Archive | November 2016

Are you Authentic and Fulfilled?

Authenticity:

    In all the reading and studying I have done to learn how to reach my dreams and goals in life, there is a theme that we should find someone that is living the life that we want and then we should copy them . This is generally presented as copying success, and it is a sure path to living an unfulfilling life. So why is it presented as a great idea?

    The reason that it is presented as a great idea to reach success is that is does produce results. By copying the actions of someone who is successful, you are following a path that has proven to get to a certain point, though you will find it won’t get you where that person you are modeling is at. So, as with many things in our culture today, it is an easy, quick fix for people to use to see results along their way to their dreams. In that regard, it can be a very good motivational technique, but it isn’t going to create a life that is fulfilling for you, even if it does produce a life that is successful on paper.

    The actuality of it, is that those people we are aimed at modeling are where they are not only because of their strategies and techniques, but also because of their passions. It is their passion for what they are doing that really drives them and creates their success. Since their passion is not my passion, I can emulate some of that success, but I can never reach the fulfilling life that they have. I might get a life I find better than the one I am living now, but that life has very little chance of actually being fulfilling because I am following someone else’s passion instead of my own and I haven’t learned how to produce results with my own passion as I have just walked a predetermined path. I will find myself in a trap that looks good, but it stifling, a gilded cage.

    The real key and lesson from this is to study those people that you would have modeled. Learn what they do, how they do it and why they do it. This will give you vast insights into the actual reason that they are successful and happy in their lives, the methods they use to live a fulfilling life. That study is going to give you the tools needed to follow your path to a fulfilling life. Instead of adopting someone else’s passion, you can use the tools you learn to follow your own passion and reach the levels of success that you see in those models. This will result in living a life that is not only successful, but also fulfilling.

    Anybody can copy the actions of someone else and, if they do it well, can achieve similar results as the person that they are copying. It is a rare and driven person that sees someone and attempts to learn the how and the why of that person and where that person is and then applies those traits to their own dreams and passions. The first set of people is those that we see in big houses with nice cars and bad tempers and unfulfilling lives. The second set of people is those that we see indulging in their lives, those people that have a soul deep smile even in the worst times in life. I don’t know about you, but I will be the second sort of person. And maybe I can even be a model for you.

Doing it Right

Fear Means You Are Doing it Right:

    Plan and simple, striving for our dreams is a terrifying prospect. There is a strange dichotomy that most people seem to grow up with. On one had we are taught that anyone can be anything, that the American dream is real and everyone can go from rags to riches. These are the folktales that we are raised with. On the other hand, the training we get in life tells us that we need to accept our place in life and that our genes, talents or intelligence will only get us so far and we need to be realistic about that in our lives. There is a terrible word “realistic”. It supposedly means that we should see the world for what it is and base our decisions off of that data. Yet reality is what we perceive it, so being realistic is just a convenient way of telling people not to see the possibilities in the world that they can create through their own perception of the world.

    This training that we have been indoctrinated in means that as we learn to step outside of that box, there is going to be fear. Fear is a natural part of human existence and happens in everyone when facing the unknown. Even the bravest people in our stories and movies are afraid of the unknown, yet they push forward anyways, just as we need to learn to do. Bravery is not the absence of fear. In fact the absence of fear is insanity. Bravery is feeling that fear and moving forward anyways. We can all be brave, that is a matter of choice and having a Why that drives us harder than the fear can hold us back. What we need to understand is that the fear is natural and is actually a sign that we are on the right track in this road. If we were not afraid, then we would just be living in the box that has been prescribed for us. There would be nothing new or exciting to happen, everything safe and boring. The fear is a sign that we are stepping outside that box and moving along the path to a future that is more amazing than the present we are living in. That fear needs to become an addiction, something we seek out so that we can be certain we are on the right path.

    Today is the day that we need to become brave and seek out those things that we fear. In fact, take a trick my wife uses everyday and try it out for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your life. Every day, xiaoyi does three things that scare her. Maybe it is calling a friend to talk about an opportunity to or contacting an organization she wishes to teach at. Every day, three things that scare her. This drives her to do those things that are our side her box and therefore in that realm of wonder we want to live in. The funny thing I was witnessed in her is that the scary things she does one day become the normal things she does a month down the line, so she is constantly striving to find more scary things to do.

    Fear is the mile marker on our journey. It is time to get a few more miles under our belt on our road to our dreams.

Another Way to be Grateful-Collecting Fulfilment

Collecting Fulfillment:

    Many people look at collecting things such as stamps or comics books as an obsession for material things, as a drive to satisfy the drive inside us with the act of owning something. For me it is far from that idea, from that image of a hoarder or of someone obsessed. Instead collecting is an act of love and a path towards living a fulfilling life. For me, collecting my miniatures is as important as collecting good friends, they sources of boundless enjoyment and time spent in the passions of my life.

    My collection is war gaming miniatures. These are little figures of real or fantasy/science fiction character that can be used in a large game with those friends I also enjoy collecting. The collection is just  a part of the overall hobby the features prominently in my day to day life, they are a source for my time and passion and as such they bring my life a peace and fulfillment that is rare in today’s world. Just collecting these figures isn’t all there is to it. The next step is to actually take the time and effort to paint them up and then the act of playing a game with my friends. They are an entire hobby that takes the act of collecting these items into the beginning of a joyful journey with them.

    The time that I spend on this hobby, from the time spent seeking just the right addition to the collection, to the painting and the gaming is time that takes me away from the stresses and hardships of life. It allows me to delve into a world of wonder and adventure that brings a smile to my face and a contentment to my soul. That time is an oasis of calm and tranquility that keeps me happy and healthy as I move through this chaotic world. The hobby even gives me respites of joy in the middle of the bustle of any day as I take a little time to think about the next piece that I will be searching for, or the next piece that I get to paint up. These are moments that remind me of the joys in life and that the stresses of the now are transient and will be replaced with the joys soon enough.  Finally, this hobby allows me to share this love and passion with those closest to me as we gather to share the hobby and strengthen the friendships in our lives. It changes collecting from an escape from the world into active change to that world, a catalyst to bring that personal joy and peace into the rest of my life and the lives of those I share this with and care about.

The collection serves as a reminder of the good things in life, the positives that can become hard to see from time to time in life.  It is a symbol of the wonderful life that I choose to live in rather than let myself drown in the hardships that life can bring. Those little miniatures with their bright paint are an army of passion and joy that drives out the pain and woe that life tries to bring to me. That is the real key to collecting, it is a contact source of happiness that is always there to remind us that life is something to love and embrace instead of something filled with fear and pain. Those collections are a powerful symbol for the fulfilling life collectors like me live.

 

-Dominic Drake

The best ways to be productive

The Illusion of Productivity

    We have been taught a fallacy in our lives. We have been taught that being busy is being productive. This could not be farther from the truth, but it is a conception that we have been instilled with and that follows us around wherever we go. Think about a job you might have or have had where you got reprimanded for not doing anything? Chances are, you had either already done everything that was on your plate or you were formulating a plan or strategy for getting those things done, but since you didn’t look like you were working furiously, the assumption was that you were not working. It happens all the time where I work. It has gotten to the point where I do twice as much actual work as anyone in the office and still get called on not being busy sometimes even though the higher ups know how much I actually do. The reason is because I am productive, not busy and that is a skill that might get us in trouble at a nine to five, but will be golden as we follow our path to our dreams and our own financial freedom through entrepreneurship.

    When we actually think about those big and important projects in life, they are not tackled by diving in and getting moving. Instead they are tackled by taking the time and energy to think and research on the project, to formulate a well thought plan and then enact that plan. The reality is that both of these methods will be the project done in around the same amount of time because the dive in method is full of wrong turns and mistakes that need to be corrected. When all’s said and done, the dive in method is also far more likely to end up faulty or way off base.

    A good correlation can be drawn from this to the way that we live our lives and approach our dreams. We have discussed the importance of setting goals and making plans on how to reach those goals. This is so that we can maintain the path that we want to get where we want to be. Our approach to productivity should be no different. We should seek to pinpoint the goal and create a plan on how to reach that. Once we have the plan, it is just a matter of enacting that plan and making small course corrections on the way. Diving in and looking busy on a project is more akin to letting the world make our decisions on our life for us. It is subject to the whims and vagaries of the situation more than it is on actually striving to reach the goal. We may look busy, but in reality we are just floundering in the dark.    

    Today, take the time to look at the problem that is facing you and to understand it and the underlying issues at hand. Take the time to see the solutions that you want to then formulate a plan on how to get there. Once you have done that, then dive in and enact the plan, but take that step back and think of it before getting in the midst of the project. I know what I find every time I do so, please share your findings with us in the comments below!

More than just a day

Here is the US, this week and month have been focused on our holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a time in our lives where we strive to remain focused on those things in our lives that we are grateful for and reaffirm our ideals of family and connection. It is a time of joy and stress all rolled into a chaotic ball of emotions and obligations. To me, it is a farce. I firmly believe that if you are only thinking about the things that you are grateful for, for one dear, one week or one month out of the entire year, you are making your life a darker and sadder place. This is an activity that should be developed and practiced all year long and at every opportunity. Thanksgiving should be every day, not just once a year.
So it is time to make that the case in our own lives, it is time to step forward and express our gratitude for those things in life that bring us joy and it is time to do this over and over again throughout the year. The first step is to change our mindset during the course of the year. During this month, we focus on those things that bring us joy, but that mindset is not limited to this month of the year; it is something that we can take with us every day. The way that I do this is that I keep a gratitude log, a book where I sit down every day and focus on those things in my life that bring me joy, that I am grateful for and I write them down to make the physical and give them that additional strength.
The next step is the hard part for many of us. We need to learn to express that gratitude that we are cultivating and let those around us know about it. Do you love the way your wife has a cup of coffee ready for you each morning, express that gratitude to her whether is it Thanksgiving or a Tuesday in June. It is important to take these steps in our lives and it makes the world around us just a little better as we share our gratitude mindset with those we love. Doing this on a constant basis also makes the impact real and lasting. If you tell someone how grateful you are for what they do for you once a year, when the season predicates it, then the sentiment can be passed off as just a season obligation. If you do it on a constant basis over the year with real feeling and vulnerability, then it will become real to the person you are grateful for and will improve their lives.
Finally, this mindset will keep you looking for those great things in your life instead of seeing the negative and damaging things. You will see the world in a light that amplifies those wonders and joys instead of relegating them to a footnote in your day. It will change your outlook on life in profound ways.
So take some time today and find out what you are grateful for and share it with us in the comments. Spread that joy that you feel and let the world become a better place even by just a little bit.

Fire for growth

Time for a Flash Fire:

    When we watch the news or have it shared with us, we feel a shiver of fear or sorrow when we hear about a forest fire. We think of the majestic forest ravaged by the flames, the lose that those in its path suffer, but what we don’t see it what a grand and amazing thing that blaze is actually doing. Forest becomes overgrown at time and large, majestic trees die and leave their bones in the way choking out other life that is struggling to thrive. The simple fact is that a forest fire, though devastating, is also a source of massive renewal for the forest. It clears away all the dead trees and choking underbrush so that a new generation of trees and life can grow and thrive, renewing the forest and creating beauty and even more majestic scenes than there used to be.

    Humans are no different from the forest, as our lives keep going we have things in our lives that are there for no other reason than they used to be there. They serve no real purpose in our current lives and are there taking up our resources with our giving back any value for us. We, like the forest, need to start a fire and scorch away those things in our lives that no longer serve us, be they relationships that are one sided or have run their course or projects that are nothing but a drain anymore. These things in our lives served a purpose at one time or another and brought value into our lives at that point. Yet, as we grow and expand life the forest, those things can die and become burdens to us, sapping the resources we need for new life without enriching our lives.

    So we have to start a fire in our lives, we need to find those things that are a drain and no longer of value in our lives and make a change. There can be several ways to revitalize the forest of our lives. Once we have found one of those giant dead trees that is sapping us, we can do a couple things. We can clear it away and get rid of it from our lives, let the fire of our dreams and our journey consume it and free that space and energy for new growth, or we can revitalize it. Find some way to let the fires of change consume it and turn it into something that bring energy and passion back into your life. This could be as simple as falling in love with it again or it can be restructuring that thing to make it more vibrant and effective. For example, I play war games and build and paint the models for them. A year ago, I would have told you that those items were just taking up space on my shelf, but recently, I let the fires of passion transform that aspect of my life into something new and vibrant. I am once again getting great returns on what was an old, dead tree in my life. We don’t have to remove the dead growth in our lives, but it does have to change and start to serve us again or it is just choking off the new live.

    So it is time to start a personal forest fire and feed the withering and dead projects and ideas in our lives to it. It is time to free up that space in our lives to indulge in those things that bring values and passion into our lives.

Following your Passions

Follow Your Passion:

    The world has changed. The ease in which we can get information and to reach other people has made the world a very different place than it was ten or twenty years ago. This change has made a world where we can all actually follow our passions rather than finding some way to survive through life. We can now learn to thrive instead of just survive and we should all take the steps to achieve that goal.

    For many people, this means finding a way to work for themselves and make their own way in the world. These people don’t want to be tied to a job that is defined by others and regulated in what they can do, how they should do it and when they should do it. People are taking advantage of this change in the world to break free of those constraints and define their own work and their own lives. Yet there are still a massive number of people that do not make that break and still follow an outdated form of surviving in this world. Today is the day that we take the first step to remove ourselves from those masses and walk the path to become free.

    There are a couple challenges that we will face as we first step out onto that road. The biggest is going to be our own fear and it will come in one of two flavors generally. Either we will be afraid of failure or we will be afraid of success. If we are afraid of failure, that is just a matter of shifting our mindset and realizing an important thing, everyone successful that we look up to have failed at some point. Failure is not a source of pain and ridicule; rather it is a source of learning and growth that will let us succeed in the futures. By taking that truth to heart, we can overcome our fear of failure and turn it into an anticipation of growth. The other fear, the fear of success, is one that our culture trains into us. We have been trained that those people that are successful are somehow inhuman, that they have no empathy or compassion. This is just false; most of them give back to their communities and the world in ways that most can only dream of. We need to just swallow this fear and push ahead. We will learn when we are successful that this fear was nothing to be afraid of in the first place, but it is going to take an active effort to ignore that fear until it is proven false.

    The next challenge we will face and the most important to understand as we become free of the past world is to understand and follow our passion. We have already discovered our Why, the reason that we want to be free, but we not have the chance and choice to fulfill our Why in a way that is massively fulfilling for us. We can find the things that bring us the greatest joys in life and turn that into a livelihood and path to obtain our Why. The modern world has freed us from the old constraints that might have stopped us from following our passion so it is our challenge to find the method to follow our passion that is most fulfilling to us.

    For me, I love to write. I love to sit down and create stories and worlds from the images in my mind or to share the knowledge and experiences that have shaped me and will shape me in the future. I get to follow that passion every day now and my life has improved immeasurable for that change. Even simply writing for you each day and sharing here has helped make my life more fulfilling.

    It is time to overcome your fears and to find your passion. Today is the day that you can start on the path to become truly free from the shackles of an old world and make your way into the dawn of a new world. I’ll see you there and take joy in the path you take, so please share it with me and the world and if you need advice or support in learning how to follow your passions, reach out to us here at With The Drakes and xiaoyi and I will be delighted to help you.

-Dominic

Life’s too short to have bad days. What are you doing to make today Fantastic?

Is it scary? If so you might be on the right path

Fear Means You Are Doing it Right:

    Plan and simple, striving for our dreams is a terrifying prospect. There is a strange dichotomy that most people seem to grow up with. On one had we are taught that anyone can be anything, that the American dream is real and everyone can go from rags to riches. These are the folktales that we are raised with. On the other hand, the training we get in life tells us that we need to accept our place in life and that our genes, talents or intelligence will only get us so far and we need to be realistic about that in our lives. There is a terrible word “realistic”. It supposedly means that we should see the world for what it is and base our decisions off of that data. Yet reality is what we perceive it, so being realistic is just a convenient way of telling people not to see the possibilities in the world that they can create through their own perception of the world.

    This training that we have been indoctrinated in means that as we learn to step outside of that box, there is going to be fear. Fear is a natural part of human existence and happens in everyone when facing the unknown. Even the bravest people in our stories and movies are afraid of the unknown, yet they push forward anyways, just as we need to learn to do. Bravery is not the absence of fear. In fact the absence of fear is insanity, but rather bravery is feeling that fear and moving forward anyways. We can all be brave, that is a matter of choice and having a Why that drives us harder than the fear can hold us back. What we need to understand is that the fear is natural and is actually a sign that we are on the right track in this road. If we were not afraid, then we would just be living in the box that has been prescribed for us. There would be nothing new or exciting to happen, everything safe and boring. The fear is a sign that we are stepping outside that box and moving along the path to a future that is more amazing than the present we are living in. That fear needs to become an addiction, something we seek out so that we can be certain we are on the right path.

    Today is the day that we need to become brave and seek out those things that we fear. In fact, take a trick my wife uses everyday and try it out for a couple of weeks and see how it changes your life. Every day, xiaoyi does three things that scare her. Maybe it is calling a friend to talk about an opportunity to or contacting an organization she wishes to teach at. Every day, three things that scare her. This drives her to do those things that are our side her box and therefore in that realm of wonder we want to live in. The funny thing I was witnessed in her is that the scary things she does one day become the normal things she does a month down the line, so she is constantly striving to find more scary things to do.

    Fear is the mile marker on our journey. It is time to get a few more miles under our belt on our road to our dreams.

Setting goals and creating value to live a fulfilling life

Values and Goals:

    In the past I have discussed living our lives in tune with our values so that we can be fulfilled when we reach my goals. I have also spoken about creating goals and how to design our lives so that we achieve our goals. These ideas are symbiotic with each other, one helping and supporting the other. Yet there is an aspect of these that we have not discussed. For some people, they do not understand the power of goals or the fundamental steps needed to reach goals, but that isn’t the way that their psyche works. They are the ones that many would call a free spirit, commonly with either a sense of wonder or a sense of derision. Yet these people can be just as successful as the planners. The reason this is simply that they have found and understood their values and live life according to those values.

    This is something that we can all do; we can live our lives according to our values and find happiness in that fact. It will create a form of contentment within us that is strong enough to fulfill our lives. For some, that life needs to be matched with goals and things to strive for. Objectives give some people a sense of purpose and a guide along their journey in this life. It creates comfort in a future that is known. The flip side to this is people who thrive off the unknown and the adventure that the world posses. For these people, they need to remember that as they travel, this life like a leaf on the wind, that it is their values that will keep them in a life that is fulfilling. These people need to come to an understanding in themselves that where they are and what they are doing is the outcome of living those values and derive their fulfillment from that.

    Just as the goals and methods to reach them is the lynchpin in some people to live a fulfilled life, the person that is blown around by events has to embrace that chaos and derive joy and fulfillment from it. If they are living their values, that should not be a difficult thing to do. It does take work though, as our values and joys change from time to time in our lives. We all need to be open to finding our own values again and again and living our life aligned with those values.

    Values and Goals create many roads that we can walk, one no better than the other. The thing that we have to do is find the one that works best for us and the lives that we wish to lead. Additionally, we need to be cognizant of ourselves enough to reexamine that life from time and time and decide if it is truly what we want, if it is truly fulfilling to us. Be we analytical goal setters or free spirits, our values will keep us on the path that we have chosen for ourselves.

-Dominic

What Dominic fails to mention in his above writing is that he is one who enjoys the physical goal setting and he is married to a free spirit.  We have overlapping and shared values tough which bring us delight in each other even when we don’t understand the things that bring joy to the other one.  Do your relationships have shared values?  Can they help bring you closer to people?  Yes they can!!!

xiaoyi Continue reading

To be a leader, serve!

The Servant Leader:

    Being a leader is the main focus of many lessons we learn as we embark on our own path to our dreams. The idea that we have to step away from everything and be our own person is a powerful thing and concept that I held tightly to for a long time in my life. I didn’t ask advice from those I respected in my early life because I felt that it was sign of leadership and even of adulthood that I should be making my own decisions and following them through on my own. In recent times, I have found that my understanding of what it meant to be a leader was very different than what I had in my head.

    The reality of it is simple; you can’t be a leader if there is nobody there to lead. If we are our own person and doing our own thing and living the life that we want, we can be an icon or an example, but we are not a leader. We have not taken an active part in other people’s lives and helped them to walk a road to their future. We have given them an idea of where they might want to go, but we leave the work to get there, up them. It is time to change this in my life, and I hope it is time in your life as well.

    Now, we need to learn how to actually be a leader. A lot of people have held management positions and other positions of authority in their lives and learned how to direct people. Many will take that as what it means to lead people, but in reality that isn’t leading. The operating system of a computer is the system that controls everything else and defines how that system should work, but it is the person that is using the computer that is actually leading what happens. The leader isn’t there to manage the people around them; the leader is there to inspire those people and to point them at the goals and the steps to get there. The leader then lets those people use those tools to achieve those goals and offers insight and assistance when it can be best utilized.

    This brings me to my thoughts on a Servant Leader. To me, this is the pinnacle of what it means to be a leader. As we step into this leadership role, we can use it a couple ways. The two that stick out most to me are the use of this to further our own ends, or to further the ends of the community that we claim as home. The first can still be a leader and work to create something that achieves their ideal. This is your CEO or business owner and they can be powerful forces in the world as they lead their people towards their goals. The leader that works to achieve the goals of a community is the person that does everything that they can within a community to help it grow and thrive in the world. They adopt the goals of the community as their own and strive to achieve those goals. Needless to say, this works out a lot better if the community that we choose to participate in holds the same values and goals as we do personally. This is the sort of leader we see in Mother Teresa and Gandhi. They use their leadership to help guide the community to growth and learning along its path in this journey.

 Neither the Leader nor the Servant Leader is better or worse than the other, they are just different ways to walk to the path that we have laid out for ourselves to reach our own dreams. What kind of leader are you?