Tag Archives: overpowering fear

I Am What I Am!

30 Jan

Or as Popeye the Sailor Man put it, “I yam what I yam!” But what does it mean when we use this simple phrase, or when someone tells us, I am what I am. To me it speaks volumes. It says; this is who I am. I cannot change. Either accept me “as is” or forget about it. To me it’s just another whine of the powerless.

Every living thing in the universe, from the tiniest microbe to us, the most sophisticated and intelligent animal on earth, have been created to evolve. To adapt to a changing environment. It’s built into our DNA. Without change no species survives.

So why do so many people, people we know and love, refuse to even consider changing, even when faced with a looming disaster, like the loss of a relationship or of a career. My belief it is fear. Fear is the strongest emotion we face and we face it on a daily basis. We fear rejection. We fear embarrassment. And most of all, we fear the unknown, the scariest fear of all. And change is nothing more than giving up the old for the new. Be it a new way of thinking, a new attitude or a new behavior.

As modern day people we live in comfort zones, doing only those things that make us feel safe and secure. Whenever faced with the prospect of doing something new we find ourselves pushed up against the boundaries of those zones. Immediately fear begins to flood our bodies and we begin to have self-doubts. What if I don’t succeed? What if I fail? What if I lose my friends and social network when I no longer agree with them? What if don’t like the person I become? And so, we allow fear to win and paralyze us into doing nothing. But whenever fear wins understand that we lose.

There is a basic law of the universe that says; nature abhors a vacuum. This means, that as soon as you let go of your old beliefs, attitudes and behaviors new ones will take their place. And, almost always, the new ones are far better than the old ones they replaced.

If you’re faced with a failing marriage, a rocky relationship with your kids or challenges at work, maybe it’s time to face your fears and make that conscious decision to change. I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. But, I will tell you this; once you face and overpower your fears your life will become easier, and the joy and the happiness you have been seeking will begin to flow effortlessly to you.

Life is nothing more than a continuous series of choices. Therefore, choose wisely!

With Love,

Michael

It’s All About Choice

24 Jan

I received a call last week from my nephew seeking my advice. I’ve got to admit I was flattered. Typically it’s my peers who seek my advice, but rarely a 24 year old, and I often wonder why that is. I have an opinion and it is this: we live in a face paced highly technological world aimed at young people. Why young people? Two very simple reasons; 1) that’s where the money is, and 2) young people have the time to devote to learning new technology. In fact, other than attending school, learning and using technology is their full time job. Because of this, they tend to look at the proceeding generations as not as technologically savvy (intelligent) as them, and thus, not people they would want to solicit advice from.

He’s interested in leasing a new car and since I have been leasing cars for over 40 years, thought I might be able to offer him some sound advice. And I did. Some of the advice I shared with him was: Just because the dealer advertises a manufacturers lease special it does not preclude you from further negotiating an even lower price; Often the dealer has several money factor rates (interest) and if your credit is good, you can negotiate this too; Just because they say you need to put money down does not mean you have to. All of my leases have been with no money down. Zero drive off; Fall in love with the car, not the dealer. Prepare to shop as many dealers as possible for the best terms. I live in Northern California, but I shop dealers in Southern California. It’s an hour’s plane ride for often under $100 and the dealer you’re leasing from will send someone to the local airport to pick you up. Then it’s a leisurely drive home up Interstate 5 in my new car.

But this blog is not really about leasing a new car. In our 45 minute conversation I asked him what his credit score was. His response was 690 and I told him how proud I was of him. Considering that he hasn’t been in the work world that long and he doesn’t have a mortgage that was a pretty good score. We then had a conversation about Cause and Effect. And this is what I told him.

Very often young people do foolish things that could have a dramatic effect on themselves and their lifestyle down the road. And it’s not just today’s young people. All of us have done things that we look back upon in embarrassment and wish we had made better choices. It’s all about the process of maturing and becoming an adult. The problem that my nephew’s generation faces as opposed to any proceeding ones is that their stupid mistakes are written in stone. Just waiting to be discovered years later by anyone with internet access.

My nephew was really shocked when I told him this: Future employers look to your credit score when considering hiring you. Why would they do that he asked? And it’s really quite simple. How you maintain your credit is a clear indicator of how you lead your life. If you purchase goods and services and don’t pay for them, you’re not a person of good character. If this is who you are privately their fear is that this is who you are publically, and they can’t afford to take the risk of adding you to their team.

What goes around comes around. Choose wisely.

Love,

Michael

Old? Who Said I’m Old?

21 Jan

I’m a Baby Boomer and I have something to say to my fellow Baby Boomers: Life is never over until you decide it’s over!

I am amazed by the number of peers I come in contact with that are “old.” Notice the quotation marks. Let me give you an example. Last September my mother died at 93 years old and in our tradition we sat Shiva for her at my sister’s home in Sun City, AZ. Since most of my mother’s friends had all passed on, and except for my sister no other children live in the Phoenix area, the majority of those paying their condolences were friends of my sister and brother-in-law.

These nice people are all around my age but I felt as if I was sitting amongst friends of my parents. These people were old. It was if we had all come to a fork in the road and the choices were: comfortable retirement or continuing to seek one’s life purpose. I went one way and they went another. But why do people even make that choice? Where is it written that just because the body ages our choices have to be limited?

You are probably wondering how I knew that the only thing I had in common with these people was chronological age? I listened to their conversations. Here is some of what I heard.

“Let me tell you about my grandchildren. I went to my granddaughter’s recital and the talent you wouldn’t believe.” My question to them is when did you stop participating in your own recitals? Or a more appropriate question, WHY did you stop going to your own recitals? Too old?

“When I was young there was so much opportunity. At this age life no longer offers those opportunities.” BULL. I’m 68 and I just started another business, wrote a book you can find on Amazon and iTunes and now travel doing speaking engagements. Harlan Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken with his first Social Security check. Think of all that wonderful chicken you would have missed if someone had told him, “Colonel are you crazy. At your age you should take up golf. Why open a restaurant?”

“I’m glad I’m this age. I don’t have to learn all that new technology stuff.” No you don’t. And you don’t have to communicate with your kids and grandkids. You don’t have to learn new things and you certainly don’t have to exercise your brain. But when your mind doesn’t work as good as it did, don’t blame it on old age, and please don’t email me a cartoon about those senior moments of forgetfulness. I’m too busy surfing the web acquiring knowledge to use in my writing.

This subject is very dear to me so look forward to my future blogs. But let me end today with a Luckman’s Law: The future is always there. You can dread it, run from it, or embrace it for the opportunities it holds. The choice is always yours.

Love,

Michael

When Did You Die?

10 Jan

Was it when you were in your early forties? Or, maybe about the time you received your AARP invitation at 50? Perhaps it happened when all the kids left the house and about the time the first grandkids came?

Oh wait, that’s not the title I wanted for this blog. I meant to ask, When Did You Stop Living? Because that’s what this blog is about.

Back when I was growing up many companies had a mandatory retirement age, it was 65. And although my grandfather owned his own business he too chose this age to “start taking it easy and enjoy the fruits of his labor.” He died two years later. And he wasn’t unique. The Chicago obits were full of names of men his age.

Recently my wife and I had dinner in Las Vegas with my first ex-wife Phyllis and her husband Jeff. Several years back they bought a beautiful home in the Del Webb retirement community of Sun City Anthem, and I bought a home in a typical mixed neighborhood. They love Sun City. It is full of their peers. So is mine.

During dinner I shared with them how 2013 had been a tough year for me. I had several physical problems to work through, my mother passed away and my new venture as an author and international speaker was slow in gaining traction. Phyllis, never missing an opportunity after 40+ years to mold me into this perfect man, asked me, “Why, at your age do you want to continue working, let alone start a new business? You should (how I love you shoulds), sell your home and buy in Sun City. With your Social Security and savings you can finally enjoy life.” The assumption being is that, for some unknown reason, I’m not enjoying life now.

This is not the first time someone has suggested to me that my lifestyle choices were wrong. This is how I responded to Phyllis and the others: When I go grocery shopping I want to see show girls on their day off, and not someone’s granny pushing a walker. Plus, I don’t mind walking from the back of the parking lot where the non-handicap parking spaces are. I’m not dead yet. (For clarification purposes: you can always spot a showgirl. They’re tall, stand as straight as an arrow and have this sort of regal presence as they push their carts down the aisle. I am sure you can picture the difference).

I have this overwhelming belief that each of us was created by our creator for Greatness. Greatness being your fulfillment of your life’s purpose. For some that greatness may come in their early twenties, for others their forties and for some, even in their seventies. Greatness does not have a “best by” date. Not unless you arbitrarily set one. Or, worse yet, allow others to set one for you.

This subject is very important to me, and I think to a lot of others as well. So here is your first homework assignment. For the ladies; go into the lingerie department and buy the skimpiest and sexiest underwear you can. Who cares if the thong gets lost. It will make you feel sexy and that is ALL that matters. For the men; get a prescription for an ED medicine. You probably aren’t going to bust many zippers, but knowing that your pencil still has lead in it will do wonders for how you see yourself.

Until my next blog on this subject remember this: There is no such thing as the inevitable. The inevitable is only what you create.

Love,

Michael

It’s Resolutions Time! Again?

30 Dec

I often wonder who came up with the idea to create a list of New Year’s resolutions. A list of all the things we are unhappy with about ourselves, and the “wish” that we will miraculously change over the coming months.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in change and I believe that each of us has the power within to change practically anything about ourselves. We are that powerful. No, what concerns me about New Year’s resolutions is the way we go about creating these changes.

Often the buoyancy of the holidays (too much cheer, food, spending) gives us a false sense of optimism when it comes to changing lifelong habits. We believe that change will come automatically when we once decide to make that change. Nowhere within the listing stage do we ever ask ourselves, “Can I do this? What plan do I have to succeed? What sacrifices will I have to make? Am I biting off more than I can chew?”

According to a January 2013 article in Forbes magazine only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions succeed. If a doctor wanted to perform surgery on you and then shared with you the fact that in better than 9 of every 10 patients the surgery was an utter failure, would you still agree to go under the knife. I have my doubts. Yet, millions of people will sit down over the coming days and create a list of changes they desire in themselves, yet knowing somewhere deep within, that they are going to fail.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t make New Year’s resolutions? Of course not. Go ahead and make your list, but then do the following:

  • Prioritize your list from least important to most important. Then choose the most important item on your list to begin. One item, no more. Once you succeed with this resolution the others will be much easier to attain.
  • Plan the next 90 days and how you’re going to succeed. I suggest learning and using SMART goals. You’ll find them in my book Overpowering Fear or just Google them. If you’re going to lose weight ask yourself, “What help do I need to accomplish my goal.” Over the years I’ve used Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Choose a system that feels comfortable for you. Don’t think you’re going to accomplish this alone, YOU WON’T.
  • (This example can be used for most goals). If your goal is to get more sleep create a log to fill out just before you go to bed. Write down the time you went to bed and if you’re not getting to bed on time, write the reason. Review this log at the end of every week. You’ll see that the reasons you wrote down were meaningless. If it was important for you to watch Scandal to the end, ask yourself, what the episode was about? If you can’t remember then it wasn’t very important.
  • Accept the fact  that no great change happens without some sacrifice. Whether it be food, time, alcohol, video games, etc. you are going to have to give up something. Prepare to give up the known for the unknown.
  • Because you create your life through your thoughts, don’t let thoughts of failure derail you. Done right, you have a greater chance of success than failure. Whenever a negative thought enters your mind causing unwanted fear say to yourself, “Thank you for this thought but I choose not to accept it. Instead I ask for a thought that is just the opposite.” It may sound crazy but it works.

For those who try my plan for accomplishing their New Year’s resolutions, I would love to hear back from you. Tell me your successes and your failures. My goal is to make this work for everyone.

Love,

Michael

Giving Up the Old for the New!

20 Dec

The crucial element of the vacuum law of prosperity is that I must let go of the old, before I can ever make room for the new. ~From the book Born Rich

I’ve often thought about why it is so difficult for people to change, to turn their life around, even when it’s not going in the direction that they’d like? We all know people like this. It’s one disappointment after another. One catastrophe after another. One failure after another.

Because I am an expert on fear I’m going to submit that it is fear that prevents people from changing. But fear of what? Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Is it fear of failure? But this individual has already failed at things in their life. Is it fear of rejection? I’m sure they’ve already been rejected and not just once. Is it fear of embarrassment and humiliation? Perhaps, but everyone feels embarrassed and even humiliated at times, even those with high self-esteem and self-confidence. No, I’m going to suggest that it’s the fear of the unknown.

We, as modern day human beings, live in comfort zones. They make us feel safe and secure. But, it is our inborn fears that prevent us from venturing outside the limits of these zones. Even when, in our imagination we can clearly see the perfect person we long to be; one who is happy, secure, successful, self-confident and a winner, we are still afraid to take a risk and make changes to our lives.

I can understand why people would choose to live with the same old, same old. It’s known and it’s safe. To us the unknown is a very scary place. We believe in that old axiom, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” And so we don’t give up the bird in our hand, even though it may be sickly and dying (think of your job or relationship), to risk going after the two plumper birds in the bush.

There is a universal law that says that nature abhors a vacuum. What that means is that as soon as you give up one thing, another comes in to fill the void. And most often the new thing is better than the old thing you gave up.

The above quote is out of the book Born Rich and is a positive affirmation. As long as you hold to the fear that by giving up the old nothing new will come to you, you won’t risk making the changes that will bring you your perfect life. As you take the first steps on your journey the first old thing to give up is this old belief. And you do it by repeating the positive affirmation above. At first, your mind won’t believe it is true. But repeat it over and over to yourself daily and in time it will become the truth. At that point you will now be comfortable enough to give up the old you, for the new you. This new magnificent perfect you.

Love,

Michael

What Me Worry?

17 Dec

It’s been said that 97% of what we worry about never happens. And yet, for some of us, it’s seems almost impossible to put a stop to worrying. What is worry? The psychiatrist Carl Jung characterizes worry as a substitute for legitimate suffering. In other words, it’s neurotic, not helpful and a waste of time. Worry is when your thoughts run wild, sometimes to the point of being delusional and out of control. One negative thought attracts another, followed by another and so on until all you can see on your path is disaster. Everything is absolute, and everything is a catastrophe.

How does this happen? Why is worrying likely to cause a tailspin or downward spiral? When you start with one negative thought put out into the universe, the thought is like a magnet, attracting like thoughts. The level of vibration in a negative thought finds similar thoughts because they are vibrating at the very same frequency. Suddenly you have a bundle of worries, creating fear and depression. What you feel in any given moment is always the result of what you’re thinking at that moment.

Recently a friend of mine was selected to give a speech at an upcoming charity event. Betty is a highly intelligent and accomplished woman well known in her field, which is why she was asked to speak. Betty wasn’t thrilled, in fact she was petrified. Very much as I was when I was in New York to accept the Best Toy Store award for Magic Village toy store in San Jose, CA. And just like me this woman could think of nothing but catastrophe. What if I forget what to say? What if my voice cracks? What happens if I lose my place? What happens if I mispronounce a word, or worse yet, someone’s name?

In the weeks prior to the speech all she did was worry. Now think about this. She allowed herself to be consumed by fear and worry for weeks leading up to the event. Were these happy times for her? Of course not! Her worrying overshadowed everything she did in those weeks; her job, time with her family and friends, the pleasure in her romantic relationship, and her peace of mind. And, for what? Nothing. Worrying was a waste of her time, energy and happiness. Did she do well when she actually gave the speech? Absolutely, she was great. Did any of the things she worried about come to pass? Yes. Her mouth was a bit dry at the beginning and she felt a bit dizzy walking up the stairs to the podium. Then, she took a sip of water, took a deep breath and looked out at her audience. She suddenly realized she was just human, the same as everyone sitting in front of her. If she made a mistake, and she did, she still felt the thrill of getting to talk to so many people about why she supported the charity, and why the organization means so much to her.

Nobody asked for perfect, and you never have to show up perfect. We’re all human. We will make mistakes. It’s all part of life. I’ve spoken to hundreds of groups over the years and I will tell you this, not a one of those talks was perfect. I made mistakes. As long as I live I will continue to make mistakes. So what? Who cares? They don’t and I certainly shouldn’t.

Love,

Michael