Learn… or be normal.

A while ago I ran across a quote from Henry Doherty…

“It is the studying you do after your school days that really counts. Otherwise, you know only that which everyone else knows.”

Geeze… I don’t want to be normal. Normal assumes that things will get worse unless they are intentionally made better. I want to get better… so I expect to keep learning!

For me books are my go to source of information. I also find helpful coaches and teachers on YouTube.

Where do you go to keep learning? Take a minute to let me know on this poll!

Three ways to change yourself

Every month I write an article for the Brutal Iron Gym newsletter.

For now this is a free newsletter packed with good information and inspiration. If you want to receive it send an e-mail to brutalirongym@gmail.com!

This is the article I wrote for the June edition of the newsletter!


3 waysI’m a huge fan of getting better! In fact, one of my goals is to get better as I get older. Part of my plan for making that happen is by reading… constantly acquiring new ideas. One of the ideas that I ran across recently was something that I can’t wait to share with you! It has to do with how to change yourself!

First things first though… I am of the opinion that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! You are where you are because of the decisions you have made up to this point! You made food choices, relational choices, recreational choices, etc. that have created the man/woman you see in the mirror today.

The good news about this is that if your decisions have led you to the place you are currently, they can also take you to another place! Decisions followed by action are powerful tools!

Having said that, there are powerful forces that influence our decisions on a regular basis. Let me share the three most powerful (I owe this line of thought to Darren Hardy’s book “The Compound Effect”).

  1. Input
  2. Associations
  3. Environment

Let’s look at each one for a minute…


This is the “stuff” that goes into your mind.

Think about it… what does your mental diet consist of? Facebook? Netflix? TV? And there’s always the silly nonsense we can gorge on via Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. (BTW, I have all of these and from time to time I actually learn some stuff from them!)

You know, if you drop a blob of mud into a perfectly clean pool that little bit of dirt will dilute the water! BUT, if you drop ten 5-gallon buckets into that pool… you’re going to have a mud puddle! That’s what we do to our mind when we fill it trash that does not inspire and motivate!

I’d encourage you to start filling your mind with positive inputs by reading good books, listening to inspiring podcasts, and talking with people who are already doing what you want to do, because at the end of the day… if you want to change you, the first thing you should consider is your mental diet!


Oh, this is a biggie!

The people you hang out with will, according to one study, “determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.”

Think about it, if you hang out with powerlifters, you’re probably going to end up lifting heavy stuff! If you hang out with bodybuilders, you’re likely to end up eating lots of chicken and blowing out your shirt sleeves! If you hang out with people who binge on Moon Pies and Chocolate Milk… well… you’re going to blow out some clothes too… just not the sleeves.

Seriously, I don’t need to spend a lot more time teaching this point because you know it… the people you hang with will help you or hurt you.

If you want to change you then you might just need to get some new friends.

WARNING, shameless plug forthcoming…

I recently wrote an entire blog post about this subject titled “Who’s In Your Circle of Five?” I encourage you to go read that… when you’re done with this post!

The third influence in our lives is…


Your environment is the sum of all the things around you: people, art, furnishings, words, etc.

Think about it like this… how do you feel when you walk into Brutal Iron Gym? Got it? Now think about this, how do you feel when you walk into your doctor’s office? You feel completely different because the environment is completely different.

Your environment is a huge influence on the person you are!

Some things that I like to include in my environment are: positive music, encouraging words, sunshine, hugs, high fives (BTW, I prefer high fives in the gym), good books, etc.

Let me ask you this, if I were to walk into your environment (e.g. your house, office, car, etc.) would I be inspired or feel like taking an entire bottle of Xanax?

The point here is this…

If you want to change you, you can hasten that process by changing your environment!

So there you go!

Three factors that will help you change the person that you are and become the person you want to be:

#1 Input

#2 Associations

#3 Environment

Oh, and now that you’ve finished this post, go read this one about building your Circle of Five!

The two most important parts of your day



The two most important parts of your day are… the beginning and the end!

Here’s why I say that…

Because, for most of us, these are the two parts that are under our control!

Our morning and nighttime routines are typically not impacted by the unexpected (e.g. unexpected visitor, a phone call that takes too long, etc.). Think about it… we usually follow the same routine every morning (e.g. brush teeth, shower, coffee, etc.) and the same routine every night (e.g. tuck the kids in bed, e-mail, prayer, etc.).

What happens between the beginning and the end of your day is often filled with the unexpected… but the bookends, the beginning and the end, there’s a lot of predictability there.

Because there is so much predictability, why not take advantage of these two points in your day?

I’ve found a couple of practices that are tremendously helpful during these two times.

In the morning I preview my day.

I sit down and write out the things I will do during the day. These things include the daily disciplines of prayer, exercise, loving my kids, etc. as well as the matters of business to which I must attend: meetings, study, training, etc.

Then at night I review my day.

I sit down, look at what I wrote that morning and ask, “Did I do what I said I was going to do?” I make notes of things I learned, attitudes that need to be adjusted, etc.

Reviewing my day helps me learn from my day and sets me up to have a better day tomorrow!

Now here’s the crazy thing…

So many people miss the two best parts of the day!

Here’s how…

They miss the morning because they sleep in until the last minute!

They miss the evening because they sit in front of a screen until they fall asleep!

If you are doing either or both of these… you are giving away the best and most controllable parts of your life!

Let me give you a couple of ideas that are working for me:

  • Get up 30 minutes earlier.
  • Don’t turn on a screen after 9 p.m.

It’s really that simple!

When you get up in the morning… write down what you will do that day. Taking time to ask God for wisdom, discipline, courage, and love is a pretty good way to start your day too.

When you sit down at night… look at that list and check off the things you accomplished. Take a few minutes to review your attitudes and experiences. Ask forgiveness, write down a lesson you learned, take a minute to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

Sure, doing this means a little less sleep and a little less Reality TV… but as Jeff Olson in his book, The Slight Edge, says…

“What is uncomfortable now will be comfortable later, and what is comfortable now will be uncomfortable later.”

I’d rather be uncomfortable with personal discipline today than uncomfortable with the results of a lack of discipline ten years from now.

Get up early and turn off the screens at night… and see what happens as you begin taking control of your life! It works for me… and I can’t wait to hear how it works for you!

Time is your friend…

One of the books I’m reading now is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.

Yesterday I snapped a picture of one of the pages and shared it on my Instagram page. I thought I should share it here too… and make a comment or two.
















For a long time I saw time as my enemy. It was TIME that was keeping me from the things I wanted.

Now I see how wrong that was.

Now I see that what was keeping me from the things I wanted was ME refusing to do what Jeff Olson says is necessary for success, “a few simple disciplines, repeated every day.”

Seriously! Since I’ve been embracing this idea that time is my ally I have:

  • Become a better dad
  • Completed more projects around the house
  • Become more organized in my work environments
  • Gained weight (I’m trying to do this)
  • Written more

Olson’s line that keeps bouncing around on the court of my heart is this…

“Time will be your friend or your enemy; it will promote or expose you.”

Question time…

Do you see time as an asset? An ally? Or do you see it as your chief enemy?

I’m getting pretty good at responding to e-mail

Now there’s something I’ve not ever been able to say with a straight face!

Anyone who knows me knows that it’s not unheard of to have an e-mail note get lost in the swampland called “Paul’s Inbox.”

That was until recently…

When I realized that FOR THE SECOND TIME I had neglected to contact a couple who had asked me to marry them!


After contacting them… asking forgiveness… and buying them Starbucks (that always helps)…

I swore to myself that this would not happen again. So I created a system.

Now my system won’t work for everyone, but it is working for me… so I thought I’d share.

  • I set two alarms on my phone. One for 11:00 a.m. and the other for 2:30 p.m.
  • When the alarm goes off I know it’s time to check and respond to e-mail.
  • I carve out 30 minutes for each segment. Though it is not taking that long, I know I have that time reserved.
  • If, for some reason, I miss the 11:00 then I know I have one more chance that day… 2:30. And if I miss the 2:30, then that response will have to wait until 11:00 the next day!

So far those who are in regular contact with me via e-mail are impressed. Seriously.

I feel great, and I am demonstrating respect to those who reach out to me.

Now, here’s the thing…

this has everything to do with my learning edge right now… it has to do with  quote from John Maxwell:

“You can’t change your life until you change something you do daily.”

I’m finding that the more I pay attention to the details of my daily life, the better my life is becoming!

No joke! Even the lovely and talented Mrs. Peterson said to me the other day, “I see you changing.”

I like that!

So you see, this is so much more than e-mail! It has to do with paying attention to what happens in my day, being proactive, and staying on top of my game.

So here’s to all of us who are working hard to get better as we get older!

Let’s be like wine… not milk! #betterwithage

Who’s in your circle of five?

Today, I learned a new phrase.

It’s a concept that I’m familiar with… you probably are too, but it’s new phrase, and I like it.

The Circle of Five.

I’m currently reading Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect. In it he talks about the people you spend the most time with and the tremendously formative influence they will have on your life!

I posted a picture of a page on my Instagram page in which he talks about this:CAM01678I spent a bit of time answering this question for myself and then wondered…

“As a follower of Jesus I am called to show love to everyone. How do I live in such a way that the negative personalities don’t drain me, while at the same time submitting to the teachings of my Leader, Jesus, who teaches me to live with love towards all people?

Hardy helped me by referencing something he had been taught by Jim Rohn, “It’s powerful to evaluate and shift your associations into three categories: dissociations, limited association, and expanded association.” (You can read Jim Rohn’s thoughts on this idea in this two-part article: part 1, part 2).

Hardy then went on to spend some time explaining how to deal with the relationships in each of these categories.


These are the people that are constantly pouring mud into your pool. They darken the room the moment they walk in… and refuse to change.

Hardy writes, “I’m constantly weeding out of my life people who refuse to grow and live positively.”

Then he says this:

“When you make the tough decision to put up boundaries between you and the people who drag you down, realize that they’ll fight you – especially those closest to you. Your decision to live a more positive, goal-oriented life will be a mirror to their own poor choices. You will make them more uncomfortable and they will attempt to pull you back down to their own level. Their resistance doesn’t mean they don’t love you or want the best for you – it’s actually not about you at all. It’s about their fear and their guilt about their own poor choices and lack of discipline. Just know that breaking away won’t be easy.”

Essentially there are some people that I will not spend time with… because they refuse to change and anything I can offer them will be of no value since they won’t receive it anyway.

How does this align with my Christian values? Here are some verses that are helpful:

  • “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (Matthew 7:6 NLT)
  • It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool who has no heart for wisdom. (Proverbs 17:16 NLT)
  • Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice. (Proverbs 23:9 NIV)

And then there’s the group of people who aren’t completely determined to be negative and mud throwers… but aren’t quite fully committed to being the best they can be. These people are the…

Limited Associations

Hardy says, “There are some people you can spend three hours with, but not three days. Others you can spend three minutes with, but not three hours.”

You must decide how much time can be spend in the presence of these people, but keep in mind as you are deciding that every minute spent with them will influence you.

Hardy’s advice is, “Take a look at your relationships and make sure you’re not spending three hours with a three minute person.”

And finally there’s the group that Jim Rohn advices we spend the most time focusing on developing…

Expanded Associations

These are the people who are doing what we want to be doing (physically, financially, relationally, spiritually, etc.).

I have found that these people are hard to get time with!

Crazy thing here… negative people always have time about what they don’t have and how bad life is. Positive people are always busy getting what they want and making life good! Therefore they are harder to spend time with!

Here’s a breakthrough thought…

You don’t necessarily need to sit across the table from a person to be influenced by them!

Some of the people that have influenced me the most are people I have never had coffee with: John Maxwell, John Wooden, Mark Bell, Jesus, etc.

Books and articles that these people have written, videos that they have made, speeches that they have given… all of these are opportunities for you to spend time with them!

Of course there are plenty of influencers with whom I have had the opportunity to spend time… and I have filled many notebooks up with their wisdom.

The point is this… the voices that speak most frequently into your life will ultimately determine the kind of person you become!

So, if you were to ask yourself, “Who are the five people I spend most of my time with?” What would the answer be?

And then ask yourself this, “How similar am I to my circle of five?”

And then this question: “Am I okay with my last answer?”

And if you’re not, ask yourself this: “What am I going to do about this?”

Remember, the circle of five will determine the kind of person you become!


The key to success – and anyone can do it

Yesterday I swung by Books-A-Million and picked up a couple of books!

Lately I’ve been reading/thinking about this idea, “The important stuff requires daily attention.” That’s my simple way of saying what lots of really smart people have been saying for a long time.

Anyhow, the book I picked up was Coach Wooden’s Greatest Secret (The Power of Little Things Done Well) by Pat Williams.

Pat Williams had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Coach Wooden (one of the all time best… if not THE best). He wrote several books about Wooden and his philosophy of life and leadership.

During one of his visits, Williams leaned across the table and asked, “Coach, if you could pinpoint just one secret of success in life, what would it be?”

After a few moments of thoughtful silence, Wooden responded… and his response is gold!

“The closest thing I can come to one secret of success is this: a lot of little things done well.”

That’s so right! Think about this…

  • Relational success = showing up every day and caring, communicating, forgiving, helping, etc. All small things… the cumulation of which lead to relational success!
  • Financial success = every day deciding to manage well your finances… spend less, save more… work a little more overtime… study your investments a little more thoroughly. All small things… the cumulation of which lead to financial success!
  • Physical success = showing up to the gym and working hard, saying “yes” to the right foods and “No” to all of the chocolate milk and Little Debbie’s. All small things… the cumulation of which lead to physical success!

Success in any of these areas is NEVER the result of deciding on Monday night and waking up on Tuesday morning… happily married, rich and ripped.


It’s deciding on Monday night and then doing all of the little things required for success on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… and even on the weekend!

What’s exciting here is that ANYONE can do the small things! Anyone!

Here’s some small things you might want to consider:

  • Every day – create a plan for the day
  • Every day – take time to read
  • Every day – take time to exercise
  • Every day – give a hug
  • Every day – pray
  • Every day – make financial decisions that align with your budget (You’ve got one of those, right?)sucess

Do these things well and consistently and watch how your life begins to move up and to the right!

So, what do you think?

Are there other “little things” that you pay attention to that help you as you move towards and experience success?