Photo Credit: flickeringmyth.com
👋 Hi there! It has been awhile. I'm sure like a lot of people, we are going through a season of change. We recently sold our home in Wisconsin and are moving across the country to Florida. Obviously, moving across country is challenging in and of itself, but with a young family and growing businesses, it poses a season of beautiful chaos. Many years ago, we talked about living where people vacation, and we are excited to make our dream a reality for our family.
“Oh, the places you’ll go.”
Many times, I've read my girls the book Oh, the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Seuss:
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."
You CAN steer yourself in whatever direction you choose. Recently, Brandon and I have been talking a lot about belief. We've believed that we can make our dreams come true, and with faith and massive action, we knew we had the recipe to make it happen. Sometimes it may look chaotic, sometimes messy and sometimes frustrating, but embrace the journey, it is all a part of your story. Making your dreams, a reality, is there for everyone. First, you have to believe you can make it happen. Then, you decide to make it happen. I wanted to keep this short and sweet and send a quick message/quick encouragement about the power of belief and faith. Sometimes we are waiting for the stars to align, but isn't there beauty in the chaos of the stars?! Don't wait for things to happen in your life, make them happen.
"You are only as free as you think you are and freedom will always be as real as you believe it to be."
-Robert M. Drake, Beautiful Chaos
Dream BIG, Dream OFTEN
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: franklincoveyme.com
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
-Stephen R. Covey
Seek first to understand, then to be understood can be defined as “having a frame of mind and heart that empathically listens to others first before seeking to be understood in all human interactions.”Stephen R. Covey defines this fifth habit in his bestselling book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" as the habit of empathic communication.
Communication is the most important skill that we will learn in life. There are four basic types of communication:
We spend years learning how to read, write and speak. But what about listening? If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood. Most people want to get their point across. Generally, people are reactive, distracted and want to be 'right.'
When another person speaks, we’re usually “listening” at one of four levels:
What often happens is that we can ignore the other person completely, pretend that we are listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning. This happens because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. Rather than listening to others, we are listening internally to ourselves deciphering what to say next. We tend to filter everything we hear through our experiences and our own frame of reference. Consequently, we prematurely conclude what the other person means before they finish communicating.
Because we often listen based on our own experiences, we tend to respond in one of four ways:
Q: How can we become better empathic listeners?
A: Listen with an intent to understand
Some tips to 'seek to understand' people in communication:
Communication is a critical aspect of productive interpersonal relationships. When truly effective interdependent people communicate, they first try to understand the other person’s perspective before expressing their own. It takes time, practice and intentionality.
“What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.”
-Stephen R. Covey
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: aktuelno.me
“Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive it needs structure. A 'why' without 'how' has little probability of success.”
—Simon Sinek, 'Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action'
Back in December 2020, we wrote a blog outlining the goal setting ritual that we've done every year since 2009. Listed below are an outline of the different areas that we focus on. But once you set a goal, how do you put those goals into actionable items? We'd like to give an introduction to the concept of reverse engineering your goals and how to simplify steps into your daily habits.
These are the 10 areas that we set specific goals within. In each area, we set 1-3 subgoals. We look at:
1. Business: Optimizing our business ventures
2. Financial: Growing our legacy
3. Relational: Improving our relationships
4. Intellectual: Increasing our strategic, personal growth
5. Emotional: Increasing our emotional growth and growing our capacity
6. Physical: Improving our health and wellness
7. Social: Growing our impact
8. Spiritual: Fostering growth in our spiritual foundation
9. Family: Creating a home-front that supports every members' growth and radiates positivity.
10. Home Improvement: Identify home improvement projects that contribute to our household values
'Reverse engineering' your goals is taking an end goal, identifying the steps to take to get there, and then starting with the first step. We once read an article that referred to reverse engineering a goal like this:
*The top floor is your goal
*The ground floor is your starting point
*The stairs are your process/your habits
*The landings are the milestones
It is important that you get specific with the goal you are setting. Also, spend some time in self-analysis and self-reflection, identifying where you are currently at, so that you can identify your starting point. Next, break down that goal into monthly, then yearly and then daily steps. Now it is time to develop a strategy and a plan of action, as well as checkpoints along the way. Lastly, ACT! Nothing will happen without deliberate and intentional action. Two of the most important things that you can do to ensure you stay on track are: 1) have an accountability partner, community and/or system and 2) track your progress. We teach 3 increments of tracking progress:
1. Monthly Analyzation
2. Weekly Reflection
3. Daily Systems
As part of our community, we've built in systems for both personal and group accountability. Accountability is integral in developing the 'stickiness' of habits and systems. It is critical to find ways to include others that can 'hold you' to your commitments.
We hope this provides some context and strategy to not just setting goals, but developing a plan of action. Here's is the sticking point... no one can do it for you! You have to choose to implement. This is very much the foundation for our motto, 'Greatness is a Choice.' Take personal responsibility for your follow through this year.
"Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become."
-James Clear, 'Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones'
Make 2022 your best year yet!
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: betterup.com
"Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don't see what goes on underground - as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don't see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree."
Consider the analogy of living out your values to that of a tree, let's call it the 'Purpose Driven Tree.' Imagine this:
Roots = Core Values
Trunk = Mission
Branches = Purpose/Vision
Leaves = Goals & Objectives
Fruit = Results
ROOTS: Just as the root system of a tree performs many vital functions, such as absorbing and transporting water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the tree as well anchoring the tree, our values provide the foundation on which we stand on. Values are a human's root system.
SHOOTS: Just as a shoot is an above ground portion of a tree directly bearing leaves/growth, the shoots in our life are how we define and live out our values. The shoots of our life are growth opportunities to live out our purpose.
Defining a personal value system is so critical to living a fulfilled life. They are the principles that drive our behaviors. Our personal value system is what we aspire to be and define our character. Our value system must be in alignment with our belief systems.
Defining our value system:
• Determine your top values based on your experiences of joy, peace, happiness, pride and fulfillment
• Narrow in our your top values
• Re-affirm the 3-5 most important values
Everything that we do, who we become in that process and the results we create in our life, all go back to us operating in our value system and walking out of purpose.
I often talk about 'living life on purpose' or having intentionality around what and why we do certain things in our life. The shoots in our life are just that. They are the decisions, habits and activities that we do to live out our purpose and vision. These decisions, habits and activities allow for new growth opportunities, the ability to not only achieve goals and objectives, but to also set new ones and ultimately, produce the fruit in our life. The more we continue to grow, strengthen and root our value system, the more we give way to growth opportunities, new challenges and new perspectives/experiences.
LIVE LIFE ON PURPOSE: What does this look like? We are big proponents of self-reflection and self-analysis, so we thought it would be advantageous to wrap up with some guided self-reflection. Brainstorm and write down responses for the following:
1. What makes you come alive?
2. What does 'success' mean to you?
3. What are you afraid of?
4. What do you spend your time on?
5. What do you invest your time in?
6. What do you prioritize/put in your calendar?
7. When do you feel most fulfilled?
To us, living on purpose means that your vision must include others and how we can make an impact and/or difference in the lives of others. We will not feel fulfilled until we learn to do things for others, without necessarily expecting to receive any personal gain. We believe in servitude and gaining satisfaction from witnessing the success of others, the same way that we would be satisfied with our own successes.
Fitness (holistic wellness)
These are our CORE values. If you define your values, it simplifies everything that you do. It allows us to nurture the growth of new 'shoots' in our lives.
"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Live life on purpose,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: meetingsnet.com
"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort."
-Paul J. Meyer
We live in a culture that thrives on staying 'busy,' but being 'busy' does not mean that you are productive. Productivity is not an accident; it requires intentionality. Changing habits is the key to increasing productivity. Creating systems to automate tasks and focus on bigger goals are key. In a world filled with an endless amount of distractions, those systems become pertinent to our ability to develop intentionality to our day. There are SO many productivity hacks that are out there and you have to find what works for you, but I wanted to provide what has worked for me/us, so here's my 'Top 10' list:
The purpose of these hacks it to focus your day on the most important things; your big goals and activities that align with your values. Behavioral psychologist and author of 'Atomic Habits,' James Clear explains that, "Your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don't get used and builds up connections that get used more frequently. Synaptic pruning occurs with every habit you build as your brain builds a strong network of neurons to support your current behaviors. The more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes." Clear argues you can take advantage of the "very strong habits and connections that you take for granted each day" to build new habits. An individual's productivity hinges on mental energy and a sense of internal & external motivation. It often emerges naturally from 'work' that they find inherently meaningful or valuable.
"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." -Stephen Covey
Don't be busy, be productive!
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: oprahdaily.com
You may of heard the saying, 'From 9 to 5 you create your life, but from 5 to 9, you create your lifestyle.'
For most people, they cannot just quit their 'day job' or 'primary income source' to pursue a certain lifestyle through business ventures and/or investments, so they have to learn to leverage nights, weekends and non-productive time to create it. We, as humans, crave adventure. We often starve that spirit when we get stuck in the monotony of the day-to-day. One thing I know for certain we had to stop doing to create true flexibility in our life; is that we needed to STOP APOLOGIZING.
We needed to stop apologizing for:
- Where we put our time
- Where we invested our money
- Who we allowed to influence us
Often, we spend too much time being flexible with our boundaries, putting too much weight on other people's opinions and being unclear with our intentions and goals with the people around us. We've found that so many people fall short of achieving their dreams and living a life of fulfillment because they are easily distracted. There are numerous ways to earn a living outside of the typical employer/employee work settings, but we have to be willing to commit to the process, see the big picture and eliminate distractions.
In a Forbes article from 2019 titled '3 Tips To Successfully Escape The 9-To-5 Grind' by Jia Wertz, she outlines the 3 tips that successful YouTuber and Entrepreneur, Kevin David, lays out:
1. Leverage experts with proven results
Learning from experts can help jumpstart your path and guide your results by understanding the genius and mistakes made by experienced people in the field.
2. Implement a proven system
Entrepreneurs must address problems and pain points and create solutions. Use a proven system as the framework for your own business, and keep innovating and testing as you go.
3. Provide massive value upfront
Use what you have created to help others achieve their dreams too. This is quickly becoming the modern way of paying-it-forward in our fast-paced digital world. Build a real relationship with your audience. You can add value upfront by providing free trainings, podcasts, and online courses. Remember, one of the best ways to be an effective business mentor is by adding constant value without expecting anything in return. The most noticeable mistake that people starting out make is charging for value, instead of adding value for free to make an impact.
We thought this was great and couldn't have said it better, so we wanted to share it. Success principles are universal and transferable. We're just want to encourage you to get really intentional about where your time and money are going, and more importantly where you are receiving advice/input from. Stop apologizing for pursuing avenues to better yourself and your family. Rather than starving our dreams, let's starve our distractions and feed our intentions and actions to create the life that we imagine.
Greatness is a choice,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: callcentrehelper.com
Busyness has become an addiction in our society today. Many people wear “being busy” like it’s a badge of honor. The problem with this is that many times this busyness does not correlate to productivity, or even to effort, in many instances at all. We’ve heard that a baby is busy sucking its thumb, but that doesn’t mean that it is being productive. Successful people don’t value busyness, or even effort at all, they value results. They know that being busy without creating results leads to frustration, and frustration is a key indicator that we aren’t living up to our full potential. When we feel this frustration starting to take hold, it is up to us to either allow it to make us retreat and give up, or use it to change our circumstances and grow.
Can this be hard? Yes. Is it going to require more of you than you think? Most likely. Is it going to be worth it? Definitely.
We would rather be completely exhausted while accomplishing our dreams and goals, then be well rested and floating through life until the good Lord calls us home. The greatest athletes learn to push themselves harder in training than they would ever be pushed in a game so that when it comes time for competition, nothing can stop them from achieving their goals. There is a lesson to be learned here. While we may not be competing at an extremely high level athletically, we can make the choice to approach our dreams and goals with the same fervor.
The results we are looking for lie on the other side of this intentional effort. What’s the cost if we don’t approach our life in this manner? Well it’s pretty simple. If we don't exhaust our energy towards accomplishing our dreams and goals, our energy will end up being used as a resource for someone else to accomplish theirs. The mere thought of our lives becoming a dispensable resource for someone else is enough to get ourselves into gear, and we hope it does the same for you.
Architects start with a vision of what they want to create, then develop blueprints with a step by step strategy for making it come to fruition. Does everything then just go smoothly from there as they systematically work towards building their creation? Of course not! There will always be speed bumps and roadblocks along the way. Architects learn to adjust as needed to ensure they see the final project through to completion.
It is through this same approach that dreams and goals are accomplished. Start with a vision, lay down a plan, take action, adjust as needed, and SEE THE PROJECT THROUGH TO COMPLETION. All of your challenges along the way will be for naught if you don’t finish the job and get the results. Don’t hide behind the cult of busy. Don’t constantly ramble on about all of the effort that you are putting in when you have nothing to show for it. Don’t just be willing. Saying we are willing to do something or that we are going to try to do something doesn’t get us anywhere. Take action, fail, adjust, and keep moving forward until you create your desired outcomes. With this attitude and approach, nothing can prevent you from accomplishing the things that you most want to accomplish in your life.
Become the architect of your future.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: vividcimm.com
"Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
Maya Angelou is famous for the above quote, but the beginning of it that often gets omitted, which states: "One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential..." It takes courage to have consistent character. Who are we when no one is watching? Do we do what needs to be done even if we don't feel like it? Do we look to choose the 'ultimate' over the 'immediate?' Are our actions in alignment with our values? Do we maintain our integrity despite the environment or situation?
If you we consistent or inconsistent, it will become part of who we are and how people view us. To be consistent, especially with our character, requires courage. Courage is mental and moral perseverance. Courage is a choice and it's having a willingness to face fears, uncertainty, discomfort, etc.
How can we build our courage?
◦ Feeling fear and yet doing the things we fear anyway
◦ Identify our passions - the things we are passionate about cause us to push past fear
◦ Following our intuitions
◦ Choosing to fight instead of succumbing to adversity
◦ Defining and communicating our values
◦ Living out our values by making congruent decisions
◦ Expanding our comfort zone by continually operating outside of the familiar
◦ Leading with faith
We are born with the potential... to choose faith over fear, to develop clarity and focus, to overcome adversity. Brandon and I are committed to continuing to strengthen our character and have the courage to stand up for what we believe is right. This is the true essence of our community. It is a community that is built on integrity, gratitude and a commitment to grow. Find a community that helps you build your character and where you feel empowered to have the courage to achieve greatness.
Greatness is a choice,
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: fisher.osu.edu
Everyone goes through various seasons of chaos in their life. We are currently in one of those seasons with a newborn, a toddler, a growing businesses all while working on a variety of other projects. I'm not comparing what we have going on to others, because I know people are going through some big challenges, but we all have 'chaos seasons' at some point in our lives. Change, in business and life, can be chaotic. While change is a natural force, accepting it is not, which is why we, as humans, are creatures of habit and enjoy personal security. My hope is to set people at ease and encourage you to have grace with yourself. I also want to give some practical tips that have worked for me.
Protect the mindset:
*Alignment is a myth*
You will NEVER be in complete alignment. Life is dynamic. The reality is that whatever we focus on and prioritize grows. Allocating time for what is important is always going to take priority and shift alignment towards those activities. If you've never read, 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey, I highly recommend it. This matrix of importance versus urgency that he talks about in his book, is really helpful in deciding where to invest our efforts:
*The mental boost*
Learning how to spin negative thoughts to positive ones and knowing negative triggers are critical to maintaining mental health. I am a firm believer in audio recording positive affirmations in your own voice and playing them back to yourself when you are 'mentally struggling.' Exercise and reading (especially self-improvement/self-development books) help to boost mental energy as well.
*You are not by yourself*
Lean into your support system. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Join groups and prioritize having resources that you can be your 'go-to' on various subjects. Most importantly, ask for help if you need it.
1. Be scheduled, yet flexible- Find a calendar system that works for you, plan ahead and communicate with all involved. I still use a paper calendar. For me, I need the visual (and color-coded) representation.
2. Have non-negotiable routines/ rhythms- especially in the morning. Your mornings set the tone for the rest of the day.
3. Control what you can control- Focus here:
4. Habit stack- read 'Atomic Habits' by James Clear. Habit stacking is a special form of implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit. This, I found, increases both personal efficiency and effectiveness.
5. Energy windows- know the times of day that you have the most energy and maximize production within that time. For me that's earlier morning and after my toddler goes to bed. These are the times that I can be most creative and productive.
"Since the richness of life and all its opportunities are not going to go away, what needs to change is how we perceive all that we have to and want to do. A shift in perception can open new doors to the sense of purpose and productivity that we all desire."
Author, speaker and coach
Change is inevitable, growth is optional... choose wisely.
Brandon & Amanda
Photo Credit: score.org
Think about this: It is not hard to make choices, if you know what your values are. The journey of life can be a much smoother road when your plans and decisions honor your values.
Our values are the foundational beliefs and principles that we build our life upon. They should be our top priorities as to how we conduct ourselves. When the things that we do & say and the ways in which we conduct ourselves are congruent, we feel satisfied, content and fulfilled.
It is important, if you haven't already, to reflect and define your core values. Here are a few steps to defining those core values:
Our CORE values:
Diving deeper into our values; living our life and conducting value-centric businesses are extremely important to us. Faith isn't about religion, but simply having conviction and believing that we are here for a bigger purpose. Our immediate family is always going to be our #1 priority. The decisions we make will either grow or detract from our family's mission and vision. We've been able to create financial freedom at a young age, so it is important to us that we continue to serve others, properly steward our finances and look for ways to simultaneously grow our finances while adding value to others. We are passionate about developing a legacy for our children and providing them with knowledge, resources and experiences that we didn't have access to growing up. Taking care of our bodies and health has always been a priority and something we want to model for our kids. It is also important to explore and appreciate nature. It is not only important to define your values, but to also know 'why' you have the desire to live them.
When we live out our values, they are the compass that guides everything that we do. This means that we are living in alignment and as our most true & authentic selves. Our values are our key motivators and the guide to which we make decisions. When living a value-based life, we can have a greater impact on the community and the world around us. We are true believers that if you don't understand the 'why,' the 'how' and 'what' are less impactful and meaningful.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny."
Brandon & Amanda