Understanding

Think about someone in your life who you’re pissed, angry or upset with right now.

Now imagine in a few hours you were able to watch a movie of that person’s life from day one to today, seeing everything they’ve been through. Every joy, every pain. Every up, every down.

At the end of this movie you may still feel what you feel about this person, you might even despise them more, but one thing that you couldn’t deny would be your understanding of them. There would be no confusion as to how they became who they are.

When we’re pissed and in our story there’s no motivation to seek understanding, especially when we feel we’ve been wronged. More often than not we already feel like we know why someone is the way they are. It’s because they’re a selfish brat, an entitled prick or just plain stupid.

But do we really have them all figured out? Here’s a good way to tell.

The more pissed you are, the less likely you have someone figured out. Because when you really understand someone, even if you strongly disagree with them, you aren’t totally consumed by anger. Anger might be there, but there’s also a sense of peace there too. You understand their actions even if you would have chosen a different path.

Another word for peace is freedom and when we’re free from frustration we can take the actions that need taking with a clear mind.
If we need to cut ties, we can cut ties. If we need to reinvest into a relationship, and own our own short comings, we can do that too.

If resolution is the end goal, understanding is the way. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.

Bad Decisions

Should we be afraid of making bad decisions?

I’ve definitely made some bad decisions in my life. But if I add them all up, all my bad decisions, they don’t even come close to the times in my life where I’ve avoided making a decision.

Of course avoiding a decision is just another form of making a decision. It may look like we’re sitting on the fence, but the reality is we’re firmly accepting the status quo.

I’m not advocating that we rush into making decisions, but I am suggesting that maybe, just maybe, this fear we all have of making the wrong decision is totally blown out of proportion.

I don’t want to make a bad decision, but knowing my past history, and human psychology, I’m more concerned with the likelihood of not making any decision at all.

Showing Up and Finding Purpose

Many years ago, when I was depressed and feeling incredibly lost, I got a call from a friend that significantly changed my life.

I just dropped out of college earlier in the year and I had suffered some major failures trying to get my business off the ground. Almost all my failures were directly linked to being trapped in a cycle of self-sabotage and not knowing how to break it.

I was stuck in fear and worry, and all I could think was, “things are never going to change, what’s the point of it all?” And with that mindset it was really easy for me to avoid everyone and everything and just retreat to my bedroom for the majority of the day.

Late one Friday night my parent’s home phone rang. I figured the call wasn’t for me so without looking at the caller ID I picked up the phone right away.

“Hello?” I said softly.

“Hey Dhru, it’s me. I’m so glad you picked up. I’ve been trying to reach you. I have have to talk…” my friend started to say.

Feeling caught off guard, I quickly cut my buddy off, “Umm, hey man, I have to go take care of something, can I call you back later?”

I knew I wasn’t planning on calling my friend back, but I just said whatever I could think of to get out of the conversation. I had been avoiding clients, family, and friends for the last four months and I wasn’t ready to get back into the world yet.

“I know you are busy, but I really need to talk to you. I’ve been trying to reach you for a while. I could really, really use your help. I’m going through a tough time in my life right now”, my friend genuinely shared.

Wow. It really sounded like my friend was hurting. What was going on? What happened to him? And most importantly, what could I do to help?

My friend continued, “I know this is a big favor to ask man, but is there any way you could drive down to meet me tomorrow? I just don’t feel that I have other friends who I can relate to and I don’t know what to do.”

Immediately I felt something shift inside my body. That pit in my stomach that I had been walking around with, that sense of dread I constantly felt, quickly vanished. And in its place I started to feel a deep sense of caring.

Sure I was suffering and feeling extremely depressed, but my friend was hurting too. And he needed me. What was I going to do, tell him no? That didn’t seem right.

I paused for a second and then replied to my friend on the phone, “Yeah.. I mean… yes, I can meet you tomorrow. For sure. What time?”

Without even realizing it my friend had helped me begin to break my cycle of despair. By simply reaching out and being vulnerable, my friend gave me a sense of purpose and reminded me of something very, very important:

No matter how much we think we are hurting, there’s people out there that are also hurting. And we may not have the power to remove our hurt just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be there for someone else.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying that helping other people is one of the best ways to remind ourselves that 1) our life does have a purpose and 2) that our life does matter, even when we feel that it doesn’t.

I met my friend the next day. I left super early in the morning and drove two hours south to have a deep and powerful conversation on life and feeling lost.

Neither one of us “fixed” everything that we felt was off in our lives through that conversation alone, but we did support each other in the process of finding meaning for why things happen and how to grow from our experiences.

It’s pretty awesome when you think about it. My friend called me to ask for help, but really he was helping me without knowing it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may just give someone the sense of purpose they’re looking for.

Don’t be afraid to jump in and help others. You showing up for them will help you show up for yourself.

What’s the priority?

“She was laughing at your business cards. She said they look cheap!”

“Okay. And?” I replied back to my friend.

“Well… she said a company like yours should have better ones.” My friend noted.

I looked up from my computer where I was typing an email. I smiled at him and said, “Cool.”

The year was 2009 and my business partners and I had just started our new company Clean. The company was self funded (still is) and the only employees we had were the three founders, myself, Alejandro Junger, and Albert Bitton. There was always a lot to do and, like most start-ups, not many resources at all.

When it comes to building a business the name of the game is priority. The most important question my business partners and I had to ask ourselves everyday was, “What is truly the priority today?”

Maybe having nice business cards was a priority for my friend’s friend, but it wasn’t for me.

Even if I had the best business cards in the world, it wouldn’t have made any difference when it came to the success of our new business. Nice business cards don’t make money, they cost money.

Paying rent for a fancy office. Driving a leased luxury car. Spending months on a 10 year business plan. Hiring a company to create a custom voicemails. Having an assistant to look important. Allocating way too much money on a logo. Spending a year on the most perfect website….

These things don’t matter in the beginning. They may matter later on (or maybe never), but they don’t in the beginning.

What does matter is beginning are the fundamentals. The product, the customer’s experience, the customer support to name a few.

I’m not advocating that my priorities should be your priorities. I’m simply encouraging that the question be asked.

What’s the priority? If something isn’t priority, have the courage to quit it and recommit to what is.

While my friend’s friend was focused on our business cards, my partners and I were focused on making customers happy with our product. And even though we didn’t have nice business cards, or a fancy office, or the best website, we did make our first $1,000,000 in sales that summer.

Here’s to working on what matters.

My best friends don’t know me

My best friends don’t know me.

They don’t know what my limits are and they don’t know what I’m capable of.

They don’t pigeon hold me into their version of my identity. They don’t cap my growth with their own beliefs.

One of the greatest gifts one friend can give another is the freedom to be whoever they want to be.

My best friends help me be the best version of me, but they never assume to know what that version “should” be.

My best of friends don’t have me all figured out. And I love them for that.

Focus and remembering

There’s no right or wrong way to focus. Focus just means giving love and attention to the priorities that matter.

The priorities that you set. The priorities that shape the life you want to live.

All too often though, even when we do set priorities, distractions creep in. And of course fear creeps in too.

So the act of focusing is essence remembering what those priorities are, deciding if they still matter, and if so recommitting to them.

I usually think of it this way:

Remember and recommit.

or

Remember and quit.

Naturally, sometimes something that once was a priority may not be a priority anymore. And that can be an amazing thing.

That’s why quitting priorities that don’t matter is just important as recommitting priorities that do.

Doing it all and doing it now

Everyday I meet budding entrepreneurs who want to work on it all.

They want to start a new company (maybe two), write a book, create a nonprofit, throw amazing events, have a TV show and continue live their version of a balanced life.

Believe me, I want to do all those things too. The only distinction is that I’m not worried about doing it all right now. I’m just committed to doing it *right* in general.

Creating great things (books, companies, events) takes focused love and lot of help. And the challenge is that when we’re just staring out we often don’t have a lot of help. We haven’t yet built our team.

Our ability to juggle multiple projects is largely dependent on two things:

1) The complexity of the project
2) How much help we have

The more stuff you want to work on, the more help you need.

You are not Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, or Elon Musk – yet. But maybe one day you will be.

Until then though, chances are you’ll have to pick a couple of priorities and do them well so you can get the experience, money, connections and team to graduate the the next level.

I don’t know you and what you’re capable of. Maybe you can work on it all at the same time. If so, good for you. Please teach the rest of us how you do it.

Lastly, if you feel spread too thin and you don’t feel like you’re getting the important work done, here’s a question for you that I often ask myself

Are you using the excitement of jumping from one new project to another to cover up fear you have to committing to doing the work that truly matters?

Constraints

Walls. Boundaries. Limits. Constraints. 

Some people hear these words and they cringe. I hear these words and I get excited.

Without some limits and boundaries it’s hard to remain grounded. Without constraints it can be hard to grow.

Freedom is a beautiful thing. It’s also possible to get lost in freedom too.

I read a really interesting essay yesterday on this topic. It was a by a blogger who was explaining why he decided to cut off internet access at home.

Here’s the gist:

He wasn’t happy with his productivity and he didn’t feel he was honoring his time when he was on the internet. So he killed his wifi at home and now when he wants to get work done he has to go to a coffee shop or the library. Now every hour counts. No more messing around and no more overworking.

I don’t plan on cutting of my wifi anytime soon, but I love the intension behind his reasoning. Instead of trying to do more and be more, he opted for less. Less can be a very powerful intension.

Constraints build creativity. Here are just a few constraints that I’ve played with over the last 10 years at various times.

* Not spending any money on the weekend to become more mindful about my beliefs about money
* Only watching tv or movies when I’m flying/traveling to become more mindful about time
* Not taking on new projects to practice honoring my current commitments
* Working on Sunday’s but not Monday’s to become better at planning and delegating
* Avoiding all social media, especially surfing news-feeds, unless I had something meaningful to post
* Not dating for a period of time to notice relationship patterns that I was replaying

The key words here are “played with.” I played with the constraint as long as it served me. Once it stopped serving me I let it go.

Constraints build creativity.

Being present enough to notice it

Movies (and great tv) have this ability to make even the most mundane life situations look so interesting and appealing.

Of course a big part of it is the plot and finding a character in an unexpected tale.

But there’s something else that really draws us in, something so fundamental that it’s easy to overlook.

Go to the park or a cafe and people watch for a hour and you’ll see the obvious: many of us are in our heads.

The majority of us spend our day in our mind contemplating the past or future, not present to what is happening now. The same thoughts and worries are on repeat day after day. And, worst of all, most of these thoughts aren’t ones we decided to think about on purpose.

Compare that to the characters we watch on screen, especially the ones played by great actors. Even when they’re doing the most basic of functions like drinking coffee in park, or ridding a bus, washing dishes, or having a conversation with a friend, they are present in the moment, free of mental noise.

Even when characters in movies act distracted there’s a deep intentionality to it. It’s like everything they do they are doing on purpose. There’s something really appealing about that. It’s invigorating to watch people who aren’t stuck in their head.

Some people call movies an escape. I like to think of the great ones as a reminder. A reminder that anything is possible and that our own life is so much more interesting and amazing than we give it credit for. We just have to be present enough to notice it.

Our calling and the expression of our calling

There’s our “calling”, and then there’s the “expression of our calling”. They sound similar, but they are two very different things.

A calling is your answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

This sounds like a big question, and it is, but the answer is simple.

Talk to people you look up to, read the accounts of people you admire and you’ll see a pattern. The underlying theme that drives them, their calling, isn’t some long, drawn out purpose statement. It’s often a simple sentence or two.

The other thing you’ll notice is that their calling is not a definition of what they do for a living. Their calling might be related to what they do, but a it isn’t the title on their business card.

How we put our calling to use is what I call “the expression of our calling.” The expression is where things get sophisticated. The expression is where our skill meets our passion. The expression is the outward execution of our internal calling.

Oprah’s calling is to teach, and use her passion for teaching to uplift others. The Oprah Winfrey show, her magazines, speeches, movies and overall empire are an expression of that calling. Her calling, from what I’ve read, was always there, even from a young age. The mission in her life was to get better and better at expressing and executing that calling.

When I hear smart people say “I haven’t found my calling yet” I question their statement. Is it really that they haven’t found their calling? Or is it that they’re still working on how to express their calling? It could be both, to me it more often feels like the latter.

Sometimes people think their calling is too simple. They think it needs to sound fancier or more complicated than it is. I know I used to feel this way.

Growing up my dad placed a lot of importance on family and community. He taught me the same thing his dad taught him: at the end of the day it’s the relationships around us that make life rich. From a young age the thing I looked forward to the most was spending time with my family, especially my twenty-plus cousins. It didn’t matter if we were just sitting around the house, washing dishes, or doing homework, when I was with my cousins I felt like life was full. They got me and I got them. We had our our parents and grandparents to thank for creating that culture of support.

As I grew up and realized how lucky I was to have the family I do, I also realized that I could bring the same lessons of support that I learned from my family to my larger community. I started building websites and hosting events for different groups that I was involved with. Groups like meditation clubs, people interested in wellness, and cultural groups too. The hope was that the skill of caring I learned from my family would bring these communities closer together. And it worked fantastically! When I brought groups closer together, in my unique way, people felt more supported and all sorts of deep friendships formed.

One day, at an event I was hosting, someone asked me what my calling was. Without really thinking about it I just quickly replied back, “I think it has something to do with bringing community together.” Whoa! The speed of my answer kind of shocked me. It seemed so obvious and yet, after thinking about it a little more, it also seemed way too simple. I mean… bringing people together… is that even a calling?

Bringing community together, that’s my calling. Who gives a shit if it sounds too simple. A calling isn’t something someone else picks for you. It’s something you pick for yourself. It’s your answer to the question, “Why am I here?” My answer to that question is simple, I’m here to build community.

One day a friend asked me if being the co-founder and ceo of a wellness company is my calling. I told him it wasn’t. He looked a little confused and followed up with, “When do you think you’ll start living your calling?” I told him he was confused, I was living my calling.

Being founder of a company isn’t my calling, but it does allow my calling to express itself. I love building community and through Clean I’ve had the opportunity to connect a lot of people. My business partners and I have brought a team together that really cares about each other. And that same team has helped build a world wide community of thousands of people who have similar values. Best of all, we’re having a blast doing it.

I like talking about wellness, I like helping people get healthy, I’m good at business, but these things aren’t my calling. They’re all just part of the expression. I had to get good at them to allow my calling to unfold.

Today when I talk about my love for building community it can seem obvious to others. But it’s only obvious in their minds because they think I’m successful. Translation, they see me making good money doing what I’m doing and they think I must have it figured out.

If I can claim that I have anything figured out it’s this: don’t doubt your calling.

I’ve known that building community was my calling for at least 10 years now. When I was younger, I felt it, but as I grew older I found the words to express it.

Even when I was making hardly any money and felt totally confused about what to do in life, I always knew what my calling was. I just didn’t know how it was going to express itself.

And who knows how it will express itself in the years to come. Anytime I feel anxious about the future I remind myself that it’s not my job to worry about what may or may not happen. No, that’s a waste of time.

My job, the number one most important thing for me to focus on is this: remember the answer to the question “Why am I here”, and let go of anything that doesn’t serve that higher purpose, especially my own limiting beliefs.