How To Slow Down Time

Person holding a clock

Person holding a clock

How To Slow Down Time

Have you ever looked back on a day or week or month or year and thought, “where did the time go?” You are not alone.

Almost everyone is experiencing this phenomenon where time feels like it is flying by. For some limited number of people however, they look back on the same period and feel, “wow there was so much I did.” 

People in this latter category will one day lay on their death bed and think, “I lived a full long life. I am grateful for every minute.”

What is the difference between the two mindsets? We all have 24 hours in the day. For some it feels full, but most others, fast and uneventful.

In the present moment, time is the same for all of us. It has an infinite feel about it, especially if you are in a state of flow or meditation.

But the passing of time is only evident upon reflection. This is where it is relative and feels different for all of us.

Therefore, you cannot slow down time in the present. But you can either look back on it as if it went fast or as if it went slow. 

Have you ever gone for a long road trip and noticed that it took forever to get to your destination, but on the way back, it felt so much faster? This gives you a clue into the reason for the relativity of time.

Everyone Dies, Not Everyone Lives:

The answer to the conundrum of time lies in your five senses: seeing, touching, smelling, hearing and tasting. When your five senses experience the same thing every day, they become numb.

Consequently, you become too familiar with the known. Some call that their comfort zone when in reality it is a dead zone where you spend your seconds, minutes, hours and days living predominantly from the subconscious.

You are not really conscious of your thoughts, feelings and decisions. Consequently, you look back on your life and feel like nothing much happened and you interpret that as time flying.

So, while everyone is pursuing a long life, the real answer is to pursue a conscious one. The big question is how do you live a conscious life?

What is the formula? We hear so much about being mindful, but mindfulness is very different from consciousness.

The former is all about witnessing. The latter is more about decisions and actions that help you live a purposeful life where the speed of time is in your control.

The latter can only happen when you choose to live with fearlessness and adventure. This is where your five senses come alive.

I (Sam Makhoul) have been teaching a five-step method called the Circle of Conscious Living, which I have personally lived by from a very young age. I explain this method in great detail in my book, A Higher Branch.

Learning: Essential Daily Ritual #4

Images of books

Jim Kwik sitting on a table encouraging positive learning

Learning: Essential Daily Ritual #4

This article is in a series of articles about the system of daily rituals, habits and hacks you that will completely transform your days. When you live by this four-five-six system, you will find that obstacles and setbacks will not trip you up.

You will find that on the days where motivation abandons you, you will still stay on track.

Diagram of the four-five-six methodology

In case you missed the three previous essential daily rituals here are the links. It’s a good idea to go back and read them as a refresher anyway.

Essential Ritual #1: Journaling

Essential Ritual #2: Movement

Essential Ritual #3: Meditation

But this whole series started with this article that so many people absolutely loved: Is Motivation Destroying Your Identity

In this article we will go through:

  • Why continuous learning is important to your success?
  • How and when to infuse learning into your day?
  • What books and podcasts should you learn from?
  • Who or what are the best teachers on earth?

Why Learning Is Important:

Learning is how we grow personally and professionally. It is the sixth most important area in our lives and the foundation upon, which A Higher Branch has been established.

It is the essence of our philosophy of climbing higher in life and the quest for constant upgrade and improvement in all eight areas of our life. Without learning we stagnate in those areas.

We do the same things every day because we do not know any better. Learning empowers us to try new things and reach for new goals and dreams.

All the latest brain research also shows that continuous learning and looking after your brain is good for our health and longevity.

3 mistakes we make when it comes to learning:

Gentleman drinking a drink while learning with a book

  1. We stop learning after we finish school and/or university.
  2. We only continue to learn about our job and subject matter expertise. True learning is a lifelong adventure where you continuously learn about each of the eight areas of life.
  3. We learn from the wrong sources. We live in an era of information overload and making sense of this information is difficult when digested in an unstructured way. The internet is also filled with information designed to promote one fad over another; one diet over another; one lifestyle over another; one product over another.

When Should You Learn Daily?

Something becomes a ritual when you do it at the same time every day or on cue. Learning should not be done as part of your morning and nightly rituals.

These times are reserved for movement, meditation and journaling for the reasons previously discussed in those articles. Welcome to Commute College.

Most of us commute to and from work daily. This is the perfect time to plug in, listen and learn.

Learning should be done whenever you have dead time. Boredom should be your cue to read, listen and learn.  In the car, on a plane, train or bus or whenever you having nothing to do.

You need to resist the temptation to drift to mindless entertainment on radio, television, and social media. You need to be in conscious control with what you let into your brain.

This is what the highest of achievers do. Learning is their daily ritual.

What Should You Learn?

Two ladies learning a podcast recording

You should be seeking books and podcasts about all eight areas of your life and not just one area of interest (typically health). This is a problem in itself.

I know some people who become obsessed about one area and start to neglect other parts of their life, especially relationships. It is important that you spread the learning equally among all areas.

 

We are so fortunate to live in an era where we have so much to read, listen and watch. We not only have so many books written by pioneering minds, but we also have audible, we have podcasts and we have YouTube.

But we need to be discerning and distinguish between entertainment and information. Two decades ago the challenge was the lack of information and lack of scientific research.

Today the challenge is to sift through all the overwhelming and often conflicting information. To help you on your learning quest, check out the below podcasts.

  1. Kwik Brain with Jim Kwik
  2. Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu
  3. The Joe Rogan Experience with Joe Rogan
  4. Found my Fitness with Dr Rhonda Patrick

In these podcasts, the hosts are caring, knowledgeable, authentic and share information generously with no strings attached. They also interview experts, researchers and actual practitioners across the eight areas of life.

Is JIM KWIK The Best Teacher On Earth?

Jim Kwik standing on stage

The standout and foremost world-renowned expert on the super power of learning is Jim Kwik. He is a world expert in memory improvement and optimal brain performance.

1 (founder, Sam Makhoul) attended one of Jim’s workshops and implement his brain training methods and let me tell you, it is unbelievably effective. It has helped me think smarter and faster in meetings.

Jim is also one of the humblest people I have ever met. He has worked with actors on the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, top global organisations and CEO’s that includes Harvard, Virgin, Nike and GE.

His personal story is also compelling. One of the principles I learned from Jim is that your own curiosity is the best teacher on earth.

If self-awareness is a great teacher of all things internal, then curiosity is the greatest teacher of all things external.

Applying Curiosity To Information:

So, it is important when you read or listen to books and podcasts that you apply a curiosity mindset. Are you accepting everyday information as it is or are you adding to it or contradicting it with your curiosity?

This means having your own opinion and questioning everything you learn. Do this by asking yourself, “yes and…”or the “yes but…’”principles.

To apply these principles, we must let our curiosity break through our fear barrier. We all have this curiosity inside of us as children but over the years fear tends to keep it locked away.

Trust that curiosity. Unleash it. You will find behind every curious thought is the potential to discover your own wisdom on what you read. It is that curiosity that leads to genius or a genius idea.

Applying Curiosity To People:

There is also another huge area of knowledge, apart from books, where we can learn from – people. This is the fastest way to acquire knowledge.

Therefore, we must master the skill of listening with undivided attention. We can never know everything in life but by listening to others we can learn from their experience and that accelerates our learning.

Listening is a dying art. Many people overindulge in constant talking that they go through life never really learning from others.

But my advice is that the people you must listen to first come from the eight areas of life, in the following order:

  • Your partner who often knows you best.
  • Your mother, father or grandparents – they have experience and perspective.
  • Your work mentors, colleagues and customers.
  • Your closest friends.

But as always you need to filter any knowledge from these sources by using your own curiosity and asking the two questions above. This does not make you a contrarian. This make you progressive where you build on wisdom from others to create what’s right for you.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Why We Don’t Step Outside Our Comfort Zone

Turtle swimming in clear blue waters

Why We Don’t Step Outside Our Comfort Zone

Stepping out of your comfort zone is a confronting experience. And for many people, it sparks a feeling of anxiousness, fear and worry.

So, what are the key contributors that are holding us back and keeping us feeling safe in an area of life that we feel most comfortable? Well, we investigate.

Is It Fear Of Getting Hurt Or Is It Laziness?

Close up of a ladies brown eyes looking out in fear of leaving her comfort zone

Being adventurous does lead us into unknown territory where we may feel lost and in many cases it is out of your comfort zone. We get it; but we also fear getting hurt physically and emotionally.

Physically, we may fear getting injured or sick from trying new exercise or a new sport. We tell ourselves, “maybe I am not ready. I feel run down. I may get sick or too tired. I may get injured. My knees, shoulder, ankles or whatever may get worse.”

Emotionally, we may fear getting rejected when we initiate intimacy with our partner or make new friends, or suggest a new idea at work, or help someone we don’t know. Or we may fear failing at a new business, a new course or a new job or a new investment.

Don’t get us wrong, we are not suggesting you do anything without research and assessment. Being fearless does not mean being reckless, but it is your duty to at least take the effort and conduct the risk analysis.

Risk Analysis:

Person walking across a cliff with a rope as he leaves his comfort zone

So, there are essentially two obstacles. Not just fear but LAO taking the time and effort to conduct risk analysis.

Most people who do not take action blame it on fear, when in reality they are just too lazy to make the assessment. So the question is, which one is letting you down – fear or lack of risk analysis, or both?

For example, when it comes to initiating relationships, ask yourself:

  • “What’s the worst that can happen if that person rejects me?”

Often the answer is “not much”.  Meaning, it is simply fear stopping you from taking action even thought you know there are plenty of other people on this planet.

On the other hand, when it comes to trying a new exercise, getting injured is a real risk, but the assessment needs to include risk mitigation. Ask yourself:

  • “How can I ease into exercise?”
  • “How do I warm up before exercise?”
  • “How do I stop before my form is compromised due to fatigue?”

Or it could be enrolling into a new course at uni. The risk is you lose interest in the course or you find out the course is not right for you.

So, the ultimate risk is losing money and more importantly, losing time. The gain is knowledge you can leverage to invest in your future earning potential. How do you mitigate the risk here?

Or it could be a new job. The risk is you lose an existing job where you have gained respect and trust. The gain is you get a better job with greater opportunity for growth and earnings. How do you mitigate this risk?

In all cases, you need to answer that question for yourself because only you know the nuances and consequences in your life. Below we outline a process to help you.

Get Rich Or Die Trying?

Lady in bed under the blankets

Change ultimately requires not just fearlessness but constant risk assessment. If you are too lazy to make that assessment daily, you may be in a stage in your life where you don’t feel like any change is warranted or necessary.

Consider this however: most people are in one of three states.

  1. High State: Life is great! They wake up every day with purpose and passion.
  2. Low State: Life is terrible, and they am not be excited about getting up in the morning.
  3. Numb State: They are neither happy nor sad, but stuck somewhere in the middle where it is not bad enough to change anything.

We am not judging here. Merely making an observation that the numb state often precedes the low state.

We’ve been in all three states and the one thing that we know for certain is that we have only ever achieved something in life when we have gone out on a limb, got hurt, dusted myself off and tried something new every day. But only when we have learned from it.

Every fail is an opportunity for growth. Yes it’s a cliché, but ever so remarkable.

It All Starts With New Learnings:

Woman walking a flower field in happiness after learning how to leave her comfort zone

The path to overcoming fear and conducting risk analysis starts with learning. Most people dive into new things recklessly because they are pumped up on motivation.

The antidote to that starts with new learnings. You need to learn before and after you step outside your comfort zone.

  • Before: information allows you to make the right decision through proper analysis.
  • After: if it was the wrong decision, you have to ask “what did I learn from this?”

In both cases you are gathering information for future risk assessment. Ever heard of millionaires and billionaires who have been bankrupt a few times?

Why are there are so many? Because the ultimate learnings come from failures and experiences.

This is the zone where you should live your life. We are not saying it’s easy, but it’s definitely not numb.

There are steps we follow daily before trying something new:

Step 1: Learn – podcasts, books, people, fails.
Step 2: Decide – risk analysis.
Step 3: Act – take action with no attachment to the outcome.
Step 4: Review and Reflect – pivot.
Step 5 Repeat – this takes courage.

How to Stop Making Excuses

Sign that reads what's your excuse

Sign that reads what's your excuse

How to Stop Making Excuses

By Dr Guy Winch

Do you have an excuse mindset that is sabotaging your goals and growth? This article will provide you with five essential antidotes. 

I have lived by this daily system for over 20 years and I promise you it has been the single most important reason for my personal growth and business performance. This system does not require any motivation or willpower. 

Whether you are training, parenting, innovating, writing, speaking or whatever, this system prevents you from drifting aimlessly and lays the foundation for taking action in all eight areas of your life. There is no progress without taking action.

But there is one kryptonite we all have that prevents us from taking action. Our fears!

5 Excuses People With Fear Of Failure Make:

Denying your fears will sabotage your chances of success. Setting meaningful goals can be scary and anxiety-provoking.

Unfortunately, our mind is likely to respond to our fear by providing us with excuses that encourage us to give up before we start, that sabotage our efforts once we do begin, or that send us into an endless cycle of procrastination. Here are five common excuses we give ourselves when we fear failure—and what we should say to ourselves instead.

The key is to acknowledge our fears, recognise the challenges and set correct expectations, yet create an open path to success.

Sign that reads I have results not excuses

1. What You Feel: “This Goal Will Be Very Difficult To Reach.”

What your mind tells you: “I’m not capable so there’s no point in trying.” 

If you believe you’re incapable, there is indeed no point in trying. But if you acknowledge the difficulty, you can begin to strategise, plan, and figure out what you will need to do to overcome the challenges—which will make you more likely to succeed once you do try.

2. What You Feel: “I’m Afraid To Fail.”

What your mind tells you: “I don’t want to try.” 

It’s your goal, so of course you would like to try and succeed. Therefore, if your mind is telling you that you don’t even want to try, know that this is actually false and a response to the fear of failure you feel. The good news is, acknowledging fear is the first step in overcoming it. Own your fear and then confront it.

3. What You Feel: “This Is Going To Take A Lot Of Effort And Preparation.”

What your mind tells you: “It’s not worth it.”

Again, the more meaningful the goal, the more effort it might take. But meaningful goals are also the most rewarding, empowering, and life changing. So the effort is well worth it.

4. What You Feel: “Setting A Clear Start Date Makes Me Anxious.”

What your mind tells you: “I’ll get to it when I’m ready.”

One of the most common reasons we fail to meet goals is that we fail to set a clear start date that could hold us accountable and prevent procrastination. Simply setting a start date, and putting it in your calendar to make it official, can give you the extra kick you need to get going.

5. What You Feel: “If I Try Really Hard And Fail, I’ll Be Devastated.”

What your mind tells you: “I’ll give it a try but there’s only so much I can do.”

Fear of failure often manifests in making excuses upfront that can then be used to explain the failure, such as expressing pessimism about your chances of success, and using that as an excuse to limit your efforts. 

“The problem is, the excuse mindset then turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

By holding back your efforts, you’ve increased your chances of failure. So, acknowledge the fear, but instead of imagining what it will feel like to fail, imagine what it will feel like to succeed.

How To Love Your Life

Three girls in a sunflower field

Three girls standing and smiling in a sunflower field

8 Tips On How To Love Your Life

I’ve been asked time and time again, what are some of the practical things people can employ to be happier and more successful on a day-to-day basis? To begin with, focussing on the below eight areas will provide you with an excellent foundation for personal and professional success. 

Here’s how:

1. Health:

Cherish your body. Nothing else matters more. Focus on the energy you have. Eat well, exercise and relax daily. Fill your daily life with purposeful activities that give your body a reason to manifest energy.

2. Love:

Love yourself by looking after your health and guarding your mind against negative images, negative thinking and negative associations. Look your best by wearing clothes that make you feel attractive. Have the courage to show and give love to your life partner, whether or not they give it back. Tell your partner daily what you love about them – words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.

Family cuddling

3. Family

Support your family at all times. Give them the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams. Help them overcome obstacles. Focus on their strengths and their good qualities. Remind them daily of their worth. Tell them you love them no matter what happens – whether they succeed or fail at anything. Spend time developing a relationship with all family members.

4. Work:

Choose to love your work. Always do your best. Focus on the difference that your product or service is making to society. Have empathy for your customers. Value the privilege of serving them from the heart. Be grateful that you live in a society where there is the opportunity to work. At all times be honest in the execution of your work. Master your job by constantly learning and evolving. Always ask yourself, “can I do this job better?” Be impeccable in your conduct at work. Be fearless in your execution.

5. Friendship:

Let your words, laughter and charm bring a smile to others. Help your friends see the lighter side of life and not take themselves too seriously. Act with integrity and hold true to your standards and beliefs. Never compromise them to be popular. Never pre-judge others. Be open to new friendships. Always greet people with a smile and a friendly hello. How others respond is their own reality and has nothing to do with you.

Man reading a book and drinking coffee

6. Learning

Commit to 45 minutes of learning daily about every aspect of your life and not just your work and wealth. Limit watching TV and other popular media. Watch uplifting talks by great thinkers on TED.com. Read books from pioneering minds. Attend courses and seminars organised by people who care and have something unique to share. Listen twice as much you talk. Discover your talents by having self-awareness for your thoughts and feelings. Live a conscious life where you decide what you want to listen to, read and watch. Develop a growth mindset.

7. Wealth

Invest in yourself first before you invest your money. If you have a business invest in your own field of dreams first before investing with others on the stock market. Live a frugal lifestyle and reduce your dependence on money. Spend less, save more. Say no to consumerism and your addiction to buying more and more things that end up collecting dust or in land fill. Spend money on experiences. But don’t skimp on things that improve your life like better quality food or better quality education for you and your children.

8. Charity:

Learn about the plight of others in need. Don’t shut yourself out to other people’s suffering. Help others by giving your time and/or money. Charity does not have to be grand. A simple kind word of support is sometimes all that someone needs. Help a team member at work.  Share an idea that can help a friend live a better life or simply listen to them without distraction.

How To Work On Your Weaknesses

Fist lifted in the air

Image of a fist

How To Work On Your Weaknesses

Imagine there is a severe drought and you only have one bucket of water. You look out onto your lawn and notice that most of it is doing ok, except for one small brown patch.

Will you water the green flourishing grass? Or will you try and save the struggling brown patch?

In this example, water represents your time and energy, and you are the grass. The point is this; we all have limited time and energy in a day.

The question is, how do we use those two precious resources? Most of us will use them doing things that we are already good at (i.e. watering the green patch) and ignore improving our weaknesses, our brown patch, because it takes time and effort.

However, the key to making progress in life is to work on our weaknesses. Here’s how:

  • If you are a good talker, chances are you are a poor listener. Learn to consciously listen and practice it daily.
  • If you lose concentration and make silly errors, remind yourself to ignore external distraction and cross-check your work thoroughly.
  • If you go to the gym, don’t just work out your chest, work harder on your leg and back exercises. Also, don’t just lift weights, work hard on your cardio and flexibility.

When you work on your weaknesses, you become a well-rounded person with many talents and strengths. A full and complete beautiful patch of green grass.

More importantly, when you work on your weaknesses, you will feel like you are growing and developing to be the best you can. Research shows that the key to happiness in life is to keep making progress.

Every time you achieve a new goal (no matter how small), your body releases the feel-good hormone called dopamine, which is very powerful at keeping you happy for longer. It’s the joy of the journey.

Most positive psychology experts focus on being grateful to make you happy, which means appreciating your strengths. But most ignore the other more powerful way to be constantly happy and that is to push yourself and work hard on your weaknesses, daily.

The 10 attributes of greatness

Three friends dancing

Group of people watching the sunset

The 10 Attributes Of Greatness

Have you ever wanted to achieve greatness but don’t know how? Have you ever thought about what greatness actually means and why it exists?

These are thoughts most of us have. That’s why we’ve collated the top 10 attributes of greatness to help us all achieve and succeed in all areas of life.

So, What Does It Take To Live Life Less Ordinary?

  1. Ordinary people can fool anyone in the short term. Great people build trust and earn respect for the long term.
  2. Ordinary people panic about deadlines and forget their priorities. Great people know that spending time with family and friends, and doing work that matters is all that counts.
  3. Ordinary people spend too much time talking and complaining. Great people take action quietly and without fuss.
  4. Ordinary people watch TV when they get home. Great people read/listen to books, write in their journal and meditate.
  5. Ordinary people seek attention. Great people let their work and conduct speak for them.
  6. Ordinary people dodge responsibility – “someone else will clean up the problem”. Great people take ownership of challenges with a smile on their face.
  7. Ordinary people gossip and tear others down to get ahead. Great people take others with them on the way up.
  8. Ordinary people skip class or lectures or seminars. Great people know that education and learning pays off.
  9. Ordinary people pick up takeaway food on the way home. Great people pick up groceries, cook at home and make enough for lunch the next day.
  10. Ordinary people react defensively to customers with gripes or demands. Great people listen patiently and show empathy.

We all can act ordinary sometimes. Great people, however, are mindful when they are being ordinary and step up to greatness every time.

Become the CEO of your own brand

Lady holding a cup

Lady holding a cup

5 Tips On How To Become The CEO Of Your Own Brand

Your personal brand is what makes you unique and instantly recognisable, it’s a fact that people with a positive brand are more successful. Here are five tips to develop an inspirational brand.

1. Be ridiculously good at what you do.

Most people talk about how good they are but the ones who let their work do the talking develop the best personal brand. Associate with people with a strong work ethic.

2. Know and live by your personal values and never compromise them to fit in, people will respect you for it.

Some values include:

  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Humour
  • Patience
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Respect
  • Reliability

Let your words and actions reflect these values. It’s easier to live by your values if you hang out with people who share them.

3. Wear clothes that are true to your personal style.

If you’re sporty by nature – dress that way, if you’re posh – dress classy, people will start to associate you with that style. The aim is to be comfortable with who you are. Nobody likes a fake; which means ignoring trends.

A man wearing a suit

4. Keep learning and keep developing your brand by developing yourself.

Every night I go home to be with Deepak Chopra, Steve Jobs, C S Lewis, Jim Rohn, Martin Seligman, Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey. I have read all of their books and each have shaped my personal brand in one way or another.

5. Be original.

Oscar Wilde once said “be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” One of the great tragedies of life is that we are born into this genius, this originality, this authenticity, and yet the world beats it out of us.

Our parents and teachers, well intentioned, say, “be like everyone else, talk like everyone else, think like everyone else, don’t be a disrupter.” As we grow through life there’s this resignation into mediocrity.

My advice to you is to find your hidden talents, not the talents of the person in the workstation next to you. Walk your talk, live your values and ask yourself, “how can I return to originality?”

What is Peak Performance?

Someone performing at their peak

Man standing pm a cliff with his arms open

What is Peak Performance?

Peak performance means you are highly energetic, mentally sharp and emotionally solid. It means you are performing at your very best.

Not just in the gym, but across all aspects including love, sex and intimacy, parenting and family life, friendships and social life, work performance, leadership and wealth creation. When you operate at peak performance, your self-confidence soars.

You live life on your own terms because you have figured out who you are, what you want and (most importantly) how to get it. You will start to say no to the things you should have said no to all these years.

You will have a growth mindset and look at any failure and rejection as a learning opportunity. Emotionally you will become invincible.

You will know how to deal with the inevitable rejection or failure. You will have more fun in your life, be more inspirational, and become more empathetic, loving and compassionate.

You will start to make a difference and become a source of strength to everyone around you.

Forgiveness is always on your path to greatness

Two people hugging

Two ladies hugging

Forgiveness Is Always On Your Path To Greatness

Many great people don’t realise they’re brilliant simply because they get stuck in the past. You can choose to stay angry at someone who hurt you or you can forgive them and move on to live an amazing life. 

You cannot do both!

Getting hurt is a reality of living and if you do not forgive a person that really hurt you. It will feel like you are carrying that person on your shoulders through life.

If you fail to forgive, how can you be creative or maximise your productivity? How can you learn or teach effectively?

How can you do iconic things if you are carrying the past on your shoulders the whole time? You simply can’t.

You need to forgive, here’s how!

 1. Don’t judge the person that hurt you.

Path to greatness includes forgiveness

Try to understand them. Remember the saying; “don’t judge a person unless you have walked a mile in their shoes,” maybe that person who was abrupt with you is feeling the pressure of meeting their monthly target.

Or the customer who was rude to you is struggling financially. Or the person who cut you off in traffic just received a call from their doctor telling them they have cancer.

Everyone behaves according to his or her own personal reality. If someone did something to you because they thought you were not being nice to them or they thought you were being dishonest, that person has created their own story, their own reality.

You just happen to fall into their perception. They were stuck on their assumptions.

They were stuck in their core beliefs and they were stuck in their own pain. So, don’t judge them. Choose to understand them instead.

2. Communicate with the people that hurt you.

Two people hugging after being accepted for forgiveness

It takes a lot of courage to speak up and say, “when you did this, this is how I felt. You crossed a boundary that’s important to me.”

Don’t judge them. Don’t attack them. Just communicate.

It will get it out of your system and it will teach them how to better treat you. If they don’t get it, then maybe this person is not who you want in your life.

Remember that forgiveness isn’t only for the person who wronged you. It is a gift you give yourself.

Is speed killing your life?

Car racing

Car racing to slow down

Is Speed Killing Your Life?

We live in a culture that is addicted to speed. We eat fast, talk fast, work fast as we try to cram more and more in the day.

And this is having dire consequences on our lives at home and at work. Why have we caught this disease called, speed?

Why are we doing everything faster in the name of good customer service? And why have we peddled the idea that speed of service is the performance criteria by which customers judge us.

Has anyone stopped to ask, “do customers really want fast service?” Or “do they want good, attentive, thorough service?”

If your business is running on speed, it is not sustainable. In the short-term you will get results, but over the medium to long-term, the bubble will burst.

You and your team will get stressed and tired; absenteeism will rise. And that’s when you start seeing productivity drop and worse still, you will start to lose good people.

9 Signs You Are Addicted To The Stress Of Speed:

Man sitting on a couch with his head in his hand

Do you experience three or more of the following symptoms? If so, you may be addicted to the stress of speed.

  1. You find it difficult to sit and do nothing for more than 10 minutes.
  2. You find it difficult to focus and listen to what the other person is saying.
  3. You eat at your desk or in your car and get indigestion.
  4. Poor concentration and irritability.
  5. You need alcohol to relax and constantly crave carbs or sweets.
  6. You rely on coffee for energy.
  7. You suffer from intermittent insomnia.
  8. You find it difficult to notice beauty around you or you are numb to it.
  9. Loss of creativity and passion.

5 Business Consequences Of Speed:

Team members from office sitting around a desk discussing business strategy

Don’t believe the speed of stress will impact your business? Well, here’s how:

  1. Hurried consultations with no real customer connection.
  2. Inability to really listen to your customer.
  3. Higher error rates.
  4. Irate customers from regular misunderstandings.
  5. Lower performance.

12 Excellent Strategies For Slowing Down:

Image showing a slow lane and a fast lane

Are you ready to accept you live life in the fast lane? Are you wanting to take a step back and slow things down? Here’s how you can:

  1. Don’t schedule in more than two meetings per day.
  2. Don’t schedule any meetings after 3pm – it is the most unproductive time of day and also the time of day where most misunderstandings and conflicts occur.
  3. Don’t pick up your second line or call waiting when you are already on a phone call.
  4. Don’t rush your meetings or calls. Take your time and ensure that you understand the other person.
  5. Turn notifications and pop-ups off on all your devices. They train your mind to live out of the present moment.
  6. Take at least two renewal breaks throughout the day to stretch, breath and meditate for five minutes.
  7. Don’t take on too much work and learn to say no.
  8. Don’t rush individual tasks. Enjoy doing them to the best of your ability knowing and reminding yourself that the quality of your work affects the customer.
  9. Don’t accept any last minute deadlines imposed on you. Last-minute deadlines usually arise from somebody else’s inefficiency. It is somebody else’s problem. Don’t make it yours unless it is truly a rare exception requiring you to go beyond the call of duty.
  10. Take at least 45 minutes for lunch and pack from home at least three days in the week. You will get more nutrition and you will save money.
  11. Take a walk after work, preferably where there is a park or trees – and go alone.
  12. Keep a photo on your desk and look at it throughout the day. It could be a photo of your partner, your children or a picture of your next holiday destination.
  13. Sleep more.

If you’re interested in reading more about the dangers of speed, read our faculty member, Carl Honore’s books BolderIn Praise of Slow and The Slow Fix.

Learn more about Carl by visiting his profile here.

5 Lifestyle Choices Of The Longest Living Humans

Four people cheering at a dining table is a big lifestyle choice you should implement

5 Lifestyle Choices Of The Longest Living Humans

Have you ever thought about the lifestyle choices you decide on? Have you ever thought how others across the globe continue to have longer life expectancy and overall, live a happier life? 

I did – and what I learnt on my travels inspired me. Recently, I (Sam Makhoul, founder of A Higher Branch) travelled the Mediterranean – starting in Sardinia – and spent many days visiting the renowned ‘blue zones’ where there is the highest concentration of centenarians. 

What struck me about the people in these areas is the complete lack of focus on health and fitness, yet they live such a long and happy life. There isn’t a gym and green juice bar in sight.  

Whereas, we in the west, are obsessed with the physical and the ‘secrets’ to long life and that magic golden elixir. Is it fish oil or turmeric? Is it meditation? Is it eating paleo or eating vegan?

Yes, these things do help (slightly) but they pale into insignificance in comparison to other more important ‘rules’ for living. My sense of curiosity led me to connect and ask many questions of the locals I met.

And there were many — equally curious and friendly.  They always had a ready smile and welcoming demeanour.

You’d be surprised how many speak English!  In one city, I hung out for four days with a friend of a friend named Silvano.

His grandfather is 101-years-old. He was 45 but looked 30. So, this had me thinking, what lifestyle choices can we start implementing to ensure we live a long, happy life?

Below is a list of the main lifestyle choices that I believe contribute to why people in these blue zones live such a long life. You will notice that these rules for living have less to do with the physical and much more with the symbiotic relationship the physical has with the intellectual, emotional and spiritual.

For example, eating food is not just a physical experience for them. They pray before they eat and the largest meal of the day is a daily social affair – there is music, sometimes dancing.

1. They Are Very Social:

They socialise, almost every night with a wide and close network of family and friends. They are high touch, less tech and therefore very affectionate.

When they greet you with a juicy kiss on both cheeks and a hug, you really feel that they mean it. Conversations are sharp and engaging with little small talk.

There is passion and sometimes debate. They play games – cards and board games.

2. They Eat Food With Flavour:

Lifestyle choice one is an image of a pile of fresh golden bread roles on the table

They are passionate about food with flavour and being true to heritage. They do not eat Chinese one night, followed by Indian and then Italian.

They eat fruit and vegetables that are in season and from the local area. When I was there, it was peaches, apricots and cherries and nothing else.

And yes they eat carbs, lots of it. Coffee, yogurt and pastry in the morning; bread, pizza and pasta are lathered in rich olive oil, usually from an olive grove in the local area.

They eat protein only once or twice a week, usually fish in summer and meat in the colder months. Local wine and seasonal cheese almost every day. But they eat little portions with only one large meal per day.

3. They Are Solar Powered And Move For Purpose: 

Blonde lady spending time in the sunshine

They spend a lot of time in the sun. Especially in the summer months.

They are almost always outside. They move a lot but rarely exercise.

Exercise is dancing or playing sport; you know, having fun. Mind numbing time on a treadmill seems foreign to them.

“Why do that?” Francesca asked, seeming puzzled at the lack of purpose. “You are going nowhere!” she quipped.

4. They Take Naps:

Lady laying on the lounge having a nap

They sleep long and well and have a nap after lunch, especially during summer when it is hot. They drink spring water and breathe clean air

The air is clean in the blue zones, really clean and it has a softness about it. Taking deep breaths seems easier on the lungs. 

Local spring water is everywhere and naturally high in minerals. I visited a public watering place where there were numerous taps flowing constantly.

There were people lined up to fill up bottles for three days’ supply. With plastic cup in hand, one man laughed and warned me, in broken English, not to drink too much from one tap as he gestured to his stomach.

I knew what he meant. It was fizzy and would clean me out. He pointed to one tap and said it had minerals to lower blood pressure.

5. They Have Faith:

Man staring infant of the sunset with his arms stretched out

They are religious and go to church. They pray. They believe in a creator and have faith that God has their back.

They are constantly aware of their mortality but not afraid of it. One man, Alessandro, told me that being aware of his mortality makes him live with with purpose without wasting a day.

“I am not afraid to die because I know I would have lived a full life surrounded by family and friends…”

So, why do they live long, happy lives? I think that ultimately it is this fearlessness that makes them live longer.

Read here for the list of lifestyle tips to help you live until you’re 100.

20 Tips On How To Live A Long Life

Four people in the car with their hands in the air

20 Tips On How To Live A Long Life

In the current generation Y and millennials, more and more will get the chance to live a long life until 100. You can be one of them too if you play your genetic cards right.

There is no doubt that medicine also makes this goal of a long life achievable. But if you look closely at the statistics, you will notice that whilst people are living longer, some are not living a quality life.

The following list of lifestyle tips have been carefully researched as having the most impact on our wellbeing to allow us to live a long life. They will sharpen your mind, keep your body strong, resistant to disease and help you live a long happy life without reliance on medicine.

1. Have Long-Term Goals:

Having something to wake up to every morning is the strongest of motivations for living with vitality. There are a cocktail of healthy chemicals that give life to our creativity, our energy and our zest for living.

Having a purpose in life releases these chemicals daily. It is the difference between waking up with an energetic burst or waking up with lethargy and a headache. So, what are your goals going to be?

2. Socialise More With Friends:

A group of friends socialising

Friendships are one of the most important aspects of our lives – it is one of the most crucial elements. That’s why research shows that people who have a wide circle of friends and who socialise often are much healthier than people who are isolated and lonely.

3. Stay In A Good Relationship:

For some, staying in a negative relationship, is driven by the fear of change or being alone. But it is important to remember the positive impacts being in a thriving relationships can have and how it can help you a live longer, happier life.

Research has shown that those who are in a loving long-term relationship are much happier and healthier compared to their single counterparts. That’s because positive relationships form a bond; a  partnership that allows encouragement, achievement and passion to be shared with each other.

4. Travel Regularly:

Man with a suitcase off to travel the world

Humans are nomadic by nature. When we stay in one location, we stagnate; when we roam, our five senses are stimulated.

We feel most alive when we experience adventure. Travelling does not have to be overseas. In fact it’s healthier to travel locally.

Get out and explore your own part of the world. Make a habit of going for weekend trips with your family and friends.

Drive to the mountains, visit apple orchards in autumn or go to the beach in summer. The main thing is to get out of the house. 

5. Wake At Sunrise And Sleep Within Two Hours Of Sunset:

Sounds hard doesn’t it. Especially when you’re living a life at full-speed and working long hours at work. Well maybe it’s time to make a change?

Research has proven that every hour of sleep before midnight is the equivalent of two hours after midnight. Studies have also reported that waking at sunrise reduces our blood pressure, which is the single most dangerous factor leading to heart disease and stroke.

6. Follow A Diet That’s True To Your Heritage:

A lady at a table eating food of her heritage

Before air travel we did not travel long distances within hours. This meant that our bodies evolved over many years by eating essentially the same food.

That’s why it is overly simplistic to claim that some diets followed by certain cultures are best for everyone. If you are Japanese then eat Japanese food, if you are Italian, eat Italian food. It is in your DNA.

7. Pick Up A Book And Read Often:

Reading not only sharpens your mind, but if you read the right material it can enlighten your view of the world and this keeps you inspired. I would also add, doing crossword puzzles and other brainteasers. Check out Lumosity.

8. Mix It Up By Using Your Opposite Hand And Foot:

Lady writing with her right hand in a notepad

Our founder, Sam Makhoul commonly tries to use his left hand whenever he can, especially before he have to do some creative thinking. Why?

Well, using the opposite hand or foot helps to sharpens the mind and keeps both sides of your brain working. Studies have also suggested that if you practice this from a young age, the chances of recovery following a stroke in older age are greater. 

9. Have Afternoon Naps – Yep, Napping Is Allowed:

The siesta was made famous in Spain, which had one of the lowest rates of depression in the world. It is a modern tragedy that cities in Spain that have abolished the siesta now experience the highest rates of Prozac prescriptions.

Having a nap may be difficult because most of work the common Monday to Friday, but even a 10-minute power nap is sufficient. If you are unable to do this during the week, then definitely make it a ritual on weekend afternoons. 

10. Watch Comedies And Hang Out With Friends Who Are Funny:

Two ladies sitting together and laughing

We are often told to adopt the “don’t worry be happy” mantra. The easiest way to do that is to have more reasons to laugh in life.

Laughter releases so many feel-good hormones that replenish our cells. So before flicking to a dark movie or TV series, make the switch to a comedy or opt to watch a televised comedy show with your favourite comedian – we guarantee you will feel so much better.

11. Move Your Body Naturally:

Exercising in a mechanical way on expensive equipment in gyms is not what primes your body for natural strength. Walking, running, swimming, and moving your body in natural movements does.

Squatting while doing gardening is natural. Bending to clean your home is natural.

Push-ups, chin-ups, squats and sit-ups are also natural movements. In fact I think the best form of exercise you can do is to join a martial arts club.

You can be eight or 80-years-of-age and still get the benefits. The best form is Wing Chun. 

12. Drink Filtered Or Spring Water:

A little girl pictured drinking clean, filtered water

One of the best investments you can make is the installation of a reverse-osmosis water filter. It gets rid of the most harmful chemicals in our water supply. In particular, fluoride that is added to water and causes many ailments, which lead to premature ageing. 

13. Never Eat When  You’re Stressed Or Upset:

Go for a long walk or cardio the stress right out of your system. If you are going through a period of emotional stress it is better to eat very small meals or better still, drink vegetable juices instead.

14. Keep Your Bowels Clean:

Two baskets full of vegetables

Nobody likes to talk about this subject but the fact is that stagnant food in the colon is the cause of much toxicity. And this is easily preventable.

There are two easy lifestyle tips to follow:

a) First, consuming lots of fruit and vegetables.

b) Second, schedule “no. 2” toilet breaks as part of your morning and nightly ritual.

A lot of people are so busy being busy that they neglect this routine. They don’t realise how much harm they are doing to their body. 

15. Brush Your Gums And Tongue:

Did you know there is a link between gum disease, heart disease and stroke. Poor periodontal health causes certain oral bacteria to make the arteries sticky and inflamed.

Excluding this risk factor is easy. All you have to do is floss and brush your teeth regularly – but at least at night.

16. Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises:

A lady instructing another lady with her pelvic exercises

Also known as Kegel exercises. This assists in preventing prostate cancer in men and avoids incontinence in both men and women, which is listed as the single most demoralising ailment for old people in nursing homes. 

17. Listen Carefully To Your Body:

Whilst you may not experience obvious signs of intolerance to food and situations, it may be affecting you in a subtle way that undermines your energy. Often we are too distracted with life to really notice what is going on in our body.

Paying attention to what drains us and what lifts us is the single most important thing that we should bring our self-awareness to. It can be the food we eat, the company we keep and our surroundings – like noise or air pollution.

Just because the body gets used to something, it doesn’t mean that it’s not being affected by it in a negative way. So, how aware of your body are you?

18. Meditate – Yep Take The Time To Check-Out:

Woman standing with her eyes closed meditating

Most people do not meditate because they think it is a complex eastern philosophy. The truth is sitting quietly in a warm and comfortable spot can be meditation.

Listening to the sounds of nature can be meditation – sitting at a beach or natural reserve can also count. So too is having a warm bath.

Even going for a long walk in nature is meditative. The magic happens around the 45-minute mark. Your monkey mind will switch off and slow down. 

19. Give Yourself To Charity:

Why do celebrities go to Africa and put their time and energy into helping others? Because when you have all the money in the world you will realise that giving to others is the single most important way we can connect with other people.

Do not under-estimate the power of good wishes bestowed upon you by the people you are helping. But you need to remember, charity doesn’t always need to involve money.

Donate your time to someone who needs someone to listen to them. Donate your knowledge to help someone achieve and thrive at home, work and in life overall – charity can be what you make of it.

20. Do A 12-15 Hour Fast Daily:

A group of lemons on a white board

Start by not eating three hours before you sleep. Why?

Well research has overwhelmingly showed that this habit helps your body clean itself. It improves the function of all your organs, reduces insulin resistance, cleans your arteries in your heart and in your brain to prevent dementia and arteriosclerosis.

2 Things You Need To Do Different In 2020

Chalk that reads you got this.

Lights that read change

Things You Need To Do Different In 2020

2020 is going to be a defining year in human history. Old ways and old thinking will not cut it.

You will need new systems for living with some new rules. Here are two rules to help you outperform, out-psyche and dominate in your industry.

Rule 1: The 40% rule:

“On the other side of suffering is greatness” – David Goggins.

As the world gets more and more competitive, there is one quality that all successful people have in common. They are mentally tough and they will do the hard stuff that others don’t do or choose not to do.

You simply cannot upgrade your life if you do not upgrade your mental toughness. And the only way to do that is by the 40% rule.

The Goggins Effect:

The 40% rule was made famous by David Goggins – ex-navy seal and the toughest man alive. His life shines like a beacon on the path for everyone to take.

The path of most resistance or the road less travelled. Goggins goes out of his way to seek discomfort and to become uncommon among uncommon. We invited him to present at Upgrade Your Life for a reason that goes beyond his content.

He is inspiring an army of new warriors (both male and female) who live by the 40% rule. Myself included.

What makes him so inspirational? He lives by his word.

The most recent example of the 40% rule is his epic effort earlier this week in the MOAB 240 mile race in some of the harshest terrain in the world. He was disqualified by officials after seeking hospital treatment for VAPE (vertical altitude pulmonary edema), even though he was ranked second for most of the race and at one stage going off track for 15 miles (one of the challenges of being a front-runner on a track without markings).

After he checked out of hospital, he still went back and finished the race, even though it did not officially count!

“Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done.” – David Goggins.

Are People Getting Softer?

Goggins tells us that it is getting a lot easier to stand out in this world because everyone is getting too soft. There is no doubt that the world is getting more and more comfortable, which is making it harder for us to find circumstances that challenge us.

Our ancestors had hardship thrust upon them and this made them tough. We don’t have that privilege.

We have to go looking for the uncomfortable to make us tough. Even though our lives are getting more and more comfortable the rate of anxiety and depression is skyrocketing.

Just think about this. We don’t have to grow or cook our food. We never go hungry.

We never get too cold or too hot. We don’t have to walk for anything.

Technology is making life easier and easier. Consequently our physical, mental and emotional resilience is suffering. It’s ironic! What is going on?

It’s not our fault – our brain sends us outdated warning signals based on it’s primitive desire for comfort. It is still wired to (over)react to potential threats even when there is no primal danger.

This served us well when avoiding predators in a hostile environment but now, it is no longer relevant in our comfortable modern life. Simply put, our brains have not evolved fast enough to keep up with the rate of technological change.

The survival software in the sub-conscious limbic part of the brain needs an upgrade. And the 40% rule is that upgrade but it’s in the pre-frontal cortex part of the brain. The mindful rational part.

What Is The 40% Rule?

40% balloons

Out of the 10 principles outlined in Goggins’ book Can’t Hurt Me, the 40% rule is my favourite and the most powerful because it has taken my performance to a whole new level. 

The 40% rule is simply this: when you think you have reached your limit and your mind is telling you to back off (it could be when you’re training, playing sport, studying, working on a project with a deadline, or whatever the challenge) you are actually only at 40% of your mental and physical capacity.

This is where most people will quit. But this is when you need to tell yourself that greatness lies on the other side of 40%.

You should also remind yourself not to waste that 60% of your potential. How do you breakthrough the 40% mental barrier?

The beautiful thing about this rule is that anyone can learn and implement it. By his own admission, David Goggins considered himself the weakest person with low self-esteem. He built himself into the toughest man alive by seeking the uncomfortable.

“If we never experience physical and mental discomfort, how will we ever get the chance to display our courage and strength of the spirit?” – Sam Makhoul.

We cannot truly eliminate the mental resistance felt at the 40% threshold when we do something difficult but we can learn to identify it, be mindful of it and be stronger than it. You can train yourself to beat it by constantly seeking the uncomfortable.

I do the uncommon in a number of ways:

  • Cold showers or cold swims – even in winter
  • Fasting for 24 hours – even when I am hungry
  • Meditating more than 20 minutes – even when my monkey brain is busy
  • Jogging for longer distances on days that are cold and rainy
  • Cooking at home instead of getting take-away – even when it’s late
  • Writing articles like this – even when my friends are calling me to go out
  • Staying up to listen to a friend with a life problem even though I am tired
  • Honouring my commitments even when circumstances have changed

You see, training yourself to do the uncomfortable is the best practice to prepare you for those moments when you need to push through the 40% barrier.

How Do You Get To 40% In The First Place?

 You need to make a start. Don’t focus too much on the end goal.

Once you have that end-goal (dream) in your heart, you need to trick your brain by focusing on the tiny stepping-stone goals. When I ran my first marathon, at around the halfway mark I remember feeling that overwhelming flashing warning signals from my brain to stop.

I asked myself, “am I injured? No”. “Is my body capable of more?” I did not know the answer because it was unfamiliar territory, and I was exhausted.

But I pressed on by telling myself, I will just do another kilometre, and another, and then another. “Maybe if I just get to that landmark and see how I feel?”

Bit by bit I took my mind on a journey to the finish line by tricking it into thinking I can stop at anytime after each milestone. To my surprise I realised that the body is much stronger than the mind gives it credit.

This strategy applies not just to physical feats but to all eight areas of our life, including work and relationships. For example, after a break-up many people realise that they are much stronger than they thought.

It makes them stronger, less needy and better in the next relationship. Likewise, when people lose their job; after the initial devastation, they pick themselves up and move on to bigger and better things and surprise themselves as to how much more capable they are.

It toughens them for the next job. Sometimes it toughens them to start their own business and become thought leaders.

Here Is The Biggest Takeaway:

We never know what we are capable of until we push ourselves past that 40% barrier. With each milestone, you build confidence and your brain just gives you a little more slack and that 40% mental barrier threshold shifts to 50% and then 60% and so on until you find that life is actually getting easier.

In the wise words of David Goggins:

“When you believe you have given it your all, that’s when it truly begins.”.

Rule #2 – Exponential Learning & Growth:

 

We live in an era where information is changing fast, so what you have learned so far will become redundant very quickly. So knowledge is no longer power. Not even applied knowledge. But rather your ability to learn NEW things very quickly and acquire NEW knowledge. In my own business at MSA National we have law graduates who are having to learn how to work with robotics and Ai. This is something that was not taught at Uni because by the time schools work out the curriculum and get it through all the red tape, the world has shifted again. Especially in technology and digital disruption.

“Make no mistake, your NUMBER 1 skill going forward is LEARNING HOW TO LEARN QUICKLY!”

The Challenge:

As you grow older, your ability to learn things faster is going to be challenging. The old belief is that as you grow old, you slow down and become less agile mentally (and physically) and you need to make way for someone younger and faster.

But that is simply not true. You need to discard that old belief.

The brain is like any other muscle. There are three reasons the brain slows (each reversible):

  1. You are not looking after your brain health with diet and exercise
  2. You are not seeking new experiences in the eight areas of life
  3. You are not training your brain to learn new things

How Do You Learn New things Fast?

There is a meta-learning principle that Jim Kwik teaches that is based on the fact that learning fast comes down to memory recall. It makes sense right?

It doesn’t matter how much you learn, if you do not retain it and have the ability to recall that learning in the future, it is pretty useless. At school we were taught two layers of learning that are outdated:

  1. Memorising things without understanding – this is the lowest form of brain training. It serves you well to cram for an exam and get the marks you want but does nothing for your brain training and future success.
  2. The second is to understand what you are learning – this is better but still does not guarantee memory retention and recall in the medium to long term.
  3. The third and most potent method is to learn not just through understanding but with emotion.