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Courage to Take that First Step

A good article from Craig Ballantyne and Early to Rise…

Action Takers Rule the World

As Mark Ford correctly points out in his book, “The Reluctant Entrepreneur”, most business owners do not bet the farm. They take little bets. Little bets start with having the courage to take the first step. Today, Ryan Murdock shows you how. I did it, he did it, and you can do it too.Craig Ballantyne”If you’re always thinking about possibility, you’ll find it. You’ll always be creating your future.” – Sir Ken Robinson


How to Find the Courage to Take that First Step

by Ryan Murdock

It was 9:30am on a Wednesday. And I was sitting in a bathroom stall in an office building in Ottawa writing Communist slogans on the toilet paper.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a Communist by any possible stretch of the imagination. I was doing this in an effort to stay sane. Working as a temp in a government office where not a single person bothered to learn my name was starting to get me down, and drastic measures were called for.

And so each morning on my break I stuck a felt tipped marker in my back pocket and went to the toilet. I rolled down the paper and wrote things like “Power to the People!” or “The Party is Always Right”. And then I rolled it back up again.

I spent the rest of my mornings unfastening endless piles of research grant applications and putting them into a different order, because the applicants hadn’t followed the directions. I was grateful for the money, of course. But it was mind numbingly boring.

Whenever I began to feel my soul draining out of me, I pictured some guy in the bathroom peeling off a strip of toilet paper and finding one of those slogans. His first reaction was likely to be, “What the….?” quickly followed by, “Why…?” And then hopefully he’d start laughing like he hadn’t laughed in years. I wanted to bring a little sunshine into that otherwise grey world.

I hated that job. I hated every job I ever had. I woke up swearing every morning. I swore in the shower and I muttered profanity under my breath all the way to work. I felt useless because the work I was doing had no meaning. I wasn’t drawing on my talents. I wasn’t making the world a better place. And I felt trapped because the pay I earned was barely enough to live on, and I didn’t have any savings.

I wanted to write, and I knew my words would add value to other people’s lives. But I couldn’t see a way to make enough money to survive at it.

I finally reached a point where that didn’t matter anymore. I couldn’t imagine a more miserable life than the one I was already in. And so I vowed to make a living by doing what I loved — or starve to death trying. And I meant it in every fiber of my being.

When the contract ended, I asked the temp agency to remove my name from their list. And that was the last actual “job” I ever had.

Since then I’ve met an awful lot of people who feel trapped by the miserable circumstances of their lives. They’re completely unhappy. But when I ask them why they don’t change, they say they’re afraid to take the first step.

Well I’ll let you in on a secret…

You don’t need courage to take that first step. You just need to focus on two things: hate and desperation.

You already know that I hated my old job so much that even the worst failure was better than going back to that office. But where does “desperation” come in?

Fast forward to a couple years later. I was earning a little money from my writing, but we were still living on my wife’s salary as a translator in the automotive industry.

Payment for freelance work was irregular at best, and I needed money to pay some bills. Badly. By the middle of next week. And I had no idea how I was going to get it.

I had no one to borrow from. I didn’t have a job. And I wasn’t expecting checks from any magazine publishers either — not that you can ever count on “Check’s in the mail” from them!

What did I do? I drew on everything I learned in my 20+ years of martial arts training. It was the only other thing I could consider myself a legitimate “expert” in. I drove over to Future Shop and bought a mini-DV video camera and some editing software with my credit card. Then I sat down with a paper and pencil and wrote a list of every crazy push up variation I could think of. I got on the floor and made up a bunch of new ones too.

I filmed it all as a 25-minute tutorial, named it Beyond Pushups, uploaded it to a website called E-Junkie, and linked it to my PayPal account. And then I posted a teaser and description of my program on a fitness forum where I was a certified coach, and I emailed the link to everyone I knew.

I set the price at $10. My wife didn’t think I’d even be able to pay for the camera. She gave me a smug look and said, “And then what are you going to do?”

I plugged my ears and went to bed. And when I woke up the next morning, I had $1,000 in my PayPal account. I paid off the camera and software immediately, and still made a nice little profit.

I ended up filming several more of those downloadable tutorials in the following months. One on ab exercise variations, one on ankle strength, and one on mobility drills using a stick. My audience loved them. Each one sold better than the previous installment, and always for $10.

People would write to me and say, “Why are you giving this away for so little? You could easily make it into a full DVD!”

But I didn’t raise the price. I over delivered and built loyalty and trust with my audience instead. And six months later, I coauthored a larger online product with a friend. We called it Bodyweight Exercise Revolution and it made $10,000 in its first month.

Fast forward again — this time by 3 or 4 years. That coauthored program evolved into a business partnership. Adam Steer and I created and sold many more online fitness programs through a site called BodyweightCoach.com. And today we’ve got a seven figure business called Shapeshifter Media, where we help other new authors publish their work in the online fitness niche.

So yeah, that’s what I tell people when they ask me, “How do you get the courage to take that first step?”

In my experience you need two things:

1) Hate: you have to hate where you are right now so much that staying the same is far worse than the discomfort it’ll take you to change.

2) Desperation: sometimes you have to back yourself into a corner so you’re forced to come up with creative solutions.

I hated my job so much that staying there was worse than the risk of trying to live my dream and starving to death. And I needed that moment of desperation — having bills to pay but no money to pay them with — to free up my imagination so it could find a creative solution.

But thankfully you don’t have to do anything dumb to get that desperation. There’s no need to go into massive debt, or poke a lion with a stick. It can be something as simple as setting a really tight deadline. Or buying a one-way ticket to a place you’re scared to travel.

Try it today. Rig the game in your favor and commit to your goal in public. You’ll be amazed at the creative solutions you come up with.

And don’t sweat it too much if you hate your current circumstances with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I hated mine too. Transform that energy into positive momentum instead.

Tell us what first step you are ready to take.

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[Ed. Note: Ryan Murdock is the author of Personal Freedom: A Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams. When not helping people find their own brand of personal freedom, Ryan travels the world’s marginal places as Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost magazine. He recently released his first travel book, called Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America

Words to Live By: Encouragement

(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)

Today’s Word To Live By: Encouragement – Definition: help, support –  Antonyms: denunciation, derision, deterrent, discouragement

Years ago I was unemployed for the first time in my life and I struggled to find a new job. Frankly, I applied everywhere and I would have taken just about anything. The Lehman Bros. “thing” happened and I just was in a funk anyway, so it was tough. I finally did find a good job at a solid company. I had a boss that was very encouraging, very supportive. Many people on the team were also encouraging, helpful, etc.

I had a tough time getting out of my own ‘funk’ and getting back the confidence and esteem that I once had. Part of the job required me to go away for training with others from around the country. I really enjoyed the whole experience and think about those people and times fondly. I recall that first day at training. We were all pushed outside of our comfort zone, which was good but hard. I knew no one. I was struggling to do well…. we all had to do a few different tasks, presentations, calls, proposals, etc. etc.

The finest gift  you can give anyone is encouragement. Yet, almost no one gets the encouragement  they need to grow to their full potential. If everyone received the encouragement  they need to grow, the genius in most everyone would blossom and the world  would produce abundance beyond the wildest dreams. We would have more than one  Einstein, Edison, Schweitzer, Mother Theresa, Dr. Salk and other great minds in  a century.”Sidney Madwed

Then, one of the other ‘students’ just like me, made a comment. I wish I could remember exactly what he said. I think that I was just plain shocked, I wasn’t expecting it. Anyways, he encouraged me that I did some things well, others things were good but could improve, and gave me lots of encouragement. He stated how he had struggled with the same thing and was right there with me.

He didn’t gain anything by helping or encouraging me – at least none that I could see. He was just being a good guy. Others in our group seemed to continue to encourage each other. I found myself doing it more than usual. We became a cohesive group and stayed in touch for quite a long time after, which was unusual, I’m told.

I think back in grade school, in high school, college, and in life. Sometimes, like the example above, I don’t remember what someone said specifically, but I definitely recall times when people offered encouragement. It may have been something small like spelling a word, hitting a ball, doing a chore. It sometimes was bigger things like a relationship, a job, a big financial challenge. I can see and feel those words of encouragement. They still warm my heart today.

I think about times when I encouraged others. First, it feels good to me when I think about supporting others. Second, I frankly am a little sad that I didn’t do it more often. I know that I want to do it more in the present and future. It isn’t that hard, is it? Encouragement, support, help isn’t that hard to offer is it?

Real friends are loving in an unconditional manner. They accept you for your faults, the quirky things that you do or so, and regardless of what you “do for them.” Friends offer support. Friends are a good influence. Friends offer encouragement. We need to choose our friends carefully. It doesn’t matter their income, status, style, or dress. I try to be a good friend too, but again I sometimes feel that I am lacking here.

Tony Dungy, NFL coach, player, and author, said once, “Peer pressure works in both directions.” Do we encourage? Do we support? Do we set a good example?

Do we provide a positive influence to others? Are we complainers? Do we point out others weaknesses or kick them while we are down? Or do we help them up and give them a gentle push when they need it?

Encouraging others is about helping them focus on what they’re doing right, what’s going right in their life, and what good things they have to offer. We can encourage others by helping them see the donut and not the hole. We can be positive. Encouragement can be specific words like “you can do it.” Sometimes it might be a silent action of setting an example. Sometimes it is simply a sign of solidarity.

I believe that we’re each created for a reason, that we have a purpose. It may be something big and cool like writing a bestseller, saving a life, or something spectacular. Or it may be simply giving that one person, maybe even a stranger, that little bit of encouragement one day in our life. Maybe its about that one little comment that we gave our friend, which seemed almost inconsiquential to us, that literally saved their life as they were going through their challenges.

I recall a tough time when many people around me seemed to question me, put me down, and I questioned myself, I made some bad choices and I was feeling low. Then I happened to think about two little statements – one statement my father said to me once about his own struggles and basically amounted to being “if I can do it Jim, then you certainly can do it….”. Another one was from a teacher of mine….I’m sure he made the comment almost in passing and probably forgot about it soon after, but his words of encouragement have helped me keep moving on for years and I even thought about it again this morning when I had something come up.

Life can be tough, it can offer challenges, right? We can lift each other up, we can tear down, or we can do neither, just passing through life without input or gusto. We all need encouragement. We need support. Humans need this sort of thing from our friends and from strangers.

There are studies that show that when we encourage, support or help others, it not only helps that person’s spirit, mind and body, we the encourager benefit. Endorphins and other good things flow in our bodies and theirs – we both feel good. But wait, it’s not over yet – studies also show that observers, people who watch you and I encourage another person – also benefit – they have many of the same ‘feel good’ benefits. All three parties win. We all receive the benefit of encouragement.

There is an article titled “19 Healthy Reasons to Help Others” that states “If you see someone who is drowning and throw him a rope, he gets a benefit, no question about it. But you might, too. Your body might flood with feel-good chemicals that have a deep evolutionary heritage. You might get a little extra buffer from life’s stresses. Your heart might beat a little healthier. Your immune system might perk up. Your mood might lift.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/28/health-benefits-of-volunteering-helping-others_n_909713.html#s316118&title=Helpers_Live_Longer

There is a great book for children – but we all can benefit from reading it – about helping others such as I just mentioned. It is written by Carol McCloud – Have You Filled a Bucket Today: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids….except it should just say “for people”.

As I mentioned above, sometimes I just don’t think about encouraging others as much as I should, or as I’d like to ….. but I certainly want to ….. I’d love to provide a positive influence on others each and everyday.

When was the last time you made a call, wrote a letter, said something along the lines of encouragement? Can you mentor someone? Is there even something little or anonymous that you can do?

Encouraging others leaves a wonderful trail of great memories in our lives and the lives of others. Like the memories I spoke of above from loved ones and from strangers, these memories will hang around for years and for decades. Let’s create some encouraging memories, let’s create some goodwill and do unto others what we’d like done to us.

“When the need for encourament words or inspirational words come, it does not matter who is saying them or why but what becomes vital is to feel encouraged, motivated and inspired to take what ever life throws as you.”

No matter where you are in life or what your consequences are, you can give….and I bet when you give, you’ll receive something back too.

What can you do to encourage yourself? Ask great questions – empowering questions. Think about past successes, reflect on good things in life, talk nicely to yourself.

What can you do otherwise? Do you know of an encouraging book? Watch a good movie (like Rocky)?

What are some encouraging songs and music that can kick start your day?

What are some ways that you can encourage yourself in the morning? In the car?

What people in your life encourage you? Did you thank them? Can you return the favor? Can you emulate them to help others? How can you build habits around encouragement?

Can you challenge someone? Can you mentor? can you just lend support?

I challenge you to make your life a masterpiece.
I challenge you to join the ranks of those people
who live what they teach, who walk their talk.
– Tony Robbins

BELOW ARE TWO “HOW TO” ARTICLES ABOUT ENCOURAGEMENT. ENJOY!

The Below is An Article from Livestrong.com

How to Encourage Someone

Jan 23, 2010 | By Jae  IrelandJae Ireland specializes in keyword research and internet  marketing. Getting her start with a small internet marketing firm in 2005, she  has since designed and written for well over twenty commercial and informational  websites. Her areas of interest and expertise include fashion, parenting, home  improvement and health and fitness.

Whether it’s a friend, family member or coworker,  encouraging someone can help spur them to be better versions of themselves. It  may be for a better life, a promotion or to help them through a debilitating  illness, but you have the power to keep the future bright and keep your friend  working toward her goal. While you may think encouragement is only about kind  words, true encouragement requires tough questions, honesty and support for  someone who is trying to accomplish a goal.

Step 1

Be honest about the process, says InsiderReport.com’s  Michael Angier. Encouragement doesn’t have to be about false positive notions.  If the progress isn’t happening as fast as your friend would like, be honest and  let him know that he’s right, but he has better control of the situation when  taking it slow and steady. Telling the truth can help give another opinion on  how to accomplish the task at hand.

Step 2

Find the positive in every experience. Your friend may  feel discouraged because of a recent failure, but point out what she’s learned  from the failure and how she can use it to her advantage. Encourage her to learn  from her mistakes and become better for them.

Step 3

Ask intelligent questions about the progress of the goal.  You may have a friend who is depressed about an illness, so you can ask  questions about the prognosis so that you know how to encourage, whether it’s  for a cure or for living a full life while he can. Asking questions about a  project for work or school can help your friend see places where he needs to  improve for a better project overall.

Step 4

Look for positive progress along the way, even if it  isn’t exactly the progress your friend was originally looking for. Any small  success should be celebrated to encourage your friend to keep moving forward. Be  your friend’s biggest supporter when it comes to accomplishment, cheering her on  until she accomplishes her goal.

Step 5

Send notes of encouragement to stay in touch and keep  your friend motivated. ThinkOfProsperty.com recommends that you send a card or a  letter to offer your encouragement, send an email or drop by with words of  encouragement and a hug to keep the progress moving and to show your lasting  support.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/75762-encourage-someone/#ixzz26xV44TB3

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THE BELOW IS FROM http://powertochange.com

19 Ways to Encourage Others

Written by Stacy Wiebe

Learn how to develop an encouraging heart

  1. Encouragement goes straight to the heart.In fact, the word itself comes from a combination of the prefix “en” which means “to put into” and the Latin word “cor” which means heart.
    • Knowing what a big difference encouragement makes in your own life, what can you do to help others “to take heart” when the going gets tough and way feels long?
  2. Become aware of what encourages you, and do those same things for others.
  3. Learn individuals’ “love language”-the special way in which they feel most valued. In his book, The Five Languages of Love, Gary Chapman explains that not everyone’s emotional needs are met in the same way, and that it’s important to learn to speak others’ love language. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, spending quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
  4. If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it! It may not have the same effect if you wait. Don’t let shyness hold you back. Instead, form a new habit: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” (Hebrews 3:13).
  5. When you introduce someone, add a few words of praise for the person’s abilities, accomplishments, about how they’ve helped you or about the nature of your relationship. It’s encouraging to be praised in front of others.*
  6. When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help. If you ask, “How can I help?” the person might be at a loss to answer. It’s better to ask, “Would it help if I…(specific action) or say, “I would like to…(specific action)?*
  7. Write someone a note to tell them that you’re praying for them or thinking about them. Tell them what you’re praying.
  8. Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. Celebrate others’ victories, large and small-with a note, with coffee together, with a special meal, a congratulatory phone call or just a high-five!
  9. Be specific when you offer words of praise; it makes your encouragement more credible and concrete “You did a great job at…” “I really appreciate that you…” “I was really impressed that you…”
  10. Realize the power of presence. Just being there is encouraging! When you’re with others, you’re telling them that they’re important.
  11. If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a single flower to encourage her at the beginning of the project, and a full bouquet when it’s done.*
  12. If you really want to encourage someone who gives you excellent service, write a letter of commendation to the person’s boss.*
  13. We could learn something from the way team athletes freely pat, touch and high-five each other in competition. Touch is a powerful encouragement. Be sure to be sensitive in this area, though. Ask someone if you can hug her first. And be careful to be above reproach with persons of the opposite sex.
  14. When you see someone making positive changes in their lives, affirm them. “You seem to have a really great attitude about…” “It may be that I’m just starting to take notice, but I see that you’re…” “Do you think that you are becoming more…?”
  15. Tell people how they’ve encouraged you!
  16. more at http://powertochange.com/experience/life/encourage/
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