marathon, reimagine your relationships.

Sometimes all we need is a virtual palatal expander to bust things in our comfort zone wide open. It doesn’t have to be all at once. It can be finally joining that Meetup (I’m doing my first-ever this weekend), taking an art class, or just walking around the block. The key is to do something – anything. Turn that head-expanding wheel just a little each day and gap-toothed success is right around the bend.

Where will you start?

0 comments

Resolutions are in the air and they’re dropping like house-flies in Antarctica. We tend get idealistic and optimistic with each change of year. In reality, all that changed is one day.

There’s a problem though. Resolutions are weak, timid, and run from trouble faster than my cat, Taz, hides from house guests. Real change can happen, but it takes more than a midnight wish.

It’s January 21st as I write this and by now most of the gyms in my area have seen their traffic fall off significantly since January 2nd (or 3rd for procrastinators). The slew of runners I saw a week ago have all but disappeared (and it’s unusually mild out even for southern New England).

I’ve made many resolutions in the past. I’ve given up on all of them, usually within a couple of weeks like most humans. If there’s any good news, it’s that you’re human too. If you’ve kept every resolution you’ve ever made,then perhaps your birth parents reside on another world.

Only one person I know has kept her resolution: my youngest sister. She resolved to never make resolutions. Her success is truly inspiring to us all.

Resolutions are for losers. Losers? Yes, by wasting time making them, you lose. Stop – just stop, for the love of all that is sane.

There are several limitations to resolution-thinking.

1. They’re Weak / No Commitment

If you screw up (and you will) you won’t try again for another year.

You started smoking again, picking your nose, got angry in traffic, or cursed five minutes after you promised to never curse again. So give up, right? There’s only so much failure we can take before discouragement sets in.

Willpower alone doesn’t work – ever.

2. Resolutions Lack a Plan

They’re made on the spot with half-hearted forethought. Or, you dream them up in the few weeks prior to New Year’s.

About that time that I’m stuffing the second piece of pie in my mouth (who doesn’t love pie?) and I’m like “Okay – just got to start exercising and eating right…next month. This is the last time. Oohh, is that Blueberry?”

Supernatural's Dean Winchester eyeing pie

 

So you begin, go for a twenty-mile run and then, slammed with pulled muscles and the mother of all cramps, decide that you’re just not a “runner”. Wrong! You just lacked a strong plan (but you didn’t lack pie).

3. Resolutions Lack Conviction

Without a plan, resolutions die quickly. Even with a plan, we find ourselves falling down at the first hurdle – heck, the first anthill has screwed me up – when we don’t account for inevitable difficulty.

Yes, knowing a goal will be tough and worth the effort (it must be worth it) in the end is key.

Stop Making Resolutions – Start Resolving

What’s the difference?

Resolution, in its true sense, has lost all meaning. Kind of like the word awesome is now just a synonym for good or cool. It has become a wish. As powerful as the word try.

Imagine Coach Belichick rallying the Patriots before the Superbowl and asking, “Are you going to give it all you’ve got?” and the team responding with a unanimous “We’ll TRY!”

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

But the word resolve originally means “to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something)” source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/resolve

Read that again – words like ‘definite’ and ‘earnest’ and ‘determine’. No wimpy words here. Resolve means we’re conquering our enemies, winning the battle, losing five pounds, period – end of story – see you later – bye-bye.

3 Ways to Resolve

1. Set One, Definitive Goal

Whatever your goal is, make it specific, measurable and with a deadline.

Here are some examples:

  • Lose weight – change to: Weigh 180 lbs by June 30th
  • Be more kind – change to: Raise my subjective kindness rating from 2 to 9 by December.
  • Be more grateful – change to: Practice gratitude for sixty days in a row by June.

2. Create a Plan of Habits

Not just any plan with monumental effort. I’m the all or nothing guy – I’ve been there. Either I’ve been apathetic and lounging on the couch waiting for success to strangle me through the television, or I’ve been getting up before the crack of dawn and trying to cram twenty-eight hours of activity into a twenty-four hour day (note: do not attempt. Professional time-crammer in a closed schedule).

Neither approach works.

Recently, on James Clear’s blog, I learned about the genius approach of micro-goals in association with habits.

Remember the movie What About Bob? with Bill Murray portraying neurotic and pathologically anxious Bob? He learned the absurdly simple concept of Baby Steps – just do small actions.

You know what? It actually works. Using one of the examples above, your weekly plans might look like this:

Weigh 180 lbs by June 30th

  • Week 1: Walk around block Tues, Wed, and Sat right after waking up and cutting sugar from morning coffee.
  • Week 2: Walk twice around block (same days/time) Each fruit after lunch instead of cookies and keep sugar out of coffee.
  • Week 3: Walk three times around block…yada, yada, yada.

For being more kind, it might be smiling at at least one person per day for week one and then saying good morning the next.

For gratitude, you can think of one thing to feel grateful for before leaving the house.

The key is to keep your resolutions plan small and achievable, so you feel you can do it even during the most impossible day.

3. Plan to Fail

Yes, that’s not a typo of the oft said “People who fail to plan, plan to fail.” No! I mean, plan to fail. Plan that there’ll be days when your alarm won’t go off, or your flight will be delayed, or your mother-in-law will invite herself over, or the dog will wretch on your running shoes before you put them on.

Plan on it. Then move on. Knowing things will be tough makes it easier to stick-to a goal over the long term.

Research has shown that people who acknowledge how difficult the goal is, but believe they will succeed are more likely to succeed in the end as highlighted in Dr. Heidi Grant’s Article

You missed your walk on Monday?

Old reaction: “Why even try? I’m going back to sleeping-in.”

New reaction: “No biggie. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Back at it tomorrow (or Wednesday). The key I’ve learned is don’t miss two days in a row.

This week, I got walloped by my daughter’s cold. Past experience of pushing through illness left me feeling like wet piece of toilet paper on a septic worker’s shoe. So I missed the whole week of my plan on purpose.

In the past I would have pitied myself right into a lazy-couch-potato-funk. Now I shrug it off. You can too.

Be your own best friend. Forgive yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back for smiling at the clerk before you cut that jerk off in traffic – you at least got one thing right!

Your Resolution Can Be Salvaged

Did you set a resolution? Have you given up on it already? Dust it off – tomorrow’s a new day whether it February 1st or November 12th. Decide – resolve – that it is too important, you’re too important – to give up on.

Make it happen.

One tool that I’ve used that has helped me see each week as a new start is the BestSelf Journal.

Did you make a resolution? How will you make it stronger? Please comment below or send me a tweet – I’d love to help out if I can.

0 comments

How to Be Totally Fearless Starting Now

Man Jumping off cliff

 

If you were to look up the word Fearless in the dictionary, you would see that it means to be “without fear”.  I believe that this is impossible for anyone still living. Fear can limit us but it can also define who we are. It’s the shadows in the masterpiece painting that defines the light. That’s what this blog is about – defining who you are – heck, who I am – through fear and learning to be comfortable with it.

 

I’m anything but fearless in Webster’s sense of the word. It can be a real fear such as the car that was in my lane going the opposite direction this morning, or imagined like feeling somebody’s going to yell at me when I make that phone call because, that’s what everybody does, right? Yell at strangers over the phone?

 

WHY I CREATED THIS BLOG

Being fearless was just an idea. I wanted to start a blog about my personal journey. Out of a big, brainstormed list of words, fearless was in the mix. It was ironic. Me fearless? That’s like calling a fat man Tiny. But I’m ironic if anything, so the word haunted me and the domain name with a dot-com was avaible. FearlessJames.com was born and then stunted.

 

I was busy with other plans and I thought that a blog would serve as my writing outlet. I’ve always loved writing but disliked that I loved it. My dreams involved important, grandiose visions of changing the world. My inner-writer needed to get stuff out – a fix – in order to quiet those words in my head. Some people hear voices — I hear dialog.

 

What better place than a blog? I can rant and fret and share and maybe a dozen people will care, but I will have at least gotten it out of my system. I didn’t. I kept those ideas bottled up because of…honestly? Fear.

 

In my forty-second year of life I think figured out what I want to be when I grow up — for work — not that I’ll ever mature (God, I hope not). I’ve taken many roads and have read many books, attended many seminars, and have listened to and purchased many programs in my personal development journey. I’m not saying I’ve arrived anywhere. It’s more like I’ve wandered around for twenty-five years and have just now stepped up to the starting line.

 

Not that you have to start-over midway through life. If you’re like me middle – not old-age, but you can see it from here. Unless you live in a cave, under a rock, in the middle of northern Siberia, you will always have life experiences. Good, bad, or hideous experiences that teach us lessons whether we want to learn them or not. I believe those lessons entitle me to slide through some corners of this path I’ve discovered. Shortcuts like in the board-game Chutes and Ladders.

 

Oh, and there will be chutes too. Experience has taught me that.

 

I want to write about my screw-ups, my false starts, my half-hearted attempts as well as my successes. To be clear, I am a firm believer in the saying:

 

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare.

 

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE 18, GOOD-LOOKING, AND SOUND LIKE GOD

 

When I was sixteen and just starting this journey of self-improvement, I thought I’d be a young hotshot. I did a lot of things right and other things not-so-right but the one thing I did not do is become a hotshot. Now I’m older and I love reading the materials of some young hotshots. They’ve written great books (really great) and have done TED Talks and are energetic, talented speakers and almost SEEM like they do everything right. They don’t. The ones I follow would be the first to say that.

 

The trap here is thinking you have to have a good start and find your dream when your young. You’re supposed to know that you wanted to be a CEO when you are five because your He-Man was bossing around your sister’s Barbie’s and My-Little Ponies. By age ten you knew you were attending Wharton no matter what, and then when you landed your first job in the mail room,you knew you’d be promoted to Vice-President of Schmoozing a year later.

 

Or, you hear stories from people who say “I always knew I wanted to be an artist (or actor, writer, salesman, or plumber)”. And you’re thinking “I’m 52 and I still don’t know what I want to be”. It can feel frustrating.

 

You don’t hear from people who didn’t become what they thought they wanted to be. The ones who went on American Idol with all of the gusto of Beyonce but had the singing voice of a dying cat. The ones who thought they knew what they wanted but were lacking in skill, talent, persistence, or dedication.

 

We also don’t hear from people who struggled for years and found something they liked doing, became good at it, and ended up loving it. Maybe it happened when they were twenty, or maybe when they were seventy. Why is it hard to find these stories? Because they’re not sexy, attractive, and they don’t sell books and programs.

 

Young or old; masters degree or third-grade certificate; if you’re tall, blonde and handsome or look like you lost a fight with a Mack Truck – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you want and what you’re willing to do to make it happen.

 

I’ve always written since I knew how. For some reason, I didn’t believe I could or should be a writer. Beliefs and fears are so closely related they shouldn’t have children together.

 

I got tired – in a good way – of the image of success being young and rich. Success does not equal money. Money is nothing more than symbolic. True wealth is about making a living in a way that supports what’s truly important to you. For me that’s my wife, my daughter, our kung-fu cat, and laughter. In all of my failures and fears, I’ve never lost sight of what’s important to me. I’ve taken my eye off of it a few times but did not lose it.

 

If you did lose sight of what’s important to you, that’s okay. You can find it again.

 

WHAT FEARLESS MEANS

 
Fearless means acting. It means take action and stop planning, plotting, reading, learning, listening, educating, experiencing, wishing, vibrating, and envisioning. All of those are important like the blueprints of the house, but what kind of builder spends five years tweaking the design because he was afraid to break ground?

Fearless means acting. It means take action and stop planning, plotting, reading, learning, listening, educating, experiencing, wishing, vibrating, and envisioning. All of those are important like the blueprints of the house, but what kind of builder spends five years tweaking the design because he was afraid to break ground?

 

Or, as my coach, Jack Czer put it: I’ve built a city of stubby buildings with no roofs because I get distracted and try another location, another design, another architect. We all have to sit back, choose a direction and build.
 

Fearless means deciding the next action to take by weighing the fear it holds. If you have a choice between working on your website or calling that lead and you’re terrified of the call, then that’s the action you need to take. The amount of stuck you feel in life is in direct proportion to the number of actions you’re avoiding because of fear.

 

I believe that Dr. Aziz Gazipura put it brilliantly when he talks about leaning into your fear. Be okay with the discomfort, the awkwardness, the guy yelling at you over the phone, because you know that there’s something on the other side of the experience: you’ll live.

 

Or as Steven Pressfield wrote in The War of Art that the great actors say they choose roles because the roles scared them. That’s Fearless.

 

A little story:

 

One day, when I was in the second grade, my friend and I were outside for recess and came across a fourth-grade math book laying on the stairs to the school. I opened it and was blown away. “Three-digit multiplication?” I stammered, “I’ll never be able to do that! Fractions? What are those and why are those things stacked?” I was petrified. But, over time I learned to master single-digit multiplication and then double digit multiplication. Wouldn’t you know it: I can now do three digit multiplication and fractions are easy-peasy. And I can still do evem more complicated math stuff.

 

We tend to look too far down the road and abandon it because we think we can’t handle big things. “If I’m famous, I can’t deal with the paparrazzi, money or attention,” or “I can’t be CEO because nobody would ever listen to me.” Like three digit multiplication it looks out of reach. You have to work your way up, a little discomfort at a time.

 

This blog – this journal – this journey is about leaning into the fear. About facing what is scary and looking for the less-scary part to start at. IIt’s about 40 (or 50, or 80) being the new 20 and that you can start again at any age. Most of all, it’s about you taking this journey with me so you can hopefully learn that your dreams are within read. The only thing that can kill a dream is abandonment.

 

Being Fearless is not easy. It’s not hard either. It’s excruciating — at times. So is giving birth (I’m told). But that child is worth ten times the pain when the mother finally holds her. Your dreams are worth it. Be fearless.
0 comments

How to Be Totally Fearless Starting Now

 

If you were to look up the word Fearless in the dictionary, you would see that it means to be “without fear”.  I believe that this is impossible for anyone still living. Fear can limit us but it can also define who we are. It’s the shadows in the masterpiece painting that defines the light. That’s what this blog is about – defining who you are – heck, who I am – through fear and learning to be comfortable with it.

 

I’m anything but fearless in Webster’s sense of the word. It can be a real fear such as the car that was in my lane going the opposite direction this morning, or imagined like feeling somebody’s going to yell at me when I make that phone call because, that’s what everybody does, right? Yell at strangers over the phone?

 

WHY I CREATED THIS BLOG

Being fearless was just an idea. I wanted to start a blog about my personal journey. Out of a big, brainstormed list of words, fearless was in the mix. It was ironic. Me fearless? That’s like calling a fat man Tiny. But I’m ironic if anything, so the word haunted me and the domain name with a dot-com was avaible. FearlessJames.com was born and then stunted.

 

I was busy with other plans and I thought that a blog would serve as my writing outlet. I’ve always loved writing but disliked that I loved it. My dreams involved important, grandiose visions of changing the world. My inner-writer needed to get stuff out – a fix – in order to quiet those words in my head. Some people hear voices — I hear dialog.

 

What better place than a blog? I can rant and fret and share and maybe a dozen people will care, but I will have at least gotten it out of my system. I didn’t. I kept those ideas bottled up because of…honestly? Fear.

 

In my forty-second year of life I think figured out what I want to be when I grow up — for work — not that I’ll ever mature (God, I hope not). I’ve taken many roads and have read many books, attended many seminars, and have listened to and purchased many programs in my personal development journey. I’m not saying I’ve arrived anywhere. It’s more like I’ve wandered around for twenty-five years and have just now stepped up to the starting line.

 

Not that you have to start-over midway through life. If you’re like me middle – not old-age, but you can see it from here. Unless you live in a cave, under a rock, in the middle of northern Siberia, you will always have life experiences. Good, bad, or hideous experiences that teach us lessons whether we want to learn them or not. I believe those lessons entitle me to slide through some corners of this path I’ve discovered. Shortcuts like in the board-game Chutes and Ladders.

 

Oh, and there will be chutes too. Experience has taught me that.

 

I want to write about my screw-ups, my false starts, my half-hearted attempts as well as my successes. To be clear, I am a firm believer in the saying:

 

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare.

 

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE 18, GOOD-LOOKING, AND SOUND LIKE GOD

 

When I was sixteen and just starting this journey of self-improvement, I thought I’d be a young hotshot. I did a lot of things right and other things not-so-right but the one thing I did not do is become a hotshot. Now I’m older and I love reading the materials of some young hotshots. They’ve written great books (really great) and have done TED Talks and are energetic, talented speakers and almost SEEM like they do everything right. They don’t. The ones I follow would be the first to say that.

 

The trap here is thinking you have to have a good start and find your dream when your young. You’re supposed to know that you wanted to be a CEO when you are five because your He-Man was bossing around your sister’s Barbie’s and My-Little Ponies. By age ten you knew you were attending Wharton no matter what, and then when you landed your first job in the mail room,you knew you’d be promoted to Vice-President of Schmoozing a year later.

 

Or, you hear stories from people who say “I always knew I wanted to be an artist (or actor, writer, salesman, or plumber)”. And you’re thinking “I’m 52 and I still don’t know what I want to be”. It can feel frustrating.

 

You don’t hear from people who didn’t become what they thought they wanted to be. The ones who went on American Idol with all of the gusto of Beyonce but had the singing voice of a dying cat. The ones who thought they knew what they wanted but were lacking in skill, talent, persistence, or dedication.

 

We also don’t hear from people who struggled for years and found something they liked doing, became good at it, and ended up loving it. Maybe it happened when they were twenty, or maybe when they were seventy. Why is it hard to find these stories? Because they’re not sexy, attractive, and they don’t sell books and programs.

 

Young or old; masters degree or third-grade certificate; if you’re tall, blonde and handsome or look like you lost a fight with a Mack Truck – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you want and what you’re willing to do to make it happen.

 

I’ve always written since I knew how. For some reason, I didn’t believe I could or should be a writer. Beliefs and fears are so closely related they shouldn’t have children together.

 

I got tired – in a good way – of the image of success being young and rich. Success does not equal money. Money is nothing more than symbolic. True wealth is about making a living in a way that supports what’s truly important to you. For me that’s my wife, my daughter, our kung-fu cat, and laughter. In all of my failures and fears, I’ve never lost sight of what’s important to me. I’ve taken my eye off of it a few times but did not lose it.

 

If you did lose sight of what’s important to you, that’s okay. You can find it again.

 

WHAT FEARLESS MEANS

 
Fearless means acting. It means take action and stop planning, plotting, reading, learning, listening, educating, experiencing, wishing, vibrating, and envisioning. All of those are important like the blueprints of the house, but what kind of builder spends five years tweaking the design because he was afraid to break ground?

Fearless means acting. It means take action and stop planning, plotting, reading, learning, listening, educating, experiencing, wishing, vibrating, and envisioning. All of those are important like the blueprints of the house, but what kind of builder spends five years tweaking the design because he was afraid to break ground?

 

Or, as my coach, Jack Czer put it: I’ve built a city of stubby buildings with no roofs because I get distracted and try another location, another design, another architect. We all have to sit back, choose a direction and build.
 

Fearless means deciding the next action to take by weighing the fear it holds. If you have a choice between working on your website or calling that lead and you’re terrified of the call, then that’s the action you need to take. The amount of stuck you feel in life is in direct proportion to the number of actions you’re avoiding because of fear.

 

I believe that Dr. Aziz Gazipura put it brilliantly when he talks about leaning into your fear. Be okay with the discomfort, the awkwardness, the guy yelling at you over the phone, because you know that there’s something on the other side of the experience: you’ll live.

 

Or as Steven Pressfield wrote in The War of Art that the great actors say they choose roles because the roles scared them. That’s Fearless.

 

A little story:

 

One day, when I was in the second grade, my friend and I were outside for recess and came across a fourth-grade math book laying on the stairs to the school. I opened it and was blown away. “Three-digit multiplication?” I stammered, “I’ll never be able to do that! Fractions? What are those and why are those things stacked?” I was petrified. But, over time I learned to master single-digit multiplication and then double digit multiplication. Wouldn’t you know it: I can now do three digit multiplication and fractions are easy-peasy. And I can still do evem more complicated math stuff.

 

We tend to look too far down the road and abandon it because we think we can’t handle big things. “If I’m famous, I can’t deal with the paparrazzi, money or attention,” or “I can’t be CEO because nobody would ever listen to me.” Like three digit multiplication it looks out of reach. You have to work your way up, a little discomfort at a time.

 

This blog – this journal – this journey is about leaning into the fear. About facing what is scary and looking for the less-scary part to start at. IIt’s about 40 (or 50, or 80) being the new 20 and that you can start again at any age. Most of all, it’s about you taking this journey with me so you can hopefully learn that your dreams are within read. The only thing that can kill a dream is abandonment.

 

Being Fearless is not easy. It’s not hard either. It’s excruciating — at times. So is giving birth (I’m told). But that child is worth ten times the pain when the mother finally holds her. Your dreams are worth it. Be fearless.