First Quarter Goal Gut Check

You guys might or might not have read and participated in my 2014 New Year’s Resolution post, Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

Well, today’s article is a quarterly check-up on where we stand, and what we’ve accomplished since that initial post.

Here is my list and notes on how I’m doing:

Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • It is our 20th Anniversary next month… Must think of something special.

  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • This is in the work and the gears are spinning. More on this later…

  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Last year’s job situation made this one tough… Slow going.

  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • No injuries yet this year, and my workouts are more powerful than ever.

  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • I’m signed up and training hard…

  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • Done!

  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 135. My current PR is 150. Yahoo!

  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 255. My current PR is 305. Very close…

  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 205. My current PR is 215. This one will take some work!

  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Started 1/1/14 at 235. My current PR is 260. Getting close.

  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Books and backpack purchased. Starting to study and plan training. Plenty of time, but don’t want to slip.

  • Publish Decrypted;
  • My agent is working diligently on this one and I’m helping where I can.

  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Struggling here. 2014 has proven to be a very busy year. That said, I am working on it.

  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • About 15% done with this one, so I’m behind schedule… Ramping up the efforts.

  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Planning is done and planning has begun.

  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • I was sworn in as a board member, and I have visited Maryland senate to help pass a bill. Yay!

  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  • I was averaging three posts per week in 2013… This year Ive struggled. Must work harder!

    Now let’s list all of the people who commented on the initial post with their own goals and resolutions:

    Andrea’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Staying fit in ways that are not dangerous to me, including exercising at least 5-6 days a week.
  • Doing at least 3 different kinds of exercise on a regular basis to mix things up (e.g., running, swimming, cycling, lifting, hiking). Bonus points if I can get up to 4 modalities on a weekly basis.
  • Maintaining my weight. Bonus points for dropping 5 lbs.
  • Maintaining or growing my running group.
  • Visiting my mom and sister at least 3 times.
  • Helping my son to stay fit and pursue any sports activities he is interested in (right now learning to swim, hiking, running).
  • Going out on a date night with my husband at least once a quarter. Bonus points for going monthly.
  •  

    Lesley’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Make religion part of every day.
  • By the end of the year will be debt free.
  • Lose my final 10 pounds.
  • Allow myself to learn the art of forgiving, compassion, and loving towards others.
  •  

    Sara’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Better manage my time.
  • Make a reasonable schedule for myself to adhere to each day.
  • Cook more often.
  • Read at least one book a month.
  • Do one project for myself each month to completion.
  •  

    Melanie’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Reduce my 5K time to 25 minutes by the end of 2014.
  • Go on monthly date nights with my husband + use our firepit more and go on more weekend camping trips together.
  • Email/write my brother at least once a month (he’s in the military).
  • Schedule my work so I can spend time back home in Indiana for about 2 weeks this summer.
  • Cut way back on soda, ie., Sprite. (I already gave up caffeine in 2009.)
  • Improve core strength and do more strength training.
  •  

    Eric’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Be a better father: listen more, make more small time, yell less.
  • Get a new job.
  • Fitness Metrics: get weight <195, squat 135×10, deadlift 195×10, Clean&Jerk 135×5, Pullups x5, Dips x10; get flexible enough to squat below parallel with wide stance heels.
  • Do a ‘new’ fitness event for me – something not already checked off.
  • Get the cub scout pack in order.
  • Get 20 minor projects done around the house.
  •  

    Please comment and let us all know how you’re doing with your 2014 goals and resolutions!!!

    We’ll be back in three months with another check-up. Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – The initial post
  • Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    I Need You

    This is article number 100. YAY! (mini celebration over silly stuff). Seriously though… I started this blog on July 8, 2013 and haven’t looked back. Here I am, freaking, as I realize that I’ve already written one hundred articles!!! It’s time to evaluate our mission… Look at our goals… Determine if our course remains the same… And, make adjustments as necessary. In short, I need your help building this blog into something even better. YOU are the reason I created this dang thing in the first place. Now I’m asking you for input. Please help me make an even cooler blog.

    Our mission with Healthy Wealthy Tribe is: We inspire people to lead extraordinary lives!

    Our goals were simple… Help people improve themselves in key areas of life: health (dietary, mental, and fitness), wealth, business (and entrepreneurship), family, writing (I hallucinate that some of you like my writing advice), technology, parenting, and general philosophizing.

    Notice that I said “our” not “my.” The simple reason for this is because this blog is bigger than just me. It takes you guys and your participation to really turn this into something special.

    After careful scrutiny and analyzing the data, I am finding that my blog categories are sort of off-kilter… Let’s look at the statistics:

    Health = 30%
    Philosophizing (other category) = 26%
    Kaizen = 15%
    Inkslinger (writing) = 7%
    Wealth = 6%
    Parenting = 5%
    Technology = 5%
    Grooming = 4%
    Entrepreneurship = 2%

    Obviously we are health bent (for leather). Also, the general topic (philosophy is outside our standard categories) has many posts as well. This part is kind of okay for me. However, I’d really like to improve by adding more articles in the other areas. This is where you come in. I’m asking you to comment below and let me know which articles and categories you like (love) reading, and which ones you avoid (God forbid). Also, is there one category that is most important to you?? And, is there some information or story that you’d like to get from me?

    Essentially, How can I make my blog even more entertaining and useful to you?

    As I said, I need you! Please, let me know how to better serve YOU!!!

    Thank you very much for your support, caring, and kind comments!

    Sincerely,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Are New Year’s Resolutions Bullshit?

    HaPpY NeW YeAr!!!

    Now let’s address this tough title. I think it’s time that we start facing facts… The fact is that a majority of us will come up with all kinds of cool changes we want to make in our life and follow through with them for a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months… But, we won’t keep them as life long changes. In essence, we will fail.

    I am not a big fan of new year’s resolutions (because I think you should strive to make yourself better EVERY day, not once per year – Kaizen, people!) However, I know that many people set resolutions and it is fun to hear and support them. So let’s take advantage of this new year and do something different this year. Let’s set some measurable goals and stick to them!!!

    Who’s with me?

    Before we set off on this grueling task, let’s take a quick look at why so many folks fail. I believe the main reason for failure is not proper follow through with maintaining and tracking the goals. If that is true, than we can easily cure this. We should write down our goals and track them on a regular basis.

    My plan is to put my goals/resolutions in writing (on this post and on printed paper). I will also do a quarterly blog article about my goals (and anyone else who responds here with goals) that lays out my goal progress throughout the 2014 year. In this way, I hope to better myself by keeping my wants and needs on my immediate radar!

    I’m sort of contradicting myself (I do that sometimes), by starting this post bashing New Year’s resolutions and then asking you to create some. My point was to make sure that we do things differently by following through and actually accomplishing some (or all) of these!

    Hypocrisy aside, here is my resolution/goal list for 2014:

    Vaughn’s 2014 Goals/Resolutions

  • Do something special for Kristine;
  • Start my new(ish) career and get back on track;
  • Continue the debt turnaround (path to becoming a financial wizard);
  • Turn up the training for triathlons;
  • Do Mountains of Misery again and stay in the saddle for both hills;
  • Start 5/3/1 weight lifting routine and get stronger;
  • New Military Press PR (personal record) of 150 pounds;
  • New Deadlift PR of 315 pounds;
  • New Bench Press PR of 235 pounds;
  • New Squat PR of 275 pounds;
  • Preparation for Mt. Rainier in July 2015;
  • Publish Decrypted;
  • Finish Weapon 67 (my second fictional title);
  • Finish outline for non-fictional book, (title pending for a “growing up” book) and get agent approval;
  • Start super-secret business idea and start ball rolling;
  • Work with Hemophilia Foundation of MD (HFM) on the board and make progress;
  • Continue focusing on this (HealthyWealthyTribe) blog and update at least twice per week.
  •  

    Feel free to put your goal list for 2014 in the comments below. That way we can track each other’s goals and how we’re doing throughout the year.

    Note: If you comment on this post with goals/resolutions, you will be held accountable and called out in my quarterly update post about goals!!! So beware! That said, if you’re like me, that will only incentivize you to participate!

    Here’s the goals/resolution post schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – This initial post
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (April Fool’s Day!!!) – Our first quarterly check-in
  • Tuesday, July 1, 2014 – Our second Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, October 1, 2014 – Our third Quarterly check-in
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2014 – Our final check-in and evaluation
  •  

    So… What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014?

    Your friendly neighborhood motivator,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Why I Quit Drinking

    Today is Saturday, December 7, 2013. It is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is also my Uncle Dano’s birthday. Happy birthday, Uncle Dano! Today is also the day that I quit drinking alcohol. And, this post is more for me than you. This post is a reminder, this post is a marker. Most of all, this post will help keep me to my word.

    Enough today crap… Let’s talk about why I quit drinking. I’ve actually thought about this long-and-hard for quite some time. I rarely leap into such a serious life changing event without careful calculation and planning. This is no different. It’s just time for me to make another identity shift (I’ve done dozens of them in my adventure that I affectionately call “life”). Most of you know that I’m extremely fond of the Japanese philosophy, kaizen. And, I work hard to improve myself on a daily basis. This is one of those steps.

    Instead of chatting about my reasons, I thought I would simply hit some bullet points. Suffice it to say that I did pros and cons and the cons FAR outweighed the pros… Some of these reasons for quitting drinking might ring true for you. Then again, some may not. You might also have additional ones that I didn’t even list… However, these are the main concerns that I’ve thought of for me (in no particular order):

  • Creativity I dunno about you, but drinking really puts a dent in my creativity. Because I consider myself a creative thinker I feel like alcohol kind of dummies me down and takes away one of my talents.
  • Waste of Usable Time While I’m under the influence of alcohol I feel I’m wasting my time. I’m constantly looking for ways to add time to my days… Well, stopping drinking is a perfectly suitable way to add time to my day (IMHO).
  • Sleeping In One of my pet peeves is sleeping too long and letting the day waste away. When I drink I often have turbulent nights where I do not get the proper sleep. My drunken sleep is interrupted and rough at best. Also, I tend to sleep in after a night of drinking, and this KILLS me! Time (as you know) is tough to come by. By eliminating drinking, I will add time by getting better (healthier) sleep and by waking earlier ready to leap out of bed!
  • Workouts Suffer Some of my lifting is extremely intense. I am unable to do my HIT (high intensity training) workout after a night of drinking. Not only am I weaker, but I get sick (even if I’m not hungover).
  • Hangovers SUCK Speaking of hangovers… They suck!
  • Depressant Alcohol is a depressant. I’m an overly positive person and I work hard at knocking depressing things out of my life. Removing alcohol from my intake is an easy improvement!
  • Saving Money As a social drinker who doesn’t drink every night, I figure a low-end guess is that I drink around $60 worth of alcoholic drinks each week. This number may well be conservative, and I’ve been known to spend more than that in one night (especially on a nice bottle of wine). That is (at a minimum) $3,120 per year. Considering that I could easily get over this figure, you can see just how much it could potentially cost on an annual basis!
  • My Behavior Quite often I imagine my behavior is fine while drinking… However, there is that once in a while where I’m a complete asshole or asshat. If I had my druthers, I’d avoid being an asshat whenever possible. ‘Nuff said.
  • Weight There are 154 calories in an average can of beer. If I drink four beers that is 600 or more calories. Think about that one for a moment. No nutritional value at all, yet I could easily fatten myself up with it. Why would I?
  • Driving Drunk I’m not a fan of this, but I am guilty. Well, I have children, family, and friends. I do not like to think about the horrible emotions I would put folks through if I died driving (or riding) drunk. Even worse: What if I killed someone else? I can’t think of anything worse!
  • Injuries This one might not affect everyone, but I can tell you as a hemophiliac that I am much more prone to injuries when inebriated. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably agree on this one.
  • Bleeding Episodes Another one that doesn’t create a problem for most clotters (non-hemophiliacs), but it does affect us easy bleeders. Alcohol is actually an anticoagulant… In other words, it has been proven to thin the blood. YIKES!
  • Immune System This probably doesn’t need to be said, but alcohol can hurt your immune system. In my case (dealing with HIV) that can be very bad for me. However, it really is bad for everyone if you’d prefer to stay healthy and fit!
  •  

    I will not knock people for drinking or not drinking (and I never have). I’m still the same old wild and crazy guy. And, I’m still the inspirational life fighter. This will not change. I’m simply entering a new stage of my life, and I have put plenty of thought into it.

    Feel free to pick on me if you see me drinking a soda water with a lime in it, but don’t bother with peer pressure, because I don’t fold.

    I have a question for all of you: Assuming I can handle it (which I can), is it acceptable for me to keep alcohol in my house for guests? What’s your opinion about this?

    If you drink (or did drink), have you ever considered stopping? Please feel free to share your story here!

    My final question: Do/will you all support me with this latest life choice?

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    V is for Victory

    I’m gonna start this article with a disclaimer… I do have a sharp tongue. I often give people the wrong impression. As my friend, Katty, says, “There’s a fine line between being proud of what you’ve done with your life and rubbing your accomplishments in the face of someone else that doesn’t have your motivation.” Obviously some people don’t have the same motivation as me… That does not make them a bad person. Sometimes when I try to “help” folks by talking about my personal accomplishments and what I’ve been able to do (or can do) and combine it with my sharp, blunt tongue, it can (and does) hurt feelings.

    If you do not have a thick skin, I will probably offend you with this article. I apologize in advance… But, if you don’t want scary answers then stop asking scary questions!!!

    I sincerely love all of you! For different reasons I have found joy in my relationships with everyone I know. Life is a playground… You’re gonna scrape your knee sometimes. We dust ourselves off and get back in the game. That’s a given. But, when you fall on the monkey bars and land on your nuts… That’s what separates the boys from men.

     

    Without further ado… Here comes the rant!

    It’s hard for my friends to understand this, because for the most part, they are overachievers as well. But… I believe that most people are lazy. And, not in a good way.

    When I first started this article I really just wanted to talk about body language. Have you ever noticed that when someone runs across the finish line of any race they raise their arms into the air creating a “V” as they complete the race? This is especially true of someone who wins the race. And, referees do the “V” to signal a touchdown. The weird thing is that pretty much every person from all different backgrounds does this famous “V” when they are victorious. It is a natural reaction to throw your arms in the air when you win! Rocky (and other boxers) did it with every win and every success!

    I recently asked myself, Self… Why can’t you simply raise your arms for victory before you do something and then be better at it? The answer I got back was strange (mostly because I was talking to myself)… I can. That’s right folks… I believe in the power of body language. We all know it is important for communicating our feelings with others, but many of us didn’t know it works for ourselves too. Try it. Put a huge smile on your face, hold your head high, and throw your hands into the air. You will feel like a million bucks. And, your chances to succeed will increase exponentially.

    Now let’s segue into the second half… Simply throwing your arms in the air is not enough. You MUST dig deep and stay motivated to accomplish great things!

    Dead Horse… Kick… Yada… I was born with hemophilia. I spent my entire childhood being told by doctors, parents, adults, siblings and friends what I COULD NOT do. I was rarely told what I could do. At nineteen I was told by the family doctor that I would be dead within the next couple of years. Did I give up? Nope. Did I die? Nope. Have I been held back by my disorders, viruses, diseases, and injuries? Say it with me… Nope!

    After my HIV diagnosis, I spiraled into a stint with drugs and suffering. Shortly after that bad faze in life, I was gripped by reality and turned my life around. I went from making $9 per hour to running an entire systems department. Within five years of this, I had quadrupled my salary. QUADRUPLED, people.

    Two years later I started a computer consulting company with two close friends. Within a year we had twelve employees and were pulling in $2,000,000 in annual revenue.

    Since then, I have had two children even though I’ve been told countless times that it isn’t even possible.

    From a fitness and healthy perspective, I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and moan at me about my LUCKY metabolism. Funny thing about my luck (to paraphrase Harold Hamm), “The harder I work, the luckier I get!” Most people see my slim, muscular build and assume this is a metabolism thing. Has anyone seen my father? Metabolism is not one of our gifts. I workout HARD and OFTEN.

    I play hard – Ask any of my mountain biking buddies. Ask any of my paintball buddies. Ask any of my motorcycle friends. Ask any of my climbing bros. Ask anyone who off-roads with me.

    I workout hard – Hello? Come join me at my gym (it’s called The Vomitorium) for the beating of your life… If you dare, punks!

    I work hard – I haven’t gotten where I am in the business world by sitting on my thumbs.

    I study hard – I have literally read thousands of books about manifold subjects. Ask my dirtbag friends what I did when we started climbing… I am a self taught computer programmer. I am a certified personal trainer who adamantly studies exercise and the human body. I am certified and taught motorcycle classes to beginner and advanced riders.

    Did you know that I post an article on this blog every other day? Do you think that is easy? Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? HA!

    Am I rough around the edges? Hell yes. Am I a straight shooter, who will tell you how it is? Yep. Most people around me appreciate my bluntness… Those who don’t rarely last.

    Do I know the secret to life? Nope. But I know what it ain’t… Lazy.

    Enough tooting my own horn for now… There will be plenty of time and other posts for that.

    (:

    Am I vain? If being proud of my accomplishments in life is vain, then yes I am. Merriam Websters defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. I do show pride in my appearance and achievements… Is it excessive or undue?? I say, nay.

    Do I have to be vain and have an enormous ego to accomplish great things? Absolutely not.

    I guess my point is that it takes some confidence and motivation to really push yourself past the envelope. In life, people will try to bring you down. People will try to tell you what you can’t do. People will doubt your prowess. Prove them wrong!

    Do you have some accomplishments that you battled to get? Do tell…

    I challenge you all… Step it up a notch! You can start by motivating yourself, and by starting tough tasks with your arms raised into a “V” for victory!!!

    I will leave you with this:

    Tony Manero: You know what I wanna do?
    Jackie: What?
    Tony Manero: Strut.

    *struts*

    Posted with an edge and some love,
    V

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Love Your Family as if You Will Die Today

    One of my favorite quotes is from James Dean. I love the quote so much that it hangs (with a photo of him) in my den. You can see it and other cool quotes in a previous article (here).

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    — James Dean (2/8/31 – 9/30/55)

     

    This quote holds so much power, and it’s sort of ironic that it came from a man who died at the very young age of twenty-four. A man who lived his life to the fullest and died young. We should all be so lucky!

    In some ways I feel that I’ve been blessed by having to live with HIV. I know some of you are going, “What??” Well, allow me to explain. When I was nineteen, my family doctor told me that I had fewer than two years to live. As a teenager, that put some things into perspective! Immediately I realized all that I had and all that I would lose. Since that day, I have spent every moment realizing it could be my last. For that reason, I honestly think it is cool that I became infected and was faced with this reality.

    That said, I would certainly much rather not be HIV+ and lead a more “normal” life… However, I consider myself lucky none-the-less. I sincerely mean that… I consider myself lucky!

    Where am I going with this? You ask. Well let me tell you.

    You guys have an opportunity here… Use me! I mean it. Live through my eyes for a moment. Simply imagine that you were told by your doctor that you had less than a month to live. Sincerely think this and focus on it for a moment. How would that make you feel? After the momentary freakout, wouldn’t you start to assess your life? Wouldn’t you look at how you could tie up your loose ends? Of course you would! You know what else you would do?? You would spend time with those most important to you. You would honor them with love and shower them with hugs and kisses. You would treat them the way they aught (and deserve) to be treated. You would tell them how important they are to you. You would share with them. You would cry with them. You would live those last few weeks by giving them praise and words of encouragement. As your final days crept up, you would tell them over-and-over again how much you love them.

    Guess what…

    You don’t have to be dying to do any of those things.

    Cherish your family!

    Love Your Family As If You Will Die Today

    For tomorrow you may be gone…

    Posted with love,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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    Believe in Your Dreams and Believe in Yourself

    Rome was not built in a day. Like the Romans, you are creating something that will take incredible amounts of time and effort. You are working on yourself. Making you a smarter, stronger, wiser, healthier, more loving, believing, hard working, patient, and understanding person takes time. You absolutely can improve yourself in a day. You absolutely cannot create your ultimate desired outcome for yourself in a day.

    As I’ve said in plenty of previous posts, kaizen is a Japanese philosophy that essentially means small, daily improvements. It is a way of life, not a quick fix. If you want to be all that you can be… If you want to maximize your life, than you must plan and follow through over decades! Baby steps is the simple answer to creating the best you.

    My favorite analogy to improving yourself is, oddly enough, like learning to drive a car with a manual transmission. I’m a stick-shift fan.

    Soon, this analogy won’t be relevant, because it seems that the manual transmission is becoming extinct. For now, I will stick (no pun intended) with my story…

    Assuming you know how to drive a stick… These days, it is basically second nature for you to shift gears. We can easily drink coffee, listen to the radio, think about work, think about family, hold a conversation with the passenger(s), and simply switch from first to second gear without any hesitation or actual thought.

    However, it was not always so easy. As a matter of fact, if you’re honest with yourself, it was downright tough as nails to drive a stick-shift car when you first started out. Close your eyes for a moment and gradually slip back in time to your very first day in the driver’s seat of a vehicle with a manual transmission. During that very first experience, you were learning and you couldn’t do any of things we listed above. Not only could you not do them, you had to concentrate and focus completely on switching gears and switching gears alone.

    Nervously, you gripped the wheel and struggled along. When it was time to change from first to second, you adjusted your hands shakily on the steering wheel so that the right hand was off the wheel and had access to the shifter. From there, you eased your foot off the gas while slowly pressing the clutch in with the other foot. Once that tedious part was done, you gripped the shift knob as sweat started to form on your forehead. Pulling the lever with just enough force, you popped the transmission out of first gear and into neutral momentarily. Finally, you kept pressure on the shifter, sliding it carefully into second gear. As if all of that wasn’t enough, now you had to time smoothly pulling the clutch back out while applying gas incrementally.

    Do you remember that first time? Getting your stick-shift cherry popped?? Wasn’t it kind of like that?

    Even after that first time, we still had to practice this carefully for hours, days, weeks, or even months before we perfected it enough to feel comfortable. Small gains and improvements were made over time before we could finally switch gears without thinking about it. Over time muscle memory took over and we were finally able to do it without a second thought. These days, you don’t even think about the entire process and can juggle in a bunch of additional tasks. Heck I wrote this blog article while driving a stick-shift, eating an Egg McMuffin, and singing along with the tunes jamming out of my stereo… Ok, I made that part up, and I would never condone blogging while driving… But, you get my point!

    Improving ourselves is done much in the same way. When we first dabble into an improvement, it often feels foreign and impossible to accomplish. However, with determination and drive you quickly get past that feeling and over time you create a desired result that feels like second nature today.

    Remember to carefully choose your improvements. Then, draw out goals along the way to achieve your dreams. The last piece of the puzzle is to not only stay focused on your dreams, but to dig deep inside yourself and find the willpower to follow through!

    Nothing is impossible to a person who believes in their dreams and believes in themselves.

    Dream it! Write it! Plan it! Do it!
    (I’ll let you in on a little secret… It can be anything… The sky is the limit)

    Your daily dose of inspiration was brought to you by,
    Mr. V

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    Stay Hungry

    Be more like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs, and Dee Snider!!! You might be asking yourself, What the heck do Arnold, Steve, and Dee have to do with each other? Well, the simple answer is that their commonality may not be immediately apparent. However, there is one thing that is easily figured out. All of these men were (and are) a big success in life. If you dig even deeper, you will find something in common between all three guys… They were all hungry. I don’t mean hungry as in needing food or drink… I mean hungry as in a zest and zeal for life that led them on a daily basis to pound the pavement looking for new and better ways to improve and succeed. That is my kind of hungry!!! Let’s learn a thing or two from each of these people:

    Cracking open Steve Jobs’ biography, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, I was instantly mesmerized and couldn’t stop reading it. The book covers the entire life of one of my idols, Steve Jobs. A second idol, who impacted me just as much as Steve, was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fortunately for me, Arnold’s autobiography, Total Recall, was recently released too. So, I read it. I can tell you that both of the books were amazing to me. I have heard plenty of harsh words about both men and about both books. That said, I found them both inspirational and incredibly motivational. I haven’t read Dee’s biography and I’m not even sure if one exists. However, if he or someone else did write a book at Dee, I bet it’s killer!

    Regardless of what you think about Steve, Arnold, and Dee, or how you feel about their lives and/or books, I think they are all amazing men who fought very hard to achieve their dreams. For this reason they will remain my idols and I will continue to believe in myself with their inspiration.

    Back in circa 1977 I first saw Arnold in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the “most perfectly developed physique.” I had never seen anyone so muscular and developed. It was unreal seeing that a human being was capable of such sheer size and muscularity. This brief glimpse in time has stuck with me for my entire life and I can still remember seeing that photo. Years later, I use Pumping Iron the movie as a backdrop when I do my weight lifting. Also, I have pictures of Arnold (among other lifters) in my basement gym. To me – Arnold was, and still is, the bodybuilding King.

    Only a couple of years later, when we bought our first home computer, I was introduced to Steve Jobs. Between Steve and Arnold I was a changed child, and later changed man. Finally a few years later, Twisted Sister came out with “I Wanna Rock” and I was again inspired!

    As I am prone to do, I digress. Where I was going with this is that you need to have dreams and you need to work daily to achieve them. Hmmm… Actually, you do not need to have them. You need air, water, and food to survive. “Dreams” is merely a want. Ahhh… Now I’ve uncovered a truth. Do you want to improve? I can tell you unequivocally that I do. As a matter-of-fact I think it is essential to my being. That’s where I was going with this. Many of us get into a set state, become complacent, and no longer worry about getting any better. You need to make a conscious effort if you want to improve.

    Did that make any sense?

    Now for the correlation… In Arnold’s book, he mentions one of his early movies, Stay Hungry. In Steve’s book, Isaacson talks about a commencement speech that Steve gave at Stanford University. He finished the speech with, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

    I dunno about you, but those two sentences sum it up for me!

    If you are looking for words of encouragement while struggling through something, think about Steve Jobs’ final words in that speech.

    Clearly I know that Arnold’s movie, and Steve’s sentences have nothing to do with each other, but what they did was spark a feeling inside me and I connected (for the first time in my life) the two idols I had built my life around. Weird, right? The hilarious part of this is that Dee is a third person in my “stay hungry” pyramid of inspiration… Oddly enough, Dee Snider of the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band, Twisted Sister is also a hungry inspiring being. Isn’t that an odd combination?? But, if you read the following lyrics from his song, “Stay Hungry” you will see that he gets it too.

    “Be the hunter and the hunted, keep your target in your sight.
    Don’t be side tracked or shunted, let pretenders feel your bite.
    And, if you start to slide, never show you’re weak.
    Don’t feel you’ve got to hide.
    Remember what you’re fighting for, remember what you seek.

    Stay hungry!”

     

    When I first heard that song back in circa (I like using that word) 1984 I immediately got it. Even though I was only 17 years old and probably wasn’t HIV+ yet… I still got it. A year-and-a-half later when I was told I was HIV+ this song became more profound. At that time I needed all of the idols I could muster just to survive. These days, I am using these (and other) inspirational people, words, and lyrics to make myself a better person.

    At first look (and second and third) you might think that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs, and Dee Snider have absolutely nothing to do with each other. However, a closer look will reveal three completely different people and personalities who became huge successes through staying hungry! We can all learn something from Arnold, Steve, Dee, and other folks just like them. If you desire improvement and success then you will need to weather some storms… However, it is absolutely possible!

    In the middle of Steve’s commencement, he also had a few profound words:

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

     

    This long-winded article was meant to do one thing. To get you up off your arse and keep you putting some elbow-grease into your life. You can either kick back and be driven where life takes you, or you can lead the way and determine your own destiny. I’m a destiny controller… What are you?

    Written with a buttload of motivational mojo,
    Vaughn

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    Life Balance

    Balancing the different pieces of your life is a surefire way to improve and become successful. I strive to improve aspects of my life and therefore build a better balance. This goes back to a few previous articles I’ve written about kaizen, and constantly working to improve yourself on a daily basis.

    One popular method of working on your balance is called a “circle of life” or a “wheel of life.” Usually these circles will consist of eight (or so) slices of your life. These slices are categories from your life; which can be used for improvement. They are often some form or fashion of these: family, friends, spirituality, finances, self esteem, fitness, nutrition, stress mastery, hobbies, relationships, life purpose, and so on.

    Each person’s categories (regardless of whether they are six, eight, ten, or some other arbitrary number) are different. I chose the eight most significant parts of my life: spirituality, family, finances, health, work, friends, hobbies, and community.

    In the circle of life, my selections would look something like this:

    Once you have your pie designed, sliced, and labeled, then you rate each category on a scale of one to ten, with ten being absolute perfection (level ten is practically impossible to achieve, but a great goal area to keep improving toward). Using this scale, you dissect each slice by drawing a line representative of this rating. This new line will literally shrink each piece of pie, based on how good you are doing in that aspect of your life. I currently rate my pieces like this: family=7, finances=4, hobbies=8, health=8, work=7, friends=6, community=6, and spirituality=3.

    Drawn and filled out, my “circle of life” would look something like this:

    As you can easily see, this is not close to being a perfectly round circle. Many of the motivational speakers ask you to visualize this completed circle of life as a wheel on your car. Now imagine trying to drive along with a wheel that is shaped like this. As you can see, you would have a bumpy ride to say the least! This “bumpy ride” translates to your life… Without balance, your life will be a crazy and bumpy ride.

    To simplify this drawing, I created a scale (that was derived from my own ideas mixed with those of countless self-improvement coaches, family, and friends) that I follow with the most important aspects of my life. I rate each of these eight parts individually with a number from one to ten, where one is horrible, and ten is the absolute best. I add all of my category ratings together and then divide by the number of categories to give me a balance “average.” I call this my life balance value.

    If we go back to my previous numbers, it would look like this:
    family=7 + finances=4 + hobbies=8 + health=8 + work=7 + friends=6 + community=6 + spirituality=3

    These all add together to equal 49.

    From there, I divide by the number of categories; which in my case is eight.

    49/8 = 6.125

    I round down and find that my life balance average is 6. So, my overall “life balance value” is only a six. I consider an average of eight to be an exceptional life and that is where my goal is set. So, I need to work on each thing to get them to create an average of eight. It is my belief that each of these pieces should be at least equal to six (above average) in order to achieve true success. And, my overall score should be eight in order to lead an exceptional life.

    Now that I have that life balance value, I use Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s cycle of improvement to work on each of these areas (categories). Simply put, his cycle is: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. In this way, I can continually improve any part of my life by simply repeating this cycle in a never-ending pattern. You can read more about Deming and kaizen in my previous article: healthywealthytribe.com/kaizen

    I am working on it, but it is a tough thing to improve one’s quality of life.

    What is your life balance value?

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    Inspirational Passages and Quotes

    Quotes and passages can be incredibly uplifting and inspirational. I like to read inspirational quotes every day. I start my day by reading the following quotes… They instill my spirit with motivation and lift me to a higher level. Check ’em out, and let me know what you think!

    “Come not between the dragon and his wrath.”
    -William Shakespeare / King Lear, act I, scene 1

    “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
    -James Dean

    “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
    -Albert Einstein

    “Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Remember: Life is short, break the rules”
    -James Dean

    “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
    -William Shakespeare / Measure by Measure, act I, scene 4

    “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.”
    -Helen Keller

    “Excellence sucks!”
    -Tony Robbins

    “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
    -Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Temet Nosce. It means, know thyself.”
    -the Oracle

    “Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.”
    -Helen Keller

    “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
    -George Eliot

    “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.”
    -Benjamin Franklin

    “Nobody can be successful unless he loves his work.”
    -David Sarnoff

    “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
    -Yoda

    “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
    -Gandalf the Grey

    “Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.”
    -Amelia Earhart

    “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”
    -Albus Dumbledor (care of J. K. Rowling)

    I would be remiss if I didn’t include some of my own personal quotes… Enjoy!

    “Dum spiro somnium”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “We’re all going through something… The trick is to go through it anyway!”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Life has its ups and downs… Ride the downs and climb the ups!”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Chivalry is not just a fancy word with a neat meaning… It’s a way of life.”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    “Life throws punches. It’s not about punching back… It’s about taking ’em, and still standing.”
    -Vaughn Ripley

    Do you have a favorite quote or passage? Please share and chime-in!

    Hoping this inspired or motivated you!

    -Vaughn

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    Dum Spiro Somnium

    Perhaps it’s time that you created a life motto for yourself. Maybe you already have one. Could be that you have no idea what I’m talking about… Let’s discuss the potential of this very powerful tool.

    Dum spiro somnium is my life motto. It means, “While I breathe, I dream.” Actually… I do not know for certain that it means that, because I simply made it up based on Google translate and a little Latin knowledge. But, it is my interpretation and best-guess as to converting my life motto to Latin. Why did I convert my life motto to Latin? you ask. Well, mostly because Latin is a cool way of saying things in life that are important to us. At least I think so. I do know that somnium means to dream, or daydream. This was close enough for me!

    I was able to piece this translation together because I know my family motto, dum spiro spero; which translates to “While I breathe, I hope.” This is a great family motto and a wonderful creed to live by. However, I thought about it carefully and realized that it doesn’t totally encompass my beliefs and motto. I’m a dreamer. Life is a dream of sorts for me, and my imagination is the key to making it day-in day-out. Hence making my very own personal life motto.

    Do you have a life motto?

    Life motto, vision, mission… All of these things are so important to our continued improvement and success. Along with these powerful tools, I think that short and long-term goals are incredibly beneficial as well. Expect a post in the near future that discusses goals, missions, and vision statements.

    If you don’t have one, or are interested in some motto ideas, checkout this list: motto.biz/list-of-life-mottos-to-live-by.

    Another great resource, and the article that inspired me to create this one, can be found here: birdsontheblog.co.uk/whats-your-life-motto.

    Make sure you chime in and tell me what your thoughts are on this subject, and if you have a life motto.

    Until we chat again,
    Vaughn

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    Getting Results

    For better or for worse, ALL of the things we do have results or an outcome. Wouldn’t it be cool to shape your life to provide positive and desired/wanted results? This post is related to one of my passions… Improving yourself. I am going to spend a little bit of time here, and hopefully help you get closer to achieving your dreams.

    Many moons ago, a saying became very popular and has seemingly stuck with us… The saying is: “Knowledge equals power.”

    While this is a potent statement, I do not feel that it applies as well today as it may have eons ago. It’s my belief that it takes a good deal more than knowledge to give you power. Along with this statement, another one comes to mind: “Just Do It!” While this is another potent saying, it isn’t really possible without some planning and focus… Right?

    Let’s talk about my trademark super-secret formula that gives you more than knowledge equals power and/or just do it… My formula gives you the entire bluprint and allows you to accomplish any dream!

    My formula is: KFD=R

    or:

    Knowledge
    Focus
    Drive

    (equals)
    Results

    What? You may be asking… Let’s break it down!

    What is knowledge?
    Knowledge is information, facts, or data that is gathered through many areas like:

  • Internet searches (Google it, but beware fiction);
  • Books, videos, audio recordings, and other media;
  • Life lessons;
  • Peers, friends, and family members;
  • Church;
  • Schools and training;
  • Your own thought process.
  •  

    Try some of the following ideas to utilize the knowledge that you gather:

  • Gather information and ideas;
  • Select an optimal approach to tackle tasks;
  • Utilize friends, mentors, coaches, and peers (bounce ideas off each other);
  • Learn by doing (“sharpen the saw” as Covey likes to say);
  • Avoid analysis paralysis.
  •  

    When a baby touches a hot stove, she does not need KFD (Knowledge, Focus, and Drive) to learn and follow through. In most cases, when extreme pain is involved, the focus and drive come naturally.

    Unfortunately, most things in life will not be powerful (painful) enough to ensure we will do what it takes to accomplish our desired result or outcome.

    Be proactive instead of reactive!!! The baby scenario aside, we all deserve and desire a healthy and happy life… So, make that your focus and drive. Instead of waiting for a doctor to tell you that you’ll need a walker, or are going to die… I challenge you to walk away from this discussion and be proactive in creating a healthier you!

    What is focus?

  • Concentration;
  • Motivation;
  • Application;
  • Thinking or pondering;
  • Hard work;
  • Devotion;
  • Believing.
  •  

    Design a doable plan to achieve your desired outcome (avoid analysis paralysis). Once your plan is in place, utilize focus to stay on track with what you know and make adjustments as necessary to achieve your final outcome. Keeping a journal and tracking your progress will make a big difference in accomplishing things that you set out to achieve. Make sure that you watch out for time stealing distractions. Finally, surround yourself with like-minded people.

    Let me ask you something… When an airliner flies from Dulles Airport to Sea-Tac Airport do you think that it simply flies one straight path over the entire flight? Of course not. A flight across the country goes through thousands of course corrections. For similar reasons, you must stay in touch with your goals and ensure that your daily path is adjusted to get you to your final destination!

    “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”
    — Henry Ford

    What is drive?

  • Willpower;
  • Gumption;
  • Determination;
  • Get-up-and-go;
  • Mental toughness;
  • Persistence;
  • Self-discipline;
  • Resolve;
  • Tenacity.
  •  

    Along this path, find some leverage. Often this leverage will be small, and other times it will be as big as a doctor telling you, “You will die if you don’t change.” Regardless of the size, leverage is a very powerful tool to help you follow through with goals. Concentrate! Dig deep when you must. Be persistent, and NEVER give up!!!

    Now we can say it… “Just do it!”

    What are results?

  • Outcome;
  • Consequences;
  • Goals;
  • Conclusion;
  • Effect;
  • Finale;
  • Product;
  • Accomplishment.
  •  

    Define your desired results or outcomes. Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Exercise and/or weight loss;
  • Get closer with God;
  • Financial success;
  • Happy home;
  • Improving at work;
  • Quit smoking;
  • Write a book;
  • Live a righteous life;
  • Become a successful entrepreneur.
  •  

    Apply KFD=R today!

    In order to be successful at using KFD=R you need to know your “desired outcome” or the results you wish to achieve. These results need to be clearly outlined and defined.

    Once you know your results you will want to set short and long term goals. These goals will vary based on the desired outcome.

    “Climbing Our Mountains Takes Knowledge, Focus, and Drive”
    — Vaughn Ripley

    I hope this post was helpful, insightful, and most of all motivational! And —As always— Please give me feedback and provide comments on your own life experiences!

    See ya soon,
    Vaughn

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    PEP Talk from the Grave

    My dad taught me countless things. On a daily basis I relate more than a dozen things that I do that came directly from his teachings. He helped me to mold the base of loyalty and creativity that became the grown up me. Among the manifold things he guided me on, he impressed three things into me more than anything else. Those three things were preparation, elbow-grease, and persistence. I do not remember him ever teaching me to combine these powerful tools, but I clearly remember individual lessons based around each one. The ironic thing about life is that after Dad left this life, I came to the epiphany that he had inadvertently taught me the secret to success in life. You see, my father recently died. I had the fortune and good luck of being down in South Carolina visiting him and my step-mom on the day he finally succumbed to lung cancer. Very early in the morning on Sunday, December 4, 2011, my dad passed. I know it sounds final and maybe even morbid, but I believe that it is not the end of my dad. Julien Kim Ripley lives on, through me. And, he will live on through my children as well. Over the past year and a half, I have spent time each day thinking about Dad’s teachings and the amazing things he shared with me. A few months ago I was designing an inspirational speech for Sodexo, and I listed the three most important elements Dad taught me. I suddenly realized (literally in an instant) that the three things worked in conjunction with each other. Beyond that, I also found that if setup and performed correctly, these three things would solve ANYTHING! On top of that, I almost jumped out of my skin, when I found that those three things formed the acronym and word, PEP. How fracking cool is that??

    Today’s blog article is going to briefly breakdown each ingredient and then mix them together to create a recipe for ultimate success.

    Preparation

    Be Prepared
    —Boy Scout Motto

    Dad instilled a sense of planning in me from a very young age. Dad was a land surveyor and engineer, so planning was practically ingrained in him. For Dad, preparation was almost OCD. He planned, mapped, or drew out everything (regardless of how small the task). I can remember the countless hours he and Mom spent mapping out our trip across America. I also remember many pre-planning session before going out on our boat. His fascination for maps and route-planning has rubbed off on me. Along with mapping and general planning, Dad got me and my brothers to join the Boy Scouts. While there, I learned more about preparation and planning than most anything else in my life. There are tons of books on proper planning and preparation. Even better, the web is chock-full of advice and information. Seek and ye shall receive!

    Elbow-Grease

    “There’s plain few problems can’t be solved with a little sweat and hard work.”
    —Preacher from the Pale Rider

    When I was eleven years old, my dad asked me to move some chopped wood from our large wood pile to the easy access pile by our side door. I remember moaning and slumping as I dragged my feet toward the log pile. I acted as if Dad had put some terrible burden on my shoulders and it showed in my demeanor. I kicked the ground with each step and when I finally stood before the enormous stack of wood, I almost cried. Picking up a single log and carrying it like it weighed 50 pounds, I sauntered back to our house. I dropped the log and was turning to go back for another single log load. As I turned, I caught my Dad’s eyes. Dad was working on another project. He always worked so hard. I mean HARD. Most of us have no concept of what “hard” really is… Well, if you saw my dad in action, then you would understand what I’m saying. He worked incessantly, with a purpose, and HARD. Dad glared at me momentarily and then he called me over. Even though he was always busy, Dad had time to lecture and teach me. He stooped his sinuous 6 foot 2 inch body down to my level, smoothed the angry look on his face, and then firmly said, “Vaughn, you work harder at getting out of work than doing the actual work.” I honestly didn’t fully grasp the meaning of such a profound statement when I was eleven, but I get it now. And, I’ve gotten it for years. As a matter of fact, it is often my mantra to help boost me in giving an extra push during hard work. My dad and Clint Eastwood were a lot alike, and I can easily see Dad saying the above quote instead of Clint.

    Persistence

    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
    —Calvin Coolidge

    Out of the three, this one is often the toughest to stick with (no pun intended). Almost any project, goal, or outcome that is worth completing will have a trouble spot (sometimes several) that seems impassable. It is times like that when you must batten down the hatches, lean into the battle, and move forward despite your internal objections.

    One my favorite sayings that Dad used on me was, “You gotta keep trying until you get it right.” I know that it is popular these days to say, “There is no try” (usually conveyed in a shoddy Yoda impersonation). But, that is not altogether true. I think that most people mean try as a solution, not as steps along the way. What I mean (and what my dad meant) is that you must try, try, and try again before completing some things. When Yoda said “There is no try” he was talking about the final outcome … Like, “I tried, but failed.” In that meaning, there really is no try, there is only do or do not. But, we do try along our path to success and understanding that will take you leaps and bounds ahead of the curve.

    Bottom line: Being persistent is the difference between making something magnificent and failing to make anything.

    Each of those above ideas by itself is mighty powerful. But, when combined, they form one of the best known combinations to plan, do, and follow through. I guarantee that you WILL NOT fail, if you properly execute each of these in conjunction with each other. The next time you have a desired result, utilize PEP. Start by sitting down, hashing it out carefully, and outlining a defined plan of how to achieve it. In other words, Prepare! Once the preparation has been completed and you have clear milestones and an action plan, get down to it. I like to call this part Elbow-grease… Get some! As you are diligently working on completing your project, dig deep and find leverage and other tools to keep you going… Be Persistent! I know that some of you are saying, ”That can’t possibly be all there is to it.” But I can confidently tell you from experience, that it truly is all there is to it!!!

    “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
    —Amelia Earhart

    Dad may be dead, but his advice and ideals live on through me—and now—through You!

    Shared with love,
    Vaughn

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    Kaizen

    We’ll be discussing kaizen a lot in this blog… I even created a category specifically for it. So I figured I’d take a few minutes to define what kaizen is and tell you my take on it. Let’s start with a translation… Kaizen is Japanese for “good change.”

    = kai = change
    = zen = good (for the better)

    Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy. Even though the literal translation is good change, it has become more popularly known by the philosophical definition, continual improvement. Or, as Tony Robbins says, “Constant And Never-ending Improvement” or simply CANI. Essentially it is daily changes (regardless of how small) that make regular improvements in your life.

    Masaaki Imai made the term, kaizen, famous in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success. Over time, “good change” became “improvement”, or “change for the better.” It refers to a philosophy and/or practice that focuses on continuous improvement of business processes. That definition has morphed into the present day translation of improvement in business or on a personal level.

    William Edwards Deming helped popularize the idea of kaizen when he introduced PDCA (plan–do–check–act or plan–do–check–adjust) to the Japanese businesses after Word War II. PDCA is an iterative four-step method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. PDCA is also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel.

    The steps in a PDCA cycle are:
    PLAN
    The word plan really doesn’t need a definition, but we’ll tackle it anyway… Use this stage to establish the objectives and create your desired result or output (the target or goals). By establishing realistic output expectations, the improvement is easily tracked and managed. When possible, start small with your objectives.

    DO
    Pretty straight forward… Implement the plan, execute the process, make the product. Collect data for charting and analysis in the following “CHECK” and “ACT” steps.

    CHECK
    Review the actual results (measured and collected in “DO” above) and compare against the expected results (targets or goals from the “PLAN”) to find any differences. Look for deviation in implementation from the “PLAN” and also look for the execution, i.e., “DO”. Charting data can make this considerably easier to unveil trends over several PDCA cycles and in order to convert the data into information. Information is what you need for the next step “ACT”.

    ACT
    Request corrective actions on significant differences between actual and planned results. Act is sometimes called “Adjust” by modern trainers. Determine where to apply changes to ensure improvement of the process or product. Stephen R. Covey called this stage, “Sharpen the Saw” in his Seven Habits book.

    What do you think about kaizen? And, do you strive on a daily basis to improve yourself in some form or fashion?

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    Inspirational Business Cards

    I am always working on ways to inspire myself and others. I believe that one of the keys to my longevity is my strong positive mental attitude. For most of my adult life, when someone asked me, “How are you doing?” I would immediately shoot back, “Awesome!” This shocks many, and usually creates a smile. Almost everyone is at least partially motivated by my spirit.

    After twenty (or so) years of doing this, I decided that awesome was a cliché and over used. So, I decided to start changing my “feeling” of the day and started trying new exceptional words. I quickly realized that I fell back on awesome more than finding or saying new words, because it was so ingrained in my mind. I really wanted to inspire people on a daily basis and thought that changing my word routinely would help to stir some additional emotions.

    I put some heavy thinking into this and came up with what I think (IMHO) is a creative solution. I bought some business card printer paper, broke out my dictionary and thesaurus, and came up with all of my favorite feelings. After compiling about thirty “feelings,” I put one and its associated dictionary definition on an individual business card. I keep this stack of feelings on my dresser. Each day I open my wallet, pull out yesterday’s feeling, and insert today’s feeling.

    The important part to mention is my mantra, incantation, or meditational (is that even a word??) moment in which I hold the card and read it. I read it carefully and examine the word. I ask myself what does this word really mean. I go over the definition and ensure that I know exactly what it means. I verbally repeat the feeling to myself as I slide the card ceremoniously into my wallet. I make sure that it is in the front of my wallet and viewable every time I open it.

    I want to impress upon those doubters out there… I know that you can’t simply read the word “wonderful” and then feel that way. I am not a fan of positive thinking without meat behind it. Instead, I focus on the word and ask myself what feeling “wonderful” would be like. I envision myself having a “wonderful” day. I imagine going through the day and experiencing “wonderful” things. In this way, I create a base. Then when people approach me throughout the day and ask their cliché, “How’s it going?” I spend half a second remembering that I’m wonderful, I crack a partial smile, look them directly in the eyes, and say, “I feel wonderful.”

    To put this business card thingy into perspective (and help explain what the heck I’m talking about), I’ll show you a couple of examples of my inspirational business cards.

    Flipping open my wallet… How do you know which one it is? you ask. It’s the one that says, “Bad Mother Fucker” on it. I digress, as usual… Inside my wallet, the first thing I see is:

    Tremendous
    [trih-men-duh s] –adjective
    1. extraordinarily great in size, amount, or intensity.
    2. extraordinary in excellence.

    Now doesn’t that sound bad-assed? I mean if out of the blue someone responded to your, “How’s it going?” question with a quick, “Tremendous!” Wouldn’t that instill a little something? Wouldn’t that make you smile? Wouldn’t it inspire or motivate you even a little bit? It’s baby steps folks… I’m not talking about earth shattering, life changing, slam dunks. I’m talking about little things you can do to make yourself and those around you stronger and better people.

    If you had asked me to open my wallet yesterday, the card was:
    Intrepid
    [in-trep-id] –adjective
    resolutely fearless; dauntless.

    Finally, I know that tomorrow’s card will be:
    Impelled
    [im-peld] –adjective
    1. to drive or urge forward; press on; incite or constrain to action.
    2. to drive or cause to move onward; propel; impart motion to.

    I think you get the point. The bottom line is that I wanted to get past the humdrumness (I’m sure that ain’t a word!) of simply saying “Awesome!” every time that someone asked me how I was.

    FWIW – Here are more of my daily inspirational cards that I have created:
    Amazing, Astounding, Audacious, Awesome, Chivalrous, Courageous, Excellent, Exceptional, Extraordinary, Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless, Grand, Great, Heroic, Incomparable, Incredible, Inspired, Magnificent, Marvelous, Motivated, Out of This World! (there is no definition on this card… the title says it all), Outstanding, Phenomenal, Plucky, Prodigious, Ready to Rock and Roll! (also no definition on this card), Sensational, Splendid, Stupendous, Sublime, Super, Superb, Terrific, Valiant, and Wonderful.

    What do you do on a daily basis to ensure that you’ll have an uplifted day?

    Dig life and everything it brings!

    -Vaughn

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    What are You Grateful For

    I know that this topic has been covered by most inspirational authors and in hundreds (maybe thousands) of books and magazine articles. Alas, I have my own take on it, and I wanted to share my belief about one of the strongest subjects I know about… Gratitude.

    As you may know, I have thousands of things to be grateful for. All of us do. But, we rarely take the time during the day to think about those things, let alone focus and be thankful for them. About four years ago I discovered a way that I could make sure that I concentrate on the things most important to me on a daily basis. This powerful tool is actually just a simple rock. That’s right… I carefully selected a nice small stone from beside a creek and use it as my reminder of the things I should be thankful for. I call this tool my gratitude stone.

    Gratitude Stone
    There’s not really anything special about my gratitude stone. I did want it to be fairly smooth, so it doesn’t snag on my pants pocket. It was also important to have it be small, to avoid huge bulges in my pants (I have enough of those already – HA!). This stone also happens to be one of the things that I am grateful for.

    You might be asking yourself how I use the stone… Well, let me enlighten you to my usage.

    First off, I put the stone on my dresser at night with my wallet and Chap Stick. This way I remember to bring it with me every day. When I finish getting dressed in the morning, I pick up the rock and start my daily ritual. Before slipping it into my pocket, I spend about two minutes holding it, rubbing it, and thinking about the things I am grateful for. Some things (e.g. wife, kids, work, friends, and so on) come quickly and easily to me, so I focus on them first. After thinking about each of those things, I dig deeper into my imagination and try to come up with five more things that I might not have thought of without prying a little. And, I do more than simply say, I am grateful for yada… After choosing the topic to be thankful for, I then take it one step further and ask, “Why am I thankful for yada?”

    This morning ritual is not the only time I thank the universe for the things I am so fortunate to have in my life. The reason I have the stone in my pocket is so that I will feel it throughout the day. Anytime I reach into my pocket to pull out keys, Chap Stick, or money I also find that wonderful trinket. Once I touch it, I spend a moment and rub it. During that time I quickly pop through my list of things I’m thankful for. It’s only for a moment, but I do this a dozen or more times each day. Then, at the end of my day, while I’m emptying my pockets, I do it again. So I probably spend ten to fifteen minutes (at a minimum) of every day focusing solely on the things that matter most to me.

    Since you guys are all probably wondering what I think about when I rub my stone, I thought I would list out some of the things:

    • My wife
    • My kids
    • My brothers and sisters
    • My moms and dads (yes, that is plural… HA!)
    • My longevity and ability to outlive everyone’s expectations
    • Work (yep… I love it, and am grateful for it)
    • My hobbies and fun stuff
    • My home (shelter)
    • Food on my dining room table (and in the fridge)

    After I finish with the easy list, I move on to the tougher to think of things like:

    • My five senses (fortunately I have all five at my disposal)
    • My arms and legs (not everyone is as lucky as me)
    • The sun (and the moon)
    • Computers
    • The snow
    • Four seasons
    • Social networks
    • My gift of writing
    • Internet access
    • Life coaches and mentors
    • Challenges (yes sir… Very grateful for these, because they help me grow!)

    You get the picture. And, hopefully I have helped you realize that there are lots of wonderful things for you to be thankful for too.

    Do you believe in gratitude? Please comment and let us know what you are thankful for. And, tell us if you use something like a gratitude stone to remind you of them.

    Hopefully this was a post to remember… And, maybe even be grateful for.

    I’m more grateful for you readers than you can imagine!

    -Vaughn

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    Positive Attitude Goes a Long Way

    Let me start by saying that I do not condone, nor believe in positive thinking/attitude without something to back it up. E.g. I don’t think you can look at a weed-filled garden and chant there are no weeds 1,000 times and then they mysteriously and suddenly disappear. That said, I do sincerely believe in a positive attitude and taking it a step further, I think it is one of the determining reasons I am still alive today!

    So… What does that mean? You ask. Exactly what I said. In my opinion, a positive attitude can and will prolong your life (especially through a battle with some form of deadly illness and so on). On top of that, I believe that it will improve aspects of your life that you had no idea needed improving (and some that you knew needed it). Also, a positive attitude and outlook will get you places in life. Finally, it is contagious! That’s right… Your positive attitude can and will rub off on the people around you. If you think carefully about this last statement, you will quickly realize that the opposite is true as well. You certainly don’t want to be the bad apple in the basket!

    Now let’s talk about some of the ways that you can spend your time improving your attitude:

    Wake with a Smile
    Many studies have been done on the power of a simple smile. For the most part, it has been scientifically proven that putting a smile on your face will improve your outlook, attitude, and make people think you are insane (just kidding about the last one, wanted to see if you were still with me). Since we know the power of a smile, why not harness that power and use it to your advantage? Jump out of bed grinning. And, when you get to the bathroom mirror, make sure that you have a big goofy smile pasted on your yap! You’d be surprised what this will do for the start of your day. Try it tomorrow morning… Heck… Try it now! Go run into the bathroom smiling and look at yourself. Isn’t that a friendly face? Imagine how others react to you when you walk down the halls of work. If they see you with a stoic look, frown, or even pout, don’t you think that is a negative aura and reflection of you? Reverse those feelings and beliefs by smiling.

    I should mention, I’m not talking about a toothy vampire grin… Or, a sociopath smile with teeth clenched and eyes all scary. I mean a simple, calm, and friendly smile.

    Try it!

    Share the Love
    I often fall back on the idea behind the movie Pay It Forward. What a great story and premise. When I say, share the love, that’s what I mean… Once you have built up a happy life filled with positive emotions, you should share that with others. Go beyond simply smiling at people. Instead offer them information about how you created a positive attitude in your life. You’d be surprised how receptive people are to hearing ways to improve themselves. It is a key component of living a happy and successful life. Simply share your happiness with others. And, not only with tips on improving your attitude, but also by doing friendly things. When is the last time you stopped your car to help someone on the shoulder with a flat tire? I’m a huge fan of doing this. And, I NEVER accept a penny from anyone that I help in this fashion. During the deep snow storms of 2009-2010, I spent days out in the weather (with my FJ Cruiser, a snatch strap, and a snow shovel – See the photo at the beginning of this article) rescuing people who were stuck. Boy did that feel good! Gotta love helping people!

    Try it!

    Meditation
    I use a daily meditation to improve my outlook and help to heal myself. Anytime that I am experiencing struggles, I will kick back, take some deep breaths, and literally fall into a trance (don’t fall into a trance while driving!) and recognize things in my body and things around me from a different perspective. There are tons of books and information on these kinds of things. Regardless of which way you do/experience meditation, I would recommend that everyone tries it. You’d be surprised how much better you can improve your feelings and attitude by doing a few minutes of deep and thoughtful meditation.

    One of my favorite ways to meditate is during a low-impact and deep stretching yoga workout. 20 Minutes of deep breathing and yoga stretches while meditating internally can do wonders for your body and day!

    Try it!

    Try all of them!!!

    That’s it for today… I hope I was able to stir some positive emotions!

    Do you believe in a positive attitude? If so, how do you accomplish this?
    Typed with love,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

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