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2018 Starts Now!

We are now getting to the home stretch of 2017. And we have a powerful decision to make that will position us for a great New Year. We can decide TODAY to begin doing the things that we are telling ourselves (and others) that we will do once the clock strikes midnight and we enter into 2018. While I’m all about celebrating a New Year, I more concerned about you getting into gear so that you truly have something to celebrate above a date change. A new year means nothing if you haven’t begun the HARD WORK of proactively moving toward your goals. There’s a little more than a month left in 2017 and you have the tremendous opportunity to create Compound Momentum. Similar to compound interest, Compound Momentum is a force that will multiply the initial effort you began with.

I’ll give you an example. I am working on my second book and I’ve made a commitment to write everyday. I don’t set a time or word limit, my goal is just to get something new on paper everyday. As I commit to this goal and carry out its execution, I form a habit and I train my mind to be prepared to write. When I first started this process it was hard to hit my daily goal of writing, but now it’s becoming second nature. I don’t have to work as hard to write and this frees up my creativity. I like to think of this free flowing creativity as the interest I earning on my initial investment of consistency!

Think about where in your life you would like to see your effort compounded in 2018. Maybe in your relationships, career, business, or philanthropy. If you make that initial investment of effort now and stick to it, you will see the results you desire in the new year and probably over and above that.

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Ask for Help after You’re Successful

When I first started doing music, I would get so frustrated because many of the people that I asked for help turned me down. And it wouldn’t always be a hard rejection. I recall instances of producers and other musicians giving me their numbers saying “let’s work”, and when I reached out, they played dumb or didn’t return my calls all-together. I was forced to build my own studio, make my own beats, and record myself. After I released my first album, people begin to see that I was really serious and some of my old phone calls got returned. When I started booking my own shows, a few more calls started coming in. I was still very rough around the edges, but people were attracted to my work ethic and potential. They saw that I was having success on my own.

Years later, I would come to understand that my music career was a start up business. Although I didn’t know it at the time, through my small successes I was demonstrating Proof of Concept to those watching me (who would later become investors in my business). Every start up must go through this phase. Before you reach out to investors, supporters, or ask for any other type of hand up in general, it’s important to establish that your idea works either fiscally or that it can become popular. Once you do this, you won’t have to do as much reaching out for help. Investors will be attracted to what you are doing because they can see that it works.

Waiting until you are successful on your own puts you in a position of power. Success gives you options and you can chose who you want to work with as oppose to being desperate.

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How to Ensure Success in Your Life

Over the last several years, I have been driven by the pursuit of learning how to become successful. In this stage of my life, the aspect of success that I’ve focused on mainly has been financial freedom and wealth creation. The reasons why these are important to me now are 1) not to be and end up broke, 2) leaving an inheritance for my children and their kids, 3) being able to live the lifestyle that I want 4) Being able to be my own boss. The aspect of success that you are pursuing may be different from mine. Success means different things to different people. No matter the case, in all my research, through reading books, listening to podcasts, and watching seminars, I have learned that success all boils down to one thing. Our daily habits. There are certain activities that successful people do on a daily basis over a long period of time and this is the basis for their success. It’s really not a matter of chance. Even though so called luck can play a role in a persons success, your overall outcome is determined by your everyday decisions. And there is hard data to prove this. This knowledge has really excited me. We can choose to be successful in every minute of everyday and that can produce the lifestyle that we want down the road. I’ll share a few habits that successful people employ everyday, although there are literally hundreds of others.

  1. They exercise at least 4 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day.
  2. They spend 20-30 minutes a day learning something new.
  3. They are intentional about who they spend their time with. They try to limit their exposure to negative and unsuccessful people and try to increase their time with positive and successful people.

Utilizing these three habits alone on a daily basis should help you become more successful in your life.

 

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How to change your life

Have you ever been at a place in life where you realize that you want something different than what you are currently getting? Perhaps you realize that you want better relationships, want to make more money, be healthier, or make more of an impact in the world. In flashes of inspiration we may begin to take some preliminary steps to go in a different direction, but then we get discouraged because “real” life sets in and we then go back to our old habits. This can leave us even more discouraged because we then begin to lose hope in our ability to change anything. Well, I’m here today to offer you some solutions if you are currently here. Change is inevitable, the trick is being able to position yourself to prosper from change in the way you desire when it occurs. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind that will help you implement the change you want to see in your life.

  1. Write down what you want. Many of us don’t get what we want because we don’t know what we want in the first place. You have to go through the exercise of defining in very specific terms what you want. When you do this and write it down, you train your mind to recognize the things necessary to obtain it. It’s sort of like when you buy a certain type of car, you then begin to see other people driving the same type of car as you. You’ve created an emotional posted note for your brain, and your brain begins to subconsciously connect the dots for you. I’ve had so many opportunities come my way because I clearly defined what I wanted. When you live from the place of your vision, you see things on a whole new level which transcends your current circumstances.
  2. Do something everyday related to the change you want to see. World renowned speaker and trainer Tony Robbins says that we are the result of our daily rituals. This is so true. We become what we consistently do. If you smoke everyday, you become known as a smoker. If you read everyday, you become known as a reader. When you “x” everyday, you become known as… you fill in the blank. The greatest change comes from doing small consistent things on a daily basis as oppose to doing really huge things inconsistently. To see real change in your life, you have to become intentional about creating new habits and sticking to them. The goal is to make the positive change you desire a part of your nature. This is where most people give up, fail, and go back to their original normal which only gets them more of want they don’t like in the first place.
  3. Get mentors or friends (or both) that are where you want to be. This is critical. You need to surround yourself with like minded people who are as “crazy” as you are. I say crazy because the people whom you associate with that are part of your current reality will not understand why you are trying to make the changes you are attempting. To them, you will appear crazy because you are breaking their “normal” construct. And if they understand, they may hinder you from  trying to get to your new destination in life because they want you to stay where they’re at. When you try to better your situation, it can make the people currently around you uncomfortable. So it is imperative to begin to bring new people into your life who will support, affirm, and assist you in the changes you are making. They will act as coaches and partners that uplift you when you feel like giving up. We are the product of our 5 closest relationships.
  4. Measure your progress. It’s not always easy to spot when change is occurring in your life. So every now and then you need to stop and take inventory of where you started and where you are currently at. When you measure your results, it will encourage you when you see how far you have come. That’s why personal trainers have their clients take before and after pictures. You may not notice a 2 pound weight loss with your naked eye, but it feels good when you see a lower weight on the scale. Measuring your progress also allows you see what isn’t working. If you are not making any progress within a certain amount of time, that may be a sign that you need to try a different strategy to reach your aim.
  5. Feed Your Mind. You have to fuel your mind with images, literature, and experiences that align with the change you seek after. Your mind is your most powerful ally in changing your life. Your thoughts will either make you or break you. The information we consume acts as the gasoline that takes us where we want to go. Listen to motivational speeches, read autobiographies, listen to empowering music, and watch shows that will inspire you on your journey. Also seek to create new experiences for yourself that allow you to envision yourself living in the change you desire. Go look at houses in the neighborhood you want to live in, test drive the car you want to drive, save up and go on a trip, etc.

Change is possible in your life. You have to believe it at your core and continue to reaffirm that belief through action, thought, and whom you associate with. You are powerful and can do all things. See you at the top!

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Put your head down and work

When a little success comes, it’s easy to become complacent and begin to stop doing the things that made that very bit of success possible. That’s the absolute worst time to let off the gas is when you you are making some progress. Momentum is a difficult thing to gain but can be lost before you know it. It’s smart to reflect on your success in order to evaluate what you are doing right and what can be done better, but then it’s soon time to get back to the grind and keep pushing forward. Opportunities are not easy to come by in this modern day. The competition is thick and fierce on every front. Any open door you get should be treated with the utmost respect and well executed upon. Stop reading your own press and continue to find ways to make new press, that is, history.

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The Key Ingredients that make Greatness Possible

Great people have the ability to make things look easy. When we see the finished product, it’s easy for us to take for granted the amount of work that goes into to making that product what it is. That work is often very difficult because it requires consistent and intense effort. Sacrifice is also a significant part of becoming great at something. There are many things (and opportunities) that greatness requires that we give up in order to succeed in a specific area. I truly believe that greatness is possible for all of us to achieve. We just have to be willing to do the hard things that don’t gain recognition. We have to grind in the dark while no one is watching so we can execute at a high level when it’s game time.

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Perseverance is the Prerequisite to Prosperity

2016 has been an incredible year for me. I reached so many milestones and accomplished a lot of things that I am proud of. However, the road hasn’t been easy (and still isn’t). There are many things that have happened to me throughout my life that, at one point, caused me to doubt myself and almost give up. I feel like this year was a critical turning point for me because the stakes in my personal life are higher now. I’m getting older and I’m married with children. Every decision that I make effects them and sacrifices that don’t pay off can take a toll on everyone. I’m steering a bigger ship and it’s not always possible to turn on a dime or at a moments notice. And sometimes, I’m not as consistent as I would like to be both in my career and in my family. I probably spend half of my day strategizing and calculating my next move for this very reason. There just isn’t enough time to do everything I’m passionate about!

I’ve lived and learned the concept of incremental progress. Incremental progress is making a resolution to do at least one thing a day (or week, month, etc.) that brings you closer to a goal. It may sound like a very minuscule thing, but it’s an unbelievably difficult practice to keep up (especially when you don’t see the payoff immediately). But this is where perseverance comes in. Perseverance is finding a way to keep going when you feel like you can’t. It takes a strong will to continue to move forward when you’re tired, life isn’t working how you want it to, and you are limited on resources. The benefit of persevering is that when you stay active (that is, keep going), you discover new ways to get closer to what you want. You begin to see what you are made of and will discover how bad you want what you want. I like how Eric Thomas puts it, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” Along the way, several people have come along and helped me in my pursuits without me even asking. I feel like this has happened because I prayed really hard for help and also because I refuse to quit. Some people just respected my grind and willingness to keep going. I’m stubborn as a mule when it comes to going after something I really want. It’s my gift and my curse.

Perhaps you haven’t arrived to the place in life that you feel you should be at. Life is a marathon and has a way or rewarding people that stick it out until the end of the race. I both challenge and encourage you to just put your head down and continue to stride forward. Sometimes, you just have to focus on the journey and not the destination. When you do this, I truly believe that you will land where you want, but you will also get some nice surprises along the way. My hope and prayer for you is that you will find material, mental, spiritual, and relational prosperity in 2017.

Peace

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The Importance of Building Generational Wealth (Part 1)

Building wealth is something that I’ve been passionate (and serious) about for the last three years. I think wealth building became very important to me after I had my first son. I realized that part of the legacy that I want to leave behind for him and my other son is that of financial independence. Financial independence means different things to different people. For me, it means the ability to generate your own income without having to work for someone else and being debt free. You can’t really be wealthy if you have debt. If you owe someone money, you have an undesirable obligation because you are essentially working for them. Credit card vendors work hard to get people into debt so they can earn interest off their hard work and time. It’s a phenomenal and highly effective business model!

I learned the hard way. After accumalating sizable debts (student loans, car debt, and credit cards), I realized that I wanted to put my economic energy into things that earn a financial return instead of continue to cost me long after I have enjoyed them. While the latest cars, fashion, and other toys felt great for the moment, they became liabilities that ate away at my financial security and decreased my long term economic power. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the finer things in life and indulge in them when I should (and sometimes when I shouldn’t). But after having kids, I feel a sense of obligation of giving my kids the right tools at a young age that teach them how to think about and use money that sets them up for long term success. My behavior is the best text book they will ever read even though I still get it wrong and am learning how to do things right myself. Every dollar we hold is a seed with the potential to generate many other dollars if invested (planted in the right soil) and managed. This is what I am now teaching them at age 1 and 3 (currently).

I have to come to learn that there are two main ways to build generational wealth and these are investing and business ownership. Many times, they are one in the same. Building a business is an investment of time and money. Building a wealth generating investment portfolio is an investment of time and money as well. I’ve read about people who invest (buy stock) in companies and hold onto the shares until they die and then pass them to their loved ones. The great thing about some of these investments is that they generate monthly and quartely dividends that can either be reinvensted to buy more stock or the owners can enjoy the dividend income.

I think whether we have the entrepreneurial spirit or not, at the very least we should take a portion of our income and invest it in some sort of financial vehicle that produces additional income (without us having to work for it). Some very prudent people don’t want to start a business, so they save up their money and put it into a family or friend owned business venture. There are so many creative ways to generate wealth. I’m of the opinion that future generations should be able to enjoy the fruits of their predecessors labor and hopefully take it to the next level. You don’t have to be the Walton’s (WalMart) or Rockerfellers to leave something that makes a significant impact in the lives of your loved ones. I recently read the story of a man who held the same job as a parking attendant for 44 years only making $12 an hour, but he invested his money consistently over that time period and now holds a $500,000 portfolio!

Personally, I am not financially wealthy yet. I am positioning myself to accomplish this goal however. I plan to let you in on my journey every now and then as I figure this thing out. If you have additional insights, please shoot me a comment.

 

Here’s a link to the story of that parking attendant if you’re interested.

Much love,

Sharp