Affirmations Are Not a Secret

Yet, how many of us don’t believe they work?

“Fake it till you make it.” “Act as if.” “See it. Say it. Believe it. Do it.”

If you have been around the block a few times, you undoubtedly have heard these phrases or ones like them. But hearing them is not the same as using them and BELIEVING them.

It takes practice and willingness to fail and pick the stickers off our cheap thrift store suit

Belief is a fickle beast. It takes practice and willingness to fail and pick the stickers off our cheap thrift store suit as I did before I staggered into my first AA meeting in July of 1986. But it did. And I showed up, even though I didn’t know what to believe or if I even wanted to stop. All I knew was that if I didn’t change something I would probably die before I reached my 23rd birthday.

Long story short, I tried to believe I could stop on my own and tried desperately for the next three months before finally giving up for good.

We want a shortcut to success. Guess what? There isn’t one. So STOP LOOKING FOR IT!

What’s the point? The point is that we all have dreams and goals and problems that we want to accomplish or resolve but most of us either don’t know where to start or even if we do, don’t believe that we are worthy. That we can accomplish something. Worse, most of us want instant gratification. The path of least resistance. We want a shortcut to success. Guess what? There isn’t one. So STOP LOOKING FOR IT!

One of the simplest and easiest spots to change the trajectory of your life is to start a daily practice of gratitude, prayer, and meditation. Why? Because so many of us are externally motivated and driven by ego that we want what we want when we want it but really don’t have any meaningful reason why other than it will make us feel like we are worthy.

True success is way more than that. Lasting success is built one painful mistake at a time. One failure. One risk, one misstep, one adjustment. One goal, one bold step forward. Prayer, meditation, and gratitude help you focus on what really matters. The internal change of who you become that is lasting and way more significant than earning another 12k per year.

Being grateful for what you have frees up your mental space to receive more of what the universe has to offer you. The same is true for prayer and meditation as well as writing affirmations.

Prayer and meditation help you focus on what really matters. Affirmations are present positive statements that reinforce and create a mental shift in your belief system from I can’t to I can.

for affirmations to work you have to trust in forces unseen…you must believe them to be true.

But for affirmations to work you have to trust in forces unseen, yourself, and be bold enough to take action rather than just write them down and say them. Lastly, you must believe them to be true.

This takes practice. Lots. It takes discipline and daily repetition of stating that which you want as if you already have it day in and day out. As you do so it shall be.

It’s inexplicable but when you shift your thinking to what can be opportunities miraculously and inexplicably begin to manifest themselves in your lives. I have experienced this for more than 40 years ever since I first discovered the incredible power of affirmations.

Here is my current one:

It feels great to have written enough good stuff for 100 people to follow me on Medium

It feels great to have written enough good stuff for 100 people to follow me on Medium so I can start to earn some money. More importantly, though I have wisdom and knowledge that I want to share with others than can help them live better lives and that’s why I write.

Yes, I want to make a few more bucks but really I look forward to the day when I can say, wow in 2022 I wanted 100 followers, now five years later I have 10,000+. I am living proof this affirmation stuff really works.

Note: in July I had 17 followers. Since writing this affirmation in July, I am now at 83 + and believe that I will hit 100 by the end of September if not sooner.

Take a chance on yourself. Believe in yourself. You are worth it.

Shawn Langwell is a highly respected leader, author, and speaker. He is a recovered alcoholic with 35+ years of continuous sobriety who writes and talks on a variety of topics and is available to address any audience, anywhere on the topics of recovery, business strategy, or goal setting.

Find him at shawnlangwell.com.

Photo by Ivan Dostál on Unsplash

Three Easy Tips to Get More Done Better, Faster

How to get started now.

How often do you think about and try to tackle too many “important” tasks, projects, or “to-dos” at once?

If you are like most people, including me, you still believe that being busy is better than being lazy, and spinning multiple plates like a clown in a circus will somehow earn you a gold star or that people will be impressed because of your ability to keep so many plates spinning. 

Guess what? Nobody cares.

Really, that may sound harsh but it’s the truth. In our quest to be more, do more, and have more we scramble from idea to idea and half-assed project to half-assed project wondering why we feel so stressed out.

Tip number one: STOP and say NO.

Stop taking on more projects. Stop accepting the next invitation to Susie’s daughter’s, ex-boyfriend’s, nieces four-year-old’s, birthday party. Stop offering to lead the team for this year’s annual celebration. Let someone else step up. Think NMP—Not my problem. (My close friend likes to add an F to that—NMFP). Whatever motivates you as long as you practice saying NO!

Stop saying yes when you really want to say no. Honor yourself—your time and attention. Accept that people will actually admire and appreciate you more when you set and respect your own boundaries. More than the times you show up just because you don’t want to feel left out or feel like others will think less of you if you don’t.

Stop volunteering to bake cookies for the school fundraiser. Stop offering to help a friend of a friend move or paint their house when the paint on your own home is cracked and peeling.

Just. Say. NO!

Tip number two: Retreattake two steps back before you take the first step forward.

What? You say. That’s the story of my life. Every time I feel like I am making progress — two steps forward—I end up taking three back. How can I ever get ahead if I keep that up? You’re right. And I’ll explain how to fix. that with tip number three. But right now. STOP forcing your will to succeed and take two steps back to regroup. To focus. To think. 

The problems with pressing forward and forcing an issue and trying to do it are more than I can possibly outline in this short post. Let’s take a school paper for example or a project at work. Have you ever been so immersed in the research and trying to process all the data and information that you completely lost sight of your overall thesis, premise, or objective? Me too. All of us have at some point in time. Perhaps that is you right now.

The project will not go away. As long as you have time left before a deadline, stop and take two steps back. Do something NOT related to the project. Go for a walk, take a hike, or visit with friends. Something—anything to stop obsessing about what you haven’t done yet and how much more there is to do.

Let it go for a bit. That means don’t keep treading water in the deep end of the pool of looming deadline despair. 

Instead, seriously commit to doing something else to clear your head. Allow all that information to settle on its own in your brain without you trying to categorize and figure out which comes first, the chicken or the egg.

Commit to STOP. Commit to take a few steps back. Then watch how much headspace is created. How much lighter you feel.

Many people throughout history have taken time to stop and clear their minds. Some make it a regular practice with meditation. It’s healthy to retreat. To let go. To sit still for a moment and just be.

Doing so allows the creativity and powers of the unconscious to resolve whatever challenges you are facing. Doing so makes room for creative insights and solutions to spring forth. Epiphanies are borne of silence, not from clanging cymbals like a monkey in a box.

Plus, as you retreat you are able to expand your views by using a wide-angle lens setting on a camera or your phone. Zoom out before you zoom in.

The third, and one of the most critical steps, is really a combination of the first two and many others which makes it challenging, but not impossible to accomplish. It will require discipline, practice, and willingness to fail.

It is one word that is a superpower when fully utilized and embraced mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That one word and the third tip is FOCUS!

Multitasking is bullshit and a big part of most people’s problems. Focus is the cure for virtually any mental block to forward progress. It is the panacea for procrastination, doubt, insecurity, and, at the same time the supercharged fuel for success. 

Yes, there are many things to be done. There always are and always will be. But focus on what needs to be done right now. Prioritize. If more than one thing needs your “immediate attention”, find a way to prioritize each and make a decision to invest a set amount of time to either advance toward its completion or get it done now. Then do the same with the next priority.

Stop trying to chew gum, drive your kids to school while mapping out your presentation for your first client at work in your brain, while also checking your email, or Facebook, to see how many people liked your post about the “best lasagna ever” that you made for dinner last night. 

Just stop. Retreat. Turn off push notifications, and instead ask your kid about what they like about school and focus on being present. 

One thing at a time.

Do you want to be a super mom or dad who isn’t stressed out all the time? Try these tips out for a week or two. If they work for you, shoot me note to let me know how you did. How you felt. What made them work? What was the outcome.?

If they didn’t work for you, ask yourself why? What could you have done differently? How much did you actually practice them? Let me know why they didn’t work, too.

Practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement

Why am I asking this? Because practice, feedback, and adjustments are three key ingredients to personal growth and improvement, especially when it comes to managing our time and what we think about. Your feedback not only helps me, it will help you more.

The chances are like most goals we have in life, that the problems aren’t out there. Nor are the solutions. The solution to overcoming stress is most often a few tips, decisions, and new habits away. They are found in doing, not overthinking.

Keep it simple. Remember and practice these three steps:

  1. Stop
  2. Retreat
  3. Focus

Give it a go and see how those work out for you.

Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash

The Multi-Million Dollar Cure for Procrastination

Write a daily to-do list, then DO IT!

The following prompt is straight out of my latest book Ten Seconds of Boldness. I’ve used these techniques for so long that they have become a habit. I consider myself an expert at time management. Ask anyone I have worked with and they will agree.

I am sharing this one tip and likely others because they may, in some small or great way, help you get more shit done, especially that long list of things you have been putting off. You know the one I’m talking about. We all have it. Sometimes we keep it hidden in the recesses of our minds. But when it comes to procrastination, out of sight is not out of mind.

When it comes to procrastination, out of sight is not out of mind.

The key to getting things done and overcoming procrastination is simple when we stop thinking and start doing. What do I mean? I write shit down that I feel is important: To dos appointments, ideas, projects, and plans that are merely rough ideas. And yes, like most people, I too have a long list of things I want to do, probably should do, but continue to put off for a myriad of reasons. Some good, or so I think. Others are merely excuses I make and believe because I am battling some inner fear about the outcome or lack of resources necessary to feel confident enough to take the first step.

Let me help. Take the first step.

Write a list of things you have been putting off. Look at it and honestly ask yourself, how important is this right now? If it’s not, procrastinate. Take it off the list. If it is, read on and do the prompt below. It may make a tremendous difference not only in your attitude about yourself, but actually may be your mental ex-lax to unblock your creativity or productivity as the case may be.

Do it NOW!

No, I do not get everything I write down done every day. Who does that? I do, however, write some sort of “to-do” list almost every day, usually, on scraps of paper I cut up from articles I wrote and printed then decided were crap so rather than crumpling them up, I took the scissors to them and gave them a second chance at meaning and purpose as a to-do list.

No, I do not get everything I write down done every day. Who does that?

When I am done—writing and checking off as much or all of the things in the list, I can recycle them or toss them in a manilla envelope labeled “TO DOs DONE” for safekeeping. I created this system so the next time I am feeling overwhelmed with procrastination, I can rummage through what I HAVE DONE and feel better long enough to tackle the next item onmy list. This may sound whacked. It works for me. Find your own system or try some of the tips I’ll share now and later.

Side Note: So you don’t think I am some know-it-all-to-do-list ninja who gets all his work done without fail, I don’t. That’s a fantasy. In fact, I am guilty of adding things to the list that weren’t on it, especially if I only got 1–2 of the 4–6 things done.

I am guilty of adding things to the list that weren’t on it, especially if I only got 1–2 of the 4–6 things done.

Hey, we gotta build confidence and consistency, right? And I am nit the only one who does this. The other day when I was talking about my hectic day and long list of to-dos with one of my largest clients, he admitted to adding things to his to do list that were already done as well for the same reason. We had a good laugh, got back on track, and secured the business at hand. Simple. Easy. Fun.

Getting shit done is an art form. So are excuses and procrastination. But we’re going to keep this positive today. I’ll save tips for overcoming excuses for another day…

Where was I? Oh yeah, for me, crossing things off my to-do list is like having a mocha almond fudge ice cream, in a sugar cone, on a hot summer day. It tastes so sweet and is a rush of caffeine and sugar. Afterward, I feel like I can run or marathon. Or when the rush wears off, take a two-hour cat nap in front of a fan.

So you want a free tip without spending twenty bucks on my book to get this and hundreds more? Here’s one plagiarized from my own book, Ten Seconds of Boldness, to whet your appetite.

Prompt #1: Block and Tackle Practice

No, I’m not talking about football practice. You don’t need shoulder pads or cleats for this exercise.

Take ten minutes to write down everything you want or need to do today (be sure to include the things you’ve been procrastinating over).

Take ten minutes to write down everything you want or need to do today (be sure to include the things you’ve been procrastinating over).

Look at your list. Are the important things on your calendar? If not put them on it. Next, organize your list into things that can be done in blocks of time. For example: I am the sharpest in the morning, so I will put anything that requires creative thought, such as writing or working on marketing proposals, on my calendar for a one-to-two-hour block in the morning. Then I get to it.

Next, on a separate piece of paper write down everything you want or need to do this week. You get the idea. Repeat the process for a month, year, or longer. For “to-dos” with a deadline of one year or longer, I recommend using the productivity planning sheets in Appendix II. We’ll also explore more tips and tricks, in the next section, Into Action. (Sorry all, I literally copied and pasted this from my manuscript…There is no Into Action Section in this article. You’ll have to get the book for that.)

Follow me if you want to learn more simple, practical, effective strategies for time management and more that actually work!

Until next time.

Keep smiling, life’s more fun when you do.

Find my books wherever they’re sold.

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

What could you accomplish if you had the confidence and belief that you would succeed?  

What if you decided to take the first bold step?

A week ago I had the privilege of being a guest on Aspire with Osha, a podcast produced and hosted by Osha Hayden where I answer that question and offer listeners and readers insights on life, recovery, and why I wrote Ten Seconds of Boldness.

Drawing upon her experience as a psychotherapist, mediator, trainer, and artist, Osha is the consummate host. Says, Osha on her website, “My show is all about connections–how art connects with nature which is essential for humanity. How people can steer their passion into creating and contributing to a better world—a more positive future for us all, in ways both great and small.”

I Felt the Fear and Did it Anyway

Despite the fact that I had just finished writing a book about developing courage and boldness to become self-confident, I won’t lie, I was nervous about the interview.

I still get nervous before every speaking engagement. This interview was no different. I still waste time worrying about how I sound—am I too quiet, too direct, blunt, or do I have the late-night radio DJ voice of empathy and compassion, offset by flourishes of enthusiasm and excitement? In other words, am I being myself or trying to sound or be like someone else? I only know how to be me, and that is enough.

I only know how to be me, and that is enough.

Then the worry train blows its whistle and the critic, turned conductor, shouts, “ALL ABOARD!” Quickly my thoughts become a series of worry laden, what ifs—what if I say something I’ll later regret (not that I have ever done that). What if I forget important material or worse, freeze on air? (Fortunately, the interview was prerecorded which alleviated some of my anxiety). You get the idea.

Then I immediately start thinking about what I am going to say—will I remember the key points? What if I cuss or say something stupid? At some point, I stop worrying about it all and decide to just be myself. I tell myself I am not going to die if mess up. Somehow admitting and accepting that, takes the pressure off.

I process any and all self-defeating garbage that still goes through my mind, and I do it anyway.

Why? Because I like to lead by example. And if I just spent five years writing a book to inspire others to find the passion and courage to pursue their dreams and goals, I damn well better put money where my mouth is.

The Conversation

After the introduction, the gremlins in my head slowly settled down within minutes of getting started. The critics stopped barking, and, thanks to Osha, I dropped into a zone of vulnerability. She made it safe, easy, and comfortable for me to share personal stories with one sole purpose: to inspire and help others take a chance on themselves.

And when I started to wander off into the weeds, Osha deftly brought me back to my center, reminding me of the important points covered in the book such as what important questions we should ask ourselves if we want to be successful, what is success, and what I wanted listeners and readers to walk away with.

I am sure every listener will find at least one nugget to help them take one bold step forward on a journey of personal growth and self-confidence.

Enjoy,

Shawn

So You Want to Write a Book?

So do millions of people around the world. In fact, according to various studies, more than 80% of Americans want to write a book. That equates to more than 200 MILLION people with goals, dreams, and aspirations of sharing what they believe to be a story, wisdom, or insights interesting enough to endure the pain of writing and publishing a book.

When it comes to dreams—whether yours is to become an author, or wealthy, or debt free, or whatever — intentions are great. The problem is most people don’t know where to start and give up before they are halfway there. Wherever there is. That doesn’t have to be your story.

The stats don’t lie. Of the 80% who say they want to write, only 6 % make it to the halfway point, before giving up, and only 1% actually follow through with all the steps to make their dreams of becoming an author come true.

Why?

There are many reasons. The most common reasons are excuses such as imposter syndrome, writer’s block, doubt, procrastination, or fear of rejection. Ask any writer and they will tell you these are not only normal but quite common. They slowly eat away at our confidence causing us to become immobilized by fear like a bike with a rusty chain.

Doubt isn’t the problem, really. How we react to the inevitable feelings of fear we all face is. All of us second guess our abilities in certain areas especially writers and other artists.

Most artists are introverts or extroverted introverts. We spend more time in our minds thinking about what we want to do and reasons why we can or can’t do something, rather creating a plan to make our dreams become a reality.

There is a solution. And you already have it. You just need a little encouragement and coaching to help you get started and create a plan to write AND PUBLISH your book.

I can help. I know what all that feels like.

I just went through the rollercoaster of fear and doubt to complete my second book, Ten Seconds of Boldness: The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self Confidence which was released on August 1st. It includes a five-step method to help authors as well as anyone with dreams and aspirations, actually start and complete whatever it is they want.

Think of it as WD-40 for your rusty chains of fear.

It is a time-tested system that I have used and will continue to use for the rest of my life because it works. It addresses the underlying problems of our all-too-often fucked up belief systems which are in desperate need of a reboot. If you are serious about becoming part of the 1% who actually write and publish a book, I encourage you to read Ten Seconds of Boldness, available at bookstores everywhere.

Side note: at some point in the near future, I will create and teach a short primer on the five steps and how you can implement them to fulfill your dream of publishing a book. Sign up for my newsletter here: shawnlangwell.com

For what it’s worth, any feelings of doubt, or insecurity you have about your ability to finish what you started (if you have actually started writing), are 100% normal. Self-doubt is part of the process of personal growth and development, especially for creative people like us.

The interesting thing is that even though I compiled tons of practical suggestions and tips for accomplishing goals in my latest book, a week later, I still have trouble staying focused and deciding what the heck I am going to do next. I know that doesn’t sound like a healthy endorsement for a solution. But it is. You see, just because we learn something new doesn’t make the problems go away instantly. Anything new takes practice; spaced repetition over time, commitment, drive, and willingness to fail. I am no different than you in that regard. But because I spent so much time writing about this stuff it’s a bit fresher on my mind so I know when I’m slacking.

The book has become my own accountability tool and when the critics in my head start barking, I find myself having to follow my own advice.

The point is, that you can write and publish a book and I can help get you over the hump. I’ve already done it twice and will write many more in my lifetime. So can you, if you are willing to ask for a little help and learn a few tips.

Learn more at shawnlangwell.com. Look me up wherever you buy books. If you are serious about wanting to become a published author, do yourself a favor and invest a few bucks and time to read and apply the principles in Ten Seconds of Boldness. It may literally change your life.

If you like this blog, please follow me. Join my growing tribe of dreamers who want to make a difference in the world by sharing their wisdom and experience. The world needs to hear your stories.

I have only begun to scratch the surface of sharing valuable tips to help others become brave and more confident.

Photo by Evi T. on Unsplash

Are You a Writer (or aspiring author) Tired of Feeling Like a Handcuffed Hamster in a Habitrail?

Me too.

I’ve been working since I was 13—four decades of making a living and a life, chasing teenage dreams, and pursuing more get-rich-quick opportunities than I care to admit. And yet, here I am still looking for my next food pellet in my fifties.

I doubt anyone reading this can relate,(tongue in cheek). 

Seriously, how many other writers out there are like me— are still scrambling to “crack the Medium code” or “Build a platform or following?” or become a best-selling author to make enough $ to quit their day job?

Is that what we really want? Or is the goal to make enough passive income posting half-baked or regurgitated crap on all kinds of platforms so we can get the following, or affiliate $ which, after reading several Medium posts, yield barely enough to buy an iced, skim milk, double-shot, add whip, mocha at Starbucks. That’s not sustainable. 

Writing for coffee money ain’t gonna pay the rent. 

So, what do artists like us do? What’s the magic coffee bean to jack up our income enough so we can do what we are passionate about—writing—full time?

Good question. 

I, like you, am still trying to figure it out. If you figure it out before me, please share. I promise to do the same. 

In the interim, I still work full-time. I’ve heard several successful people on podcasts advise, “Don’t quit your day job until you have to.” Sage advice.

So, does that mean most of us passionate and driven authors are destined to keep scratching at the cedar bark of life, looking for a golden nugget that’s not a turd?

Unfortunately, yes. Most of us will have to squeeze back into the Habitrail maze — work cubby or home office — and continue sniffing out fresh fruit.

Outside of work, though what should we do?

Write. Everyday.

In fact, over the past five years, my own quest to find the secret to success resulted in a book on overcoming doubt and building self-confidence. In it, I include a five-step method to move you from here to there, plus a shit-ton of other practical tips—mostly about how to change your mindset—from my own experience and influential folks across the country. 

On August 1st, I published my second book—Ten Seconds of Boldness: The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self-Confidence.

That’s a pretty big deal!

More importantly, it’s selling and early feedback shows people are digging it.

Check it out if you ever doubt your writing abilities, or any for that matter: shawnlangwell.com. You will definitely learn some tips to help you overcome the imposter gremlins in your head.

So what now?

In the meantime, on top of a full-time job, I will keep writing and maybe even learn that I can say a few things people want to read. Perhaps writing on a daily basis and getting better is the secret I’ve been searching for all along. 

Good luck in your quest. More on mine, later.

If you like this, follow me and check me out at shawnlangwell.com.

What Do You Do When Your Own Worst Critic is You?

You are not a puppet. Or are you?

Who remembers the old Pinocchio cartoon with Jiminy Cricket? That famous wise, leg-rubbing insect who whispered words of encouragement into a wooden puppet’s ear about becoming a boy. “Let your…” you know the line. I can’t say more or the Disney police will likely make me take this down. Anyway, guess what? You are not a puppet. And yet, how often have you felt like an invisible marionette master is “pulling your strings?” What if you feel like you are both the puppet and the puppeteer? How messed up is that?!

Wait? What? You ask defensively. First, you say I’m not a puppet now you are insulting me? I outta…

Hold on a sec. It’s a valid question. Because if you are like me, you too suffer from Imposter Syndrome. That uneasy, debilitating feeling that we aren’t good enough, or worse, that we don’t want to stand out or don’t believe we are worthy of the success we have achieved, so we do something stupid to sabotage it, like cut our own strings or say, I can’t. 

Admit it. There are areas of your life where you still don’t feel like you measure up. Look at your car and your neighbor’s car, your checkbook, and what you imagine someone else to be. It doesn’t take much to dig ourselves into a Hagen-Daz-eating, binge-watching Netflix pit of despair, especially when we keep believing our own BS about our self-worth.

Our self-deprecating thoughts are all lies, mostly.

All of us have something we want to be, do, or have, but unlike that insidious well-meaning insect we become more like a warty toad croaking in our own ear saying, 

Uh.. yeah, but you don’t understand, I don’t think I can. 

Yes, I do. And yes you can, if you actually try. Look at that wooden toy-turned boy and how his life changed. OK, not the whale part, but you know what I mean. If we want to believe something can be different, it can. But we must change the garbage we keep telling ourselves and learn to be a little kinder. We need to be more like Jiminy, whispering positive sweet somethings to ourselves. And we can’t just think about what we want, we actually, have to…wait for it…

DO SOMETHING!

Or, we stay on the toy store shelf waiting for something or someone you don’t know to magically change your life and give you the confidence so you can hop down and be somebody. Or you can be your own puppetmaster and stop believing the croaking toad. Puppet or Puppeteer—either way, it’s up to you.

And for those who hoped I was going to answer the opening question, sorry. That’s not my job. But I did combine my own school-of-hard-knocks experience with a handful of leaders around the nation, whose main goal is to inspire others by building them up. What transpired is a pretty awesome collaboration in the form of a damn good book that releases Monday. Learn more at shawnlangwell.com.

If I stirred things up a bit, good. That was my point as I experiment with this blogging stuff. You see, I don’t have the first clue about what will reach people and what won’t. Do any of us really have the secret sauce without a last name that starts with D and ends in g—Tim Denning? Who knows.

All I know is I’m a stubborn Irishman who will keep trying new things until something sticks. All I know is how to be me. And I refuse to get splinters in my ass from sitting on the toy shelf too long. 

And yes there will be days I, like you, wake up and feel like a complete imposter as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers—those pod-hatching, soul-sucking makes me want to fire up a flame thrower and fry those nasty blobs, but I’m doomed cause I quit smoking ten years ago and can’t find a lighter. But I will not be eaten by my fears or Body Snatchers. I will survive, or die trying.

Let’s face it we all have days like that. I do it at least twice a week. When they hit me, I drag my ass down to the kitchen, slam a cup of black coffee, and, as the sleep crumbles from my eyes and mind, decide that waking up is a good thing, especially considering the alternative. That is enough to change my mindset.

How about you? Tired of splinters yet? Then get off the bench and do something bold. 

Connection is the Secret Sauce of Success

Connection is the secret sauce of success. It’s what makes living worthwhile and fun.

One of the greatest joys in my life is learning about yours. Yes, even if we’ve not yet met. I want to hear about your problems, joys, and challenges. What’s going on in your life, for real. Not the public “Social Media Smile” version. The raw, real, nitty-gritty truth of what is working and what is not in your business or professional life. Why? Because life, and business for that matter, is all about connection and relationships. And it is in sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of ourselves or our businesses — being vulnerable — that bonds are formed. It’s also how I have made a living and a life for the past thirty years and hopefully for many more.

Even though most of us crave connection on some level, how many of us have been burned or are reticent to share? To let others know what is really going on because if they knew they may they may think less of us.

I encounter this all the time while attempting to establish rapport with prospective new clients like you, especially if I have not yet earned your trust. But to properly come up with a solution, I need to know what’s really going on — what problems are you facing and what do you know or not know about the problem or how to fix it.

I attended a writing webinar the other day and the speaker implored the audience not to look for the first tool they found to solve a problem until they knew what problem they were trying to fix or what they were trying to accomplish. Seems like comment sense, right? But, as the speaker pointed out if you are going to build a table, Channellock’s are not going to be of much use. Can you relate? I know I can.

There is a lot of wisdom in what he said. In sales, in recovery, in relationships, and in life, the temptation to rummage through our toolbox at the first hint of a problem is like a bad habit — hard to break. It takes a lot of self-control to not reach for the first tool to solve a problem especially if we think we can fix it.

Healthy relationships are built on trust. And many are broken, because of a lack of trust or true connection. Healthy relationships in ANY area of our lives depend on the exchange of information, opportunities, problems, and shared wisdom and effort. And sometimes, especially in intimate relationships, that trust is built on just listening. Not solving a problem or trying to fix it. Just offering an empathetic ear if you will. Fortunately for me, I have a wife who reminds me of this fact anytime I put on my “Fix-it Man “ hat after she has shared something that is bothering her or causing her stress. Her willingness to teach me how to better connect has helped me become a better listener, mostly.

That’s important, but in a consulting, sales, or counseling position you need to temper listening, empathy, and rapport with wisdom, confidence, and trust if you are to be successful. It’s both a science and an art. That is one of the reasons I love what I do so much. I get to connect, troubleshoot, and help others. And when we solve a problem, everyone is happy. Doing so makes me feel useful. But trust and success require effort by all parties.

So why did I even take time out of a busy day that included multiple client appointments, a trip to the ER for my mom, and now a five-minute blog on the importance of connection to our happiness? Because it brings me joy to help others.

By helping others, I help myself. That’s the deal. It’s why I work with alcoholics in recovery. It’s why I reach out to new clients. It’s why I write and speak and lead and do all the things I do. Because I care. I care about you even if we never meet. And sometimes that’s enough to inspire someone else to do something they have been wanting to do but didn’t have the courage to try yet.

Because I want to connect with you. Whether it’s through this blog. Through my books, in a recovery meeting, or if you are a business owner who needs marketing help, I want to be there. It’s what I do. I help people identify and solve problems. I help others become better.

If you want to connect, reach out. I can be found at shawnlangwell.com. Let’s discuss what you may need and see if there is a fit. If not, that’s cool too. I hope that in some way this post made you think a little bit differently about connection and how easy it is to integrate all aspects of your life into a common thread that can provide joy, purpose, and a new level of significance to your life.

Until next time,

Never give up on your dream and never stop trying to connect. It’s the secret sauce of all success.

New Routines = Better Outcomes

I’m in the middle of reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

I find it fascinating. He masterfully distills tons of research into simple, easy-to-grasp concepts, and leverages the power of story to illustrate not only the how, but more importantly, the what and why.

I’m only 1/3 of the way in, but I just got through reading about how all habits are really a function of three elements: cues, routines, and rewards. Charles also used the back story of AA and the 12-steps of recovery as one example of how changing our routines can literally change our lives.

He got it right.

I know, as I have successfully used and applied the 12-steps for more than three decades. I can attest to the effectiveness of his key premise—that when you change your routines, you change your habits and create new, healthy cravings that produce the results or rewards you desire. The old habits never completely go away. We just learn to replace or override them with new routines. Ones that enhance, and often improve, our outcomes and results.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to it. But one thing is certain, as I’ve heard many times from different people—if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you got. Doing the same things expecting different results is, according to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity.

Am I calling you insane? No. But repeating the same routines and patterns of (often destructive) behavior will not produce a different or better outcome. So stop. Do something different. Aren’t you worth it?

Or, perhaps you’re content with what you have. If so, great. But, if you are like me and the millions of others who struggle with a garden variety of quirks, habits, even compulsions or obsessions, and if you’re not happy with how you feel and where you are, then wouldn’t it be prudent to look at mixing up your routine a bit?

I’ve had to change routines many times throughout my life. I probably always will. So will you.

Here’s one thing I learned in thirty-five years of recovery—changing the habit is often not as hard as the first step: recognizing, admitting, or identifying something that isn’t working. (In my case, the first step: acknowledging that I was an alcoholic and that my life was unmanageable). I’ve practiced that routine— identify the problem before looking at possible solutions—so many times that it has become automatic.

Once I do the first step, then I need to become really clear about what I want (solution/reward), then I need to find the courage to change—to try something different and stick with it until it becomes new routine or habit. Whenever I do this—change my routine (my habits)—just as Duhigg shows in The Power of Habit, my life improves. Yours will too.

Recovering from my addiction to alcohol was just one of many areas where I replaced a routine that was no longer working with one that would.

If we had more time, I could list hundreds of examples from my career, relationships, as a parent, as a leader, as human with normal “life problems” where what I was doing stopped producing the results I wanted and forced or inspired me to want to change. I am sure you have your own list. But the important questions to ask are: what have you done about it that’s worked and what isn’t working? And the bigger question is do you want to do anything about it? If so, I hope you do.

My inspiration and desire to change varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the problems or opportunities I am facing—in other words, if I am not in enough pain or have a big enough need to change, I probably won’t. That’s perfectly normal.

With my addiction, the need was clear— it really was a matter of life or death. In my sales career, I had to stop being afraid of rejection and learn to become more empathetic and confident. In my relationships, I had to stop being a self-centered asshole. You get the idea. In most cases, the threat or reality of losing something was a catalysts for me to get off my ass and do something different.

Sure, each change was uncomfortable, awkward, and even painful at first. Many new habits are. Most change requires courage, boldness, and some deep sense of why (a reward) that adds significance and meaning to the inevitable pain and suffering. But, over time, in recovery and in life, as I learned to replace my old habits with new ones—new routines—my life improved.

I learned not to fear change and that most of what I thought I was afraid of was False Evidence Appearing Real. Lies. Bullshit I believed about who I was and what my worth was and, as a result, I kept repeating the same bad habits expecting different results. Newsflash: That is not a recipe for change or success. But Duhigg’s book is. So is my upcoming release—Ten Seconds of Boldness, as well as hundreds of other proven systems, programs, and resources specific to helping you solve whatever problem or opportunity you have or seek.

But, none of them work, unless you put them into action. Nothing will ever change unless you change your routine, habits, and behavior.

Whatever it is that you may be struggling with or seeking, I hope you A) clearly identify it, B)decide to do something different and, C) find a reason why that is big enough to motivate and sustain you through the pain of change.

I can tell you from personal experience that when you identify the problem, find your why, and harness the courage to change, your life will never be the same again, ever!

If you liked this post and want a little more inspiration and encouragement, please follow me. I will be posting many more blogs and encouraging stories like this which could have a significant impact on your future. You can find more on my website at shawnlangwell.com.

Five Key Decisions to Success in Any Endeavor

How many of you have had what you sincerely thought were great ideas but never followed through with them? They could be a solution to a recurring problem at work that you have a solution for but are too afraid to share for fear of being rejected or criticized. Perhaps you are one of the nine in ten people who would love to write a book but not part of the five percent that actually do. Maybe you want to shift jobs or careers but are not sure where to start. Most of us have fantasies of things we would like to be, have, or do, but never get past the “wishful thinking stage.” Why is that? What’s going on?

The problem is we have a faulty belief system. I believe who we are and who we become is a product of five things:

1. Our upbringing.

2. Our experiences.

3. Our environment.

4. Our inner spirit, curiosity, and creativity.

5. What we believe and how we respond to all of the above.

The problem is each of the above create patterns in our minds that translate into fears. One of the most prevalent and insidious one that keeps us forever chained to a life of average and mediocrity is the fear of rejection. But there’s really nothing to fear. I’ve never heard of someone dying when someone told them NO!

According to recent studies, 91% of our fears will not come true. They are worries and lies — figments of our imagination — which serve no good purpose to building our self-image. Most of our fears are not real, but when we believe them, they are.

As Neuroscientist, Stephen Campbell pointed out in my upcoming book, “another exciting discovery about our brain is how it believes EVERYTHING we tell it, without question, no arguments. When we exclaim to ourselves, ‘I simply cannot do this,’ our brains say, ‘Okay! If you say so! ’ And then it makes sure you can’t!”

So what do you do? How do you flip this doom and gloom script in your mind? How do you find the courage to overcome your fear of rejection or missing out or even fear of success?

There are many ways, all start with a bit of courage and making a decision to act. To take an honest look at how you respond and decide to do something different. Part of your improvement plan included taking an honest self-assessment. Evaluating your strengths, where you feel inadequate, and clearly identify areas of your life you would like to be better. These can include everything to a general feeling of greater self-confidence in work or social situations, finding the courage to do something you have always wanted to do, or taking the first step to planning your dream vacation. Whatever it is, you have within you the power to make it become a reality.

Here are five simple steps for you to practice making better bolder decisions:

1. Decide to identify and admit there’s a problem

2. Decide what you want and what you’re going to do about it.

3. Decide to find out why you want it.

4. Decide what you’re willing to do to get it.

5. Decide to get into action and to never give up.

I encourage you to apply these five steps to one or two decisions you have been putting off. Invest the time to stop believing the lies you keep telling yourself and all the ways you can’t do something and start to look for solutions to ways you can.

To learn more, visit shawnlangwell.com and order Ten Seconds of Boldness on August 1st.