I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to a new series we are starting called, “Don’t Forget the Struggle.” Often we see someone who is successful in business, athletics, politics, or the arts and we don't consider what it took for them to get to the pinnacle of their career. It can be easy to look at the three pointer Steph Curry drains and think it must be easy! He’s an NBA player after all. He has the resources, time, and training to be that good! I believe this type of talk is an excuse we use to let ourselves off the hook for not achieving success in our given arena.
Many of us have seen the graphic of the iceberg below:
What we think is the iceberg showing above the water is in reality tiny compared to what lies beneath the waves. When we see ultra successful peoples incredible actions we are merely seeing the culmination of all the hard work that laid the foundation of their success.
I believe we can learn applicable lessons from these people’s struggles if we dig into the backstory, dissect the struggle they all went through and see how they overcame them to reach their goals. With that information we can apply the same principles to our lives when we run into roadblocks to our goals that will come at one time or another.
I am particularly interested in individuals who at least at one time were viewed as underdogs. I believe their stories will be most relatable to most of us. It cannot be denied that some people are blessed with God given talents that put them one foot in front of everyone else. Not to say they don't have struggles of their own but I think we can learn more from the underdogs.
I do not have a timetable or length to this series as their are many who could fit into it the theme. I already have a list, some gathered through readers input, but if you have any suggestions of who you would like us to write about please let us know!
I am excited to begin this series and I hope you will benefit from it as much as me.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
If you are anything like me you may struggle at times with feelings of ingratitude, unhappiness or a lack of focus. One of the tools I have been using to combat these feelings is called "The Five-Minute Journal.” This journal is a simple tool tthat literally can take 5 minutes or so and you are done! The creators of the journal described it this way, “The Five Minute Journal is your secret weapon to focus on the good in your life, become more mindful, and live with intention. With a simple structured format based on positive psychology research, you will start and end each day with gratitude. Side effects may include: increased happiness, better relationships, and becoming more optimistic. You’ve been warned.
The journal is laid out in a straightforward manner (see picture below).
In the morning you write 3 things you are grateful for. They don't have to be big ticket items. It can be as simple as your morning coffee, a good nights sleep, and your job. Next you write 3 things that could happen today to make your day great. Again, these do not have to be what we typically consider significant things. They could be things like, if I got my homework done, if I got to be outside, if I go on a date with my girlfriend. Finally you finish up with an affirmation about yourself. Affirmation isn’t necessarily a word we use a lot but according to dictionary.com it means, “1. the act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed. 2. the assertion that something exists or is true.3. something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.” In this case the affirmation in your journal would be saying something true and positive about yourself. It might be something like, “I am a valuable employee and indispensable to my team.” Or “I am healthy, strong, and athletic.” The idea of this journal is to gradually rewire your brain to think in a positive and grateful manner about yourself and see the significance and meaning in even the small things in our lives we often take for granted.
At night there is another area where you will do a journal entry. First you will write 3 amazing things that happened today. You might wander how you will be able to think of 3 AMAZING things that happen each and every day. This is exactly the point. Amazing things DO happen to us every day we just take them for granted. For example, getting a good grade on an assignment, having your best workout in a long time, kissing your wife goodbye in the morning, seeing the sun rise. All of those are amazing! The last part of the daily journal entry asks the question, how could I have made today even better? This is an opportunity to reflect on your day as a whole, figure out what you could have changed, and set in your mind how you will make tomorrow great. This question is prepping you for a better tomorrow and putting the responsibility on YOU to make it a good day. The responsibility is NOT on the environment or other people.
You can get the 5 Minute Journal in 2 formats. One is the physical journal you can find at: https://www.intelligentchange.com/products/the-five-minute-journal. There is also an electronic version you can download on the Apple application store by searching for “5 min journal". Either choice is great but I prefer physically writing so I have the actual journal.
On our quest to become the best version of ourselves this is a great tool to add to our toolbox. I challenge you to try it for at least 30 days and I think you will notice a big difference in your gratefulness and positivity. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you will accept the challenge!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
Are you a front windshield or rearview mirror thinker? This time of year you will see many articles focusing on goal setting and new years resolutions. Those are worthy and valuable topics but I want to take a deeper dive into our though process in the hopes it will help you as you plan to have a successful 2017.
When you think about how you view your life are you focused on the past or on the future? I have heard it described as focusing on looking out the front windshield when you are driving vs. constantly checking the rearview mirror. When you drive a car you have to focus on the road ahead (the future) or you risk serious injury to yourself and others by only focusing on looking out the rearview mirror (the past). When you think about 2016 for some of us it was a great year and for some it was a rough year. I imagine it was a little bit of both for most people. Regardless of how good or bad 2016 was, if you only focus on what went wrong it will assuredly negatively impact 2017. When I look back at the goals I set for 2016 I accomplished some of them but I also failed at a few. It is disappointing to admit, but I missed the mark on some of my goals. Now what can I do with that information?
Unfortunately having a good memory can be a detriment to our success when it comes to dwelling on the past. One of the best attributes of a quarterback is his ability to forget the last interception he throws. If he dwells on his mistake he is prone to be too scared and too cautious to make the big plays that are needed when the opportunity develops. We need to adopt the same mindset. All of us had failures in 2016 but we have to let them go and be ready for the opportunities we have in 2017.
Here is what I suggest, write down the goals you did not achieve or any other kind of failure from 2016 that is bothering you. mentally accept and acknowledge you didn't accomplish what you needed to in those areas. Now crumple up the piece of paper and throw it away. It is over and time to move on.
2017 is a blank slate. Everything that you want to accomplish is waiting for you if you put in the work and build it. Don't let the mistakes of the past ruin your future. Keep your focus on what lies ahead and make it happen!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
A “designed man” is a redundancy. That is, all men-- all humanity-- are products of intelligent design. Evolutionary theory deserves its crater-sized holes. It cannot account for the craftsmanship inherent in the human race.
But a good beginning is no assurance that every man will build a life that is effectively designed. Stephen Covey says that “all things are created twice.” The first is a mental creation of vision and plans, and the second is an execution of those plans. There is a difference in being formed by design and consciously living by it. This decision--to live intentionally and deliberately--spares us from the lazy life lived on autopilot. And the sooner we as young men embrace this dilemma, the better. Either we choose to live deliberately or we choose to live by default. And making no choice is the choice. Before we know it, all the old adages come home to roost. Days turn to years, youth vanishes, old age stares us in the face and time slips away. Whatever time we did have for our career, health, spirit and world was squandered.
Contribution and meaning give context to our existence. With them, even the mundane has purpose. Without them, even the profound feels hollow and unsatisfying. Identifying how these principles speak to us, personally, is a huge step in designing a life with a worthy legacy at the end.
Young men look ahead. Old men look back. Prepare for the backward glance now by fashioning a blue print for the road ahead. Become a designed man. In the end, an undesigned life is as wasteful as an unexamined one.
Most if not all of us have used crutches at some point in our lives and if not we have known someone who had to use them. Crutches are used for a very specific and very important task which is to keep pressure off an injured limb giving it time to recover and once again resume its function.
When I was in middle school I broke my ankle, after I went through the cast and crutches I had my doctors visit where he said I was cleared to take off the cast and stop using the crutches. Imagine how shocked he would be if i had said, “you know what doc, I think I’m just going to keep the crutches, I don’t really need that leg anyway.” I am 100% positive he would have been shocked. This point is easy to see in our physical injuries but much harder to see when we have emotional or mental injuries. With emotional or mental injuries we want to keep the crutches as long as possible even if we have recovered enough to get rid of the crutches and begin to use our injured brain again.
What are these crutches I am referring to and how do they impact us? These crutches stunt our development and growth because we stop using those mental muscles or abilities because they were injured and now we are afraid to use them because we are too scarred and scared the original pain will come back or even a worse injury will occur if we begin to use those mental muscles. Let’s not forget the need for crutches is due to an injury this is true in both physical and mental injuries. Let’s take a look at 3 areas (not an exhaustive list) where we can become injured and use crutches for too long past their use.
Relationships: If you had been in a bad romantic relationship and the person hurt you then the next relationship you were in may have been a crutch. You weren’t in love with them but they were stable and easy to hang out with but deep down you knew it couldn't be long term but you were too scared to move on because of the pain from your first relationship.
Jobs: If you worked at a company that did not treat you well and you were either fired or you left out of frustration the next job you took may have been a crutch. It would become a crutch if you weren't challenged or pushed to become better and if it wasn't really what you wanted to do but you were afraid that if you pursued something you wanted you may fail or land in another bad company. Instead you stay at the stable company and slowly your mental muscles waste away from disuse.
Family: if you constantly need to go back to your family for support whether it is money, recognition, or reassurance they can become a crutch. Yes family should be supportive of you but they should also never become an enabler of laziness or incompetence. Our families should always push us to do better and become our best selves.
If you recognize you have a crutch in your life you have held onto for too long you need to address it. Some trauma is too much for you to handle on your own. If you need professional help to confront the injury please seek it! There is no shame in asking for help, you will never look back and regret getting the help you need. Sometimes however we just want to choose the path of least resistance. We have used our crutch for too long and now our mental muscles have begun to atrophy. Today is the day to get rid of the crutch and get back to working out those muscles! Yes it will be painful but it will be worth it once you realize the functionality you were missing.
Crutches are made to be rented, not bought. Get rid of your crutches once they have served their purpose. Move on, get stronger, be better.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
There is a movie called Yes Man. The comedian Jim Carrey plays Carl—a guy who says ’no' to everything. Carl’s most common ‘no’ is uttered to his friends who want to go out and party. After awhile Carl’s friends are tired of being rejected and stop trying to contact him. His life changes, however, when he is dragged to a seminar that talks about saying ‘yes' to everything in life. The rules were simple: no matter what, you had to say ‘yes' to any request for a whole year. The movie chronicles Carl's journey as he starts saying ‘yes' in life, instead of ‘no’.
Although this movie is categorized as a comedy, Carl's new motto makes a striking point. His life opens up completely after his decision to say ‘yes' to anything and everything. Opportunities are unlocked that he never would have had before. He meets a girl, he gets promoted, and so on.
Obviously we cannot say ‘yes' to every single thing in life and expect everything to get better, but I do think there is an important principle in this affirmative motto—say ‘yes’ to life. Personally, I used to be similar to Carl; I would say ’no' to most invites, and later I would look back on my decision with regret. A while back I decided to change my motto, similar to Carl, and for the most part, accept opportunities that came my way. Whether it was helping a friend move, going to a baseball game, meeting someone for lunch...the activity was inconsequential…I made a difference and good opportunities opened up that I never expected.
What was my own conclusion you ask? I almost never regretted it. Even if you are just helping someone move…wow, you have made that person’s day. Nothing in your life is ever going to change for the better if you sit at home and do the same thing every single day. Say ‘yes' to life, and say ‘yes’ to any right and good opportunity. You never know what will happen. What do you have to lose? If you keep saying ’no' In life, your options will continue to shrink and your life will slowly enclose around you. So say ‘yes', and see what opportunities await you!
Jonathan King, Co-founder
I have had back and neck trouble ever since my teenage years. Typical for me I stubbornly ignored getting it treated until about a year ago. For the last year I have been seeing a chiropractor and have had seen very positive results. I recently had my one year check up and my doctor asked me how my exercises at home had been going. You see, part of the treatment plan is performing some stabilizing exercises at home each day to lock in the improvements from the adjustments.
I paused a moment but answered him truthfully that I had not been doing them regularly as I had been told to. My doctor appreciated the honesty but wanted to come up with a plan for these exercises to become a habit of mine just like brushing my teeth or taking a shower each day. What we came up with was for one month I would text my doctor each day letting him know I had completed the exercises. If he did not receive a text he agreed to question me and hold me accountable. Since my meeting with him I have not missed a day of exercising. What I discovered about myself was the fear of letting him down was greater than my dislike of doing these exercises.
As I thought about this more I began to think what other things in my life should I be doing but I am making excuses for because I am not being accountable to complete them? From this situation I can tell that if I really want to do these things I need to put some kind of accountability in place. That could be having my wife or a friend keeping tabs on me to make sure I do what I have committed to doing.
My larger point is this. We all have things we know we need to do but can’t seem to find the motivation to do them. Maybe having an accountability partner would not be motivating to you, but there is something that will make you respond positively. Don’t be afraid to perform “experiments” on yourself to see what you respond to. Maybe it is some kind of reward or punishment system, whatever it is remain curious and figure it out until it becomes an ingrained habit so you can move on to the next improvement you need to make.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
A couple of weekends ago the New York Giants took on the undefeated Carolina Panthers. The most anticipated individual match-up was between Wide Receiver Odell Beckam Jr., of the Giants and Cornerback Josh Norman of the Panthers. Odell Beckam Jr. has quickly become one of the best Wide Receivers in his short career by his dazzling acrobatic catches. Unfortunately this game got a lot of attention not for the football but for the fighting between Odell Beckam and Josh Norman. Odell Beckam received 3 personal fouls during the course of the game. One of the fouls was for launching himself at Josh Norman’s head. Because of these actions the NFL suspended him for one game. Now, I am sure Josh Norman did his part to instigate some of Odell Beckams actions but i want to focus on Odell Beckam, specifically his words after the game.
Odell Beckam said, “We are out there playing football. We are competing. You are a competitor. I’m a competitor. We are always going to go at it. Anybody who has played sports, you are competitive, and you are going to go as hard as you can.” These are the words I want to focus on as I have heard similar excuses for bad behavior in sports and in business. Anytime someone acts up they think saying they are competitive or just passionate about the sport/business is a viable excuse but I am telling you those excuses are a hiding place for people with little self control. I am reminded of a proverb in the OT that says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” You see, controlled aggression is the key to success, not letting it loose whenever you get upset. Harnessing your passion and aggression to achieve your objective whether in sports or business is the key.
Losing your temper also shows you are a poor loser, not that you are competitive. When you lose your temper you give others control over you. In an interview before the season started Odell Beckam was asked how he would slow himself down if he was an opposing team and he said he would try and make himself mad. Even though he knew this was a weakness he let Josh Norman get under his skin and he gave him control.
Showing self control will lead you to respect yourself more and gain respect from others. So don’t be the guy who kicks the basketball once you lose or slams or screams at your coworker and try to use the excuse of competitiveness and passion.
Matt King, Co-Founder
“Legend Status”... “Born to Beast”... “Front Page Talent”. These are all boastful T-shirt slogans I noticed recently while walking through a popular sporting goods store. It made me wonder why young men would want to wear this type of shirt as it seems so arrogant and prideful. As young men do we need to truly wear our feelings of superiority on our sleeves or chest? Do we need to tell others, literally, that we are better than them? Or, could wearing this type of clothing be a shield we use because inside we feel the exact opposite of what we want to convey to the world? As I thought about this more it hit me--insecurity is often manifested as pride, arrogance and haughtiness.
If I dig deep I can see the appeal of holding up this kind of shield. Maybe not by wearing those type of t-shirts, but how is it any different when I want to wear a tailored suit and tie, flashy Jordan’s or a nice watch? Is that my way of telling the world, “I am someone special!”, “I am someone you should pay attention to!” or “Look at Me!”? I understand this type of reasoning can become unsustainable, because to avoid this behavior, we should all walk around barefoot wearing a potato sack as clothing. Of course this is not my point.
My point is this: we are trying to convey something about ourselves by how we look and what we wear. We want to portray an image to the world about who we are by the way we dress and carry ourselves. Like most things in life this can have a good and bad side.
Bad: If we are dressing or carrying ourselves in a way that tries to hide our true selves, because we are embarrassed or afraid that who we truly are is ugly, unimportant or worthless. This means we are dressing to make others like us even more, not truly how we want to look or who we really are.
Good: If how you dress and carry yourself is a reflection of who you truly are inside. This comes from a place of self confidence and awareness of who you are and your place in the world. This is the goal for which we all should strive. Not to flaunt who we are in a boastful way, but to go through life with a clear understanding that we are important and valuable in our Creator’s eyes, we our valuable members of society, and we have something to contribute to the world.
So what can you do if you are filled with self doubt? If you are using how you dress and act as a shield because you are afraid that you are not good enough? If you were blessed to have good parents they probably told you through your childhood that you were unique, special, and that you had great possibilities ahead. Because of this you most likely were healthfully confident in yourself and your place in the world, but somewhere along the way this confidence was lost. There could be many reasons for this, including being told by a loved one or mentor that you were a failure, trauma in your life or loss of a job. No matter the reason for your loss of confidence, how do you get it back?
If you believe in God, I would say the most important thing to remember is that He created you in His image. He values you, and if nobody else in this life values you it will be ok, because He does. Secondly, you have to take a hard look in the mirror and understand that to a large extent you control your destiny. You have to believe you are valuable, you have to build yourself up and learn to self-motivate, because sometimes there will be nobody else to build you up. Lastly, you must cut ties with those who are dragging you down. Even loved ones can sometimes fit into this category. If you are intent on living a productive life you cannot afford to be dragged down by naysayers and haters. Cutting ties from those who you are close to can be difficult but may be a necessary step in order to move forward.
The bottom line is this: what I want for myself, and you, is to put down whatever shield I am carrying and be confident and happy in who I am. We should always strive to grow more, but we can also be happy in our present state. It’s time to put down whatever shield you are carrying. It is heavy and not needed. Set it down so people can see who you truly are. If they don’t like it, they don’t matter anyway.
- J. Matthew King, Co-founder
Recently I ran an 8 mile Spartan race in the 90 degree heat. If you don’t know what a spartan race is you can find out more about it in one of my previous articles "Why I Run". However this is article is not about Spartan racing, it is about something i learned while training for the Spartan race and that is the power of shared goals.
I ran the race with 2 other people. We all live in 3 different locations and therefore we couldn’t train together. This left us having to trust that each of us was putting in the time necessary for the race so that no teammate would drag the other ones down. At least in my mind this was a huge responsibly and a driving force on those days when i didn't want to go to the gym or was tempted to cheat on my diet.
A couple of times each week we would text or email each other encouragement about the training and share in the joint misery of not being able to indulge in ice cream, soda, and fried foods. even though we were not physically together we were able to form a community or a brotherhood through our shared goals.
Honestly, I usually prefer projects or tasks where it solely relies on my performance whether i succeed or fail. In my mind I want to have complete control of the outcome of any situation. That is probably something not unique to me but it is just how I am wired. In this instance however I had to give up some control. If I wasn’t prepared, It would not only affect me, it would negatively affect my team. We were all giving up a little control and placing our trust in each others hands. While we gave up control we also gained several things:
Accountability-When you are on your own you have to be the sole motivator. You have to be extremely disciplined and driven. When you work with a team you have to be accountable to your teammates.
Competition-Lets be honest, even on a team there is competition between teammates. Nobody wants to be the weakest link and therefore you push yourself harder during training to try and be just an ounce better than your teammate.
Support-When you are going through a difficult experience, knowing that someone is going through the same thing can be invaluable.
Success-When you accomplish a goal on your own there is definitely an amazing sense of accomplishment because you achieved something on your own. However, there is also something incredibly rewarding about accomplishing a goal with your teammates. You all went through the battles together and you succeeded together. It’s an incredible feeling.
So how does this help you outside of the athletic arena? Think about it in your personal life or work life. We are usually either working on something solo or as a team. When you are on a team you can use the power of creating shared goals to bring your team closer together and to use everyone’s unique strengths to the teams advantage.
- Matthew King, Co-founder