Impossible to stop growing

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I’m walking along the streets of New York City right now and saw this skyscraper currently in being built.

I am marveled at how new construction can continue in one of the most crowded cities in the world; but this sight sends a wonderful message that regardless of where you are in life – maturity in age, profession, relationships, whatever…you can still make time for change, you can still grow, you can still build upon, you can still tear down and recreate.

If you’re thinking you’re too past your prime in starting a business, leaving your job, trying for different position, taking on a hobby, breaking up a comfortable but toxic relationship, starting a new and better one, reinvigorating your existing ones…I believe it’s just a mental prison with unlocked doors where you can leave at any time, and living in fear instead of love and the courage that comes with it.

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Throwback: Rwanda- and purpose-bound

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on May 23rd, 2013 (four years ago), after I had asked my CEO Dan Rowe for a temporary leave to prepare for and serve on a missionary trip in the country of Rwanda – where a team of us spent time with the poor and helped them build sustainable preschools that hopefully gave them life-changing power.  

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I had a hope that reset blog would be done just in time for my mission trip to Africa; and thanks to making time and an amazing web site designer, it met the deadline.

I am very entrepreneurial and hard-working by nature; and I used to subscribe to the philosophies of: “I work 80 hours a week so that I can avoid working 40 hours;” “I can sleep all I want when I’m dead;” “Work now so that you can enjoy life later;” and a host of other Kool-Aid flavors I was drinking and getting unhealthy sugar-highs from.

There are a series of events that happened in my life that caused me to change all that – and I’ll save that for future blog posts – but learning the hard way, finding my way back to God, being introduced to Tim Ferriss and the 4-Hour Workweek philosophy, Zen Habits, and other signs and nudges…compelled me to make some major, major changes.

For the focus of this blog post, I’ll mention the major one: I changed employers.

Whereas I used to work for Fransmart full-time as their Senior Director – I am now working full-time for God and serving people. Fransmart gives me work I enjoy, and I do quite successfully at it – but my main purpose is to do eternity-based work that I was created to do, and money does not last.

What lasts are God, His Word, and people. That’s a compensation that no firm on earth can match; a retirement that lasts forever; work that is recession proof; and work that is truly meaningful.

It was scary and I am taking a huge risk and leap of faith…but I have confidence that God will provide. And so far, because of the move to leave my career, Fransmart generously offered to keep me on payroll as an advisor. I’ve learned that I don’t need too much money to be happy (in fact, it may be a hindrance, actually); I am no longer stressed by and make any money-based decisions (and those type of decisions are always poorly-played out); and I am thoroughly enjoying my new lifestyle.

One of my biggest life decisions was to go on a mission trip to Rwanda to build preschools for the materially poor children there. It’s an initiative under The PEACE Plan via Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California – one of the biggest churches in America. The idea that I could be used by God to bring people closer to Him; lift the materially poor out of poverty and its horrible effects (sex/labor trafficking, drugs, violence, gangs, etc.); help people become self-sustainable; and in the meantime work on my own brokenness, because I have issues, too…I couldn’t think of a better use of my time, than time spent with and for Him.

 

It’s crazy – I don’t know anything about construction, school planning, caring for children, teaching, etc. but I love children and knew that God would fill in the gaps and details.

And fill in, He did – God has blessed this initiative above and beyond, and I haven’t even touched down in Kigali, yet:

  1. For me, He used my love and knowledge of social media, business, and marketing to build awareness and shared excitement for this and future trips. I believe He’s been working on me in preparation for this – and spiritual maturity takes time.
  2. Financially, the initiative has gotten so much monetary support – that not only are the intended project needs met, there are enough funds to build 1 more school than initially planned (I am out there to follow-up on 3 schools already up and running, and identify sites for 3 more). I am so humbled by God’s people and their like-heartedness, and the power of prayer.
  3. And for my team – teachers, child psychologists, and people who have been to Rwanda have joined my team and will be working alongside me.

Whoa. Talk about getting hooked up.

I am currently typing this blog post from my plane flight from New York City to Brussels, before making the final connection from there to Kigali, Rwanda. I’m not sure how the Internet access will be there; nor will I know if I’ll even have time to write – as I might be out all day working – but I am honored to be doing this mission and sharing it with you.

You can keep your job; but reset your answer when asked who you are truly working for.

Surrender to your own mediocrity

This is amazing advice I got from listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast interview with author and super-creative, Cheryl Strayed.

When you accept that you’re not perfect and neither are your contributions to the world, it will instill the humility you need to get help, to stay curious, to desire more knowledge, to gain more perspective, to be grateful when you win, and to accept failure as a necessary ingredient to progress.

It also takes the pressure off of having to do “great” work – pressure that will never get you started; and if you do get started, it won’t be authentic. It will help you to actually take the first step, and actually do the work itself.

Ego and unreasonable expectations are the enemy. Embrace your humanness, get out of your way, and share your passion with the world.

When meaningful change can truly take place

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” – Carl R. Rogers

When I’m trying to enact growth or recompose myself i.e. losing body fat, gaining muscle, building a new company, changing my practices, reorganizing my priorities, etc. – I need to:

Stop beating myself up about why I keep failing to change. I fail because I am human and make mistakes – I am not God and shouldn’t expect results as if I am my Father. I fail because I have limited knowledge – which is to be expected, like a baby will falter 100% of the time when learning how to walk. I fail because sometimes, it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.
Stop being impatient. I am causing undue stress on the process. Sometimes there are not shortcuts. I need to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the destination.

Understand that frustration is a matter of expectation. Yes – make well-thought out goals and take realistic steps toward change, but understand that sometimes your goals won’t be achieved; that sometimes, God has an even better plan for you than your limited knowledge wants. Most of your life’s greatest moments are unplanned – I guarantee it. 

So if the future is uncontrollable to a certain degree, and there is an unknown that you can never predict…why not focus on what you can control? 

Learn to really accept yourself as you are – warts and all. Be present in your circumstances – be they good or bad. And remind yourself that you are enough. 
I am far from perfect in doing these things (do as I say, not as I do lol!), but I can tell you that I can go much further when my gas tank is full =)

Love yourself. 

Growth opportunities and doing the math

If it’s the right thing for your company to expand rapidly, consider giving some of your profits away.

This can be engaging a marketing company; hiring a top salesperson or sales organization; accepting money from investors; and whatever is relevant in your industry that fosters growth.

I talk to many business owners who are so focused on costs and percentages in a vacuum, that they lose the context of those numbers, don’t appreciate the ability of strong partners, and lose sight of why they want to grow in the first place. And because of that, their performance hits a ceiling and they set themselves up to either get eaten alive or remain unfulfilled.

Owning 100% of a million-dollar company sounds sexy; but for me – I’d rather own 1% of a billion-dollar company.

Of course – the above is over-simplified and there is much more to making a decision that relates to this. You need to make sure that growth is truly a lifestyle and decision with consequences that you’re prepared for (which is why I wrote “IF it’s the right thing…” in the beginning); you need to properly vet growth partners (they are not created equal, and the cheapest is never usually the best); you need to play out best/average/poor-case scenarios (plan for the best but prepare for the worst); and you need to take inventory of your current resources (is your existing manpower, capital, experience, and team reflective of your 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year goals?).

But don’t be so consumed with how much something costs that your blinders are on to how an investment could return for you. Marrying your spouse COSTS you. Having kids COSTS you. Buying a nicer, more reliable car COSTS you. Going to the gym COSTS you. But they can be exponentially rewarding, and if you only lived life based on what’s safe and how much something costs…it’d be a sad life on at least, 1,031 levels #exaggeration

If you really want to measure costs, compute the loss of opportunity as well. Don’t orphan that super important metric.

Let go of what is, so that you can receive what’s possible. If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.

I HATE being interrupted. But…

I love long blocks of time to mediate (after 30 days I’ve graduated to 20 minutes a session!); to be creative (reading and writing); to get franchise deals done; to strategize for my companies; to empty my phone and email inboxes; and to mark off the rest of my list of “things best enjoyed batched.”

This is why I wake up at 4a in the morning to start my day. I want to be left alone.

But it’s one thing to be unbothered so that you can be efficient and productive. And it’s another thing to be interrupted so that your life can change.

While I love getting stuff done – looking back at my history, I noticed that all of my life-changing and defining moments happened when I was going about my day and POW! I get knocked off the train tracks of my well-laid plans, and my status quo is a destructive mess and unrecognizable at times.

I think of stories in the Bible where God interrupted His disciples’and greatest ambassadors’ current work (Peter was fishing, Matthew was collecting taxes, David was tending to his flock, etc.), and they could’ve never planned His entry into their lives.

But those unplanned events changed history and have reached the world. 
Here are two events that completely destroyed my plans…and I am better for them.

  • I was on my very last semester of college at California State University Long Beach (go 49ers!) before graduating, when an opportunity to own a restaurant – an industry I knew nothing about – presented itself and I dropped out of school to pursue it. Because of that, it led to an amazing career experience, my passion for restaurants, 10 years at Fransmart, traveling the world doing what I love, my company Halal Or Nothing, and my countless consulting opportunities.
  • I had a goal of getting married at 27 – which I did achieve – but a terrible incident happened that led to me getting a divorce. Because of that, it led me to re-dedicating my life to Christ, growing my beautiful family, and finding what it means to truly love.

The next time you plan your calendar or your life in general, leave some room for and anticipate interruptions. You really don’t want to live your life as planned – your limited knowledge of the future and universe will prevent you from letting go of what is, so that you can have what could be. 

And try not to be upset that things aren’t going your way (something I am still working on). Learn to take these interruptions productively by yourself “What is the universe trying to teach me?” And be excited that you are on your way to embracing change, strengthening your resilience muscle, and readying yourself for opportunity. 

Praying for our leadership

I’ve never really been a political person, and don’t ever plan to be. It’s not where my passions and interests lie, it’s a sphere that generates a lot of toxicity in my life, and it’s not where I feel I can make a difference like I can in the business world.

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and I am not his biggest fan. I don’t agree with a lot of things he has done, is doing, and is planning on doing…and most importantly I’m not looking to get into a debate about this.

But as a Christian who’s striving to be more like Jesus, I need to love everyone – even the most difficult people – and honor our leadership the way our Creator commands.

He may be our nation’s president, but at the end of the day, Jesus is my king; and I pray that President Trump does the right thing, the right way. He is human and broken just like the rest of us; let’s give him the same grace and love as God gives to us and our wrongdoings. And let’s not forget that we are are a force for change as well – even more so.