Author: broc edwards

Bring Your Own Awesome podcast

There are so many amazing, inspiring people in this world. So many who are making a difference and making the world a better place through their dreams and actions. We hear about the ones who are famous, but most of them happen to live next door.

As I’ve traveled, presented, facilitated, coached, and consulted throughout my career I’ve been blessed to meet seemingly regular people who are quietly going about doing extraordinary things. People whose lives probably look a lot like yours and mine as they strive for that next level in what they are doing.

Sure, I love listening to Tim Ferriss or Brian Rose (London Real) interview the big names at the peak of their game, but I have a hard time relating to most of the guests. The people who inspire me and whose stories I want to hear and learn from are the ordinary yet amazing and that was the genesis of the Bring Your Own Awesome (BYOA) podcast. I’m a fan of Dan Waldschmidt and his blog, book, and podcast. For years, I’ve appreciated (and been inspired by) his relentlessly practical approach to personal development and success. We got to talking about the idea for BYOA and were soon launching it as a mini-series on his regular podcast, EDGY Conversations.

BYOA is Dan and I co-hosting short (15-30 minute) interviews with people who are bringing a whole lot of awesome to their lives. Small business owners and entrepreneurs, sales people, writers, musicians, physical trainers, consultants, and more. Regular people with families, bills, and full-time jobs who are going full out body, mind, and spirit to create the lives they want. Social media glamorizes “living the dream” and reduces success and inspiration to memes and unattributed quotes, but that’s not reality. Dan and I dive in with our guests to the gritty real world hard work that goes into pursuing their dreams, what they’ve learned, and the advice they’d give others.

And we have a lot of fun along the way.

Have a listen and join the conversation.

Apple Podcasts: http://edgy.es/podcast
Google Podcasts: http://edgy.es/google

Listen from the website: Edgy Conversations podcast

 

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Doing What I Know

When I was a kid, I used to really enjoy watching the GI Joe cartoon. If you remember back to 1983 or so you know they always ended each episode with some sort of lesson and would say, “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”

Knowing is important. Ignorance doesn’t solve too many problems. But, knowing is not just half the battle, it is ONLY half the battle. Knowing isn’t enough.

Derek Sivers summed it up as, “If more information were the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Similarly, Tony Robbins once said, “Most people know what to do, but few do what they know.”

Knowledge is important, but it’s just the start.

Ever go to a conference or seminar? Attend a webinar or read up on a topic? Ever pay for advice from a doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer? Of course you have. The more important question is: how much of that knowledge have you actually put into action? How much focused effort did you spend following the instructions, executing the plan, or taking action before moving on to the next conference, book, expert, etc.?

The past three months or so I’ve been on an intense learning curve. I’ve paid for knowledge, expertise, and advice through conferences, trainings, consultations, and books, but have only sort of done what was advised. Sure, I started with best of intentions, but that quickly faded against established habits and routines, as well as the unanticipated and unexpected steering me off track.

Yesterday, the question hit me: what if I went all in on this advice? What if I wrung every last bit of goodness out of each dollar paid and instruction given?

Where could I be in my life if I simply did what I know?

Where could you be?

Just Start Today

Skipping one day probably doesn’t matter much. If you run or lift several times a week, skipping one day isn’t going to change your fitness. If you are disciplined about what you eat, one stuff-yourself-to-the-gills meal isn’t going to change your weight. If you wake up early to make time read and journal, sleeping in once isn’t going to set your personal development back.

One day doesn’t change much in the big picture of our lives. Except when the day we skip is Day One. We think, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.” The next day we think, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.” Day three becomes, “No problem, one day won’t matter. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I can really focus on it and do it right.”

Start today, no matter how imperfect the start. Learn and improve and make day two even better. Build momentum instead of holding out for perfection. Waiting to take perfect action tomorrow will be soundly beaten by taking imperfect action today. Right now today. Not tomorrow. Today.

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe

Back When I Used to Be Focused

I used to be super focused. Maybe you can relate. Was there a time when you were younger and had more drive, energy, and concentration than you do now?

For me, I look back at my time in grad school as high-water mark for conquering my goals. I was in a program where I only had a mild familiarity with many of the subjects and the professors covered the topics at a review speed.

I quickly realized that I was behind before I started and had to sprint to even catch up. I decided early on that if I didn’t pass it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t put in the work. I went completely head down, nose to the grindstone, relentless about getting work done, and it paid off in my grades and opportunities that came to me through the program.

These days, I often feel like I’m working more and accomplishing less. I feel scattered. I sometimes find it hard to concentrate on any one task before my attention is drawn to another task. Days, weeks, months zoom by and, though I was busy, I can’t remember what I was working on. It is ego crushing to think about how I’ve lost my edge.

Except…

And this is an important except. You may have had a different path, but I suspect your journey feels similar.

When I was returned to school in my late 20s, I focused on my classes and had almost no distractions. I was married, but we didn’t have kids yet and my wife worked insane hours so we didn’t see each other all that much. We lived in a tiny apartment and didn’t have to take care of the yard or do maintenance on a house, we didn’t have pets, or hobbies. We didn’t have any spare money so we didn’t really go anywhere. There were no smart phones (I didn’t even have a cell phone at that point), the internet was slow and less entertaining, and we had about four channels on the TV. All I did was go to school.

As I type this, I’m stunned with the realization of how ridiculous the comparison is of my life now to my life then. Back then, I literally had one focus. Today, I have higher expectations and demands in every area of my life. I have a complex and mentally taxing job, kids to keep up with, a wife that likes seeing me from time to time, pets, hobbies, trying to improve my health, weight lifting and running, finding time to read, carving off part of my day for personal development, keeping up with a yard and house and maintenance on several cars, staying current on social media, watching movies and TV, wanting to write and podcast, and, and, and…

And I feel unfocused and scattered? Weird. Every single part of my life has become more complex, more demanding, with less certainty, and requiring more time and attention, yet I still have the same amount of time in the day.

I’m feeling a little silly now for ever looking back to then with any kind of nostalgia or seeing that as my peak. Thinking about who I was then, I would have never been able to juggle today’s life demands and certainly not at my level current of expectation. It wouldn’t even be close.

That doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t improve today. The increased demands mean I need to be even more intentional about my priorities and discerning with my time. It means I need to be present with people, seek and destroy the distractions that aren’t improving my life, and do more planning, preparation, and reflection. I need to be hyper-clear on what I want to accomplish and judicious and ruthless with my time, energy, and focus.

 

“Pretty Good” is a Trap

Being at a point in your life where things are pretty good is a dangerous place to be. Comfort is quicksand. You sink slowly into it, unconcerned at first. By the time you realize you’re stuck it’s extremely difficult to pull yourself out.

Any of this sound familiar:

  • Hard work and a few good opportunities early in your career put you at a point where you’re comfortable enough to relax a little. Maybe you buy a nicer house, a better car, and don’t worry so much about the budget. Until you find yourself in the paradox of being broke while making really good money.
  • Spending a decade or so building a solid relationship with your significant other makes it easy to devote less attention to the relationship. And then a little less. And then it’s on auto pilot.
  • As work and family start taking up more of your time, your friends start receiving less. But that’s ok because they are also busy with careers and kids. Then, one day, you realize you haven’t added any new friends to your life and the good friends have faded away until the relationship is nothing more than a quick “happy birthday” on Facebook.
  • You know you’re not as fit was you were in your 20s (who is, right?), but looking around you can see you’re in better shape than most desk jockeys. It makes it easy to forget that “better than bad” isn’t necessarily “good.”

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that “entropy increases.” In other words, things break down unless we continually put energy back into them. If we’re not giving continual focused attention to our finances and career, relationships, fitness, etc. it’s safe to say they are in the process of decaying and falling apart.

Having things going pretty good in our life can fool us into thinking we can coast. It tricks us into believing we no longer need to give it our attention. Then, by the time we do notice our lives are so far from where we want them to be it feels like it’s not worth the effort to get back.

But that’s a lie. It is.

Got Goals? So What?

Forget goals. Knowing what you want is important, but it’s just the start. The bigger question is are you getting to where you want to be? In your career? Relationships? With your health and wellness? Finances? Spiritually and emotionally?

A few days ago I was hit with a one-two gut-punch of a question: “How much time do you spend every week making progress on your goals?” Then, “How much time have you spent this week making progress on your goals?” And, the finishing uppercut, “How much progress have you made this week?”

Like many reading this, I consider myself a goal-driven person. Yet, these questions splashed me with ice water cold truth: I have stopped being fully intentional about my success.

Over the years, I have slipped into treating goals as an intellectual exercise instead of as the outcomes I am absolutely committed to taking heroic levels of action to create. Sometimes I would achieve a goal and sometimes I wouldn’t. There was no consequence, no accountability, if I didn’t, I’d simply put it on the next year’s goals.

I’m stunned and embarrassed by how little intentional weekly action I was actually taking. Sure, I was taking some action – enough to fool myself into thinking I was on track. But most of my “action” was actually only thinking about maybe doing things, completely ignoring some actions all together, and I was keeping busy doing a whole bunch of stuff kind of related to my goals but not moving me forward. It’s a reminder that being busy and taking deliberate and intentional action are two very, very different things.

Ego bloodied and bruised, I put together a simple document to help me get intentional about planning and taking weekly action. The document lists about my goals for the year with weekly outcome/progress I plan to make (a mini-goal), the actions I am going to take, and when I will do them.

I learned a few things putting this together:

  • Creating a weekly goal forces me to very clear on my annual goal.
  • Identifying weekly action forces me to be very clear on my weekly goal.
  • Many of my goals were more vague intention or general direction than specific outcome.
  • Progress comes from daily action and on really big or unclear goals, that’s easy to forget.

I was reminded that, for me, the word “goal” is soft. I tend to use it to mean “something I would like to see happen.” For me, I need to use a different word. Maybe “priority” as in: “What are my priorities for the year?” No, even that doesn’t have enough edge. How about a combination of “commitment” and “results” as in: “What results am I absolutely committed to achieving this year?”

Let me ask you:

  1. What are your goals? What are your priorities? What outcomes are you absolutely, 100%, come-Hell-or-high-water, committed to creating?
  2. How much focused time did you spend this week working toward those outcomes? And how does that compare to activity not related to your outcomes?
  3. What are the obvious ways you could (will) increase your focused actions?

You Already Have the Answers

“Seminar Junkies” is a term used to describe people who go from one seminar to the next, always seeking better ideas, BUT rarely using what they’ve learned. Because they never use the knowledge, their lives don’t change, so it’s off to the next seminar, searching for that life changing nugget of information. If it’s not seminars, it’s books, or websites. The addiction is to seeking information instead of taking action.

This is important. The best ideas in the world are absolutely worthless, until the moment we put them into action.

More information is rarely the problem. The real challenge is applying the information we already have. Tony Robbins once said, “Lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know.”

Where are you waiting for more information before you take action? Where are you not taking the action you know you need to take? OR where are you already taking action, but need to dial up the amount of effort or just get more consistent?

Information is important, but it just gets you in the game. Knowledge doesn’t create results. Action does.

It’s On You To Be Awesome

Quick show of hands: Who wants to be awesome? Ok, that question was easy. I think pretty much everyone wants to be awesome. We all want to be amazing and no one wants to fail.

Tougher question: Who is working on being awesome? Like actively working on it. You know what you want to improve and have a plan to make it happen. I’m guessing a few hands went down.

Last question. Again, a show of hands: Who has done something today, specifically to make you more awesome? Hmmm, a lot of hands stayed down on this one. Answering yes means you know what you want, have a plan, and acted on that plan.

*****     *****     *****

Last weekend, I did an exercise suggested by Bill Cortright. It was simple: list 10 reasons why I am not at the optimal levels of success in the five key areas of life (career, finance, health, relationships, personal / spiritual development).

I recommend giving it a try. Here’s a few things this exercise made me realize:

  1. I don’t know what optimal levels of success looks like in every area. I have very specific targets in some of the areas, but not all. That’s a problem because it’s really, really, really hard to accomplish what I want if I’ve never been bothered to figure out what I want.
  2. My excuses started off strong with good, justifiable reasons why I haven’t accomplished more, but about number five or six in each category, my excuses started running thin. By the time I got to number ten it was painfully obvious that all of my excuses were complete nonsense. Bill Cortright says: Excuses are the ego’s affirmations. Excuses help me feel good about my lack of progress, but don’t do anything to move me forward.
  3. None of the excuses have to do with a lack of knowledge. I may not know everything I need to do, but the amount of knowledge I have or have available will take me a long ways farther than I’ve gone. Derek Sivers once noted: If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs. Knowledge alone does not create change.
  4. Too many of my excuses have to do with my self-identity and belief in whether or not what I want is possible for me to attain.
  5. In 100% of the cases where I’m not where I want to be, I am simply not taking enough regular action.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve worked hard, been blessed, lucky, and created successes in my life. I’m in no way complaining or suggesting I don’t have it pretty good.

BUT. When I look at what I have done and what I want to do, there is a noticeable gap in a few areas. I’m at a six or seven on a ten-point scale, but I want to be at 11.

So, if I want to be awesome, there are only three steps: 1. Get clear on what optimal success looks like for me; 2. create a plan; and 3. take consistent action. As Dan Waldschmidt points out: It’s on you to be awesome. And that’s the key to it all. No one is going to be awesome for me.

If I Die Today, It Will Be Too Soon

She never saw it coming but was likely dead within seconds. It was no one’s fault. No irresponsibility or neglect. Just an accident. Just bad luck. Wrong place at the wrong time. A few seconds’ difference and she would have been simply scared or hurt, not dead.

As far as dying goes, it was about as good as one could hope for: nearly instant and never saw it coming. As far as the death of a child goes, it was hard to take. No one to blame, no bad intent, no mistakes made. Nothing anyone could have done different. One second happy, the next second dead. No answers, only questions.

***     ***     ***

I carry an oversized coin in my pocket as a reminder my time is limited. On one side it reads, “Memento Mori” which translates to “remember death,” or “remember you will die”. On the back is a quote form Marcus Aurelius: “You could leave life right now.”

Face it. We’re dead. You, me, everyone. We just don’t know it yet.  Weirdly, that’s not pessimistic or fatalistic or even just negative. That’s just the reality. I find the potential of what we can do with that reality inspiring.

***     ***     ***

I had a medical scare once. I was 31. Some symptoms sent me to the doctor. It looked bad. As in, “hug your loved ones and say goodbye” bad. I was so worried I didn’t tell anyone, not even my wife. It took three days to get the test results back. Three very lonely days with a lot of time to think about things. To think about things we don’t normally think about.

At the time, I was working for my mentor, who was an absolute rock star in his field, and had been for decades. I enjoyed working with him, learned new things daily, had responsibilities beyond my experience, earned a great living, and I walked away from it. What happened?

It turned out to be nothing, but during those three days I asked myself, “What if this is it? What if I only have months? Have I done enough?” The answer was a clear “NO!”.

I needed to do more, to have a bigger impact, to change lives.

The first life I changed was mine. I changed locations, changed careers, and had a bigger impact.

But then time passed and I forgot I am going to die.

***     ***     ***

My father died a year and a half ago. Lymphoma, likely caused by exposure to Agent Orange, destroyed him. He had started slowing down several years prior but no one was surprised. He was getting old and still outworking everyone around him. It all had to catch up some time.

Then it was a lot of trips to the doctors. No one really knew what was wrong, but he required frequent transfusions. He felt fine, other than he’d die without fresh blood. Eventually, more tests revealed the truth.

He called me a week before Thanksgiving to tell me he was dying. His doctor gave him no more than three months to live. As hard as that call was to receive, I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it was to make.

He made it to January 30. The best/worst moment of my life was being there for him when his contribution to the world stopped.

***     ***     ***

I don’t think we humans really understand our mortality. I don’t think we’re wired for it. We’re programmed to survive and, paradoxically, it’s hard to survive if you fear death. Without hope, without vision, we give up. We have to believe we’ll keep living or we’d never get out of bed.

But the downside of that is we are blinded to our mortality. We live in denial. We understand death on an intellectual level, but few of us get it on the emotional, Truth-with-a-capital-T level.

If we did we’d worry more about our effort, our contribution, our legacy. We’d spend less time watching reality TV and more time maximizing our reality. Less time muting our emotions and more time turning the volume on our lives up to 11. Less time enjoying distractions and more time realizing our purpose.

We say our lives matter, that our legacy is important, that we care deeply about our contribution, but the Truth of our priorities lies in what we spend our time on.

***     ***     ***

There is a funeral today for a little girl whose potential will never be realized. Her opportunity to make a difference ended the moment she died. That’s hard to think about, let alone write. It feels mean to type that sentence, but I’m not disparaging her. Her passing doesn’t negate who she was or the love she had for her family and friends. It’s just the reality that whatever contribution she was going to make to the world ended in that moment. And that moment came too soon.

My father died with untapped potential. Wickedly smart and deeply human, he left with too few benefiting from his wisdom and compassion. That’s hard to think about, let alone write. It feels mean to type that sentence, but I’m not disparaging him. His passing didn’t negate who he was or the love he had for his family and friends. It’s just the reality that whatever contribution he was going to make to the world ended in that moment. And that moment came too soon.

There will be a funeral for me someday. Today, tomorrow, thirty or fifty years from now, I don’t know. My passing won’t negate who I was or the love I had for my family and friends. It’s just the reality that whatever contribution I was going to make to the world will end in that moment. And that moment will come too soon.

Whether I will die or not is not even a question.

The real question is: what will I do before I die? How will the world have been better for my being here?

The clock is ticking. I better keep moving.