The Benefits of Beginning

Having a discussion with a friend and colleague today she said something I think we all feel.

“I like trying new things, but I hate being a beginner.”

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Does that resonate with you? It does for me, but as much as I don’t like the beginner stage and I want to start everything I try at expert stage – I continue to begin again on something new often.

For me, this is part of why I like travel so much, I get the chance every time I arrive at a new location to have the childlike wonder where everything is new.  This part is cool, but until I learn a place, I get lost, turned around and can’t find what I need right away. Things take longer for me because of the unfamiliarity and I risk looking like a fool (have you heard my Spanish?)

Here is the thing though, if we don’t step out into what we do not know, we stop growing. One of the dangers of not stepping into something new is that because of familiarity we miss some pretty cool stuff.

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When I begin something new my awareness is heightened both in how I’m doing the new thing and how it’s being received. I want to do it well and I pay close attention to each step of what I’m doing because it’s unfamiliar to me. My awareness is heightened to a level not seen in what is commonplace for me and I see and witness things that might be otherwise overlooked if I was doing something routine.

Remember learning to drive? Remember when going 5 mph felt like you were flying?  You noticed everything, where your hands were on the steering wheel (was that only my Dad?) where you were focused, the speedometer and the rearview mirror. Do you even notice any more when you pass 70mph unless there is a cop around?

This is what happens when we stop putting ourselves into new situations. Things become routine and habits are formed (good or bad) and life goes a bit into autopilot which to me is existing, not living. It becomes so natural to not pay close attention and do multiple routine things at the same time. When we are in an habitual mode we fail to notice some of the beauty around us and we might even take some things for granted that are precious to us. We definitely miss a lot because we are not paying close attention.

The discomfort of doing something new gives us the opportunity to examine things around us much more closely and be focused on our interaction with them. We are naturally more present in a new environment or when doing something new to us.

In the newness of a process or location we are also at our most vulnerable which encourages interaction with others. Those whom we may have overlooked or not made time for become a necessary connection for continued learning or growth in the new process.

As technology continues to take us away from our natural world and we need to relearn how to “be present” I can think of no better way than to start something new.

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What could you become a beginner at today? Have you always wanted to play guitar, or sing, or learn a language?

There is so much to be gained by continually becoming a beginner, so as we move into Spring, I ask you, what will you begin next?

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Max Bet Living

 

“Big money, c’mon big money!” my daughter chants, sharing my excitement as the number continue to increase on the slot machine I’m playing.

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Then I remind her, this is the penny slots and we both laugh and continue with excitement.

Going after your dreams is a lot like gambling. There is risk involved, you may put a whole lot of time in a get nothing for it but a very expensive “free drink” or you may hit big. Sure there is skill involved, no doubt in that. There are many factors that go into success; here we’ll talk about only one today.

I go to the casino’s about once a year. I’m not a gambler and I’m not good at it really, but it’s fun for a few hours a year. My brother-in-law also goes on my annual visit and out of everyone on the trip, he’s usually the big winner.

When asked what his strategy is, he said, “I always play max bet.”

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Now here is the story of my life, and maybe yours too. My “max bet” has never been able to be the max bet of the machine or other people. I have been limited in my bet because I was scared of losing. It could be a VERY short night for me if the gamble doesn’t pay off. The other thing is, a “max bet” is limited by what you have availabl

This is kind of how life works, and when I talk with people about following their heart or going after their dreams, I get the impression they are like me in a casino.

There are a few things though – 1, you can’t win if you don’t get in the game; 2 start where you are with what you have; and 3 courage is also part of the equation.

Now I’m not sending you to the casino, don’t get me wrong, but I am asking you, are you courageous enough to place your max bet?

I have been showing up to roles I was just a bit under qualified to do and pushing myself to meet the requirements. I have been putting myself in situations where I knew I couldn’t execute perfectly, but needed to try. I have taken risks with my life to sit at the tables of big rollers and I have learned so much by simply being at the table.

Little by little I have been able to move upwards, only by stepping up and showing up with all the possibility that might be and trying my hardest to not only stay in the game but to win.

My “max bet” continues to be able to increase, the tables I continue to request a seat at get bigger and the rewards are greater. Sometimes I lose the bet, it’s true, but what I learn from showing up at the table and playing my hand the best I can is a huge win in my book.

You see, I am running my business and I try things all the time. These are some of the things I bet on, I create programs, create events, write and speak. At times I get amazing responses, other times…not so much. So I learn what I can and move on to the next thing – that’s it. I’m not suggesting you bet the house, just put up a bet that says I believe in myself (to the max).

You see, in my opinion, the only way for me to win and hit that jackpot is to have the courage to keep showing up to play at whatever level I can. I don’t wait for perfection, I sure as hell don’t wait for an invitation or permission, I don’t allow self-talk to stop me, I move forward, see what works and adjust from there.

So whether you’re still at the penny slots or have advanced to the tables, I encourage you to place your max bet.

My money’s on you!  C’mon, big money, big money!

-E

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10 Critical Items for the Digital Nomad and Location Independent Worker

cropped-gwmhzsxtfet8v2u16d2l_hero-imageThis is not my usual type of post but I have been a digital nomad for years now and it is different than being a traveler with different requirements. Many people have asked my advice about what things I feel are “must haves” for this lifestyle – here are my top 10 picks.

Do you dream of working online and having no restrictions to where you can call home at any time? Do you dream of traveling to different locations to experience their culture without the restrictions of PTO or days out of the office?

If you are dreaming of becoming, or are a digital nomad or location independent worker I have some important tips from the road.  Whether you adopt this lifestyle for a lifetime or simply several months a year, there are some “tools of the trade” that warrant the coveted space in your luggage. Sorry fashion forward travelers, you will have to forgo your shoe collection for these items.

There is a difference between tourist and digital nomad and therefor what to bring on a trip versus what to have for a lifestyle are different as well. As a tourist, if you can’t get internet on a day, you can work around it, as someone who relies on it for their income, it’s a whole different ballgame. This is a list for those who make their living while traveling.

This is my list of the top 10 most important items for a successful location independent lifestyle:

  1. Surge Protector– there are many locations around the world for which power is inconsistent at best. Your most valuable possessions are likely electronic and thus need recharging. Stay protected against power surges that can fry your equipment by always having this between an outlet and your devices. I like this Belkin Surgeplus because it contains both electric and usb outlets, has a rotating plug and is super compact for packing.
  2. Multi-Current Converter and Adaptor– When traveling to different countries I’ve had little pouches with all different plugs. I have since ditched those since pieces can get lost and have an integrated unit that handles every possible country I’m likely to visit. This unit from TryAce acts as both an adapter and a converter. So those of you that travel with hair appliances or juicers can use it to still run your devices without smoking them up. Compact, multi purpose is all what this lifestyle needs!
  3. Warm Coat – It is inevitable that you will find yourself in cooler climates throughout your travels. Having a warm coat is priceless, however they often take up a lot of real estate in your luggage! This option from NorthFace for women and this for men is water resistant, insulated and packs into it’s own hand pocket making it a trifecta win for the location independent traveler.
  4. Daypack – There will be times you get caught in a rain shower or want to go on an adventure in one of the places you land. You can certainly get a backpack that has a rain cover – but let’s be honest, will you have it on hand during that pop up rain shower? Are you likely to be a bit more adventurous and need it for water activities? I recommend having a fully waterproof and durable daypack like this one by Vitchelo the trick to managing this lifestyle is to have multipurpose items and this lightweight daypack will protect your valuables from water damage all while serving as a regular back pack.
  5. Noise Cancelling Headphones– There will be days that you feel like these are the best thing on the planet! You may be sitting that one row in front of the crying baby on a plane or happened to accidentally book the airbnb next to the train station but noise cancelling headphones are the BFF for a location independent traveler. You can get the over ear ones which compact into a small case or the tiny, space saving ear buds. One way or another make sure you have them, you will be grateful one day!
  6. Compact Raincoat– This need goes without saying, I’m sure. You can definitely carry one of those lovely plastic ponchos with you or you can spring for a compact packable wind and waterproof jacket for yourself like this one for women and this one for men.
  7. Electronic Reading Devicekindle, iPad, surface– whichever you fancy but you will want to read at some point and carrying books as a traveler is weight you cannot add to your luggage. These devices allow you to keep your laptop safely stowed and can be used from plane boarding until deplaning without the evil eye from the flight attendants! Additionally, I have my iPad as a back up option for some of my most important programs in the terrible event something happens to my laptop. You’ll not lose by adding this piece of electronics to your gear.
  8. Luggage– This is your life you are carrying around in these bags. You need to be sure you have the most sturdy and best product to hold what possessions you have decided to take on your journey. I am a huge fan of Osprey products as are many of my nomad friends. My gear is a Osprey Shuttle however I think the Osprey Sojurn would have been a better fit for me. Regardless of what suits you, it makes sense to buy quality here – and do yourself a favor, do not get black luggage!
  9. VPN (Virtual Private Network)– As a location independent person and traveler, you will spend time in airports, coffee shops hotels and various shared network locations where you are not secure to do the day-to-day things like pay your bills or transfer funds in your financial accounts. Having access to a secure network has more benefits than watching shows blocked in the country you’re visiting (although that is a feature!) it provides you protection for your data. The Butterfly is the most compact and portable VPN I’ve seen on the market and well worth the money for sure.
  10. HotspotSky Roam Solis– Since you will rely completely on your internet connection, this is a key element for your tool chest. You will find yourself occasionally at a fabulous location that has intermittent power outages, or their idea of reliable internet is not yours. If you are continually telling clients you cannot connect online because of a power outage which took all the routers down in your fab location. This tool is not for a daily use, it is a great disaster recovery system for a day use from time to time.

So there you have it, 10 tools I believe every remote worker, location independent business person or digital nomad should make space in their luggage for.

Note – yes, there are affiliate links in this post, this will not add any cost to the items but I will receive a small credit for anything you may choose to purchase – so it helps a fellow traveler out!

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Sleeping With A Mosquito

I am reminded of the quote attributed to The Dalai Lama, which says,

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

For my purpose I would like to just focus on the size of something that can make a big impact. Such as trying to sleep with a mosquito buzzing around you.

We have all had one of these nights, where we actually end up boxing our own ears in an attempt to finally have some peace. The mosquito is a very small and insignificant insect on its own. It is only when it comes into contact with you that it has any impact to you at all.

Impact Matters

There are so many things in our lives that get overlooked because of their size or effort but ultimately are of great importance when they make contact.

Take for instance a smile of acknowledgment. The number one sadness I hear from people who are living on the streets is the lack of acknowledgement that they are human.

I have worked with people in various states of poverty for many years and have come across them in a multitude of countries and level of need. A smile, which by itself is simply not much can mean the world to a person who doesn’t feel seen, it is acknowledgement of existence. A smile means little until it is received by someone and then, there is no telling how big of a difference it could make for someone regardless of their situation.

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The Best Way To Upset Your Life Coach

Now I’m going to take this a bit further and more personal.

I work with people who on many occasions have shared with me that they are having trouble in their relationships. (Note – I am NOT a relationship counselor, please don’t ask!) I hear the phrase, “I love him/her, I’m just not in lovewith him/her anymore.” I hear this often enough to address it here because, I’m going to be honest with you, the comment pisses me off!

I feel like we’ve been sold a lot of goods from Hollywood and Disney to give some glamorous picture of love being pure bliss and sexual attraction at every moment. I call BS on that.

Love Is Not A Hole

Love takes work, it takes time and it takes attention. It is not something to be fallen into, a hole is what you fall into, love is actually cultivated.

I recently watched a conversation between Simon Sinek and Tom Bilyeu where Simon asks Tom, “Do you love your wife?”

Of course Tom replies, “yes”

Simon goes on to ask when did he know he loved his wife? What was the moment or day, it wasn’t when you met, which number date?

The Blueprint

You see, one doesn’t fall, one builds love through acts of kindness, compassion and attention. It is the small things of courtship that create love and it is those very small acts that get tossed aside for various reasons at some point along the relationships that suffer the most.

Of course there are the kids, the job, the Grand Pubah club, football on Sundays and girls nights on Fridays. Whatever the schedule is filled with between the familiarity that comes with time and exhaustion that comes with our busy and distracted lives, those small loving gestures disappear. But they’re small, so no big deal right?

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I’m Calling BS!

So when I hear that someone claims to have “fallen out of love” I call BS. You climbed out of love! You stopped giving attention when your partner was talking to you, you stopped making the other person feel they were prime importance in your life, you have stopped committing to cultivating love. Maybe you expect the work is done once the “fall “ has happened – but I’m here to tell you the Hollywood script is getting a rewrite.

I’m no expert in love but I have been in enough relationships to know when the magic is gone it is usually because the attention is gone. Those small details like realizing even though you think you understand what your partner is saying, they are still upset so maybe you should ask more questions. Or maybe your partner is seeming mad because you want to go out without them again which makes them feel they are not important. Contrary to popular belief, no one really likes to nag!

There are a million scenarios I could go through, but hopefully I’ve got you thinking of your own right now.

Love Is A Verb

Whether you are dating, married, in a committed relationship or looking to be, I ask you to not wait for some baby with an arrow to make things happen, commit to being love. Love is an act and it is often found in the small gestures that might be seemingly unimportant but can make a huge impact when received.

What can you do as an act of love to your partner, a friend or even a stranger today to be love?

If we all think a little more about how much that mosquito impacts us, we might realize the size of a gesture has little to do with the impact.

So go, be love today.

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Go Big By Going Home

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We’re at the beginning of a brand new year.

Everything is shiny and new and full of promise.

As we go big into our dreams and goals for the coming year I remind you (and myself) to also be present to home.

Home Is

Home is you, in all your glory. Home is where you are authentically you – no make up, hair messy and in your yoga or sweat pants – in all your glorious self without anything to prove or anyone to please.

Have you spent much time with that you?  Do you understand clearly all your cool features and talents? Are you leaving that you buttoned up in case it doesn’t fit into the world outside home?  Are you afraid that not everyone will find your uniqueness as cool as you do?

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So many goals and resolutions for the new year are focused on “reinventing” oneself or becoming a “new and improved” version of ourselves.

What if we recognized that we are pretty damn good just the way we are already?

What if we did not need to remake ourselves and instead decided to be courageous enough to share our authentic selves?

Authentic You, Authentic Goals

Our goals change focus when we do this. By discovering more of ourselves and being willing to share our unique qualities, we reach for more authentic goals. Instead of goals or standards set by society or some commercial that told us what we need to be “happy” or “better”, how about this year we follow what our unique DNA craves?

I am suggesting we make this year, not about reinventing ourselves, not changing ourselves because there is nothing wrong with us nor do we require a new version of ourselves. This year is about embracing ourselves in our truth, revealing instead of reinventing.

Knowing your heart and following it is not the easiest thing in the world (boy do I know this) however after years of trying not to listen to my heart, I can tell you it is the biggest gift I have given to myself and therefor to others.

Let Your Light Shine

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We are each pretty awesome and to know and feel that brings a whole different energy forward to everything we do. I’m not saying to be arrogant, however to live in a way that is aligned with what our values and hearts desire lights people up in a way that is noticeable, and that is pretty awesome in my book!

By going home to know ourselves fully we can then show up in the world BIG and share the gifts we have because we understand what they are and where they fit in to the world we live in. Let this year be the one we spend time fully understanding our thoughts, beliefs and who we truly are at home and be brave enough to share ourselves.

As we stand before a bright new year, remember, we are enough (actually, we’re pretty awesome) exactly as we are leaving 2018. We may have goals and achievements we desire for the year, but only by staying true to ourselves will those goals be worthy of our time and effort and become valuable gifts to those around us.

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Valuable Time

We arrive in December each year and remark how fast time slips away.IMG_5922.JPG

I hear often, “it felt like only yesterday we were celebrating New Years Eve!”

So as you reflect over the year that has passed and plan for the year ahead, I’d like you to add something to this exercise. I encourage you to take this opportunity to consider what I call value-based living.

This is a missing component to many people’s reflections I’ve found. I believe it is an essential step to making the most of your time.

What is Value-Based Living?

Value-based living is exactly as it states, living your life by your values. Many of us believe we do this, however upon deeper reflection there is often room for improvement.

I remember growing up hearing the saying that dust bunnies were ok if you had happy children.

The point is that so many of us spend a huge amount of time at work or chasing something that when all is said and done, is not part of our value system.  If you spend all day chasing your kids out of the house so you can clean it and keep it clean and your family is where your values lie….

Can Values-Based Living & Reality Co-Exist?

But E, you say, money is not where my values lie, but I’ve got to make money to live!

I do know this, and yes, you can have a values-based life and make money. The key is to know your values both individually and as a family if you are part of one. In this situation it is more about how much money you “need” to live your values.

The reason this is key is that it gives you a touchstone.

A Fishing Story

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There is a story I love that talks about this perfectly. A fisherman with a small boat went out every day to fish. He would come in from a few hours on the ocean and sell his fish at the local market and go home with some money.

A businessman met him one day and asked him why he didn’t have more fish? The fisherman replied, I have a small boat and this is what I can bring in.

Well, the businessman said, feeling very smug, “Why not get a bigger boat then you can catch more fish and make more money?”

The fisherman thought for a moment and replied, but then I would have to stay out longer and I wouldn’t get to bring my children to school and spend the day with my wife.

The businessman went on to explain the merits of a business plan to catch more fish, make more money, and in the future expand his business and then hire others to do the work and make lots of money.

The fisherman contemplated the plan and said, so when I expand my business and hire other people then I can be home to walk my children to school and spend the day with my wife?

Smiling, he walked away to go home to be with his family with the money he had earned in his pocket.

THIS is values-based living.

I find so many people get caught up chasing things that are not important to them at the expense of things that really are.

It’s no one’s fault, each day we are bombarded, pinged and flashed with things we’re being told are important to us. After a while it is hard to remember that we know in our heart what deserves our time and attention.

I have been through this myself, which is why I can talk about it and how I actually developed this philosophy of values-based living.

I found that the closer I live to my values, the happier I become. I have incorporated this into my work with others and regularly ask them to really think deeply about their values when they are considering a change in their life.

Making Your Time Count

imagesI haven’t found the cure to slowing down time. What I have discovered is that when you consciously match how you spend your hours, days and months to what is truly important to you, your time feels expanded.

I encourage you today to sit down and really think about what you value. Once you have your list as long or as short as it is, I ask you to consider the year that just passed. Did you spend your days in concert or conflict with your values?

Where you find your gaps is where change will bring the most fulfillment and happiness.