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How Is Your Relationship With You
by On November 12, 2008

      Download the How Is Your Relationship With You mp3
(1. Right click the link 2. Choose “Save Target As”)

I have the pleasure of spending most of my working hours in conversation with people about how they are improving some part of their life. Many people are discussing how they can improve their personal finances and get prepared for retirement. A lot of these conversations are focused on improving people’s health whether that is improving their diet or getting in shape for their next triathlon or marathon. A lot of people are trying to improve how effective they are working including their working hours are, whether that is in their office or in their home business.

Whatever it is, these conversations generally fall into one of two groups.

Group One
These are people that are making progress towards their goals. They are seeing improvement. They are excited about things and building a momentum. They are getting things flowing and it is fun.

Group Two
The second group of people are feeling a little bit stuck and, for whatever reason, they are not making the progress they are intending to. They are finding themselves stuck in a slump of some sort and they are just not getting where they want to go. In this situation I always draw upon one of my favorite quotes which is, “If what you are doing is not working, simply do something else.”

Suggestions for Group Two
Now my first suggestion in doing something else is to be clear about where your focus is. Think about it. If you are in a situation where you are trying to improve any area of your life and for whatever reason that is not working, and you are feeling stuck. Generally the focus that you have right now is that you are stuck.

If you are looking at the fact that you are out of shape and you are not feeling like you are getting in better shape or looking at the scale in the morning and you realize that it is not getting smaller every morning or your finances or your situation at work is not improving; your sales aren’t going up, the relationship you have with your boss isn’t getting better. Whatever the situation is you are seeing it and you are seeing it in a way that is not improving. If you continue to see if that way, it only makes sense that you are going to continue to get that result.

I have three very easy tips for you today. They are going to help this process of getting a better result consistently for whatever it is that you want to do.

1.  The first tip has to do with the relationship that you have with yourself. It sounds obvious but it is a very, very important one and something I’m going encourage you to try and try today. Simply be kind to yourself. It is amazing the conversations that we’ll have with ourselves when things aren’t going right.

We’re more critical to ourselves than we would ever consider being to another person. Imagine if you spoke to your spouse or your boss or the people that report to you in the same tone or critical manner that you sometimes will do to yourself. Obviously them more positive feedback that you can give yourself, the more praise that you can give yourself, the stronger you are going to feel about yourself and the better results you are going to get on the backend. That is not just about being nice and filling your head with a bunch of good positive constructive comments and feedback.

2.  That obviously is a foundation but the second thing that I’m going to have you do is be very clear on a specific area where your relationship with yourself could be improved. For example, a real good friend of mine just made a decision this last weekend that he is going to remove any negative comments about his physical shape. He is a really funny guy and he likes to make comments about his extra 10 pounds or how he is chunky. When he doesn’t go for a run or doesn’t eat the food that he wants to eat, he’ll make some sort of a funny comment that will get everybody to laugh but, at the end of the day, it is not improving his situation, it is just reinforcing it.

3.  The third thing this is to make a commitment to check in with yourself. That might be every morning or it might be every night but give yourself some sort of a specific time where you can evaluate how you are doing.

Improve your conversation. Be kind to yourself, be clear about what you are setting out to do and be committed to working on it. I wish all of you the best of success and look forward to talking with you either personally or on our blog.

Be Free!

Eric Plantenberg

Simply Giving to Give
by On November 11, 2008

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(1. Right click the link 2. Choose “Save Target As”)

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I decided to do some upgrading on our house. We painted inside and out, put down some new flooring, trimmed trees and changed our front porch. We worked really hard and now we can literally see the benefits.

Something seemed to be missing at the Krause House though. Everyone worked hard and a reward is in order. Wouldn’t a new large flat screen TV tie all this effort together? I can give it as a gift to my son who worked so hard the past few weeks. He cut, he hauled, he painted and he raked. Or, I can give it as a gift to my daughter. She helped cook, she cleaned and she painted. My wife worked so hard. She probably painted more than me, ran to the store, chose the colors and got the supplies. I can give it as a gift to her. But what about me?  Nah, I don’t need anything at all. After all this is what I do. I work, I paint and I repair. I don’t need a reward or gift, it’s just for them. The new flat screen, it’s all theirs.

Who’s fooling whom? It was for me. It can be justified by calling it a gift to them. In reality I wanted it the most. It’s a gift that goes both ways. Some gift. For the record, there is nothing wrong with rewarding someone. What we really need to look at is what a gift truly is for and the difference it makes.

A gift is defined as something given voluntarily without payment in return as to show favor towards someone. Giving without getting is a true gift.  It’s fine to give a card when presenting a gift to the wedded couple or to a new parent. You want them to know you care. I wouldn’t suggest changing that. It’s the present given out of the blue with no record of who gave it that is a true gift. It doesn’t have to be of high monetary value. In fact, small things done often will make it a habit.

For instance, is there someone in your area, a widow or widower who could use a little assistance and be a household item; a blanket in winter time or a fan in the summer time? An easy gift would be a gift card from a local store. Could you care for a lawn while they’re not at home or quickly clean up their flowerbeds that have been neglected. Volunteering to rebuild or clean up or to provide for some service outside of your area where no one knows you; that a good idea. Now often a garage sale is a good way to clean out your home of things you don’t need anymore. Why not just take those dollar items and just give them away. There is always a family that can use the clothes your son or your daughter just outgrew. Drop them off at their front door. Those few household items that might fetch you fifty bucks; it’s good but it might also employ someone in need. Drop them off at a local Goodwill or similar business.

A simple but unique way to gift is by paying the toll for the person behind you. Think of how that might affect someone who is frustrated and angry with the traffic they deal with.

There are endless ways to offer help. Just a minute or so is all it takes to write a few of these ideas down. Make it a goal that by the end of the day, the week, the month, whatever, you accomplish some of those. The idea of giving without getting is rewarding to those on the receiving end. It’s true; no one will thank you, honor you or speak to you about what you did. You will get a much greater reward with a deep satisfaction and inner peace as we learn the true meaning of a gift. One book that might help you with his is called The Giving Tree.

Be Free!

Craig Krause

Riddle Me This Answer
by On November 10, 2008

Ten days ago I presented you with a riddle and challenged you to solve it.  We had some good guesses, but no one hit the nail on the head.  The correct answer is HABITS.

For those of you who said (read all of the responces), thoughts/voice in your head, you might remember the quote by Frank Outlaw that says, “”Watch your thoughts; they become words.  Watch your words; they become actions.  Watch your actions; they become habits.  Watch your habits; they become character.  Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

So you’re not too far off. Here’s the difference–

As the riddle said, your habits are at your command and are easily managed. I don’t know about you, but the voice runs free in my head! I can certainly affect it’s volume and frequency, but it is not always at my command. However, your habits are. For good or bad, the majority of your actions are habitual. Are you managing yours for success or letting them “destroy you”?

Your comment, Alan, is exactly why it is HABIT and not thoughts. According to Shad (and others), mental chatter is constant and 77% negative unless you create a HABIT to counteract that. Thanks for sharing.

If you are not sticking with a healthy diet, managing your stress, systamically saving for the future, managing your own schedule, getting enough exercise, etc., you are practicing habits that are destroying you. PLEASE, be firm with your habits and make sure they are serving YOU!

Be Free!

Leah Simpson
In case you missed it, the riddle asked:

I am your constant companion,
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am at your command.
Half of the tasks that you do you might just as well
Turn over to me and I will do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed,
You must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done;
After a few lessons I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people and
Alas of all failures as well.
Those who are great I have made great,
Those who are failures I have made failures.

I am not a machine, but I work with all the precision
Of a machine, plus the intelligence of a person.
Now you may run me for profit or
You may run me for ruin.
It makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me,
And I will lay the world at your feet.
Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

Urban Legends of the Personal Development Industry
by On November 7, 2008

As a professional trainer and speaker. I stand up in front of people and teach them useful skills for living and working more effectively. It used to be that people who did this were said to be part of the “Self Help” business. Now it is the “Personal Development Industry.” Whatever you call it I have come to love this business. I love the look that I see in my students’ eyes when they realize that the have just accomplished something they did not think possible. I dig it when a student tells me a story about how what I taught them helped them in some way. My mission is to give people tools to help them to live better lives, and it gives me great satisfaction.

But I gotta tell ya, there are a lot of things about this business that drive me batty. Today, my pet peeve is the “urban legends” of my business. These are stories and illustrations that you will find widely quoted as fact in books, CD’s, seminars and presentations. They are quoted as fact, but as far as I can tell, they have no real basis anywhere. Could be that I’m just missing something? I don’t think so. In fact, I think I smell something pretty stinky around these stories.

The first is the story of the Bamboo Tree. The story has is that when a bamboo farmer (is there really such a thing as a bamboo farmer?) plants a bamboo, he waters it and tends it for 10 years with no visible results. Then in the 10th year, the plant suddenly shoots out of the ground and grows at some astronomical rate, like a foot a week or something. The moral is that much of our work is like this. We plant and water and tend to our business, and the results are slow in coming. But if we are faithful, and don’t give up, the results will be spectacular. It’s a really good story, but as far as I can tell it’s completely made up. I have been unable to find any documentation of the growth cycle of bamboo that supports this story.

Second is the widely reported statistic that 97% of our communication is non-verbal. I first heard this in college in my Introduction to Communication class. You will read it in books and hear it used in all kinds of training in effective speaking. It seems to be generally accepted as fact, yet I have found no studies or documentation to actually support the claim. How do you measure verbal and non-verbal communication? What is the methodology used in the studies that came up with that number? As an illustration, this statistic works because if feels true. It may even actually be true. But we don’t know that it’s true, we just accept it on faith. I cannot find any actual studies that support it. It seems more likely that it is merely a made up thing that has worked its way into the collective psyche.

The third training urban legend is the widely referenced Harvard University Study on Goal Setting. The story is that “once upon a time” Harvard Business School did a study. They asked a sample of people if they had goals, what they were, and if they had written them down. Only 3% had written goals. 30 years later, they looked up the same people and guess what they found? The 3% who had written down their goals now rule the world. The rest of the sample now lives in poverty in Bangladesh. OK, that’s not exactly how it goes, but close enough. It’s a dramatic illustration of the importance, nay, the power of setting goals. Here’s the rub. I cannot find any such study. The only specific detail the story gives us is that it happened at Harvard. There is no date of publication, no author cited, no name of a publication to look up. Nothing. Again, it may be true that people who set goals and write them down are more successful, but why must we resort to made up stories to teach the truth? Aren’t there enough real stories?

I am currently reading Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I have tremendous respect for Tony and his work, and I’m really enjoying and learning a lot from the book, but one thing in he wrote really rubbed me wrong. As an example of the power of constant and never-ending improvement, Robbins cites basketball coach Pat Riley. Robbins relates this story that took place at the start of the 1986 season with the Lakers.

He convinced the players that increasing the quality of their game by a mere 1 percent over their personal best would make a major difference in their season. This seems ridiculously small, but when you think about 12 players increasing by 1 percent their court skills over 5 areas the combined effort makes a team that is 60% more effective than it was before.

Ok, I’m not a math whiz so I can’t explain why in technical terms, but the logic here just seems wrong to me. A one percent increase in 5 separate areas for 12 players does NOT add up to 60% overall improvement. The categories are mixed up. This sort of noodling with the facts just drives me bonkers. Aren’t there enough REAL stories to illustrate the point? Can’t you use actual logic, rather than made up pseudo-math?

How about one more? To the current pile, let’s add the Word Budget. The common wisdom cites a study (ah yes! The ubiquitous attribution to a “study”) that found that men typically use 15,000 words per day, while women tend to use around 30,000 words per day. Again, where is the beef on this one? Someone actually went looking for details on this story. Among other things, he found that the actual numbers cited vary widely. See the details here.

These legends carry such power because stories and word pictures touch a place deep within. They are very useful for helping people to grasp the abstract concepts, not just cognitively, but emotionally as well. That’s why speakers like to use stories like these. When people change behavior, it is almost always the result of some sort of change in emotional state, not a logical decision. Stories and images tap into emotions much more effectively than facts. The power of facts often comes from the emotional weight granted to authorities like Harvard.

I believe that goal setting is indeed a powerful tool for living an intentional and purposeful life. I agree that we should persevere even when results seem to be delayed. I am certain that how we say things is often more powerful than what we actually say. And I believe that constants incremental improvement can add up to dramatic progress over time.

Yup. I believe all these things because I have experienced them myself, and seen them at work in the lives of my associates, friends and students. But I don’t buy the stories, and I wish I would stop running into them.

Be Free!

David Denis

Personal Freedom Contest
by On November 6, 2008

Working for a company called Freedom Personal Development, we often get asked, “What does ‘Freedom’ mean?” Well, as one of our core values, we define freedom as the capacity to exercise choice.  How do you define freedom or better yet your own personal freedom?

We all have choices, sometimes seemingly large and sometimes seemingly small, in the decisions we make on a daily basis. Will you choose to read a book that would benefit your career?  Which career will you choose? Will you choose to look at the positive and not the negative? Which house will you buy? Will you choose to drink coffee made at home or buy it at Starbucks? You have the freedom to choose, but you also have to take responsibility for the outcomes, good or bad.

For this contest, I am looking for the best definition of personal freedom and how you experience it in your life.

What does personal freedom look like to you? Are you living it or working towards it? I want to hear your thoughts and ideas on the concept and reality of freedom.

This could either be personal freedom you have experienced or personal freedom you are striving for.

To enter the contest, at the bottom of this page, type your name, email, website (if you have one) and your definition of personal freedom.

Grand Prize – Freedom Personal Development Sweatshirt
Second Place – “Expect Success” Book
Third Place – Freedom Personal Development Water Bottle 

Winners will be chosen by members of the Freedom Personal Development Team, announced on the blog and contacted by email December 1, 2008.

Be Free!

Leah Simpson

Time Out for Gratitude
by On November 5, 2008

With the recession and gloom and doom clouds over Wall Street, a time out for gratitude is in order. It will lift your sprits through these tough times…..and remember, these tough times that WILL get better.

We’ve all heard that we should “Count our Blessings”. While this is a good exercise in gratitude, more importantly, we must realize that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at this very moment. As we realize that there is nowhere else that we are supposed to be then we can begin to understand how incredibly lucky we are to be there.

I could give you an endless list of all the differences between us in America and those in developing countries, we could discuss that a full 80% of the world’s population lives in poverty but this is not about giving you a guilt trip. This is about understanding that waking up every morning feeling grateful for the gift of life can have an immediate and profound impact on your life experience. Doesn’t it just sound better to wake up and say “Thank you” or “Its going to be a great day” rather than “Another day another dollar” or “Time to make the doughnuts”?

If you are in sales, you understand that sales is a numbers game and that with every “no” you move closer to gaining a “yes”, so be grateful to those that say “no” because you can cross them off of your list and move on to the next possible sale. Being grateful opens you up to the possibility of learning from every experience rather than wallowing in the pity of being a victim.

Remember this, you are never given more than you can handle. Be grateful for the hardships, the tests, and the tears they can only make you stronger.

Be grateful for every breath that you take, and for the amazing gift we call life.

I’d like to encourage you to come up with a list of things that you truly are grateful for and write them down. Write down the big and the small things and you may begin to see how lucky you truly are.

Be Free!

Tom Weber
VP of Sales

Top 8 Voting Myths Debunked
by On November 4, 2008

It’s election day so do not forget to exercise your right to VOTE!  Before you head to the polls, I recently came accross this article on and thought I would pass it along to our readers.  Enjoy!

Myth No. 1: I will be turned away from the polls if I wear an Obama or McCain shirt.

NOT TRUE. You can’t be turned away from the polls, but you may be asked to cover the parts of your clothing that are advertising your candidate. Certain states — such as California, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and New York — restrict anything that can be considered campaign material within 50 to 150 feet of voting sites. If you’ve got questions, contact your state election official to find out the exact rules in your state, or, just be sure to bring an extra shirt or sweater for when you place your vote.

Myth No. 2: If something goes wrong – I’m not on the voter rolls, forgot my ID, recently moved – I can’t vote.

NOT TRUE. You may need to take an oath affirming you’re a citizen, and that you live where you say you do. But keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the person making the challenge, not you. If your right to vote is being challenged for any reason, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) to get immediate legal advice. You can also request a provisional ballot from poll officials.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) states that voters who believe themselves to be eligible, despite being identified as ineligible at the polls, can cast a provisional ballot. In 2000, many voters in Florida were taken off the rolls if their names were similar to a list of convicted felons. That meant that, because “S. Burris” was a felon, Sarah Burris, Sue Burris and Sam Burris were denied their voting privileges. HAVA was passed in response to this flagrant violation of voting rights and now requires that all voters, regardless of name, are given a provisional ballot upon request.

Myth No. 3: If I registered to vote through ACORN, my registration is not valid.

NOT TRUE. While some ACORN voter registrations are being investigated, if you provided accurate information, your registration is valid. In case you encounter problems, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) or be sure to request a provisional ballot.

Myth No. 4: Absentee ballots don’t count and are only used as tie-breakers.

NOT TRUE. Like provisional ballots, absentee ballots count as a regular vote in every state.

Myth No. 5: If you register to vote under your school address, you will be dropped from your parents’ health insurance or lose financial aid.

NOT TRUE. In a recent Time Magazine report, officials in Montgomery, Virginia, Greenville, South Carolina, and El Paso, Colorado told students that their health care and financial aid would be in jeopardy if they were to cast a vote. There was just one problem with these warnings: They were entirely untrue. Time reports, “[A]ccording to youth-voter advocates and the IRS… these dire warnings were incorrect.”

Myth No. 6: I can’t vote because I recently moved, or the address on my driver’s license is different from my current address.

NOT TRUE. The driver’s license is strictly used to verify a voter’s identity, not place of residence. State law requires that you vote in the precinct in which you live. If you’re not sure where your polling location is, visit visit or Google Maps. If you end up at the wrong location, poll workers can direct you to the correct precinct.

Myth No. 7: If I have any unpaid parking or traffic tickets, warrants, unpaid child support or receive food stamps or welfare, I can’t vote.

NOT TRUE. Fliers claiming absurd things like this pop up almost every election year. They weren’t true then, and they aren’t true now.

Myth No. 8: If I have been convicted of a felony, I can’t vote.

MISLEADING. Each state has its own process, but only two states — Kentucky and Virginia — deny the right to vote to all ex-offenders. To find the specific laws in each state, check out this short and simple guide (PDF) put together by the Sentencing Project.



This content is produced by Rock the Trail — a partnership between Rock the Vote and WireTap. Sarah Burris and De Nishia Yearby are reporters of Rock the Trail

Setback to Success Contest Winners
by On November 3, 2008

First of all, thank you to those who participated in our Setback to Success contest and shared a success stories. I truly believe that the more we reinforce our successes the more often we will experience and look for them in the future. Our successes are proof positive that we can accomplish amazing things if we just believe.

If you feel stuck in a setback situation, read these stories. They will give you the hope and inspiration you need to move forward to your own success.

3 lessons came to mind as I read your testimonials and selected the winners:

First Place and winner of a Freedom Personal Development Sweatshirt – Frederic Gray

1) Some of your toughest challenges can become your most valuable learning lessons. You all, by sharing your story, at some point asked yourself the simple question “What can I learn from this?” or “What did I learn from this?” and as a result your brain, mind, body found the answer and you learned. Congratulations, keep asking yourself that question.

Another reason I choose this story as the grand prize winner was the 10 “morals” he listed at the end. He showed that not only did he survive and thrive after a setback, but learned many valuable lessons which in and of itself made the setback a success.

Second Place and winner of an “Expect Success” Book – J Kevin C

2) Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we decide to break free or move forward. When we experience enough pain in an area of our lives, that pain will give us the leverage to make a change. Once we have enough leverage changing becomes a MUST. When it becomes a must change is inevitable.

Third Place and Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Water Bottle – Diane Glerum

3) Children can teach us so much about success and what it means to persevere. Children have a built in resiliency that for some reason we lose as adults. If we can get back that fire and desire of young children we can truly accomplish great things

It was a joy to read these and see the certainty in your words as you expressed your achieving success.

Be Free!

David Shoup