Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

I recently finished Gary’s book Crush It.  Stick with me on this review because despite my feelings toward it as a business book, it has a lot of value that I want to talk about.

It’s a short business book that I would say is just above average benefit to me as it focused on technologies that I’m already well familiar with and it at points appears to be a bit dated at times, but I realize it was written a few years back which is ages ago in the fast moving world of social media.  So just as a pure business book, I can recommend it if you want a quick read, but nothing revolutionary here.

However, my real point in writing this review is not the material it presents, but how it got me thinking about my life.  I talked about this a few days ago indirectly and as I was finishing the book, I kept thinking back to the main point….find your passion and live it.  Life is too short not too.  I’ve struggled with that a bit.  There are a lot of things I enjoy doing, from hobbies, to work, to family activities.  But what is my passion?

Will that passion become my lively hood?  Not sure, but I think that if something is my passion, something that I would do for free, it would be almost difficult to not be able to make a living from it.  This is something that we should all seriously think about and evaluate in our own lives, what is our passion.  Leo from ZenHabits gives us a nice little guide to finding your passion that is worth reading and following.

I’m looking forward to the journey of finding my passion, I may already be living it without recognizing it, but the end result will be so rewarding and life so fulfilling, that I’ll have no choice but to crush it!!

What is your Passion?

What is your passion?  What is it that you love to do and could spend all your time doing without getting paid if that was possible?  That’s a tougher question to answer than you may think.  I’m reading through a book now called Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk and in the first few pages I come across this quote:

Live your passion.  What does that mean, anyway?  It means that when you get up for work every morning, every single morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world.  You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing — working, playing and relaxing are one and the same.  You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work.  You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.

Wow…there’s not much more I can add to that.  What a powerful statement.  He goes on a few sentences later to say something else that struck home with me.

You spend so much time at work, why waste it doing anything other than what you love most?  Life is too short for that.

So that is up through page 3.  Can’t wait to finish the rest of the book to see what other nuggets I can find.

Homework for the night….sit back and honestly think…what is your passion?  Be honest with yourself, what get’s you excited when you talk about it with others?  What can’t you wait to share with others?  If you can’t say that about what you’re doing, you have to question whether that is your passion.

Eat that Elephant One Bite at a Time

I love that saying, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!”  Many of has probably heard that many times over our lives, but do we apply it’s meaning to our lives?  It’s easy to get caught up and overwhelmed with the big picture.  We see the elephant and say, I’ll never be able to eat all that!  When faced with a large, overwhelming problem…one that you can’t see a solution, it’s best to break it down into manageable chunks and take care of each one, one at a time.

Break your big goals down

When we set big goals, the can seem unachievable and we may become discouraged.   Let’s say your goal is to become debt free.  Well it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pay it all off at once…so you start with one bill at a time.  Pay off something, then put those resources into the next one, and so on.  That doesn’t seem so hard does it?   Lets say you want to write the next great novel.  It may seem overwhelming….but start writing, one word, then one sentence, then the next…before you know it you have a paragraph….then enough paragraphs to fill a chapter…then enough chapters to fill a novel.  Seems doable that way.  I know I’m oversimplifying it greatly, but it really is that easy.  The great novelists didn’t just wave their hands and the novel appeared….they wrote it one word at a time.

Small goals are your friends

I like the concept of smaller goals.  They are your friend and have so many benefits.  When you break a large task into smaller tasks and large goals into smaller ones, as you mark those small tasks off your list, you are not only moving forward and moving towards accomplishing your goal, but also giving yourself a sense of accomplishment as you mark each one off.  Not only are you continually moving forward, you are providing yourself with positive reinforcement to continue to completion.

So my advice to you (and really to me as I have trouble sometimes following my own advice), take that elephant that your facing whatever it may be….and eat it one bite at a time.

What Motivates You?

What motivates you?  What gets you out of bed in the morning and gets you going each and every day?  When I interview new potential employees, this is one my favorite questions I like to ask.  I like to see what motivates each person to get up, get their shoes on and come to work.  For some, it’s just a job.  For others, they actually like the work.  It’s fulfilling or challenging or whatever, but they genuinely like to do what they do.  For the most part, everyone has always given a good answer, really there isn’t a wrong answer (maybe some better than others), but what got me thinking the other day was what motivates me.

I do enjoy my job, I enjoy the work I do, the challenge of the what I do and helping our clients succeed.  But outside of work, what really motivates me?  It’s something to think about.  I think many of us go through the motions of life….work, home, family events, repeat….and those are the exciting days.  As I tend to do from time to time, I like to reevaluate my life and what I’m doing and where I’m going….and now I’m looking at my motivations.

  • My family.  I am motivated everyday to be with my family.  My four children and my awesome wife always make me wake with a smile on my face (at least on the inside).  I enjoy spending time with them and I’m motivated to be the best father / husband I can be.  Everything else I do, I do for them.  They are my motivation.
  • My job.  As I mentioned above, my job brings great motivation, not only for the obvious earnings that I make and giving me the ability to provide for my family…but it challenges me intellectually, and the joy of doing a job well done for a client and that I’ve made a difference in someone elses work is a great feeling.
  • Perhaps most importantly, my faith.  I’m motivated everyday to wake up with a song in my heart and a smile on my face…..doesn’t happen everyday…but I try.  I try to go about my day each day as if God was right there with me…..because he is……remembering that keeps me focused on my goals, keeps me moving to where God is and looking for his gentle guidance to lead me to where he wants me to be.  The excitement of knowing that God is always working in my life is a great motivation each day.

Motivation is a powerful force in your life that keeps you moving.  Find something that motivates you and get’s you excited to get out of bed, no matter what it may be and you’ll wake up with a smile on your face.

A new direction, a new outlook

It has been sometime since I’ve updated this site, it’s always been on my mind to do more with this, but it seems like life just gets in the way.  Isn’t that the truth with so many things we strive to accomplish.  We start off excited, full of vigor, ready to share with the world all that we know (or don’t know) and then after that initial fire burns down and we just have some embers in place, it’s hard to keep that momentum going.   If the fire is not kept fed, it will eventually burn low, then just down to warm embers, and eventually will cool completely.

That is where I fell with this blog and with aspects of my life as well.  As I posted before and gained a few readers (very few I’m sure), I found that each and every post became more of a chore to do.  I felt the pressures (self-induced) to produce that perfect post that would inspire the masses.  Those posts that were produced then were awful and many never made the cut and actual got posted.  The ones I felt most proud of were the ones that came from my heart, from my own emotions, from my own life experiences.  Those were the posts that I feel made the most impact on those few that read them.  If nothing else, they made the most impact on me writing them.

Writing for me has always been a release, a way to take my thoughts and feelings and get them out there.  Get them out of my own head, where they bounce around and ferment into sometimes nasty and not very helpful things and expose them for what they are.  Usually just irrational thoughts that ballooned out of control.  So the writing of this blog has always been therapeutic.  It has always been about helping me and if others are helped by it then so much the better.  Hopefully, someone will see things that I’ve dealt with or am thinking and they will see the similarities in their own situations and perhaps gain some insight into dealing with them or if nothing else, perhaps just give them a sense that they are not alone.

I don’t want this to sound negative. I don’t want this to be a negative, depressing blog.  Because the reality is, I want this to be a blog about rejoicing.  Rejoicing in the resolutions that God has provided in difficult times.  Rejoicing in being able to share our thoughts and feelings in a way that may help others, or that we may gain help from others.  I intend  this blog to share my hardships, my struggles and fears, not to receive pity, but to inspire those with similar fears and thoughts.  I also will share my triumphs and good news and tips to give encouragement.

We are all developing Christians, from those that are new Christians to the pastor that leads the church.  We are all developing to become more like Christ and will do so until the day we die.  I want this blog to share my development and to encourage others in their development.  I hope that if I gain readers, that a small community of developing Christians will emerge and we can all share and encourage each other.  Thus the new name for here… Developing Christian.  We still strive to become exceptional Christians, but we are always developing towards that goal.

I Really Don’t Like Winter

winter-smallI really don’t like winter anymore.  I love living in Ohio, I really do.  I’ve lived my entire 42 years here in northeast Ohio and I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  However, I hate winter, I dislike everything about it.  I don’t like the cold, can’t stand the snow and being stuck inside (without fresh air coming through the windows) makes these 3-4 months unbearable at times.

Oh, there is plenty of beauty…God is like that, creating beauty in something that you want to dislike making it hard to hate it so much.  I do love the look of a heavy snowstorm, as long as I don’t have to go anywhere.  I do love the glistening of ice on trees, until limbs come down and knock the power out.  I even love that clean crisp breath of air when you first walk out on a cold, cold morning, but one breath is enough.  And I do love curling up with my family, watching a movie, reading a book, playing a game or just being together on cold winter evening.

Winter often comes with times of trials and deep reflection.  Illness often creeps up on us and the older I get, the harder it is to shake.  The grey dreary days bring on depression and just a general blah feeling that can often last for weeks.  Work and hobbies often suffer as it’s harder to get interested or stay focused.  And my stress levels often rise as I’m forced to travel in bad weather and go out when I don’t want…plus now that I have children who drive, the added level of stress there just compounds that which I already put on myself.

But as typical, God often works that which is not ideal, not good, or I don’t really like to my good.  He puts these trials in front of me to strengthen me and to draw me closer to him.  I often do find myself reflecting on my life and as many of us do, I might put some New Years resolutions to better myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  This year I’m going to put it out there for the world (or the one or two people that might read this) a few things that I’m looking to change this year.

  1. I’m going to eat and drink healthier.  Probably one of my biggest bad habits is soda.  I do drink too much.  I’m going to cut it back and hopefully out.  I’ll replace it with more water and fruit juices (and I do love chocolate milk, so there may be some of that in there).
  2. I’m relatively inactive.  Oh I get out with the kids, I coach football  and baseball, so I’m out there then, but really my job puts me at a desk for 8 hours a day so I need to make a better effort of getting some exercise.
  3. I plan on reading more this year.  This includes fiction, non-fiction and of course getting into the Word more (along with books that help me learn more about God and his Word)

I don’t expect to make a complete turn-around.  I suspect that I’ll falter.  I hope to make continuous improvement by working on these things in baby steps.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.  Thus if I practice in these 3 areas each and every day, I hope to make them permanent good habits.

Perhaps next year when I reflect back on 2013, I’ll be looking at the winter and this post and say, I don’t hate winter so much anymore.  God gave us the winter to help us slow down, reset our lives and appreciate all that he has given us…..and how wonderful the warm weather will be when it gets here.

Practice Makes Permanent

For many of you that know me, you know that starting late 2001 I’ve been self-employed.  January of 2011, I took a job with a consulting / marketing firm in northeast Ohio as the Director of Technology Services.  Why you may ask?  Many, many reasons.

  • Money – Business had been slow the last couple years and cash flow wasn’t there.  It came down to a decision to keep doing what I was doing, but be broke, or get a steady paycheck.  I opted for that steady paycheck.
  • Opportunity – This was actually a big deciding factor.  I could stay on my own, trying to build a business with limited resources.  Or, I could join forces with this new company and have direct the technology side of the business with a team already in place (and added to over the last year).  I opted for the opportunity.
  • Camaraderie – When I was on my own, I had partners that I worked closely with, but I wasn’t with them every day.  We were all independent consultants and as such I believe we had separate goals with our business.  Some of us wanted to build something larger than ourselves, others were content with just making a wage.  This was probably the hardest reason for me to move on.  I miss working with those people as much as I do.  I still see a few, and I value that time with them, but it’s not as often as before.  I’m now at a company where I see my co-workers most every day, we all have the same goals in mind and are moving forward in the same direction.
  • Free time – This really is the main point of this post.  When I worked for myself, I felt like I never left work.  Weekends, evenings, holidays, it was all non-billable time that I wasn’t making any money.  I felt like I should always be working.  Now, I have paid vacation, paid holidays.  One of the biggest attractors for me taking this new position was so that I could now be free to relax off hours.  Well, that’s a bigger struggle than I realized.  Let me explain.

Letting go of work

Here I sit, using up the last bit of my vacation that I had left over this year.  Yes I’m able to sleep in. I’m able to spend time with my wife and children.  We are able to prepare and enjoy the time leading up to Christmas.  And all the while, I’m earning a paycheck.

So, why can’t I relax?  Why do I feel like I need to be working and that I’m not earning any money.  I see this vacation time as lost income, since that is what it was when I would take time off before.  I stress over spending money, since I feel we will have less of it now since I didn’t work this week.  I feel a bit guilty to my co-workers and my company that I’m not spending time working over the week.  In essence I’m driving myself and my wife nuts.

Practice makes permanent

Here’s where I think I went wrong.  For almost a decade I trained myself that if I wasn’t working, I wasn’t earning.  If I wasn’t earning, I wasn’t billing.  If I wasn’t billing, I wasn’t receiving any money.  If I didn’t receive any money, I was broke.  For all that time, any time off was missed opportunity for income. 

I’ve learned over the years that the old adage, “Practice makes perfect” is actually incorrect.  How it really goes is, “Practice makes permanent.”  That’s nothing new so I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it really hits home at this time of year especially when there is more time off and less work being done (and usually more bills to pay).  I practiced for 10 years to always be on the job.  Now that I don’t have to be, I’m finding that all that practice worked, it made that mentality permanent.

Retraining

Well what to do to fix my misguided programming:

  • First, realize what the problem is.  This is usually the first step to everything it seems…admit there is a problem, well there I’ve done it.
  • Next, determine the path I want to follow.  How do I want to be retrained?  What does the retrained me look like?  Well in this instance, I want to look forward to vacation and time off as a positive, as a reward for hard work.  Now I know how I want to react in the future.
  • Finally, the hard part.  Practice.  Practice at relaxing, practicing at letting work go for the holiday and enjoy the time off.  This won’t be easy.  This is exactly what the problem is now, but I must practice.  The good people at Lifehack (Lifehack in general is a very good resource) have a nice post on some steps to make new habits stick.  18 Habits to make new habits stick.  You can find tons more out there, just do a search on something like “30 days to a new habit” and you’ll find what you’re looking for.