I have a Toyota Prius, which is a hybrid car that runs on a gas engine and an "electric engine" called the inverter. There are three things that make this car work: a regular, 12-volt battery that all cars have, a big hybrid battery that powers the inverter, and a regular gas engine that all cars have.
Here's how this car works. The small, 12-volt battery simply starts the car up. After that, its job is done. From that point, both the gas engine and the inverter make the car move. However, the gas engine does most of the work after the car goes over a certain speed limit. In my case, the inverter operates the car until I hit around 15 miles per hour, then the gas engine turns on. The gas engine would turn off if I either take my foot off the gas pedal, or if I'm at a stop light. But while I'm driving, the gas engine does most of the work, and the inverter would assist the gas engine if I need more acceleration power (for example, if going up a steep hill).
Think of the 12-volt battery representing motivation. The effects of motivation is short-lived, and it is just to get you to started. But motivation, just like the 12-volt battery, is short-lived. The motivation you get simply gets you to make that initial movement, but then that motivation is gone. Once motivation leaves, then something else takes over: faith.
Whenever you're working at something, you know that there is NO guarantee that you would be able to accomplish it. For example, if you're working on starting a business, there is no guarantee that your business would be successful. You can't see into the future. So, why chase after a dream that you don't even know would come true? Because you have FAITH that your dream would come true. So, if you want to keep moving forward, you need to work on building your FAITH, not getting more motivation.
Let's go back to the inverter. The inverter would move the car until the car hits a certain speed limit. With my old model, after I hit around 15 mph, the gas engine comes on. After that, the inverter would simply assist the gas engine if more power is needed. The inverter is like motivation that finds you already working. If the gas engine runs out of fuel, the car would lose acceleration power so that the car may only go (in my case) 15 miles per hour. The inverter may have enough juice to allow me to drive MAYBE one mile until the hybrid battery (that powers the inverter) drains out. At this point, I'm stranded on the street!
See, motivation works two ways. One, it gets you started. Two, it gives you assistance. So when you're working on that dream and you start getting discouraged, faith would allow you to keep going. But along the way, something encouraging happens to you -- this is the ASSISTANCE that motivation gives you. First, motivation gets you started. Second, motivation gives you encouragement WHILE you're working. But for the most part, FAITH, like the gas engine, does most of the work.
If you want to reach a goal, work on building your FAITH, not on getting more motivation.
See, our problem is that we LOVE motivation -- we love it too much. In fact, we could make ourselves completely dependent on motivation, which is downright foolish. You know well that motivation never lasts. So, why make your activities dependent on the amount of motivation you have?
However, while faith is the most important thing to work on, if you're only running on faith with absolutely NO motivation, then you'll ultimately crash. So, let's go back to the Prius. While the gas engine does most of the work, it STILL needs the inverter to work -- and the inverter is powered by the hybrid battery. If the hybrid battery goes bad, then it cannot fully charge the inverter. The hybrid battery would overheat and the gas engine would actually shut off, so you'll lose acceleration and run only on the inverter. But when the hybrid battery is bad, the inverter may get you a few feet down the road before it shuts off, too.
Motivation is important when working on your goals. While motivation is short-lived, it does come every now and then to assure you that you're heading in the right direction. If you're working hard on a goal and you NEVER get any kind of assurance along the way, then maybe that goal isn't for you. If you keep at it, you'll eventually break down and give up altogether.
Some people think that faith is completely blind. I disagree. Faith is ALWAYS based on something that you've seen. If you see someone jogging every morning and losing weight, that's something you've seen. Once you start jogging every morning so that you could lose weight, you're running on faith. There is no guarantee that you'll get the same results as the other person. But once you start jogging and see some pounds coming off, then that motivation helps assure you that you're heading in the right direction. If you're jogging everyday for months and still see no weight-loss, that should be a sign that you ought to do something differently -- you know, like cut down on drinking 40 ounces of beer every night.
Life is very much like a Prius. You have motivation to get you started, faith that keeps you going, and more motivation to assure you that you're going the right way. If you're ALL about faith with no concern for encouragement, you'll eventually burn. If you're ALL about motivation, you'll go hard like a sprinter but burn out very quickly. If you see both motivation and faith as important, then you'll reach whatever goal that you're going for. Remember that it's FAITH that does most of the work, but FAITH also needs some assistance from motivation so that you could keep on moving.
Be careful not to love on motivation. While it's nice when it comes, we could easily depend too much on motivation so that our FAITH loses power. Faith would be the FIRST to get you through the tough moments. If my Prius is stuck in the mud, the gas engine (faith) is what would get me out, not the inverter (motivation). But when the gas engine can't produce enough power to get me out of a situation, then the inverter comes in to help out.
When a situation gets so tough that your faith starts to weaken, that is when motivation comes in to give you a little assistance. So on your journey, be sure to seek opportunities for encouragement, because your faith will eventually weaken. This might mean not going after your dreams alone. This might mean seeking support from others who are like-minded. This might mean reading books, or attending conferences, or watching YouTube videos. However you seek encouragement, do so while being careful not to make encouragement your main source of power.
If you've been exercising for a while, you would have probably heard of the term "plateau." Whenever you've "hit a plateau," it means that you no longer get any results. The weight-loss slows down or completely stops. You get no more muscle gain. You've entered the zone where nothing happens anymore, and this is usually when we get discouraged and turn back.
But instead of quitting your journey, what if you took things just one step further? To break a plateau, you generally have to make things a little harder.
Whenever people attend my ZUMBA fitness classes or join my Body Challenge program (soon to be called the Holistic Health Challenge), they would report breaking a plateau. They have been so used to doing the same exercises at the same intensity so that they no longer got results from their efforts. Once they join my classes, the weight-loss starts happening again. I have two particular individuals who were already eating healthy and exercising, but they hit that plateau stage. Once they've joined my Body Challenge program, they started losing weight and toning up. Why does this happen? Because the program forces them to take things one step further.
No matter what you do in your life, if you ALWAYS want to experience results, you need to go one step further. You need to walk the extra step, walk the extra mile, walk the extra hour. As long as you keep "upping your game," you will see better results.
If you usually start something new, get to a certain level, and then stop, it's because you're not willing to take another step further. You have gotten to the point where you're comfortable, and even bored, and decided to do something else with your life. If you have lots of unfinished projects in your life, then you know that it's because you've hit a plateau, the point where you stop trying hard and start losing interest.
Start asking yourself, "What if I took things a little further? What would happen if I decided to be a little more serious about this?"
Back in 2015, I started a job with a company called Plant Partners, which serves as a vendor for different garden centers such as Walmart, Lowe's, and Home Depot. I was at Lowe's. Plant Partners provide people like me called merchandisers to unload plant carts and put the plants in their proper places and remove distressed plants from the display tables. Merchandisers were not required NOR expected to know anything about plants -- even though having some plant knowledge would be useful. I was even told to not spend time answering a customer's plant question, but to refer that customer to a Lowe's employee.
Not surprisingly, I've found that Lowe's employees in the garden center barely knew anything about plants. In fact, if customers went to them for plant questions, the Lowe's employees would look for the Plant Partners merchandisers. But since I enjoyed working with plants, I decided to do some research about the plants that Lowe's sold. It didn't take long for me to become an "expert," and pretty soon, I was "the plant guy." Other Plant Partners merchandisers did not know much about plants, so they would refer customers to ME.
But I still took things one step further. I started experimenting with different plants, doing more research on how to regenerate plants, how fertilizers work, how to harvest seeds, and learned the biology of plants. I continued to take things one step further so that now I am working on starting my own plant nursery business. I went from knowing very little about plants to building a plant nursery business. And I'm still taking things "one step further."
All you need to do is to take one extra step if you want to accomplish more. It could be waking up just ONE hour earlier or going to bed ONE hour earlier, or lifting ONE extra pound of weight, or finishing your jog just ONE minute earlier, or getting to work ONE minute earlier, or eliminating ONE cigarette a day. Just take ONE extra step, not fifteen extra steps.
It's very tempting to live life with the "enough" mentality: I've worked enough, I've exercised enough, I said "thank you" enough, I've spent enough time with the kids, I've studied enough for my class. We work until we FEEL that nothing more could be done, so we would say that we've done "enough." But instead of asking, "Did I do enough," ask, "Could I have done more?" or, "What would happen if I did a little extra work?"
Can't lose weight? Don't ask, "Am I doing enough," but ask, "What else could I do?"
Not making the amount of money that you want? Don't ask, "Am I working enough," but ask, "What else could I do?"
Working on a project that's not going according to plan? Don't ask, "Am I doing enough," but ask, "What else could I do?"
If you really open your eyes, you will ALWAYS see that something needs to be done. If anybody claims, "I've done EVERYTHING to lose weight," I'll be thinking, "No you haven't -- you haven't tried fasting for forty days and forty nights." There is no such thing as a person who can't lose weight, but there is a such thing as someone who stops short of their goal. There IS a such thing as someone who hasn't stepped up his or her game. There IS a such thing as someone who gives up when he or she was extremely close to the prize.
If all you do is microwave your meals, take it a step further and start using the stove. Who knows, taking that extra step might lead you to running a restaurant business.
If all you do is check the air pressure in your tires, take it a step further and start changing your tires. Who knows, taking that extra step might prevent you from ever having to go to a car mechanic again.
If the only French that you know is "Bonjour" and "Oui," take it a step further and start learning your French alphabets. Who knows, taking that extra step might lead you to starting your own French immersion school.
Before you move on to something else, ask what would happen if you take another step. If you want to climb a mountain and see the horizon of the world, you need to keep taking those extra steps. While each step seems to get harder and harder, just imagine the view that you'll see on the top.
I am growing several tomato plants, two of which are big and producing lots of fruit. But there is one thing that I noticed about each of those tomato plants: most of the plant is useless to me. While there are lots of tomatoes, there are even MORE stems that have nothing but leaves, and these stems would most likely not give me any tomatoes. Instead, these stems are simply using up precious energy from the plant, energy that could go to producing bigger, healthier tomatoes.
A big MUST for gardeners is to know how to prune a plant. Pruning is done for several reasons, but there are two main reasons: 1) to train the way a plant grows and 2) to direct more energy to producing bigger fruit by cutting away useless stems. With a plant, you have the main stem (or "trunk") that comes up from the ground, and you have several smaller stems (or "branches") that come from the main stem. Nutrients enter the plant through the roots and travel up the main stem, from which the nutrients are dispersed throughout the many smaller stems. So, the more of the smaller stems you have, the harder the plant has to work to support all those stems. But once you start cutting off non-fruit-bearing stems, then the plant could re-direct more nutrients to fruit-bearing stems.
The most productive plant is the one with the least useless stems. When you let a plant grow big and wild, then fruit production could be impacted. In the same way, if you want to be truly productive, you need to cut away anything in your life that is needlessly taking energy from you.
See, we in developed nations like to be busy -- busy, busy, busy. We add so much activity in our lives that we barely have any time for ourselves. But many of those activities are really useless. They barely serve a purpose, but they take up a significant amount of energy from you.
The less you have going in your life, the more energy you could direct to those few things. Instead, we direct little energy to the many activities that we do. Just like a plant distributing precious nutrients to hundreds of useless stems, you are distributing precious energy to many useless activities. You cannot be fruitful if you have too much going on in your life.
Now when I say "useless," I don't mean that these activities in themselves are useless. Let's go back to the tomato plants. Yes, even though both of those plants have many non-fruit-bearing stems, it doesn't mean that the stems have no importance. In fact, if any of those stems touch the ground, they would produce roots and these stems could produce fruit-bearing stems. But since I'm growing these tomato plants in containers, well, I just don't have the space to allow the tomato plants to spread and root all over the place. I need to keep the plant contained, which means I have to cut away many stems that would serve me no purpose -- thus, "useless."
You're doing plenty of activities that are not bad in themselves. But right now, you just don't have a place for them. The bigger your house, the more stuff you could put in it. When your house is small, then you need to toss some things. The smaller the house, the more you need to prioritize your things. Sorry, but you can't fit a 2,500-square-foot home in your small, 600-square-foot apartment. Right now, you're trying to squeeze a mansion into your rinky-dinky apartment and getting stressed out the entire time. It's time to downsize all these life activities until you have a manageable size.
Cut away at everything you consider excess and see what it is you REALLY need to focus on. All the other stuff that you're doing isn't necessarily wrong, but you don't need to spend much energy on them. There are things you need to spend HOURS on, there are things you just need to spend a few minutes on, and there are things you just need to cut out completely. Our problem is that we try to spend 10 minutes on 100 different things and we just get burned out.
Feeling overwhelmed? Cut stuff out of your life. Feeling stressed and overworked? You're doing too much useless activity. Want to run in the woods and scream? It's time to look at what you really need in your life and what you could do without.
If you want to be busy, then be busy being an expect in one area of your life. Be busy at being exceptional in one thing. Spend most of your time perfecting ONE skill instead of perfecting 50 skills. Redirect your energy to the most important things in your life and get rid of the other stuff.
So, what is it that you've been talking about for a while? Stop talking about it, and start doing something about it. You could talk, and talk, and talk forever -- but unfortunately, talking accomplishes nothing.
When was the last time you've hit your goal by simply talking? When was the last race you've won by talking? What awards did you get by just talking? Did you lose any weight by talking? Did you get fitter by talking? Did you make any improvements in your life by talking? If the answer is "NO TO ALL," then it's time to keep the mouth closed for a while and start rolling up those sleeves.
Remember that you cannot speak anything into existence. Results only come through action, through the work of your hands, not through word of the mouth. If you want something fixed, you need to get your hands dirty. Pacing around the house talking about your problems don't get anything done. Spending hours crying with your friends won't get anything done. And ranting on Facebook definitely gets nothing accomplished. Only your hands could make things happen.
When people post ridiculous rants on Facebook, I'm just tempted to ask, "So, what do you plan to do about it?" Some people think that their noble contributions to fixing society is by simply spreading the word about whatever it is they're frustrated about. No, all you're doing is ranting and being annoying to your friends. You're not fixing anything by spreading foolish memes, especially the memes with false or non-verifiable information. Being annoying, yes. But solving a problem, no. Getting stuff done, no. Actually contributing to a solution, no.
How foolish would I look if I walk up to a mirror and started screaming, "Grow muscles! Grow muscles! I say grow muscles! Why aren't my muscles growing??" If Either you'll walk away or videotape me with your phone if you saw me screaming at myself as if I had no sense. In the same way, it's foolish to go on and on talking about your problems with no plans for action. Talking about your problems with no plans to fix them is no different from me screaming at my body to grow muscles.
When I ask people how they're doing, one of the most common responses is, "I'm hanging in there." Okay, where are you hanging? Are you hanging on a tree branch? If so, are you going to eventually climb off that branch or are you going to wait until your arms give out and you plunge to your death? The thing about hanging is that you can't hang for long. Eventually, you need to move yourself, and you can't move by simply talking.
There is a Bible verse that speaks on this issue. "There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty." (Proverbs 14:23) Work equals results, profits, resolved issues, awards. Talk equals no results, poverty, unresolved issues, and no awards. Talk leads to nothingness. Work is what makes things happen.
You could go on and on about how you WISH this could happen, how you'd LOVE to be able to do something, and how it's your dream to be this, that, and the other. But remember that the thing that stands between Point A and Point B is WORK, not TALK. Babies don't start walking by babbling. Birds don't start flying by squawking. Wolves can't eat by simply howling. They all needed to get to work if they wanted something to happen.
Sounds obvious, I know. But sometimes, we need to be reminded that if we want something to happen, we need to do WORK. So whatever it is you want to pursue would only be caught if you start working. One of these days, you'll just have to tell yourself to stop talking and start doing.
You could accomplish whatever it is that you want -- you just need to be willing to WORK for it.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for life is to understand that NOTHING will go exactly as planned. So whatever dreams that you have now, just remember that those dreams may never happen -- or they may not happen the way YOU want them to happen.
Ever heard that someone is "old and set in his/her ways?" That's actually a very dangerous position to be in. If you're set in your ways, then that means you can't adjust. If something can't adjust, then it breaks. You can't adjust a stick. You could only bend it so far until it breaks. You can adjust metal. All you need to do is melt it (I know, I said that as if it were an easy thing to do) and mold it into whatever you want. A block of iron could become a sword, a piece of a ship, or added into a nutritional supplement. Metal is one of the most adjustment elements in the world, and as such, we use it for anything from tooth fillings to weaponry to electronics.
The more adjustable you are, the less problems you'll have when life sucker-punches you. But if you're not able to bend, then when life pulls the rug from under you, you would fall to the floor and break into a thousand little pieces.
If you come to my ZUMBA classes, you probably thought that the class would be easy because you always exercise. Then once you came to class, you found yourself struggling. I designed the class to keep you from getting settled in your ways, which means that class will NEVER get easy for you, no matter how fit you are. The class involves jumping, side shuffles, squats and lunges, punches, balancing, running, etc., etc. And when you thought that you got the hang of class, I throw something else in there to take you off guard. Some call this method "muscle confusion." I simply call it "keeping you flexible."
My classes reflect all the moves you do in real life. You don't just simply walk straight, do you? No, you walk backwards, to the side, you squat to poop, you have to balance yourself, you have to push and pull and lift, etc. If all we did in class was to run in place, then how would that prepare you for real life? That is why one-directional exercises like running or swimming won't be as effective in preparing you for life as, say, basketball would -- an exercise that involves jumping, running, changing directions, spinning around, using the arms, and keeping a sharp focus on your opponents and team members.
In real life, NOTHING is set in stone. Otherwise, we could simply sit back and relax and assume that everything would continue in the same way forever. Tornadoes happen. Economies crash. Boats sink. Businesses shut down. Schools close their doors. Spouses walk out of marriages. Children could turn to a life of crime. Anything could happen at any time, and if you refuse to believe that, then you'll break in pieces should life decides to change the rules on you.
Some of you are so set on routines that the very thought of making adjustments scares you! Remember that nothing is set in stone. Anything at any moment could occur that would rock your world, whether for the best or for the worst. Maybe a new business opportunity comes up that is nowhere related to your skills. What, would you simply reject it because it wasn't what you majored in college for? If this opportunity could possibly change your life for the best, be willing to adjust to a new lifestyle.
Being adjustable is not [exactly] the same as being prepared. If your car breaks down on the highway and you have roadside assistance, that's being prepared. But, let's take my case for example. While driving on the highway, the dashboard on my Prius started lighting up! Then shortly afterwards, my Prius lost acceleration because my engine shut off. So, I slowly pulled to the side of a very busy interstate. For safety, I went away from the car and chilled among the trees, watching everybody breeze by. I had roadside assistance, but had some trouble accessing it. I knew what the problem was, however, so I decided to let the car cool off. Then after about 30 or so minutes, I got in the car, turned on my heater on high and slowly drove off the highway. I was still over an hour away from home, so I looked at my map for back roads to home. I made it home without further incident. That is an example of being adjustable. Instead of getting my car towed, I tried to fix the problem. PLUS, after I got home, I eventually repaired the car myself instead of having someone else do it.
Another time, one of my old cars started leaking gasoline so bad that the gas tank was getting empty. I was getting tensed about breaking down on the road. I was able to get to a shopping center just in time, because the car finally died. I diagnosed the issue and knew exactly what happened. My wife (who was with me), called our neighbor to meet us. She bought us some gas, but then she picked up a part from an auto parts place. I had my tools with me and I fixed the issue on the spot. We were able to drive our car home instead of having it towed. That, my friends, is being adjustable.
So, adjusting is not exactly the same as being prepared. When you're simply prepared, you just have a back-up plan to get you out of trouble. When you ADJUST, you may not necessarily have a back-up plan. Instead, you might come up with a plan ON SITE to fix your problems. But in order to come up with a last-minute plan, you need to be learning something new all the time. Otherwise, when you find yourself losing gas on the road, you'll just break down and cry, wishing that you weren't so broke and that you could afford a better car. When you know how to adjust, you won't be so helpless when problems come up.
You could never fully prepare yourself for everything in life. Sometimes, your back-up flashlight doesn't work. Sometimes, your back-up car has a flat. Sometimes, your back-up babysitter isn't available. But you could ALWAYS adjust. The more you could adjust, the more "unstoppable" you could be in life. But if you're dead-set on routine with no willingness to change course, then any little problem could take you down hard.
If you've grown up in church, then you would no doubt be familiar with the "Ten Commandments." Of all the 600-plus ancient Jewish laws, the Ten Commandments were the only laws that were written "by the finger of God." You could openly interpret the other Jewish laws, but since the Ten Commandments came straight from God, there was no wiggle room for different opinions.
The very last commandment was "you must not covet your neighbor's house -- or anything that belongs to your neighbor." In other words, you must not get envious of your neighbor (or anyone for that matter). To "covet" means to have such intense desire that you would be willing to take inappropriate actions to get what you want.
"Coveting" begins with comparison. That is, when you look at what someone else has and compare that to what you DON'T have, then you start getting jealous. When you continue to dwell on what your friends have, then bitter feelings come up. If you continue to look at all the good things your buddies have, it could very well lead to inappropriate action. For example, if your co-worker got a promotion that you believe that YOU deserved, you might start smack-talking about that person to his or her boss. This could cause that co-worker to lose his or her position -- or even his or her job.
When you covet, you're not content with what you already have. You're not content with your own family, your own spouse, your own body, your own business, your own job, or your own life. You look at what others have and think that they are somehow better off than you. Coveting happens when you're more interested in another person than you are in your own self.
Here is the thing about coveting: it is an endless abyss that is never filled. No matter how good you have it, it is never enough because someone else has something better than you. Yes, you have a brand new car -- but you have a Ford while your friend has a brand new Lexus. Yes, you have a brand new house -- but your friend has a brand new house in Beverly Hills. Your friend's wife is prettier than yours. Your friend's husband is fit and athletic while yours is, well, not. Your friend's children are better behaved than yours. Your friend makes more money than you. See, coveting never ends. No matter how good your life is, your friend's life is better.
The gym environment is a place where coveting is the norm. It's hard to not compare your body to those Greek gods and goddesses at the gym, who have rock-hard bodies while you have a soft and gooey body. But even with the hulks and, uh, "hulkesses," they compare themselves with one another. Their pecs aren't as big as others. Their boob jobs aren't as nice as others. They aren't tanned as nicely as others are. They can't lift heavy enough. You're trying to bench-press 50 lbs while the person next to you is benching 400 lbs. You're trying to squat with 20 lbs while the other person is squatting 600 lbs.
If I had my own, very loose Bible translation, I might translate "you must not covet" to "you must not compare yourself." You must not compare your house with your friend's house, your spouse with your friend's spouse, your children with your friend's children, your income with your friend's income.
Listen, there will ALWAYS be someone who has something better than you. Getting envious of what other people have is like an addiction that cannot fulfill a desire. Imagine if the cigarettes and alcohol couldn't calm you down. You'd be smoking and drinking over and over until you finally kill yourself. Coveting is the same way: there is no end to it and you will covet until you worry yourself to the grave.
Comparing yourself to others never ends well. Ultimately, you lose. The other person isn't thinking about you, but you're thinking about him probably more than he's thinking about himself. The girl that you're jealous of doesn't even know that she's on your thoughts. When she's getting herself ready in the morning, she doesn't even know that you exist! So, why spend time envying over people who probably aren't thinking of you -- let alone envying you?
If you want to covet, then covet this: to make yourself better than yourself. You covet because you feel something lacking in your life. What you lack is not what your neighbors have: you lack what you don't have. You don't have self-control. You don't have contentment. You don't have certain skills. You don't have aspirations in life. You don't lack THINGS, because THINGS get broken. You lack personal values. You lack life goals. You lack the need for self-improvement. If you want to compare yourself to someone, then compare yourself to the person in the mirror. And the one thing you could covet is the need to NOT covet.
I could say that you have a lot of good things going for you -- but that may not be true. I could ask you to just be happy with what you have -- but you can't force yourself to be happy. I could say that if you live in America, then you're in the so-called "top one percent" of the world -- but that's simply comparing yourself to other people. It's like saying, "Well, I know that my life is screwed up, but there are people in Thailand who are more screwed up than me." Really, should you make yourself feel better by comparing your poverty to someone else's poverty? It shouldn't.
But this is what I would say: the only person that you need to pay attention to is YOU. There will never be an end to all the people who got better toys than you. But you only have ONE you and ONE life. Don't waste that ONE life that you have by going after what other people have. Don't waste YOURSELF by trying to be someone else. The other person is good at being himself. You are good at being YOU -- so focus on being the best YOU that there ever was. Let everybody else do the coveting -- because that's quite a stressful job that you shouldn't want.
We typically don't like the word "No," because it means that we can't get what we want. If the creditor said "No" to auto financing, then we can't get that newer, "more reliable" car. If a college said "No" to my application, then I can't attend that school to get my degree. And if the examiner said "No" to me, then I failed a test that was supposed to get me ahead somewhere.
But for a moment, think about the FREEDOM that the word "No" could give you. "No" to auto financing means no high monthly car payments. "No" to a college application means no student loan debt. When you're given "No," it could quite possibly mean that you've avoided troubled.
"No" could protect you from getting into unnecessary commitments. "No" could help you avoid marrying the wrong person. "No" could steer you away from financial trouble or getting into a job that you would end up despising.
When you say "Yes," then you're opening the doors to who knows what. It's very easy for us to say "Yes" to everything, and then we'll wind up over-committing ourselves to various things and becoming overwhelmed. But when you could say "No," then you could avoid all of that.
I say "No" to my kids very frequently, and I have no issues doing it. See, when they're kids, they aren't fully independent. They can't just get in the car and drive, or buy a plane ticket to head to a different country, or drop a few thousand dollars to take some specialized classes. See, Mommy and Daddy has to do those things! So, while I want to see my kids joyful, I do know that saying "Yes" to them means that I have to be tied down to whatever they're getting themselves into. I have to pay for those classes. I have to pay for that plane ticket. I have to drive my kids to those soccer games. Now, both the kids and I are committed -- they get to enjoy the activities while I get to "enjoy" paying for them and driving them everywhere.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to be liberal with your "No's," but conservative with your "Yes's." The word "Yes" means commitment -- and commitment involves time, or money, or both. But when you say "No," well, you don't have to worry about time or money. You're free!
Before, there's been a debate about how sex education should work in public schools. Should sex education courses be "comprehensive" in which contraceptives are taught? Or should complete abstinence be taught, where students are simply told to say "No" to sex? What I say is to ask students, "Are you prepared to get a job and raise children?" Most assuredly I say to you, all students would say "No." When you tell kids how to say "Yes" in a so-called "safe way," you're opening them up for major commitments. Once a 17-year-old boy says "Yes" to that 13-year-old girl, then he'll have to suffer all possible consequences, including police involvement and an angry father with a shotgun! But if that teenage boy simply said "No," guess what? He's free. Nothing to worry about. His future is still bright. If we're willing to teach our children to say "No" instead of teaching them how to gamble with life, many of them won't have unnecessary commitments.
Want to stay out of trouble? Just say "No." Say "No" to sleeping in so that you won't have to rush to work. Say "No" to marrying someone that you're not sure of. You could never go wrong by staying single. Say "No" to shoplifting, because jail time and a criminal record isn't worth it. Say "No" to speeding, because tickets are expensive, and you don't want points on your record. Say "No" to doing anything that you think you'll regret later on. And especially say "No" to using your words to cut others down.
You don't want to spend your life having commitments upon commitments. Every time you say "Yes," you would have tied yourself to another activity. Just imagine that one hour of your day gets deducted every time you said "Yes." You'd probably be more careful in what commitments you make.
Now, are there times when saying "No" could be bad for you? Absolutely -- but, even if you said "No" to an excellent opportunity, well, that just simply means you won't have to commit to it. Yes, you should take that exercise class, but if you say "No" to it, then you could have time to think about how serious your health means to you. That "No" could turn into an authentic, heart-felt "Yes," which is a "Yes" that you should say. Yes, you should have congratulated her on her pregnancy -- but, then again, how do you know that she's actually pregnant? One time, the wife of one of my college professors had a man go up to her and ask, "And who do we have in there," referring to her belly. She said, "No one!"
I'm sure the man meant well...but he was too quick on his "Yes." He should have waited until he was sure that she didn't simply have a fat belly. He should have said "No" to saying anything to her. Instead, he was too quick on saying "Yes" to talking about her belly.
When in doubt, just say "No," because you could think about your answer later on. But once you say "Yes," well, you can't always think about it later -- especially if it involves the law. If you want to keep yourself out of trouble and keep your schedule as free as possible, do yourself a favor and just say "No."
This article would probably be more for ME than for you...but I invite you folks to eavesdrop on me talking to myself. Hopefully, you'll get something out of being so nosy.
In your vehicle, you have upper air vents on the dashboard and you have lower vents, which you can't see. If you allow the air to blow through both upper and lower vents, then you won't feel the air too well. If, however, you only allow the air to blow through the upper vents, then you'll really feel it!
When the air is divided, then you don't feel it too well. If you're wearing shoes, you're not going to feel cold air blow on your feet. Instead, you'll just feel a little bit of air blowing on your face. This isn't good if you're hot and want instant relief. But when you concentrate the air to only the upper air vents, then you'll really feel the strength of the AC. When the air is divided, it loses strength. When the air is concentrated in one area, then you'll feel some real AC.
In the same way, the more you divide your attention, the less effective you are. The more concentrated your attention is, the more effective you'll be.
One of the reasons my e-mails have been arriving to everybody late is because I've been doing more than I should. There is SO much I want to do, but there is so little time to do it. By trying to do everything, I tend to neglect everything.
Let me say that again...
By trying to do everything, I neglect everything. That is to say, the more that I try to do, the less that I get done in any one thing. I can't be effective being a fitness instructor, car mechanic, store manager, public school teacher, and Batman when I'm doing all of these things. If I want to be effective in any one thing, I need to be willing to toss five other things out the window.
Now in real life, you can't avoid being divided. You will NEVER devote 100 percent of your time doing any one thing. Your time will naturally be divided. How divided that time is would be up to you. The less you divide your time, the more you could do in any one thing.
In my case, I homeschool my kids, do food delivery gigs, teach CPR classes, run the Holistic Health Challenge program, teach ZUMBA and core fitness classes, setting up my plant nursery business, learning languages, and running errands. How effective do you think I could be in any one of those things? Not very effective. Instead of giving a lot of power to a few things, I'm giving a little power to a lot of things. To me, when you give so little energy to 100 things, then you're simply neglecting 100 things.
If you brushed a few teeth in your mouth, that's the same as neglecting your oral hygiene. If you paid some of your credit card bill, that's the same as not paying your bill (just trust me on that one!). If you were one minute late to work, there is no "little bit late." No, you were simply late to work, and you could get penalized the same way as someone who was 3 hours late to work. Giving a little effort in one thing is the same as not giving any effort to it at all.
If you're in a position where you could ONLY give a little bit of effort, then you're doing too much. It's time to cut out some stuff so you could give more energy to the few things in your life.
In one of my last e-mails, I talked about saying "No" and how "No" is much more liberating than saying "Yes." The more you say "Yes," the more commitments you'll have -- and the more divided your time would be. We believe that the more busy we are, the more productive we'll be. The opposite is true: the more busy you are, the more neglectful you'll be. Eventually, something important would be either left partially undone or completely undone because you decided to grossly divide up your time with a ton of commitments.
You know, it's good to be productive. It's noble to want to do things instead of being lazy. But when you keep adding more and more to your plate, you will eventually just stop doing everything due to burn-out. You'll forget to pay employees or contractors. You'll forget to pay certain bills. You'll forget to attend your child's play -- or if you do attend it, you'll be closely looking at the time so that you could hurry up and do something else. There is no virtue in unnecessary busyness. When you're all over the place, you won't hit any targets.
I want to do everything, but I have to accept that I'll leave this earth without accomplishing all that I want to. I have to be willing to surrender one of my dreams to my children. There's an incident in the Bible (2nd Samuel 7) where King David, the second king of Israel, wanted to build God a temple. What an honor he'll have if he accomplishes that! But later, a prophet went to David and told him that he won't be building the temple, but that his son Solomon would do it. I would have been disappointed to know that I couldn't have the honor of accomplishing such a task. But some dreams may need to be left to someone else to accomplish. Just like David, you already have enough important things to focus on without adding yet another important thing to the list.
Freedom comes when you stop dividing up your time into tiny bits. You can't do everything and you shouldn't even try. It's better to give a lot to a little, than to give a little to a lot. It's even better to give a lot in ONE thing than to give SOME in many things.
This is one thing I've noticed about people (including me): people don't appreciate what's free. Honestly, I don't always appreciate what's been freely given to me. It's as if we have to work HARD for something in order to appreciate it. If we didn't bust our butts to get it, then it has no value. If somebody has given us a valuable gift (which by definition is FREE), we'd neglect it simply because, well, it's free.
One of the main reasons why I don't advertise my ZUMBA classes for FREE (even though it is essentially free), is because I don't want to attract the kind of people who don't appreciate what's free. So I advertise my classes as "donation only" so folks would know that they could give whatever they want, but still have the option to not give anything.
My Body Challenge program I do charge for, because doing that program for FREE would mean that nobody would take it seriously. Plus, I charge people penalties for not doing certain things -- nobody would take accountability seriously if there are no penalties involved.
You know, most things in life were given to us for free. All of you were given something very valuable for free, whether it's a job that you didn't have to apply for, a place to stay, a car, healthcare, gym membership, etc. Some of us treasure what's been freely given to us, while some of us neglect our gifts.
But you know what? There is something else that is free, but you never thought of it as free: an opportunity. Believe it or not, opportunities are FREE because you didn't work for them. You didn't invite them. In fact, you weren't even looking for them. Opportunities are like pests: they just invade your space without asking for permission. For example, back in college, I had a man from the Czech Republic invite me to work with his church in that nation. In his words, he said, "We need more black brethren." So, simply being black (which I never asked for when I was born) gave me an opportunity to be invited to his country. Now, I would have had to raise the funds to go there, but the invite was FREE simply because of my skin color (which was given to me for free).
Back in New York, I worked for Macy's. My mother already worked there per diem (that is, as needed), so she suggested that I apply there. The INVITE, which is the opportunity, was simply given me. I didn't ask about working there. But because of the invite (the opportunity), I applied there and was immediately given the job because I used her employee number as a referral. Because I wasn't working full-time anywhere else, I was able to work many hours at Macy's, especially during the holiday seasons. That job helped me pay for my EMS training, which lead me to getting EMS jobs.
Opportunities are FREE -- and as such, we tend to neglect them. Some opportunities I appreciate, while other opportunities I simply neglect. Why? Because I could get so caught up in what I want to do that I miss truly important opportunities that are presented to me.
I think about a parable in the Bible about the servants who were given a certain amount of money to invest. One was given the equivalent of $5,000, another the equivalent of $2,000, and another the equivalent of $1,000. Each man was given according to what they were able to handle. The first two servants invested the money and doubled it. Both of those servants were greatly rewarded for their efforts. But then we have the last servant who was only given $1,000 who buried the money. When the "master" asked the servant about how he invested the money, the servant returned the $1,000 to him, being afraid to invest the money. The master chastised them, calling him "wicked and lazy" (ouch!). That servant had the OPPORTUNITY to do something great and to get rewarded for it. Instead, he neglected that opportunity because he didn't want it (Matthew 25:14-30).
You know, the FREE opportunities that are presented to you could lead to great rewards -- but you are probably neglecting them because these opportunities are not what you wanted.
For instance, when I was a member of a gym, I was given the opportunity to become a Les Mills instructor. I wanted to teach the Les Mills BodyAttack fitness program, which is about as intense as my ZUMBA classes. But the group fitness manager said that the gym has no BodyAttack programs, so she highly recommended that I go for BodyPump. I didn't want to teach BodyPump, but her suggesting that I go for BodyPump was an opportunity that came with promise. If I got caught up in what I wanted to do, I would have missed other opportunities. But I took her suggestion, went for my BodyPump certification, and I became a very successful instructor in that program. I had a permanent gig at the gym teaching classes. If I was caught up in doing BodyAttack, well, I would have had to go to another gym and I may or may not have been hired. At least with my gym, I knew I could get a job right away by doing what she told me.
Think about this: would you rather work HARD for something that may not have any promise instead of working EASILY for something that does come with promise? Would you rather bust your behind for pure chance, or would you rather ease into something that's given to you? You probably want to be a college professor, but you have a great opportunity to be an elementary school teacher -- and you could get this job right away. Would you stick to your guns and neglect the elementary job, or would you be willing to put your dreams of college teaching on hold?
Whether it's good health, good vision, a job, a place to stay, or a chance to travel to another country, if the opportunity was given to you, think twice about neglecting it. No, not every opportunity is a good one. But if an opportunity presents itself, don't be quick to dismiss it. This opportunity just might be the answer that you're looking for, but it's dressed in different clothes.
If you've attended my ZUMBA classes and wondered how in the world do I have so much energy, well, I'll tell you my secret: I spend the entire day preparing for this class.
As hard as my ZUMBA class is, if I prep well, then that class won't feel like much of a work-out for me. Yes, there are times when I'm struggling in class, but overall, I'm able to do everything in class that I planned to do. There are no exercises in that class that are too hard for me to do, all because I spent the entire day prepping for the class.
Now, you think, "Wait a minute, your class is only 45 minutes long! Don't you think spending an entire day prepping for a 45-minute class is overkill?" And yes, it seems like overkill. When you start your day, you don't think much about my fitness class. You have other things to worry about. If you're truly committed, you MIGHT spend two hours prepping for class. But most of you probably spend no more than 15 to 30 minutes prepping for my class, and that time is probably spent on eating a light snack, drinking an energy beverage, or just simply getting your clothes ready for class.
For the entire day, I may eat no more than TWO (yes, TWO) things: a protein salad and oatmeal, and maybe I might have a banana or two. I take a multivitamin supplement and a chlorophyll supplement. I drink a juice that I made in my juicer that consists of beets, apples, red cabbage, and a couple of other veggies. Then I drink a cold brew coffee 3 hours before class. If I feel for some reason that my sugar is a bit low, I would have a quick sugary drink right before class. In addition, I do no other work outs before class. The goal is to get my body to direct as much energy to my cardiovascular system and my skeletal muscular system as possible, and when done right, my preparation would make my highly intense class seem ALMOST like a breeze.
Now again, you're wondering, "But your class is only 45 minutes! Why would you waste your entire day for just one 45-minute class?" Well, here's the answer: those 45 minutes may be the most important 45 minutes for YOU, or for someone else. I've been told that my classes are the highlights for the week for some people. My classes might be the only things some people look forward to each week, so I want those 45 minutes to be the BEST 45 minutes that such people could experience.
But you know what? Life works the same way. Preparation time is always significantly much longer than show time. Back in high school and college, I participated in theatre, and in college I was briefly a theatre major. A typical show would run no longer than 2 hours. But guess how long the prep times are for just ONE show? MONTHS! Plus, you spend almost EVERYDAY rehearsing for that show, that short, two-hour show, and you might have a small part to play. But no matter how small your part is, you're still spending almost everyday rehearsing with the rest of the cast.
But all that prep time would pay off during show time. The audience would get a great experience and nobody would ask for their money back due to a bad performance. Yes, preparation time was short, but the end results were well worth it.
Success in anything in life requires long preparation time. You might feel at times that you're spending way too long preparing for something, but really, the longer you spend on preparation, the better the impact would be during show time.
Whenever I'm asked to deliver a short talk in church, I would spend a week preparing for it. Every time I give a short talk, I would have people express how much my words meant to them. That short, 5-minute delivery may have had a life-long impact on one person. And when you think about it, one week of preparation doesn't compare to a life-time of positive changes.
Just recently, a regular ZUMBA participant experienced chronic foot pain that came on and off for years and years and years. No doctor was able to figured out what was wrong. Then when she came to me and described the pain and how it came on and off, I immediately thought that something she was eating triggered it, and that it could be wheat. So, on the next day, she reduced her wheat consumption. Then on the day after that, her foot pain went away. She only spent a few minutes talking with me about her problem, but it took me YEARS of study to come to my conclusion of food being a trigger for her foot issue (and it was just in ONE foot). That very short conversation we had would lead to a lifetime of relief from foot pain.
Show time is always short. Preparation is always long. But as long as you're prepping for the right thing, then your show performance would ALWAYS have a lasting impact on somebody.
My daughter has recently taken an interest in animation. She has an app on an iPad that allows her to draw pictures and animate them as if she was making a cartoon. She definitely has the potential in doing some serious work with this app, but her main problem is that she doesn't spend enough time on her work. So, when she would show me her end product, it would be good at first, but then as the show continues, things looked rushed and the overall story line (which I am BIG on) wouldn't make much sense. So, I'm teaching her that if you want to do good work, you need to spend TIME on it. All serious artists spend hours and hours (if not DAYS and WEEKS) on their art. She needs to significantly increase her prep time so that her show time would blow me away.
Before she showed me any of her art work, she would prep me by saying, "I worked really hard on this." But I would tell her that simply saying "I worked really hard on this" means nothing. I want to know how much time you spent on your work. If you spent only an hour doing your work and then you want to spend the rest of the day doing something else, then you didn't work hard on it at all. Yes, I'm tough on her and on my son, but only because I see potential in them, and the older they get, the more of a push they need to be the best at what they do.
If YOU want to be best at anything, then you need to prep, prep, prep, and prep some more. I just have a very lowly title of personal trainer. With that title, you don't expect me to know much about anything that doesn't deal with exercise. But if you've ever talked with me, you would know that I know quite a bit about the medical side of things. When I'm not teaching a fitness class, I'm studying my books. My goal is to be that go-to person in all things related to health. I even have a drug reference app on my phone so I could quickly look up any drug on the market and know almost anything I want to know about those drugs. Why do I, just a lowly personal trainer, need to know about drugs? Because I want to be that guy who knows everything that relates to health. Plus, if someone is having trouble losing weight, I could ask them what drugs they are taking and look it up on my phone app to see if slow weight loss is a side effect.
You could always perform without much (or any) preparation. But you could NEVER perform WELL without significant prep time. Meat cooked in a smoker tastes much better than meat cooked in a microwave. A tomato that ripens slowly tastes better than a tomato that has been forced to ripen as they do on commercial farms. A house built in a year is better than a house built in a day. When the prep time is there, the end product would leave a significant impact on your life.
Don't live your life rushed. Spend some quality time on something, because when you do, life would become richer for you.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.