The habits that keep me focused on what’s important so that I stay on track toward my goals!
The following article was taken from my upcoming book titled, Unlock Yourself. It has been re-purposed for this article on LinkedIn. The book is currently available on Amazon Kindle for FREE until April 24th.
The number one supporter in my life growing up was my mom. She would encourage me to believe that I could be anyone I wanted to be in this world.
I remember telling my mom all kinds of things that I wanted to be: the next WWE Champion of the world; the world’s best soul skater (inspired by Disney’s movie, Brink); the next best chef, so I could go around yelling, Bam! like Emeril. You know what her response was every time? “I believe you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Back then, I didn’t know the weight that those words would carry, but I am so grateful that my mom spoke those words of encouragement to me. My mom was the primary voice telling me, you can! and it is largely because of her that I was able to overcome a lot of the obstacles that were in front of me.
You have to spend more time with those who say that you can. Identify people who will encourage you, and remind you that your dreams and goals are right there; you just have to put your mind to it.
Remember the ear gate we mentioned before? We already took the time to discuss what you should be keeping out of your ear gate, but there are some things that you’re going to want to let in too.
When you have big dreams and goals, it’s not enough to just cap the negative. You have to find people, programs, and podcasts that will fill you up with positive thoughts. Why? Because who and what you listen to will determine the direction you go.
When you’re serious about pursuing your upshot, you’re going to have to fill up your positivity tank. You have to have an abundance of positivity stored in your tank to be prepared to combat the negative when it tries to come storming in. Fact negativity WILL come storming in. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom growing up. One time, I reached for the cayenne pepper to sprinkle into our homemade chili and the whole top fell off! I tipped the container back as fast as I could, but the damage was already done. That pot of chili was so spicy, I’m sure that even Satan himself couldn’t eat it!
I was upset because I thought I ruined dinner for the family, but my mom knew what to do. She said,
“Well, you can’t take the pepper out of the pot, but you can add some sugar to dilute it a little.”
Here’s the point⸺ you can’t just get rid of negative, but you can dilute it with more positive. The pot of chili is your positivity tank, the cayenne pepper is the negative and the sugar is the positive. You have to dilute the heat with more sweet!
You have to make sure that your tank is full of the right things necessary to continue your pursuit, despite negative influences that surround you. There are four things, I strongly encourage you to intentionally allow into your ear gate: podcasts, YouTube, success stories, and mentors.1. Podcasts
Everybody, and their momma, has a podcast today! Since they are so simple to start, and typically free to distribute, it is an effective way to communicate a message to your ideal audiences. You can listen to a podcast on ANYTHING, including a variety of topics from conflict issues, to personal branding, to UFOs, to conspiracy theories. That’s great and all, but what I want you to focus on are podcasts that help you grow; podcasts that add value to your mind; podcasts that keep you focused on your upshot.
What that means is, if you’re upshot is to become the most effective communicator, you probably would be wasting your time listening to a podcast that is trying to prove whether or not aliens exist. Let’s be smart with our time, and again, be intentional (key word there) about what we allow into our ear gates.
Jim Rhon, who is an amazing communicator and thought leader on the topic of self-help and development, is famous for encouraging us to turn our cars into “rolling universities.” Basically, utilize your commute time in the car as a time to listen to podcasts that are relevant to your personal development or your industry.7
You know what the best part about all of this is? Podcasts are FREE! You can download and listen to them on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, PodBean, Stitcher, and so many more! It’s 2020 and chances are you have a smart phone of some kind. Take advantage of the resources you have right in the palm of your hand!
Search for a topic that you want to learn more about and you will see tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of podcasts that are available for you to listen to. Some favorites that I tune into for personal growth are:
- Minute with Maxwell — John C. Maxwell
- Ed Mylett Show — Ed Mylette
- American Real — Roger Brooks
- Real Talk YOUniversity — Andre Hakayal Jr. & Christian Bonner
- The FAQ Show — Dan Mori & Sharif
- EarbudU Podcast — Jesan Sorrells
I strongly encourage you to identify a few that you like, then start listening and filling up your positivity tank!
Another good application for podcasts is utilizing them to learn more about a specific subject matter you’re interested in. For example, in the midst of writing this book, I launched a keynote speaking business. Now, I could have, slowly but surely, chipped away at learning the ins and outs of that business.
Instead, I chose to listen to podcasts like, Inside the Green Room, with Pete Vargas and, The Speaker Lab Podcast, with Grant Baldwin in order to learn from their experiences and avoid major pitfalls I’m pretty sure I would have encountered, if I didn’t educate myself ahead of time.
Podcasts are powerful, primarily because you can CONTROL which ones you listen to. It’s not like the news, where you’re subject to listen to what they have planned.
Instead, you can actively search topics that are important to you, press play virtually anywhere, and ta-da! You have a constant positivity drip into your brain. You can even get creative with when and how you listen to them.
For example, I play podcasts through my Bluetooth speaker in the bathroom when I shower. I listen to them on my headphones when I’m working out. I even have them playing in the background while I’m at work sometimes.
I think you get the point, right? There is no excuse to not have a full positivity tank when you have the power of positivity in the palm of your hand every single day.2. YouTube
It has never been as easy to educate yourself as it is today. YouTube is such a powerful tool that can be utilized to add so much value to your life. Like podcasts, you can find topics all over the board and again, the videos are FREE to watch! Although, what you have to learn to dial in on is the type of videos you’re watching.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of videos on YouTube. If I pull up your recently watched history, what will I find? Will it be highlights from your favorite sports team? Will it be funny cat videos? Will it be Tik-Tok compilations? If you looked at my history a few years ago, that’s what you would’ve found in mine (minus TikTok).
I used to waste so much time watching videos that had no impact, or added any value, in my life. I created a habit of watching videos for mere entertainment, instead of education.
Today, if you check my recently watched history, you will find a mix of motivational speeches from speakers like Joel Osteen, TD Jake, Eric Thomas (The Hip-Hop Preacher), Denzel Washington, and Steve Jobs. These videos get my mind right⸺ they help me prepare for my day and can help me bounce back from unexpected mishaps that happen.
You’ll also find workout videos, how-to videos, and right now, videos on promoting a book effectively so that it can reach more readers like you.
Instead of using YouTube to entertain yourself, utilize it to create a better you. Use it to add more value to who you are. When you add value to yourself, you are equipped to add value to other people. When you search the word positivity on YouTube, BOOM! There’s a hot-bed of videos you can watch that will add to your positivity tank.
I just did it, and videos from Kevin Hart, Brendan Burchard, Tony Robbins, Denzel Washington, and so many more, came up. Filling your positivity tank is important for your success. Find a few channels and commit to adding positive value to your life every day.
I don’t know about you, but I am a visual learner. I’d much rather see something being done rather than just hearing about it, or being lectured on it. YouTube allows you to get hands-on learning wherever there is a Wi-Fi or a mobile connection.
It allows you to see emotion, instead of just hearing it. It allows you to experience facial expressions, and most importantly, it allows you to connect with the creator of the content. Most of the motivational videos you see showcase a series of visual aids that will help solidify positive emotions in your brain; emotions like gratitude, joy, and appreciation.
Don’t believe me? Search “Inky Johnson” on YouTube and watch one of his videos. I can almost guarantee he will make you feel a level of appreciation that you’ve never experienced before.
One last thing about YouTube. You can learn just about ANYTHING on YouTube today. There are tutorials on graphic design, photography, videography, book writing, time management, (insert your topic of interest.)
For example, I spent a total of eight hours watching tutorials from TJ Free on how to use InkScape (a free open source program that has similar functionalities to Adobe Illustrator). I used it to create a series of marketing materials, and ultimately, the cover of this book.
Prior to those videos, I had zero experience in graphic design and honestly, the thought of creating graphic images intimidated me. Now, I have a skill that I can market and share with others. I added value that I can, in turn, use to add value to others! Why do I share this? Because you can use the platform to learn skill-sets that will increase your value too.
It makes you more stickable in organizations you serve in, as well as, to those around you who may need your newfound area of expertise.3. Success Stories
I love a good struggle-victory story. I’m sure when you make a habit out of watching and listening to them, you will become hooked too! There’s something about listening to, reading about, or watching someone go through so many trials and obstacles, only to come out on the other side victorious.
Success stories will inspire you like nothing else because they typically showcase people who scream, you can do this too! I’ve learned that anything that one person can overcome, removes the excuse for someone else who thinks it can’t be done. Why? Because no one person is better than anyone else.
Have you ever heard of Roger Banister? He was the first person to ever run a four-minute mile. Before he did it, the world believed that the human body was incapable of pushing the physical limits to a point where a four-minute mile could be achieved. No one ever tried, until Roger Banister came along and overcame that obstacle for everyone.
Soon after Roger broke that record, something amazing started to happen. Runners all around the world began to believe it could be done. Banister only held the record for forty-six days, until it was broken. Three years later, there were three runners who beat the four-minute mile… in the same race!
Success stories are important to incorporate into your listening habits because they program your mind to believe in yourself. It makes you think, If they can do it, so can I! Whether you’re pursuing an athletic career, starting a business, or climbing the corporate ladder, finding stories of those who have created success in your arena will prepare your mind to believe that you too, can achieve that level of success.4. Mentors
A mentor is someone who loves you too much to allow you to stay where you are. I was fortunate to have a few mentors in my life growing up, who not only encouraged me, but who also challenged me continuously to get better.
One of my all-time favorite people is my former high school football coach, Coach Junker. He was your typical hard nose, high energy coach who instilled discipline in me like no other. During a time when I lacked confidence and had serious doubts about whether or not I could really earn a scholarship, Coach Junker spoke four words that I held on to, “You got a shot.”
That was all I needed, someone who believed in me and my ability; someone who already coached a player who earned a D1 scholarship, to be in agreement with me. During my high school years, Coach Junker had the loudest voice in my head because I knew, that he knew what I was pursuing; he continued to believe in me, and let me know that I could achieve my goal of playing college ball on a full ride scholarship.
A mentor, in my opinion, is one of (if not the best) asset you can ever have in life. If you have someone who has already built the success you’re wanting to create, and is willing to teach and coach you on how to accomplish it, don’t take him/her for granted.
In life, there will be people who are emotionally invested in you, and people who have a vested interest in your success. Both types care about you, but there is a distinct difference between the two.
To be clear, vested is different from invested. The following definitions are from Merriam Webster’s dictionary. Vested is to, “bestow power and authority to someone.” Whereas invested means to, “devote time or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.”
Emotionally vested people tend to give you opinions. Unfortunately, these opinions are typically based on a negative interactions or fear of failure; them being afraid that you’ll fail and them not wanting you to be hurt by failing.
These people are usually, but not limited to, parents, guardians, siblings, and friends. Their opinions often have a different interpretation of a worthwhile result than you do.
Vested mentors, on the other hand, will offer you sound advice based on experience. Their advice gives authority to overcome obstacles and the power to navigate your road to success. These people are almost always strangers who become friends (at least that’s my experience.) Be aware of who you take your advice from.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a mama’s boy. I love my mom to the fullest. As much as I love her, I would never seek her advice for businesses endeavors. Why? Because My mom has never owned a business. It’s not a knock against my mom at all. If I went to my mom to ask about a business, she will provide me with her opinion on business, not sound advice.
A true mentor is someone who has been where you’re headed and is willing to help you get there. Make it a habit to seek advice from those who have the experience, not those who are providing an opinion that may have been derived from a negative interaction.
When I was a senior in high school, my cousin set up an opportunity for me to speak to Kieon Carpenter who was a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons at the time.
I remember feeling so anxious. I didn’t know what to say or what questions to ask. Thankfully, Kieon had some words of encouragement for me. To be completely honest, I don’t remember exactly what he said on that phone call, but I do remember is that this grown man took time out of his busy life, time away from his family, to talk to a kid who had a dream to someday be where he was.
I am forever grateful for his willingness to take some of his time to tell me that I could do it too. Kieon passed away not too long ago, and if one of his family members is reading this right now, I just want you to know how much of an impact he’s had on my life.
In order to set yourself up for success, you’ll have to have a mentor at some point. Nothing in life is completely done on your own. The term self-made isn’t true. Everyone has received help from someone as they’ve traveled from where they were, to where they are now.
The best way to go from where you are to where you want to be is to identify someone who knows the route. Let that voice become the loudest in your mind, and together, you will travel the road of success much faster, and without as many flat tires, than if you had to drive alone.
An old African Proverb says, “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.Your Positivity is Contagious
A mentor of mine would always tell me, “You can only give in excess of what you have.” That means you need to start filling up on positivity now to add value to value to those who need it.
If you only have just enough, you won’t be able to serve other people. If you only have just enough positivity in your tank to take care of yourself, you won’t be able to share it with other people.
Think of the pot of chili. If your pot only had enough chili in it for one bowl and you haven’t eaten anything that day, who do you think that chili is going to go to⸺ yourself, right? But if you had a full pot of chili, or even better, if you had two or three pots of chili, you could share your chili willingly without any fear or regret that you will run out.
I was at a leadership meeting not too long ago where a friend of mine told a story about a cup of tea she made earlier that day. She mentioned that she was so excited about the tea that was in her cup, but as she rushed out of the door, she bumped the counter and tea spilled over and onto the floor. She asked, “When people bump you, what will spill out of your cup?”
When life throws you a curve ball that you didn’t expect, are you going to cry and whine about it or will positivity overflow from your cup? When someone is venting about their having a bad day, are you going to sulk with them or will you have a word of encouragement to speak into their life? When someone comes to you to share their upshot, will you put them down or will you be like my mom and say, “I believe you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Positivity is contagious. Make the decision to add positive things to your mind so when people need you, you’ll have something to offer.
About the Author:
Eddie is an author and keynote speaker. He has a passion to help youth and young adults to break self-limiting beliefs and earn the success they were all born to create. If you’re interested in booking Eddie at your next event, click here.
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