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Harnessing Anger

harnessing anger

Anger is a dangerous form of indulgence.

I was once again reminded of this when recently I made the mistake of having an (ineffective) conversation based out of my anger instead of out of reason.

Afterwards it occurred to me that while feeling angry is certainly a very natural emotion, we must realize it is still an emotion.

And one of the highest callings of mankind is to learn to manage our emotions and to channel them productively into useful, purposeful, and reasonable action that forwards our collective progress.

To act out of only anger then is an immature practice of losing to one’s own emotion.

To operate out of sheer anger is a lack of self-control and a transparent admission of our inability to self-govern.

To retaliate solely in anger is to give up our humanity by foregoing our unique ability to reason.

If we enable our emotions to solely dictate our behaviors, then it is only savage instinct rather than beautiful intellect that shapes our lives.

Not only that, but allowing anger to dictate our actions is a demonstration of our own short sightedness.

Because when has acting immediately and only out of anger ever led to a long term sustained resolution?

Probably never.

It cannot resolve anything between two parties because anger is only one-sided. It is the ultimate expression of careless self-centeredness because it disallows you from considering any other person or perspective. You instead allow yourself only to be blinded by your own anger.

Which is why anger is, paradoxically, very weak.

Like all forms of indulgence, anger deceives us into thinking that giving into the short term temptation of allowing ourselves to be
is the best thing to do. But not only does it never lead to resolve, it in fact makes things much worse in the long run.

Like all emotions, anger can lead to good but only when it is channeled into careful, thoughtful, deliberate, peaceful and reasonable action.

So I suppose the question then for all of us is “are you going to allow your emotions to manage you or are you going to be the kind of person who rises up and instead masters your emotions?”

2 Reasons Your Meetings Are Complete Failures

Reasons why your meetings are complete failures

Meetings are worthless without execution.

It is absolutely mind boggling how many meetings go on each and every day in businesses all across the globe that are virtually a complete waste of time.

Meetings are perhaps the lowest use of time and the greatest waste of money in all of business.

People think that the purpose of meetings is to communicate.

That is wrong.

Communication is not a purpose because communication is not a destination.

Communication is the journey. Communication is the process. But communication isn’t the goal.

The destination, and the purpose of meetings, is two-fold.

1. To make decisions
2. To take actions

That’s it.

That is why you meet.

Decisions and actions.

If you don’t complete either of these, then your meeting was a failure.

Building trust and comradery is also a function of meetings, but it’s still more of a bi-product rather than the focused outcome.

Communication is the necessary path to making decisions and to deciding what actions need to be taken.

But communication, in and of itself, is not an end goal.

So when you meet you meet, you need at least one person in the meeting driving the team to make decisions and to assign action items.

Not only that but you also, more importantly, need one person that documents those decisions made and the action items assigned.

That way you can refer back to them later, communicate clear next action steps, and hold people accountable to getting significant priorities knocked out.

If you walk out of a meeting without decisions documented and action items assigned, then I don’t care how good of a meeting it was, it was a failed meeting.

It was a waste of time.

It was a lack of leadership.

You have to make decisions.

And you have to assign actions.

When you do that, things get done.

Things get changed.

Things get improved.

And if your meeting doesn’t have the right people, the right amount of time, or the right commitment to decisions and actions…

Then simply, don’t have the meeting.

Why Algebra Makes You More Successful

Why Algebra will make you more successful

It was freshman algebra. My teacher was the infamous Mr. Graham.

Known for unloading 2 hours of homework every single night on students and a relentless requirement to make us show each detailed step of our work to arrive at the answer.

He was a nice guy but his class was feared. And he had very high, demanding expectations.

I remember one day when, in a moment of frustration, where one of the students blurted out “This is so pointless! When are we ever going to use any of this stuff?!”

The student, Casey – a football player – was visibly annoyed.

Mr. Graham paused in a moment of thought, as if to gather wisdom in the way you would expect a man to in his early 60s.

And then he replied directly “Casey, do you lift weights?”

“Yah,” Casey muttered back.

“Do you ever do bench press?” inquired Mr. Graham.

“Of course.”

“We’ll let me ask you this, how often in real life do you ever have to lift something off of your chest?”

“Uh, not that often I suppose,” said Casey quietly.

Mr. Graham went on…

“And yet you still regularly bench press. The reason why is not because you’ll use the move exactly the way you practice it, but because its strength conditioning for something else you’ll need to do later.

Algebra is the same thing. It’s strength conditioning for your mind. It’s teaching you a process of thinking that will help you in all sorts of ways later on.”

I’ll always remember what Mr. Graham said that day.

In fact, I think about it often because I see people who spend all their time doing things that are mindless and almost none of their time conditioning their mind.

You have to strengthen your mind.

You have to exercise your brain.

You do that by reading, learning, problem solving, and thinking creatively.

If your life isn’t where you want it to be right now, or there is more possibility you see ahead in your future, you will likely have to do things you don’t like doing to help you build the strength you’ll need for what you want to do later.

The same is true whether it’s for playing football, doing algebra, or succeeding at life.

The Secret to Doing it All

Group of People Connection Digital Device Concept

Just yesterday I received this question from a reader:


I have been benefiting from your insight (very appreciative I found your information!) and I am seeking to implement the principles you share. I am amazed. I was thinking: you run Southwestern Consulting, you generate enormous amounts of actionable content, you have speaking engagements… all the while having a family and the responsibilities that go with it. What a juggling act it must be!

How do you stay ahead of the wave of time?

I’m starting out on building a platform and I wonder, will I have time to respond to comments like you do? Create quality content? And not sacrifice family relationships or my own health?”

– Pat

Thank you so much Pat!

Your comments are truly inspiring and uplifting to me. We do have a lot going on and I promise you there are many times where it is probably appearing like we have our act together far more than we actually do!

Needless to say, your note made me feel good to have someone take notice of how hard we really do work. Especially when the people we are working so hard for are people just like you!

My personal philosophies about productivity are clearly outlined in Chapter 5 of Take the Stairs (The Harvest Principle), in my Tedx talk, and of course in detail in Procrastinate on Purpose.

But I want to highlight the question “How do you manage to keep up with it all?”

Because there is a simple answer to it.

While it isn’t necessarily a secret, the answer is still dramatically under-realized by most people.

The answer to “how do I manage to keep up with it all?” is…

I don’t.

We do.

Me and my Wifey (AJ) do. Me and my Partners at SWC do. Me and our extraordinary “Special Ops” (Operations) team at SWC do. Me and our now private team of Vaden family assistants do.

We are a team.

We, as a team…do.

People often feel like it’s impossible for themselves to keep up with it all – and they’re right!

That’s exactly the problem. Most of us are trying to keep up with it all.

You can’t.

Only, you + a team can.

You have to have a team.

You must have a team.

It is our team that deserves the credit.

And I don’t mean that in a trite, cliché, politically correct, it’s the nice thing to say, kind of way – although I do love our team, appreciate them dearly, and believe in them.

I mean that you literally have to lead people. You have to inspire people to join a mission.

You have to create an outlet for them to pursue a cause.

You have to create jobs for people.

How do you do that?


You reinvest.

The way to building a team is you have to learn to reinvest.

And here is the key…

When you’re first starting out, you have to always reinvest more than you feel comfortable reinvesting.

There has never been a single time in the growth of our business so far (which is now an 8-figure business) where I felt like I had enough money to reinvest.

You always feel short of what you need.

But you have to do it anyway.

You can get Virtual Assistants at $2-4 per hour to start with simple tasks. And then you work your way up from there. Not to mention that you can get family, friends, neighbor kids, and interns to often help you out too.

If you’ll do your best to invest into them, they will do their best to invest into you.

My goal (and AJ’s) is to always keep reinvesting in other people. And one of my personal goals in the next 5 years is to have all of our top performing team members making more than any other person in the world who does a similar job function to what they do.

We want them to win. We want to create for them. We want to provide unparalleled opportunity for them.

When you reinvest in other people, you’re betting on them but you are also betting on yourself.

You’re betting that with the extra capacity they can give you, you can use that time to create more revenue, more opportunity, and more value.

And then once you do that, you reinvest again.

And again.

And again.

You build a team.

Slowly if you have to, but you must build a team.

Because you can’t do it all.

You need help.

You need other people.

And they need you.

And if you’ll create for them…

If you’ll work for them…

If you’ll risk for them…

Then you will provide rewards for them that they can’t get anywhere else.

And in turn, they will pick you up, support you, and carry you on their shoulders all the way until other people look at you one day and say…

“How in the world do you possibly keep up with it all?”

The Ultimate Destroyer of Relationships

The destroyer of all relationships

I hate being wrong.

I have a hard time admitting a mistake.

I feel weak acknowledging that I messed up.

Because if I’m wrong, then it means you’re right.

If you’re right, then that means you win and I lose.

And I hate losing.

So rather than admitting I was wrong, acknowledging I made a mistake, or owning that I messed up, I instead slant the story.

I shift the blame.

I deflect my part.

I turn the focus from what I did to what you did or what you could’ve done.

And this is the destroyer of all relationships…

The moment I care more about being right than I care about you.

The moment I choose to be right instead of do right.

Is the moment that I care more about saving face than I do about preserving our relationship.

It’s not because I’m an evil person. It’s just because it’s humiliating, embarrassing, and disappointing to myself that I was wrong.

But what if I let go of that?

What if I let go of needing to be right?

What if I decided that I was no longer afraid of humiliation, embarrassment or disappointment?

What if I decided that admitting wrong was not the same thing as losing?

What if I, instead, humbled myself and was only concerned about what is right and not who is right?

Then I wouldn’t have to hide. I wouldn’t have to twist. I wouldn’t have to slant.

I could instead say “I messed up. It wasn’t my intention. And I’m sorry.”

I could preserve the relationship.

I could let my pride die.

And if I don’t have to carry my pride…

I don’t have to save face…

I don’t have to fear embarrassment…

Then I can simply serve.

I can be open.

I can be honest.

And even when I can’t be right, I can choose powerfully to do right.

Forget Your Way To Productivity


“If I decide to POP (Procrastinate on Purpose) an activity, where do I store it so that I don’t forget about it later?”

This has become a question I have been receiving regularly as it relates to Multiplying Time. I will answer for myself personally, not on behalf of all Multipliers. Though I suspect many of them would have similar philosophies.

The question itself speaks again to the insight we address in the POP book that time management is not just logical; its emotional. 

If you look closely, you’ll see the question and subsequent resulting action is driven by a strong human emotion: fear.

There is a fear that we will forget something.

A fear that we will miss something. Or miss out on something.

A fear that we will fail by losing track of something.

So while there could be plenty of reasonable and practical answers to the question (“where do I store this list?”) such as a word doc, your calendar, or a note on your phone…none of those are my actual answer.

In fact, if you’re asking the question, then you probably aren’t going to like my answer.

Because my answer requires managing that emotion of fear and letting it go – and that can be hard.

In short, my answer is “I don’t store it anywhere.”

If I decide that something should be “POP”ped, then I simply delete it and let it disappear.


Floats away.


I let it go – out of sight and out of mind.

I don’t like storing it on the calendar because the whole point is to get stuff off your calendar. It has to go through the focus funnel again in the future in order to fight its way back on.

I don’t add it to a future to-do list, as I don’t really keep a to-do list. I have my email, which captures a bunch of stuff for when I can get to it, and most importantly I have the one or two most significant priorities in my head that I must do each day. Those are the things that are most influential of my actual behavior.

I do keep some simple lists, but I don’t have one for things I might do some day.

If it’s not important enough to do right now, then why worry about it? Why would I setup a system to worry about it later?

There are some rational exceptions to this rule:

  • For example, I keep a “rolling topics” list as a moving calendar invite that mirrors each of my recurring meetings, where I reduce long email threads to discussion items bullet points that are better handled in person than in writing.
  • Part of my book writing process is to have a separate Word doc for each new book I will one day write where I just throw new relevant ideas for it until I actually start working on the book.
  • I keep a list of blog topics/ideas on my phone.
  • I do have a bucket list, which is more of a list of goals I’m focused on.

However in all of those instances, they aren’t really tasks as much as they are ideas to explore at the right time.

I have let go of trying to track activities that I “might” need to do in the future.

In general, I try not expend emotional energy worrying about something that may never come to pass.

If you need to, store it wherever makes sense.

But the magic is not in where you store it.

The magic is in freeing up your emotional energy, your creative space, and your full focus. The magic is in giving yourself permission to spend time on the significant things today that create more time and results tomorrow – and not worry about the urgent things that don’t.

This system is based on trust. Trust that if a task really is significant enough to be done, I don’t need to set a reminder, an alarm, or a system to really track it.

If it’s significant enough to do, it will naturally find a way back to the top of my mind.

It will crop back up in my pile of things to look at.

It will be raised again and again in future meetings.

It will be on my heart when I wake up in the morning.

While it’s not the most sophisticated system, it is actually a very effective one. Trusting your heart, your brain, your instincts, and your conscious about what is the next most significant thing that you should do is almost always more accurate then looking to your inbox, calendar, or to-do list for that guidance.

Systems can be wonderful, but at some point they become dangerous if we stop thinking.

Use your head and think.

Trust yourself and don’t rely solely on your system.

Free yourself to focus on what matters and watch everything fall into place.