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The Success Training Network (TSTN)

I recently was referred to The Success Training Network (TSTN), a really unique concept which I'm really enjoying. It's loaded with 30-minute and 1-hour long presentations from some of today's top business people.

I especially enjoyed the "Relationship Selling" series by Jim Cathcart. It is really in-line with our company's business approach.

Bob Proctor's "Paradigm Shift" was excellent, too!

The list of "faculty" includes Zig Ziglar, Dr. Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, Tom Hopkins, Dr. John Gray, Dr. Stephen Covey, and many, many more.

Check it out at www.tstn.com and let me know what you think!

The Future of the Internet: Acres of Diamonds

I recently reread a fascinating little book, which I had originally read 15 years ago, called Acres of Diamonds. It is a written copy of a speech given by Dr. Russell H. Conwell in approximately 1910. Reading this insightful book really helped me recently.

Dr. Conwell works diligently throughout his speech to explain that there are an unlimited number of opportunities sitting right in front of each of us, just waiting to be noticed and implemented. All one needs to do is look at what is needed and do something about filling the need.

He talks about MANY people who started simply filling a simple need, such as the poor man out of work in Hingham, MA who whittled children's toys out of his firewood and eventually is rumored to have become the richest man in Massachusetts selling his amazing toys. Or a woman in New Britain, CT who invented the snapping button because her regular button had gotten stuck in the hole one time.

He tells a funny story about a man from PA who wanted so badly to work for his cousin in the oil business (and get rich) that he studied hard, sold his farm for $833.00, and moved to Canada to work in the oil business. Amazingly, the man who bought his farm found that the previous owner had put a plank across a brook of scum to cross. It turns out that the scum was actually oil and the farm produced over $1 billion over its lifetime!!

He also does a great job of explaining how making money is a good thing and is in no way something to be ashamed of or bashful about.

What's this go to do with the Internet?!? Well, just before I read this book, I had been thinking recently that it seems the Internet opportunity of the past had dried up. It felt to me that every great idea had already been taken and fully exploited, and that any worthwhile venture would take an enormous amount of money to accomplish because the Internet standards and expectations had been raised so high.

However, after reading this little book, it became clear to me that at ANY TIME IN LIFE, especially RIGHT NOW, there are opportunities sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF US just waiting for us to pick them up and take advantage of them. Often these opportunities are hidden because they're SO close that we don't even see them.

So, this book really changed my outlook and shifted my paradigm such that I'm starting to see new and interesting things already right in front of me. Like most successes, these things I'm seeing are not at first earth-shattering or monumental, but little things I can do (and am doing) to fill a need or make something better in what I already do.

Amazingly, in the past 2 weeks, I'm already noticing improved results beginning to appear in an exponential way - small at first, but almost growing as if they have a life of their own.

I'm really interested in your ideas regarding the INTERNET Acres of Diamonds sitting right in front of us. Please read this little story and let me know if it changes your insight, as it did mine. I'd enjoy reading your comments.

The Four Agreements: Chapter 6

The first few times I read "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz, I didn't pay much attention to Chapter 6, entitled "The Toltec Path to Freedom." I figured I knew what the 4 agreements were, so what else could I need from the book. My recent assignment by my business coach was to re-read chapter 6 and note insights.

As I re-read the chapter there were several things that I found important:

- While we think we are free, we aren't really as long as we are bound by our fears, a byproduct of the domestication process. - Freedom is honoring and embracing that little child inside us, who appears when we're having fun, playing, or doing anything that makes us happy. Freedom is being and expressing ourselves.

- Nobody is to blame for this. Everyone has done their best with what they knew, including us!

- The first step, as is always true, is the Mastery of Awareness. This awareness allows us to see who we really are with all our possibilities. Once aware, you can make a decision to continue or change. This decision to change causes us to become warriors against all that attempts to destroy our future.

- The second step is the Mastery of Transformation. This the ways we will change, to become free.

- The third step is the Mastery of Intent. This is the energy that allows us to change.

- The Judge, the Victim, and the belief system are like a 1000-headed parasite, each one a fear within us, which slowly sucks energy and dreams (our future) from us, giving nothing useful in return.

- We can destroy the parasite by (listed in order of difficulty):

- (a) attacking each fear one at a time by practicing the 4 agreements: (a) Be impeccable with your word, (b) Don't take anything personally, (c) Don't make assumptions, (d) Always do your best.

- (b) starving it by gaining control over our emotions and disciplining our own behavior. Forgive everyone with whom you have an emotional reaction, out of compassion for ourselves. This destroys our denial system, so we can't lie to ourselves and instead develop a healthy self. Learn how to hold emotions and express them at the right moment, not sooner or later.

- (c) killing it all at once. We never know when we're going to die and we can choose to make each moment happy one. Treat everyone around you the way you would if you knew it was going to be the last day of your life (it may!). By doing this you rewrite your life, killing the old dream as well as the parasite.

- By having the freedom of the child along with wisdom, instead of innocence, we break our domestication and become free again!

24/7 Email, Business-based Self-worth, and the Future of the World with New Technology

I had a busy family weekend and needed to get back to a couple of clients regarding important meetings for this week. So, just before I went to bed last night (12:55AM this morning, actually), I sent them both Emails suggesting dates.

When I got up this AM, I checked my Email and BOTH clients had already replied, the first at 2:10 AM and the second at 2:55 AM! At the risk of sounding old, I'm sitting here shaking my head saying, "What's this world coming to?"

In the past (5-10 years ago), I was the one person I knew who worked crazy hours, deprived myself of sleep (and health in general) for the sake of business, and really attached my self-worth to the results of my business. In fact, I remember having taken pride at my "dedication" when others would be astounded by my ridiculous hours.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for high-production, high-innovation, and a get-the-job-done focus. But I wonder what will happen in the world, when it becomes the norm to check your Email at 3:00 AM! In fact, I wonder how people are doing it? Are they staying up until that hour? Not sleeping at all? Or do they take their Blackberries or Email-based PDAs to bed with them??

As I grew older, I realized that I had to reprioritize my life, or I'd end up dead at 35. I did this by assessing EXACTLY what was important to me (clearly understanding/defining my core values). Business should have been just a means to an end, but instead it was the end, itself. This was because I turned to business to satisfy my emotional needs for acceptance, self-worth, and value to the world. I learned that there's a problem with doing this when you make work the ONLY place to turn for these things. In fact, I had taken it so far, that I was on 3 non-profit boards to try to get even more of what I was desperately seeking.

There is a big problem with this thinking, however: Until a person learns to be "ok" with himself first, he'll search all over for what he thinks he needs to be "ok". Unfortunately, he won't find it anywhere else. He'll find things that look like it, feel like it, and even temporarily fill the need for a while. But none of these will last. He has to learn to become INTERNALLY motivated, otherwise he will become a people-pleaser, doomed to feeling sadness by misinterpreting everyone else's behavior as critical or demeaning to him. This isn't fair to him or the other people and certainly is no way to live a joyful life.

By being "ok" with himself, he is able to be confident of his own decisions, actions, and beliefs while being open to learning and growing from other people. Ironically, by deriving self-worth only from others (EXTERNALLY motivated), he will become a barrier to learning and growing he is so desperately trying to receive. In addition, he ends up using and manipulating others to get what he wants, rather than accepting and embracing others as they are.

Now, I'm working at having a much more balanced life which includes my family time, time with just my wife, time with just my daughter, and my SELF time. I'm happier, and MUCH more productive than ever, because I AM more balanced now. I've implemented Getting Things Done by David Allen, which is a set of tools for helping people become highly efficient and effective in their task management. By doing this, I added structure to my balance and armed myself with techniques I use to manage myself when I get pulled in 50 different directions.

It's a constant struggle, however, to achieve balance. I so often "fall off" and have to "get back on again," but that's fine with me because I'm learning and growing through the process.

I must also add that I wasn't able to do this on my own - I had help from my business coach, Greg Balanko-Dickson, and numerous books, including The Four Agreements, Good to Great, Jump Start Your Business Brain, Getting Things Done, Boundaries, The 9 Things a Leader Must Do, The Secret (DVD), The Art of Possibility, and The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent. I highly recommend all of these books.

My larger concern is that as we "progress" with the benefits of technology, we may be leaving behind some things that we really need, and creating new problems for ourselves. I wonder if there really is a true net benefit to the individual, the family, and the business.

I'd really enjoy hearing your thoughts regarding 24-hour Email, business-based self-worth, and the future of the world with new technology. If you have a moment, just comment on this blog entry.

"9 Things a Leader Must Do" by Dr. Henry Cloud

I just read an incredible new book, called "9 Things a Leader Must Do" by Dr. Henry Cloud. Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote a phenomenal book in 2002, called "Boundaries: When to say Yes and when to say No to take control of your life." Both books have really helped me in many ways.

Dr. Could does a great job of breaking down the difference between leaders that accomplish their goals and those that don't. He then exposes the 9 commonalities that all great leaders share, in short (approx 10 pages each) chapters. He proves that being a great leader is not something you're born with, but something we call can accomplish in our lives.

While some of his chapters are things we all know we need to do, like "achieving big goals by taking small steps over time", other chapters really surprised me! For example, the "Earn a Black Belt in Hate" chapter at first glance appears somewhat oppositional to traditional leadership thinking. However, Dr. Cloud does a terrific job in explaining that good leaders need to know what it is that they hate so that they can be open and transparent with those around them. They succeed by "developing the ability to hate the right things well." He says "character is in part formed by what we hate, because we move to be different from whatever it is."

Other topics include ignoring popularity polls, quit self-exaggerating, don't allow negative things to take up your life, explore your heart and desires deeply, and always asking "How can I make this situation better?"

I hope you pick up a copy of this book and benefit from it as much as I did.

Ken.