When it comes near the end of the year, we tend to think of the highlights of what we did. Our minds go to our experiences throughout the year. What we DID with the 365 days until now. The highs and the lows, the good and the bad.
This year my highlight was a distinction, an Aha! moment.
Roll back a few years and I remember overhearing one of my young kids arguing:
My dad’s stronger than your dad.
No, my dad is stronger than your dad!
Well my dad is smarter than your dad.
… until I cut in and gently changed the subject.
But somewhere inside I wanted to egg my son on. He wanted to prove something to his friend. I wanted to be all of the things that he was saying.
He wanted me to be all of those things too, because it gave him self-worth, credibility, and pride.
On the outside I brushed it off as something that all kids must just say, but on the inside another conversation was going on.
I asked myself WHY I was downplaying everything that he was saying. WHY was I embarrassed to hear these things?
Then a crazy thought came to mind.
Back when I was studying NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) I learned something called the New Orleans Flexibility Drill. Google it if you’re interested. The exercise is very simple.
You envision a person, real or fictional, alive or dead, standing in front of you. This is a person who’s characteristics you desire to emulate. You make it as real as you can, how they breathe, the posture they hold, jutting your chin just right, shoulders squared, thinking what they might be thinking, focusing on what they would focus on.
And when you make it so real that you can practically feel the heat from their body and the hairs in the back of your neck are standing on end, take a step forward and “into” their body, thus inheriting their traits.
YOU BECOME THEM!
This may sound corny, no it DOES sound corny! But when do you this it can give you the confidence boost you need, the insight you are looking for, or the right frame of mind to make an important decision.
I had to adapt this for me. Something I can do for myself, for my children, for my wife, for my business, for the world!
I had to become the superhero they needed me to be.
I wrote down the characteristics of the superheroes that I liked and distilled it down to these top five:
1. Strength (think: Hulk, Superman)
2. Intelligence (Ironman, Batman)
3. Vast Wealth (Batman, Xavier)
4. Strong Moral Code (Spider-man, Superman)
5. Romantic (Zorro, Spider-man)
Now I don’t expect to reach the level of strength of the Hulk or Superman within my lifetime, but these five seemed like a good place to start.
So how do I use this in my everyday life?
1. Strength, or health and fitness.
This is where I make daily decisions about what I eat, how much I exercise, and everything else that has to do with my body.
2. Intelligence, or continuous learning and experience.
Read books, try new experiences, test myself mentally and keep pushing the boundaries. I’m happy to say that I love learning and it is always a pleasure.
3. Vast Wealth, or total financial freedom.
Robert Kiyosaki explained it very simply: When your monthly passive income is greater than your monthly expenses, then you are financially free. Every day of my life I am looking for more ways to add more income streams to my self and my family. I want to rocket past financial freedom to TOTAL FINANCIAL VITALITY.
4. Strong Moral Code, or having a basis on which to make the tough decisions in life. My morals are based on my Christian background, and I go back to the standards that my parents taught me over the dinner table as I grew up. I do the same for my own children.
5. Romantic, or just being really in love with the one person in your life who matters the most to you and showing them how you feel. Daily. In front of the kids.
Show your kids how much you love your wife. They need to know that no matter how much you love them, their mommy comes first to you.
Too many parents neglect each other for their children. They forget that they will grow up and move on and after that, all you have left is each other. When that day comes if you haven’t been focusing on your partner, you will be in for a rough experience.
That’s my philosophy in a nutshell.
I’ve heard many people’s philosophies that sounded great, but when I tried them on like a shoe, I realized that none of them were made just for me. They were made by someone else for what THEY needed.
I think each person needs to develop their own philosophy. It doesn’t have to be elegant or even make sense to anyone else. It could be a Franken-Philosophy, a mashup of all your favorite bits of other people’s thoughts on life. Do what works for you.
But having my own philosophy has helped me in a huge way.
Hundreds of times throughout the week I ask myself: “What would a hero do in this situation?”
When these words form, the answer is always simple.
Choose the healthy food
Take the bike to work.
Choose the difficult but more rewarding path for my business
Have that tough conversation with my teenage son
Re-invest instead of spending that hard-earned cash
This is what parenting is about. It’s about being a hero.
Be a hero. Be a dad.
Unless you are a mom. Then be a mom.
You know you're doing it right when your 12 year old daughter decides she wants to buy a computer. But not just any computer -- it must be a Mac -- "because dad wouldn't settle for any less." Not just any mac, a MacBook Air.
She faithfully walks the neighbors dogs early in the mornings or afternoons, and tutors their children when she comes home from school. Managing to save up enough cash she is rewarded when the day finally arrives months later and she buys her first laptop computer at age 12. Bought and paid for by pure perseverance.
You know you're doing it right when your 15 year old son decides that public school is just not good enough for him. He wants to attend French private school and is willing to go make the money for it himself. He pays his way to France to brush up on his language skills and returns to Japan ready to enroll. Unexpectedly, his full scholarship is revoked and he must find an alternative because going back to public school is no longer even an option in his mind.
Discouraged but not defeated he finds a fully accredited online high school with unlimited private tutoring and flexible hours so that he can also hold down a job, beginning his own journey to financial freedom.
He also just bought his own computer, an iMac no less, which he has every right to be proud of. Bought and paid in full by his hard work and perseverance.
You know you're doing it right when your teens sincerely thank you for helping them accomplish all of this, even though at times you feel unappreciated, unthanked, and just plain tired.
You know you're doing it right when you are not anxious about how your children will fare when they leave home, because you have seen first hand their own appreciation for hard work, perseverance, and best of all, gratitude.
Yes, you are doing it right.
The other day I got a call from an unknown contact. I ignored the call two times but the third time told me that it could be urgent.
"Hello, this is the Tokyo Police Department and we would like to ask you a few questions … please."
I immediately regretted taking the call.
"Were you driving a Toyota minivan two years ago on such and such a date at said intersection?"
How am I supposed to remember THAT? I told them I'm not sure.
"Well, we have records of a traffic violation involving you."
I remembered getting stopped for an illegal turn. I clenched my buttocks.
"OK, so you ticketed me, what's this call about?"
"We've been reviewing our past cases and although it seems you did commit an offense, the officer on duty did not file the paperwork properly."
"Well, it turns out that we have to pardon you for the infraction"
"Thank you, but it's been two years. What difference does it make now?"
"We would like to know which bank account to refund the fine of ¥7,000 to."
"OK … here's my info, and … um … thank you officer … have a great day!"
Not what I was expecting at all! I don't know if any other country in the world would do this. Has anyone had a similar experience?
My day was starting to look up. A few days later I got another call from the police asking me to meet them at the police station. It turns out they wanted to apologize in person for their mistake (of my NOT having to pay for my traffic offense!) and also swap my driver's license to to GOLD status.
The whole time I was there I was half expecting a bunch of cameramen to jump out from behind a desk and find out that it was one big prank. I even asked the officers (after getting my new license) if this was a joke. They didn't think it was funny.
In Japan a gold license means that you are a stellar driver and in the case of a traffic accident dispute, your word carries more weight because of your impeccable record.
So, I got my fine refunded, and driver's license swapped for Gold status, and policemen bowing to me in apology. Probably should have also gotten a photo of them bowing to me. Not bad!
I also saved the phone number to the police station in case they call again to give me more goodies!
This morning at 7:30 was the last annular solar eclipse to come this way until 2030. Didn't want to miss it, so we got the kids equipped with their snazzy solar-eclipse-viewing sunglasses and me with my Nikon D5100, which my wife bought me for my birthday present.
Here are some photo of the eclipse from the front balcony.
Although you can measure greatness in any way you like, and I respect them all, one thing I know from my experience is that leaning beyond your comfort zone toward your dreams is what expands your capabilities, and opens doors to greater possibilities.
The more often you lean beyond your comfort zone the easier it becomes, and the easier it becomes, the greater steps you take and soon you'll be doing things that you didn't think were possible for you or thought you didn't even want to do.
We all have dreams, some buried deep down from the first time we were made fun of as a child, but we all have them.
The people who are doing something about it, actively reaching out toward their dream in some way each day are the ones who have direction, drive, motivation and guts.
It's just a choice, not natural talent or ability that defines who is happy in the end. For those who are completely filled up and satisfied with where their life is now, I applaud you because you have now what most millionaires today thought they could achieve through their many accomplishments.
There are different things that each of us need to achieve in life to feel complete. When you can say to yourself "If I die today I will die happy because I know I have done the absolute maximum with what God has given me in my life." then you have reached the level of greatness that I aspire to.