“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.” – John F. Kennedy
Ever get that feeling like you're stuck?
You've read the blogs. You've purchased the course. You know what needs to happen…but you're just sitting there. Heck, you even bought a source code! Now you're kind of just….blah. And it sucks.
On an anecdotal level, this is the “staring at the screen” syndrome. It is the moments in life when people start to feel burnt out, devoid of that juice that we all feel when we're just crushing it.
This is often combined with anxiety and eventually sadness. It's the opposite of feeling alive, there's just no good energy coming through. Trying to generate good ideas or tactical decisions in times like this is nearly impossible and anything you do produce usually, well, sucks.
On a more scientific level, this has to do with which parts of the brain you are activating. The brain is just like the rest of your muscular system and needs to be exercised regularly.
When it doesn't get the proper stimulation, it stops working hard and becomes stagnant. That's when you feel deflated and lifeless.
Anyone who knows me on a personal level knows that I subscribe to a very unorthodox view of the world, but it has proven to be right on almost every time and for almost any situation. The cliff's notes version of it is as follows:
- There is an infinite amount of energy in the world that passes through you constantly.
- At any given moment, each person holds onto or releases energy accordingly.
- On a basic, biological level, humans have the ability to draw in huge amounts of this energy, much more than most of us realize.
- Getting older, becoming socialized, and developing egos create a barrier between us and that energy.
- The more you can break down those walls, the more energy you will have access to.
The bottom line is that I believe the more you can destroy the walls that you have, the more energy you will feel. This is how you become a creative machine and eliminate negativity or stagnation – by eliminating all the BS that's hidden deep inside of you.
Why does this matter? Because understanding this principle is the kind of education that you won't read about most places. Being unique and out of the box is the ONLY way to beat the system and that's what this is all about.
The box is the system. Totally changing your perspective on whatever truths the world has led us to believe is how to get outside those walls.
My goal with this blog post is to provide you with a fresh perspective on topics that are completely played out – turning anxiety into creativity which will in turn lead to a huge increase in your business (and life). I want to talk about personal experiences and I also want to explain why this works so well.
If you want to talk to about this stuff with me more in depth, be sure to join our private community. We have a lot of fun and although we mostly talk about apps, we also talk about this stuff too.
Most importantly, I want to show you the most effective and powerful techniques I have ever found to be more creative, energetic, and excited about life. This shit is no joke, so if you're more interested in reading about drinking 8 glasses of water a day and a downward facing dog, you might want to stop reading now.
But if you want to unlock your hidden power, keep reading…
We Did Not Evolve To Be Buddah
First of all, I think Buddhism is amazing. But I also think it is extremely hard to incorporate that lifestyle into the entrepreneur life. I think of it more as a tool than anything else. It does, however, lend itself well to a very important point I want to make before I get into the meat of this post.
Somewhere along the way it became a disease to have anxiety. Medications began to emerge into the mainstream markets, exploding in the 70's and 80's. It got to the point where taking meds to relax was accepted and cool.
Nowadays (this is just my opinion) it seems like that shift is moving towards alternatives that are healthier and more effective. Yoga, diet, cognitive therapies – these have all done wonders for people to aid in the treatment and cause of anxiety.
But is this the best solution? Are we, as humans, really supposed to achieve a goal where our mind goes silent and we are at peace with the world? Is that the apex of what we should be hoping for as a species? Maybe.
I've tried it all. I did yoga for months on end (still do it), I try to eat healthy which actually turned into a weird obsession with juicing vegetables all the time (ask my friends from college, they will confirm this), and I do countless mental exercises to try and SHUT UP THAT VOICE IN MY HEAD. You know what I'm talking about.
Every one of you – we all know that voice. That voice has been given the worst reputation in the world, the culprit of almost all our stress and anxiety, and public enemy #1 for those seeking peace and quiet out there. People pop pills to silence it, others strike a tree pose.
So what's the problem? The problem is that shutting up that voice isn't necessarily a good thing. It feels great, but that also means you're closing down a piece of your biology that has more power than almost anything else.
Anxiety is defined as overly concerning yourself with the past or the future. In other words, you look at things you can't control and you think negative thoughts about them, then it spirals.
Even if this is subconscious, if any part of you assumes the worst will happen about anything, you will have anxiety. Positive people have anxiety just as much as negative people. The difference is how they extrovert the outer voice.
An example – let's say you're going to a dinner party tonight and you're stressing about it. There's no real reason why, but your hands get sweaty, you can't figure out what to wear, when you should show up, GAH.
When you stop and think it through, of course you know that it's going to be fun and everything will work out, but you still have that nervousness. That's the subconscious that is unsure of an outcome.
That translates into a negative or wavering inner voice.
Most importantly, this happens because deep down, you don't believe in a positive outcome.
Even if you know you are a total rock star, extremely attractive, easy to talk to, whatever, if you still have that doubt seeded inside of you, you're going to have a rough time. What happens is the dreaded “self fulfilling prophecy” where the subconscious commands that inner voice with such force that it actually turns into real actions.
You have another night that wasn't great and just fuels that negative fire.
It is a dangerous cycle.
The reasons I'm using this example is to illustrate the other possibility – if that inner voice was pouring motivation, affirmations, and confidence into you 24 hours a day. What if every situation wasn't marked with anxiety, but with excitement?
What if every day you still woke up with mental jumping jacks, but instead of focusing on how you could get rid of them, you woke up with your inner brain telling you how hard you are going to dominate today?
That inner voice becomes your personal life coach instead of a nagging reminder about what's gone wrong….or what's going to go wrong.
This is the difference between what most people subscribe to and what I'm talking about. Stop trying to silence that voice and focus on CHANGING that voice.
It requires a completely different skill set and is a little bit off the deep end. But guess what – after how ever many thousands of years of evolution and uber-technology in our face all day, we need to do some deep end shit if we want results.
And so I want to share with you some of the most kick ass, radical, and life opening activities I've made in the last 30 years. They do not focus on silencing my negative voice, they focus on creating a voice that is positive inside of me.
Many of these are built on survivalist instincts, which I find to be an incredible resource and teaching tool. I've spent a lot of time trying to find that “perfect balance” and, as far as I'm concerned, that's a really great way to waste time.
Yeah, it helps and is therapeutic, but it's not a SOLUTION. It's just natural Xanax. It stops the negative momentum but doesn't increase the positive momentum.
Each of these has taken a lost, anxious young man and turned him into an outgoing, adventure seeker. The ramifications of such a transformation can be seen in the last two years of my career and life.
First Rule of Bluecloud – Play Like a Champion
Here I will list 5 of the most amazing and actionable activities I've done. This isn't “do this 20 minutes a day” type of stuff – these are power moves. Do them once, then do them often. You will understand why once you do…and you'll start to see the world in a way that you never dreamed of.
1. Get in a fight.
I'm not talking about a yelling match and I'm not talking about wrestling around with a sibling. I'm talking about stepping into the ring for 10 rounds of hell with someone whose instructions are to fuck you up.
I started boxing this year and it was really good exercise and definitely gave me a unique perspective. But it wasn't until I suited up with full body gear that I understood what it was all about.
I went head to head with my trainer (black belt kickboxer, special forces in army) who was taking it easy on me. But every few minutes I'd see him turn it on – a look would come over him eyes and I could tell he was about to bury me. And he did.
Huge uppercuts, roundhouses, and everything in between. I thought my heart was going to come out of my chest from the adrenaline as I felt 700lbs of force deliver into my abdomen.
But once his attack ended, I came back with a left hook right in his chest. It was a clean hit and we both knew it. Holy shit – student teaching the master (not even close, but I'm using dramatic irony).
In that moment I had this crazy wave of energy through me. It wasn't euphoria, it was strength. It was my inner body realizing that I had the skills to fend for myself and that, if it came down to it, I could hold my own (to a certain extent).
This went on for another 20 minutes until I thought I was going to have a heart attack (haha), after which I took a cold shower and slowly walked home.
Something was different.
It wasn't that the voice in my head was silent, it was that it stopped thinking about negative shit. I had just experienced such a feeling of empowerment, of self-earned resolution that my entire subconscious had been electro shocked.
It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and my usual, anxiety ridden inner voice didn't know what to make of it. I started to realize that even though I really don't want to get in a fight, if it happened, I could do something about it.
I was capable and I could survive.
This single handedly eliminated something that was hidden deep down inside of me. Who knows why it was there, but being able to defend myself and attack someone flipped a switch. I started feeling like I could be anyone I wanted to be and it was OK…because that person could hold their own.
They didn't need protecting. For the first time in a long time, I felt like no one was better than me. It's scary to realize how often we compare ourselves to others and automatically assume the other person is better than we are.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that this is not for everyone. Health, age, demeanor, and whatever else can play a big factor in whether or not you can fight.
But the difference between fighting and doing manual labor is that you don't control the situation – you can't take your time and you can't do it your way…you just have to win. Your survival channel opens up and your ego is gone.
Your name doesn't matter, your bank account doesn't matter. It's just raw energy going head to head.
Seriously one of the craziest, most awesome things I've ever done.
2. Leave your phone at home. Go sit at a bar with no TVs.
This is one of my favorites. It may seem a little odd and less radical than some of the others on this list, but I can assure you, it will expose your deep insecurities REALLY quickly. When I first moved to San Francisco I was so excited to be able to have new restaurants and bars to check out, places I could go and grab a beer, eat new food, etc.
Just a way to get out of the apartment, you know? I had all these visions of how easy it is to kick it at a bar and just shoot the shit with the bartender or read a book or whatever.
That's not exactly how it went. The first time I walked into a bar it was kind of crowded but I decided to sit down anyway. There was a baseball game on the TV and a few bartenders who seemed busy.
Most of the other seats were occupied by single people, all doing their own thing. But by “their own thing” I mean staring at their phones or blankly watching the game as they got drunk. It was a weird sight to see.
More importantly, the next week I went to a bar that was much more chic and had a younger professional crowd. EVERYONE was with someone else and if they were waiting, they were staring at their phones, visibly terrified that someone might realize they are alone or early and waiting for someone.
I sat at this bar (no TV this time) and felt so small. I immediately took out my phone and pretended like I had something important to do….even though I didn't. I just wanted to get some dinner. Maybe talk to someone.
Mostly I just wanted to relax and not feel like I was doing something wrong.
After this happened a few more times in a few more situations I realized it was a problem. I'll leave the social commentary to each individual but for myself, I didn't want to be that insecure.
I didn't want to feel so afraid to just be myself and sit somewhere, the way I often see older people doing easily. I wanted to stop caring so much about this outside perception.
So I started going to the most uncomfortable bars, places where my peers would be, and leaving my phone at home. No TV, no way to distract myself and look like I was doing something interesting.
I just hung out and ate my food. I'm not saying it was fun, but it did open my eyes to something important.
Distraction is an amazing defense mechanism. In your day to day life, notice how often people distract themselves from energy that touches on uncomfortable parts of their personality. We have become accustomed to never really having to face much adversity, both physical and social, so when it rears its head, it stings.
I remember in college a female friend telling me (legitimately) that her biggest fear was dropping her tray of food in the dining hall. I'm sure a lot of people now are terrified of looking like a loner in a social situation.
In a world that more and more celebrates popularity via social networks and perceived status, to look like you don't have any can feel like suicide.
As I began this new experiment, my inner voice started shifting. At first, ALL I thought about was everything around me – what people were thinking about me, who I knew, what I should be doing to look like I'm comfortable.
It goes back to that belief – I just assumed that people thought I was a loser. But the more I did this and the more I put myself in those situations, the more I started to realize that, in fact, no one gives a shit that I'm there by myself. W
As this happened, I started to become more comfortable and calmed down. I could walk in and just chill out. I began to bring books just because I enjoy reading, but the principle stayed the same.
I just stopped caring about all this stupid, pointless shit that my mind was MAKING UP. While this happened, people could actually tell that I was comfortable hanging out at a bar by myself and would come talk to me.
Funny how that works.
My point is this: often some of our biggest problems are ones we never have to face…because we avoid situations where they will become known. We stick to schedules and routines, we choose the safe bet.
As a 30 year old, I can tell you that social networks simply reinforce this. That's totally ok, but it's not doing much for that deep energy you are searching for…and certainly isn't any good for your growth.
Put yourself in situations where you can't distract yourself and own it. Realize that you are not the center of the universe and you will feel infinite freedom.
3. Set insane personal, physical records every 6 months.
This kind of happened by accident. Most recently, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a nice Saturday morning run. The night before I had gone out with my homie Chad and spent most of our time talking about awesome ideas and getting inspired.
I woke up the next morning and walked down to the gym, laced up my shoes, and pressed play on the iPod. Seemed like the wind was blowing towards Golden Gate Bridge, so I went that way instead of my usual 5 mile loop down around AT&T park.
As I made my way through Chrissy Field and felt the sea breeze hit my face, I thought to myself “man, I feel pretty good.” My watch said I had already gone 4 miles. That means I was looking at an 8 mile run if I turned around now, well beyond what I'm used to running. In fact, before my trip to Buenos Aires where I ran a little less than 18 miles, my longest run ever was 9 miles. But, I was feeling good and decided that today was going to be epic, so I kept going. I decided that I'll go to the bridge, then turn around and run back.
I get to the bridge steps….and I feel even better. It wasn't a runner's high – it was like I was walking into some fantasy world. It was this weird euphoria where I felt unbridled adventure. All I was doing was going for a run! So weird. Of course, I decided to go up the hill and over the bridge. It was windy and foggy and cold, but man I felt so awesome. Haha I started high fiving people as I went by, smiling the whole time. Something was definitely different – I don't know what it was, but I knew something special was going to happen if I just kept going. It was like the energy of the world was fueling me, not the adrenaline of some electronic music.
At the end of the bridge I had gone 6.5 miles. I felt like a total champion. My legs were light and I was smiling. I turned around and flew back towards the Marina, high on life and this newfound ecstasy I was feeling. My mind was thinking nothing but positive thoughts – amazing new ideas for business, blog posts to write, cool ideas for parties to throw, everything. It was the combination of endorphins and mental fortitude. If I had planned on an 8 mile run, I never would have felt this way…but I decided that I was going to go WAY beyond what I thought my limits were. This opened up an energy I had never felt.
Around mile 10 I hit a pretty serious wall. I realized I hadn't eaten much for breakfast nor had I drank much water. The dark energy began to sneak it's way in and my mind was going between highs and lows. “FUCK!” I thought. I didn't want to lose this state I was in. I grabbed some gatorade and took a quick break. It would haven been really easy to stop right then – I was right next to my gym. Ugh I was so tired and my legs were starting to really hurt. How good would a shower feel….
But all of a sudden I had this realization, one that will forever change me. I was knocked over by this force that boomed down on me and said “You don't get many opportunities to be epic…seize them.” Of course this is all figurative, but you know what I mean. I realized that I had already come 10 miles, the second longest I had ever run. If I stopped now, what good was that? I was literally a few miles away from a life milestone – or I could stop now and have it just be a “longer weekend run.”
So I picked myself up and somehow got my legs to move again, running another 5.5 miles before I was brought to a walking pace. My mind was racing with negative thoughts and I felt so beat down. I tried to stay positive but it was so tough. Something deep inside of me was telling me that I couldn't break through this crazy milestone and it was being personified with a negative mental voice. It is hard to listen to that shit and keep moving. It wants you to stop. It wants you to believe that you're not supposed to do amazing things, that you don't deserve to be totally and unbelievably fucking awesome. I don't know why that happens to me, but it does. When I get close to achieving big things, my mind plays tricks on me, it tries to sabotage me.
I fought through it. Even if I had to walk the last 2.5 miles, I was going to beat my previous record by 0.01 miles. Last time I ran with three great friends, this time I was by myself. Quite a different experience.
As I walked into the gym and hobbled upstairs I made my way to the showers. I almost started crying. I was so overwhelmed with this feeling of accomplishment, a feeling like I had just won some huge personal battle, and I didn't understand it. All I did was run further than I ever thought I could. I had just changed my life on an ordinary Saturday morning when I could have just watched TV or read the paper. What a shame that would have been.
I came home and let my Argentina running friends know what I just did because I knew they would understand. But I didn't really tell anyone else until a few days later. To be honest, when I was on mile 9 and 10, feeling like a million bucks, I couldn't wait to tell the world how fucking awesome it was to do this. But after I actually did, I realized that it was so much more personal than I thought it could be. It really changed the way I look at achievement.
I'm telling you this story because it is the first time, maybe ever, where I realize that you need to do things that are so absolutely unrealistic that your brain can't even process it. You just need to do it. If I was planning on running 18 miles, I probably would have trained for weeks or months, ate a proper diet, prepared fully so that everything was exactly on point. But that's exactly what I'm telling you NOT to do. That's not how to depth charge your soul.
Wake up and decide to do something amazing. Don't give your body and mind the chance to prepare for it and put up it's safety net – go full charge into something and keep going until you reach heights way beyond anything you can imagine. I advocate these things to be physical because it really does become mind vs body. Walk 40 miles. Bike 80. Swim 5 miles in the ocean. ANYTHING that seems crazy. Just get yourself to a point that is beyond the comprehension of exhaustion and keep going. Do it by yourself. Don't plan on it. Just do it.
You will come away feeling like nothing is impossible.
4. Travel solo in a non-native language country.
In the grand scheme of things, I'm probably not the most well traveled person out there, but I've done enough to know how important it is. It wasn't until I went to Argentina that I realized why the whole language barrier is such an amazing thing.
Travel can bring many emotions – excitement, wonder, stress, perspective, to name a few. Often we travel with family and friends, looking to use travel as a way to see new places and learn about the world we live in. We go to reunions, we travel to exotic locations, we go to change gears. Most often, travel is something that allows us to feel newly energized when we return to our regular lives. That's why people do it.
Things change when you're by yourself. They change even more when you can't communicate with other people through language. One of the most jarring moments in my life was when I suddenly realized, after getting off the plane in Argentina, that the “everyone speaks English” comments that people would casually say just flat out weren't true. NO ONE spoke f***ing English! I arrived at my apartment, they handed me a key and said “Gracias. Bueno suerte!” (Thanks. Good luck!). It was 4pm and I needed to get some food.
I went to the grocery store and realized how screwed I was. No cash (just credit card), almost no Spanish skills, and a very long checkout line which meant there would be people waiting behind me. I loaded up a small basket and went for it. After they rung everything up, I handed her my Amex and she looked at me like I was from Mars. She rattled off a bunch of words and I just nodded my head. Long story short, they didn't accept my credit card, people started yelling at me in line and I walked out. This is 45 minutes into my month long trip.
These sort of experiences continued for a few days at the bank, coffee shop, and local restaurants. I was literally petrified to leave my apartment the second day because I was sure I was going to mess up even more, that I would be completely embarrassed and feel like a total loser. There I was, on the trip of a lifetime, sitting on my bed just thinking about how if I went back to the grocery store, I would be a failure again. WTF was I doing?
Then I get an email from a friend that says nothing except “You are fucking doing it, man.” It changed everything. This was something I had wanted to do for so long and I was sitting here letting fear tear me apart, time slipping away like grains of sand, all because I didn't have a safety net. I decided that I wasn't going to be a victim and I was going to make shit happen.
In hindsight it's funny to reflect on this because it was so monumental, but it still was to do basic stuff like get breakfast or get a taxi. To me, it seemed like I was summiting Everest every time I could make something happen. I would put all my energy into one activity and I would focus all determination to realize it. I was GOING TO GET SOME COFFEE. Even if it killed me. I would walk in, put on a big smile, stumble through my words and I would walk out of there with coffee. Often they would laugh with me (ahem, at me) but whatever. It worked.
Everything became total survival mode. Just getting through everyday stuff was a challenge that required all my energy. But it worked. I started to figure it out. More importantly, I started to feel like I could do anything in the world. I went from being scared and hopeless to fired up beyond words simply by accomplishing basic tasks.
Traveling solo where they don't speak your language is another way of saying “Put yourself in a position where you can't fail.” The reason why I used this example is because it's my own experience, but the same can be said for a lot of activities. When your only option is to succeed, you find a way to succeed. In our regular lives, even if we think we know a way, it's really difficult. When success is the only option, YOU WILL figure it out. It will happen.
When it does, your brain will start to automatically look at problems as opportunities.
5. Find reasons to be rejected.
I love this. This is, hands down, the fastest and most effective way to get over fear. It will also put your business into the fastest accelerator track imaginable. I read about this in a book a buddy gave me that was actually pretty kick ass called Models – a new perspective on how men and women meet. The guy lays out some great lessons, one of which is to focus on getting shot down at a bar as often as possible, but I think it's much more profound than that.
I started applying this to a lot of other parts of my life. I would purposely put myself in situations where people would just reject me on some level. It started by trying to casually have conversations with people (men and women) at the bar, most of which ended poorly. Then I'd randomly cold call businesses pretending to sell them business cards for a few hours so that I could get shot down by everyone. (Sidenote – I actually had someone who wanted to buy the cards, which was awkward).
The list goes on. Sharing personal writings, wearing sweatpants to the Ritz Carlton bar, and of course, beautiful women that I have met. 99% rejection rate. It was amazing. What a success!
But something interesting happened once I began doing this. I stopped thinking about getting rejected. I realized that getting rejected is more about getting a bunch of shit out of the way until I find the pieces that don't reject me. As I started doing more and more things that really polarized people, I found that, yes most people would tell me to get lost, but a lot of people wouldn't. In fact, they were pretty pumped about it. This manifested itself in so many ways, often with their opening back up to me. The more I looked for rejection, the more experiences I had…and that's all that really matters.
I realized that rejection is simply another outcome, but the action taken to get the rejection will provide experience. That's what I realized I should be focusing on. Stop thinking about the outcome and start thinking about the actions. Start doing actions that I think would be fun or cool or hilarious.
As this weird obsession with rejection continued, I found myself getting happier. I started acting like myself and not trying to impress people so much. I was just doing my thing – weird shit that I wanted to do. I simply didn't care about getting shot down because I knew it wasn't about me – it was just wasn't the right match of situations. When this happens, a HUGE cloak of fear is pulled off and you realize how much fucking time you waste thinking about rejection. What if your app sucks? What if you get a bad review? Guess what – that's how it goes….get over it and get busy finding the ones that kick ass.
Most people go through life getting rejected and then spending the rest of their time surrounding themselves with people that reinforce this “I'm the center of the universe” mentality and convince them that they're the best. It's a lame and small way to live life. Another misconception is that embarrassing yourself and getting rejected are two very similar things. They're not. To really unlock your mind power, to break down the walls of your ego, you need to put yourself in a vulnerable position and get hung out to dry with no safety net. Then pick yourself up.
Without the fear of rejection, the inner voice loses a lot of material to worry about.
The Long and Winding Road
For better or for worse, we're all raised in the control of the people who raise us. Maybe it's parents, grandparents, day care, etc, but when you're an infant you don't have the ability to choose what you learn. You're told what's right and wrong and you absorb everything around you. For a lot of us, that's a blessing. I know for myself there are values and traits that I learned from my family that I am very grateful for.
But at some point in life we all wake up and look in the mirror to ask ourselves if we're getting everything we want…and if we're everything we want to be. Like I mentioned before, it's those days when you just feel lifeless and maybe anxious, like you're just….stuck. That's the manifestation of 20, 30, 50 or however many years of having certain rules and limits instilled in you even when you didn't know it was happening. They are planted and they grow over a lifetime. It's not your fault that it happened, but it is your responsibility to change it if you want to.
My final point is this: don't underestimate the amount of energy required to change yourself. The forces of socialization and habits are extremely powerful – they were washed over you day in, day out for years (and they still are!). If you want to fundamentally change your biology, to unlock all the deep, hidden bullshit that's inside of you forever, you need to do crazy shit. You need to find ways to draw that infinite energy of the world into your body and reset your system to saying “YES I AM AWESOME” instead of the default setting it's on now.
Of course, this requires an enormous amount of faith and determination. It is probably the most difficult realization to have because it not only forces you to admit that you're flawed, but you come to grips with the fact that you have to do shit that is extremely scary and exhausting in order to break out of this mold you're in.
All I can say is that it's worth it. It gets harder with every year that passes by, so start now. Do something epic. Make shit happen. Inspire the people around you by deciding that you will be the person you were born to be. It is the greatest gift you can give the world.
Say yes to your life!