When I graduated from college, I decided to go graduate school to get my MBA. I made this decision primarily because my friends from business school were doing this, so I thought this was the path I supposed to take as well.

After getting my MBA, the expectations of “What I Was Supposed to Do” continued. Because I had an MBA, I believed I should go into fields like banking, investment services, investment banking, even accounting roles. So guess what, I did all of them. I bounced from job to job, field to field, never staying very long. I learned a lot of skills but the path I was following was very narrow. I never really considered many of my options outside of “What I was supposed to do”.

Eventually I became the CFO of a publicly traded food company before purchasing my first company at 37 years old and becoming an entrepreneur. I’ve been that ever since.
Reflecting back, I never even considered being an entrepreneur. I believe that a big part of that was the pre-conceived beliefs about what I was “supposed to do”. My MBA and my college degree were great tools, but I believed that they limited my choices. Of course, the actual degree did not do this, but I limited my own choices and my own beliefs because of these things. My mindset about what was possible and what other options might exist.

I think many people go through life this way. As they get tools or have experiences, they limited their mindset about what is possible. They start in one career path and somehow their identity is tied to it. They don’t consider anything else. “I have a MBA, therefore I must work in this field forever.”

We should work to strip away these pre-set beliefs and stay open to possibilities, instead of doing “What You’re Supposed to Do.”

Practice does not make perfect, practice makes PERMANENT. “In a crisis, we all revert back to our dominants habits.”

Neuroscientist Dr. Robert Cooper always that neurons that fire together, wire together. Practice and repetition build our hard-wired habits. Whenever we are in situations of stress, anxiety, or high pressure our subconscious will take over and our dominant habits will emerge.

This highlights the importance of ensuring that whatever daily habits we are practicing, need to be the right ones. If not, when those difficult times emerge, we will be powerless against our own bad habits. Effectively sabotaging something of importance to us.

Behavior and skills are not something that we can turn on and off as humans, particularly when challenges emerge. They require intentional observation and adjustments that are perfectly practiced daily.

Just because we are “working hard” and putting in time to practice does not mean that we are reinforcing the right habits. A good example is an athlete such as a tennis player. The player can hit shots all day, every day but if they are sloppy and practice with poor technique, this will not make them the best player they can be. During difficult and high-stress matches, they will revert to those bad habits that they’ve developed during their training.

Imperfect practice can result in a lot of “activity without achievement.” Feeling busy, without accomplishing anything meaningful or purposeful. In basketball practices, Coach Tom Desotell used to tell his players, “Do you want to base your game on hope or on habit?” This lesson is applicable to everyone as we live our lives. “Do you want to base building your best life on hope or on habit?”

Practice Does Not Make Perfect. Practice Makes Permanent. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

*This article was written by the Exclusivia team, using the insights and teachings of Coach Thomas Desotell.

The most peaceful moments in life are while experiencing the feeling of gratitude. I challenge anyone to try to feel angry, hatred, depression or any negative thoughts while at the same time feeling gratitude. You can not. It is impossible. Have you ever had an experience where you noticed yourself smiling while expressing gratitude? How was the other person’s reaction when you gave them gratitude? Ten times out of ten you both were smiling.

Gratitude is not hard to find or experience. We simply have to “train” or “exercise” our mind to be constantly looking for those opportunities. Start with positive habits like a morning ritual. Make it yours, own it and share it with others. Make thinking about gratitude a part of your daily habit. I choose to start my day with prayer or gratitude for god allowing me to experience another day. You will be amazed how much better you feel, how others around you feel and how much easier and peaceful your days will become.

Next up- put your self in a position of saying “you are welcome” to others. Think about it

When you first declutter your life, there’s still stuff coming at you. You may go into your day all excited with good intentions and the right mentality but then we collide. The spirit collides with real life and it’s like we get hijacked along the way. We may take a downturn that kind of takes the wind out of our sails. Now we’re down a peg. And then we collide with something else and we go down another peg, then again, and again… and pretty soon you can’t wait for a happy hour.
But if we go about this a little bit differently we may be able to avoid this. What I do is use 3 cards that each have a different word on them: Anticipation, Adaptation, and Reflection.
I need a better way to anticipate my day. I can imagine those things that I’m going to collide with that are going to take the wind out of my sails. Then if I can, I will arrange things a little bit differently to be prepared or avoid those items. There are some things I have the power to arrange.
However, I don’t have the power to change and control everything, but I do have the power to shape. And with that little power to shape, things can start changing. When I do collide with something. I need to adapt. I can turn toward what matters most, or I can turn away and have the wind taken out of my sails.
The other card is reflection. You know, how are things going? Even something as simple as. if you experience something, did I like it? What didn’t I like? And then you can go, okay, going forward. I want more of the stuff that I liked and less of the stuff I didn’t.
I use these cards to help with my own breathing space and mentality instead of getting the wind knocked out of me and having it be another average, boring date where we get to the end of, gasping for breath, wondering what happened.

Sometimes we all need to evaluate what we’ve been doing to determine we need to do to get better. This involves viewing your current lifestyle choices from an objective standpoint and asking yourself the questions of did they produce the desired results or not?

If the answer is no, it’s really important to not beat yourself up about this. The reality is that most plans do not typically work the first time around, but they do always provide information or feedback to guide future plans.

If you can detach from having to achieve a specific outcome or meeting some predetermined standard, and then evaluate your progress in the way in which you would a friend, you are much more likely to make adjustments that will help you in the long run.
Yes having a good plan is important, but so is the ability to modify it when needed.

By being objective in evaluating your results, rather than letting your ego affect your evaluation, you can make modifications that can help move you towards your goals.

*Transcript from the attached video

These are three things that I inventory every day, mentally or in my notebook or on my phone. But they have to be done at least mentally. when I go to bed, did I learn something today? Almost every day I learned something. Nine out of 10 days or more.

Did I earn?
And that’s a broad statement. And I bringing in the cashflow that I need to make sure that I’m saving, that I’m not in debt, that I’m, feeding my family well, that I’m able to provide the things that they, need and would like. But also, did I earn my way in my household? Did I earn Respect of my family, my wife my daughter. Did I earn my right to be here?

And then lastly, returning.
Sometimes that might be writing a check or a making a small charitable contribution. But that’s not the only way to return. In fact, it’s probably the least important way to return. The most important way that you can return is to look at it as. I’m not returning a favor to you because you’ve done something nice for me, I’m not paying it forward. anticipating that something nice is going to come for me later on. I’m returning all of the blessings that I’ve had, all of the lessons that I’ve learned, all of the good things uh, good fortune, and I’m putting that back out into the universe through whatever medium that may be, whether that be through Exclusivia and sharing insights or in sharing little life hacks or things that I’ve learned that week, it might be through helping a, neighbor.
My hopes are that if I’m doing good things for people, that there are other people out there doing the same, expecting nothing in return, if everyone would just operate that way, we’d be in such a great place. It really would be.

*Transcript from the Video

I like to encourage the young men that I work with to have a plan a life’s plan. I believe that if you have a goal, you’ll get there quicker. And I think most people will agree with me, and we all know that if you write your goal down on paper, you’re exponentially more likely to achieve it than not.

And so I’ve thought about this. Just about everything you buy today has an operating system and it has an operating manual. You buy a washer and dryer, it comes with a manual troubleshooting guide, et cetera. You buy a, new set of speakers that they come with an operating manual. Life doesn’t come with one. And I think that’s really interesting. I think that the operating manual is, Really something that is inherently taught through your family, through your community, through your relationships. And in that operating manual, there are a lot of wrong answers. There is a lot of bad advice.

The intention is often good, but not everyone has it all figured out. I think that’s important to know. Nobody is perfect the advice that we give is done with the best intention. But it’s not always the right answer and it certainly is not always executed upon. But the mentor-mentee relationship is one again, of judgment but yet uplifting advice, encouragement, and sharing of best practices. And so I always encourage the young men that I’m working with to have some type of a plan.

You get in the car and you start driving, you’re gonna end up at a beach most likely, I’m assuming. No flat tires, breakdowns, et cetera. No detours. But which beach are you going to? We have a beach called Corpus Christi. Well, it’s not the finest of sand, and the water’s not clear and blue and magical.
But if you were to travel a little bit further onto, let’s say, Destin, Florida, it’s like a paradise, right? And so if you want to go to the beach figure out how many hours it’s gonna take you to get there. If your vehicle’s ready to go how much gas it’s gonna take, you have to stay overnight and just plan that out.

If you wanna show up at the beach and you wanna show up at the right beach, have the best experience, you have to lay it out and life’s a lot that same way.
And it’s okay to get.In the car and realize you want to take a, detour and go over to, new Orleans on your way, or that you decided the weather didn’t hold out. So you’re gonna end up going to a museum or a concert or maybe in a different location. But just have a plan.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to travel all over the world. I recognize how lucky I am to be able to have done this, but it has greatly deepened my appreciation for humanity and taught me more about life than almost anything else.
New cultures, new customs, food, clothing…ect. All of it has opened my eyes to the ways people are different and perhaps more importantly how we are all are the same in many of the aspects that matter the most.
When I’m mentoring young people, I always try to encourage them to travel if they have the opportunity.

Why does this matter? Especially with our long to-do lists and the constant feeling that we’re each so busy…

The hard-wired brain mistakes “being busy”–the feeling of non-stop effort–with making more progress on priorities. Unfortunately, that “progress” can be mostly an illusion. It”s easy to get lost in this cerebral and sensory swamp of automatic and mostly mindless “doing.”

Let’s interrupt this pattern. Glance at today’s schedule. Commit to completing one specific task or meeting today five minutes earlier than planned–and devote this time to creatively streamlining and the remainder of today and tomorrow so that you can make greater measured progress on your top priorities… Note: Devote the final minute of these five minutes to reviewing and re-committing to your “To Don’t List”–which can matter even more than your To-Do List.

I had a conversation this week about someone I care about, but who was behaving in a way that was frustrating and a little disappointing.

“They are who, who they are. You can’t change them, so you have to accept them as they are,” was the advice that was given. To me this seemed like a dangerous mindset and something worth digging deeper into.

Most of the psychology and neuroscience that I’ve learned is from Exclusivia contributing experts Dr. Bill, Dr. Gino Collura, and Dr Robert Cooper. It has helped me rationalize this mindset and think about how we can approach change and growth.

The first point, is in dealing with ourselves. Most of our identity and behavior tends to result from the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Some of these stories are imprinted in us as children at a very young age, but often we keep repeating these stories throughout our entire lives without much thought or self examination. “I am smart. I am dumb. I am headstrong. I am not good with people. I am a good friend. I am ___________.” Unfortunately when we tell ourselves these stories, they often become self fulfilling prophecies that unfold almost subconsciously. Whether the stories are entirely true or not.

This mindset also abdicates the responsibility for growth, self-reflection, and personal change.
” I am Who I am. I will always be this way. Everyone around me had better accept it or it’s their problem. ”

Again a very dangerous, but easy mindset to have. I’ve heard Dr Cooper speak many times on how the brain is hardwired to fight change. Change is hard work. The brain really doesn’t want to do hard work on it’s own. It wants to conserve energy so we can survive. Without careful examination, this leaves us stuck in pattern of repeating our same habits, same behaviors, even thinking the same things. Surviving perhaps, but definitely not thriving or growing into our own best lives.

The 2nd major point I wanted to address is change in others. I’m not referencing manipulation or Pavlovian behavior change techniques, but addressing behaviors that bother you in a caring, empathetic, and loving way. I believe it is ok to say to those that we love, “I love you, but when you do this behavior it hurts/bothers me.”

Addressing these issues, this is not a personal attack on their character, but an acknowledgment that the relationship is important you. They are important to you and you want to be closer to them. It’s not easy and requires us to be thoughtful. Yet, if the relationship is important to both people, hopefully meaningful change can be made.

If we think about the people we are closest to: our spouses, our children, our parents, our siblings, and our friends. Those relationships are important, therefore we have a self-responsibility to be willing to examine our own mental models and behavior changes regularly, and asking others to do the same. I can’t help but wonder how many marriages would be saved or improved, how many parents would be closer to their adult children, and how many sibling relationships would be greatly improved is we could all pause and do the hard work necessary instead of just saying, “I am who I am.”