The 5 Most Important Things I’ve Learned (To Date)

adobe-spark-11

I absolutely love learning

Two thousand and sixteen was my best year. I intended it to be. It was not 100% perfect or without difficulty by any means. Part of the reason it was my best is that throughout the year I prioritized learning and investing in self-improvement.

These are the top 5 things I learned in my quest for self-awareness, creativity, fitness, fulfillment and happiness.

“If you know about something but nothing’s changed, then you haven’t learned it.”

–Tony Robbins

 

1. Reading is Not Synonymous with Retention

THE PROBLEM:

It’s not what you’ve read, it’s what you remember and comprehend. Just because we read a piece of information does not mean that we actually stored it for later use or application. That “top 6 productivity tricks” article you read 6 months ago—try and recall more than 2 out of 6. Not so easy. Turns out that wasn’t a very productive read after all.

WHAT I LEARNED:

This was a major area of learning for me that has been building for some time now but crystallized in 2016. I love to read, but at best I can remember a few key takeaways from books and articles. That deteriorates over time. Pretty soon I’ve forgotten what I invested those minutes and hours in, or can barely share a concise summary, let alone repeatedly apply it to my own life. In our modern digital age, we are barraged with information constantly and this is only valuable if we can utilize this information and recall it when the opportunity arises.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

The real productivity hack is to write everything valuable down and review it. Now when I read I take notes on 4×6 index cards. I also frequently and liberally underline or take notes within the book itself. Periodically I review these and refresh my memory of the most valuable insights I deemed worthy to write down or underline. I did not create these systems by any means, I directly modeled them from two amazing people. Ryan Holiday and Maria Popova. Just click their names and I’ve linked to two articles that got me going in this direction.

Book Notes

Taking notes when I read on index cards and within the books has helped me TREMENDOUSLY!

2. Action Bias—From Wishing to Willing

THE PROBLEM:

I have a large scale vision of what I want to become, contribute, and accomplish in life. That isn’t a problem—unless I’m not taking action towards it. It is easy to have dreams. It is easy to wish. We need our willpower, effort, and action to ever make it real.

“…Huge difference between knowing about something and knowing how to do it.

–Tony Robbins

WHAT I LEARNED:

Starting is half the battle. Look up Lao Tzu’s famous quotes and you’ll see the 1000 mile journey one. Beginning something that is important to us when we feel under-qualified, under-confident, and under-funded is not easy, but it is necessary. Everyone who’s ever accomplished or created anything started somewhere. Their conditions were not perfect, even if they have a tremendous success story that makes it seem like they are holier than thou. Starting wasn’t easy for them, but they did it. I had to start my writing dream for real in 2016. I just did it one Wednesday. Now the ball is rolling, now the momentum is building.

Action Bias

Be ready to act!

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

Simplicity. Start practicing with low stakes frequently. As skills build, raise the stakes. Think about what life will be like looking back with gratitude for having begun something that matters. Now imagine looking back knowing you never started and feel the pain of regret. My solution was asking myself the question: Do I want it or not?

3. Consistency

THE PROBLEM:

I’m intense. I relish this as a strength, but it is also a weakness. Intensity can be draining, it’s a pace that’s past sustaining. In my past, I frequently have given everything I have for as long as I can, and then burnout. After I’m exhausted I find myself still with mountains to climb.

Consistency

The consistency has to be right for the vision to work…just like with food.

WHAT I LEARNED:

Pace is the name of the game. Two runners embark on a 5-mile run—the one who sustains a consistent output will have better results than the one who sprints until exhaustion and needs time to recover then repeats the same pattern. Consistency was a weakness of mine in many areas  I aimed to reverse this and make it a strength.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

“Intensity cannot replace consistency.” —Simon Sinek

I will keep my intensity but aim to practice and produce continually at a pace that I can handle. Intensity is an asset, but it cannot be all I rely on. My solution is to be intentional and decisive with my time—always making time for what really matters. Chipping away at the bigger picture, rather than swinging a 100lb sledgehammer trying to do it all at once.

4. The Importance of Priorities

Priorities

Priorities are what we are actually doing…not what we know we SHOULD be doing.

THE PROBLEM:

I want so much in life. Not materialistically, but experientially. There is a finite amount of time for all of us. 24 hours in a day, and ballpark 80 years to live if we take adequate care of ourselves. The problem is when to do what. What to be patient with and what to do now. My problem is doing too many things at the same time, not truly focused on the deep work it requires to manifest what I’m after.

WHAT I LEARNED:

I would rather accomplish or take action towards the key factors that make me happiest and most fulfilled. That means eliminating things. That means not everything will get done. That means learning to ignore the part of my brain that spurns me towards attacking 10 projects at a time and cutting that down to 3 at most. My personal bandwidth is exceeded by my ambitions. I download faster than I upload. My ideas come in tremendous flashes of insight, but my actions and ability to execute on these ideas are more like building a fire with friction—lots of time and energy must be expended before it starts to become real.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

Continually asking what is most important? I do this several times a day, and it is now my go-to question when I have a major decision. There are secondary questions that stem from this too. What is most important right now? What is the most important long term? (1 week? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? 6 years?) What is most important for others? The last question I need to ask a lot more. I’m overcoming a selfish behavior bias and it’s not all about me. I wrote more about The Reality of Priorities here.

5. Frame of Reference

THE PROBLEM:

“What things mean to you is always determined by what you compare them to, or contrast them against.”

—Tony Robbins

We are constantly filtering what comes into our experience through our own beliefs, past experiences, and our prejudices or fears. We need the ability to detach from our default frame of reference to understand and empathize with others. Looking at our own flaws in our worldview is not easy.

WHAT I LEARNED:

This is going to be something I write a lot more about in coming pieces. Frame of reference is like a thesis I plan on spending a lot of time on. I think I learned this based on my expectations of myself and how generally I can’t expect the same from others. I have put myself through some very challenging situations, seen some extreme wealth from up close, and explored who I am as an individual in depth. These factors determine how I view the world and interact with others. I can’t expect someone who’s never challenged themselves to completely relate to who I am or what I’m working towards. I can’t expect someone who’s never seen the insidious dark side of wealth to understand my growing admiration of minimalism and anti-consumer rhetoric. I definitely can’t expect someone to understand me who doesn’t understand themselves.

SOLUTIONS/BREAKTHROUGHS:

“To influence someone you need to understand what already influences them.”

—Tony Robbins

This quote helped bring awareness beyond my own frame of reference. I have a somewhat optimistic and positive bias (deliberately) that many do not share. The worldview we bring with us can be of great service, but we need the awareness of what influences our own worldview. Where did it come from? Did I consciously choose it or was it just what I became by default? Two people can look at the same event, and see different things. One might perceive an opportunity, the other a crisis. If part of our belief structure is not beneficial we can put in the work to re-evaluate and re-create our own beliefs. How do you see the world?

Frame

The way we view the world is malleable. It can change. It can also change what we are looking at.



 

This list of 5 learning experiences has all been part of a journey towards self-actualization. I am not perfect. I am not better than anyone.

I am learning.

I am growing.

I am working on giving and contributing more, at levels beyond myself.

That’s why I wrote this. To share some things I’ve been focused on and have helped me dramatically with happiness, fulfillment, and inner peace. I wish the same for you.

Welcome To 2017

2016 was an epic year. My best. 

2017 is about impact for me. Using my momentum to make waves 🌊


Although 27th Renaissance was neglected  (again) I was more creative than ever and consistent in my writing elsewhere

This year I have big plans for this blog and my life. 

Things I’ve got in store for my website here:

  • Design overhaul–freshening things up. 
  • A summary of my Renaissance pursuits from My Renaissance Defined: what progress have I made since compiling that list? 
  • A portfolio of graphic design, writing and video work. 
  • A consistent summary of my creations in other locations 
  • Experiments and challenges in health, fitness and life. 
  • Book reports and reviews. Major Year of reading ahead!
  • Travel posts–have some vagabonding in the works
  • Links to my most recommended supplements, fitness tools, books, mentors and inspirations. 
  • A summary of my 2016 learning and takeaways 
  • Even more! 

I greatly appreciate everyone who’s been following the journey thus far, and I can promise a more exciting and well documented year here on my blog in 2017

Image credit @garyvee

How To Unleash Your Soul (With Guidance From Tony Robbins)

The Massive Crowd Photo Credit: Not Known (let me know)

The Massive Crowd
Photo Credit: Not Known (let me know)

 

I was there. I was in Dallas when the fire started—the fire that won’t go out. I attended Unleash The Power Within, Anthony Robbins entry level event. And I was unleashed. I’ve definitely been unplugged from the matrix for many years now, but the process of mastery is never ending. Realizing my full potential will require a lifetime commitment and I enthusiastically accept that demand.

Fire At The Gates Photo Credit: Lina Marie Acosta

Fire At The Gates
Photo Credit: Lina Marie Acosta

Before I begin I must preface this. Throughout this piece, if there is a sentence or phrase in bold/italics is a direct takeaway from the seminar. Anything that is bold is an outstanding piece of information, and anything that is bold, and italicized is a gemstone of wisdom that I hope you take and enrich your life to the utmost with. All of the phrases that fall into the categories above are not my own, I don’t own the copyrights to them. I didn’t explicitly dissect and reproduce the whole seminars curriculum, just extracted things from my notes and memories—some things may be slightly misquoted or not exact verbatim.  If there is anything that violates any precedent or infringes let me know and I’ll revise the piece.

WHY?

Why did I decide to go? I decided because I’m evolving. Because I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in a life that I didn’t consciously design. Because I need every opportunity to grow. Because I want to contribute beyond myself and learn the best ways to make that happen. Did I answer your question? Hope so. There’s another underlying reason—I was pulled.

I want to tell you everything that happened that fateful weekend and how it has been a catalyst for several areas of my life that I’m committed to improving. I want to tell you all this for a few reasons: firstly, to provide value to YOU—the reader—I want you to take something out of this article that is inspirational and actionable. Secondly, to review the copious notes and memories that are stored in my notebooks and brain—re-living and re-integrating the teachings and wisdom that I was exposed to. Lastly, I want to share all of this to truly express a truth—we have 100% responsibility for our experience of life. 

I am sharing the experience in 4 parts: What happened before the event leading up to it, what happened at the event, what’s been happening after, and the most valuable takeaways. If you’re only interested in the takeaways scroll to the bottom I don’t blame you. But, there are insights sprinkled throughout the before, during and after parts that are just as important. Let’s begin.

BEFORE THE EVENT

I committed to attending Unleash the Power Within and seeing Anthony Robbins over two months before it was scheduled to take place. I made it a MUST to go there and learn. I leveraged my resources and took action to make it happen. Once I was registered there was a homework assignment in the form of getting a program from Tony and completing it. Unlike in school, I actually did my homework and enjoyed it. I took a course called ‘Creating Lasting Change’ and it was very relevant and deep with acuity. I told a few people that I’d be going to this event—most of them didn’t “get it”. But, then again most people misunderstand me. In the days leading up to the even,t I began to use Tony’s Hour of Power and Priming morning rituals to start my day in a peak state (sooooo much peak state coming up). This was good. I actually love doing this ritual in the morning. In 2015 I spent a few months consistently practicing but fell out of the habit (much to my detriment). I think one of the most important things I did before the event was this: I created an R.P.M. Plan. See I try to study Tony’s work the way Tony himself would study it—intensely focused and taking action on it. What’s an R.P.M. Plan? It’s a method Anthony Robbins teaches to bring intent and focus to how we use our time. It stands for Results, Purpose, Massive Action Plan. What do you want? Why do you want it? And How are you going to get there? (what’s your  M.A.P. ?) Here are a few links to resources on this methodology (PDF, WEBSITE). I did this process before attending to get clear on what I wanted, why I wanted it and how I was going to make it happen.

Take Massive Action Photo Credit: Brenda Sisson

Take Massive Action
Photo Credit: Brenda Sisson

In summary, before the event, I prepared and became intentional. Attending an event of this magnitude should be approached with a reverence. You’re investing time into it that you can never get back (the money you can get back) so why not plan and prepare to be fully committed?

DURING THE EVENT (How to Get the Most Out of a Seminar)

I was there to play. I was all in. During Unleash the Power Within I was there to learn as much as possible, and immerse myself in Anthony Robbins material in a fun and social environment. I was there to create breakthroughs. I gave everything I had at the event: laughing, dancing, clapping, screaming, crying, shaking my ass, and just going “full out” as the culture calls it. By the fourth day, my voice had completely gone. Couldn’t make a peep. But, that ended up being a fun exercise in non-verbal communitcation and listening. I gave my entire being to an active involvement and providing the necessary effort in each moment. In order to make that happen, I consciously decided to not utilize my phone as much as possible—which is more feasible than you think. I left only sending a handful of text messages, posting once on Instagram and posting one to two daily updates on Snapchat. I knew that being there wouldn’t be nearly as valuable if I was on my phone constantly distracted. I actually put my phone on airplane mode during the event, and I’m grateful I chose to be that way. There were lots of people I noticed doing otherwise, but that’s their choice and path I shouldn’t judge. But, a teaching we learned there is whatever you learn is linked to the emotional state in which you learned it. So knowing that; being happy, enthusiastic and free of distractions was my prerogative. Thousands seemed to be on the same page.

At events of this scale (7000+ participants), there is an energy in the air. A vibe that is strong and pronounced. I met some amazing people, and proximity is power. I definitely got some great contacts and networked, but I truly became most focused on the overall experience and learning the most I could rather than handing out business cards wilily-nilly. During this seminar, I was constantly taking notes and absorbing everything I possibly could. Sitting for 50h during a weekend could be monotonous, so the organizers and Tony continually had the audience change our physiology and enter into a peak state. I loved this! The repetition of this procedure let us embed it deeply in our nervous system and we created movement patterns to trigger this and a state of absolute certainty. I’m so grateful to have this tool in my arsenal for my future endeavors.

So what does that exactly mean? Basically several times a day we would celebrate like we just won the SuperBowl. Cheering, screaming, dancing, emoting, and allowing a full blast unleashing of our inner soul. I remember thinking that this is so awesome—how many people practice celebrating like this or ever even know how it feels? They settle for seeing it on TV, seeing others celebrate a championship or major achievement. They don’t have it in their own nervous system—they can’t summon it at will. Of all the skills we learned, I think this is one of the most powerful and potentially overlooked. Learning how to celebrate at maximum intensity and what that feels like. It feels incredible. I now understand how it will feel, and what I will do at the crowning moments in my life. Also, how I can bring added power to the small victories too. Who cares what other people think? I’m doing it as often as possible.

 

Unleashed!  Photo Credit: Trinh Tran-Shiozaki

Unleashed!
Photo Credit: Trinh Tran-Shiozaki

After our first day, entering peak state many times, we were faced with overcoming and releasing our biggest fear—then walking over hot coals to show that we can conquer anything. My biggest fear was rejection. I participated with my full focus towards the activities to overcome it, and I honestly know now I no longer am controlled by that fear. It has been released and no longer perpetuates my mind. If it were to rise up at any future moment I would face it and own it—no doubt in my mind. After that, we entered peak state again and walked across fire! To be totally truthful I wasn’t scared beforehand, or during—I was ready for any pain that may have occurred. Fortunately, none did, and I along with thousands of others rose up to the challenge and defeated hesitancy and fright.

The next day there was some extremely negative news coverage that was circulating on the internet. I got multiple text messages and emails asking if I was burned and maimed. Laughable really. In actuality, less than 1% got minor burns, but the media chose to blow it way out of proportion and spread fear. (Heres a nice piece from Inc,and Huffington Post on what really happened)

Later in the program Tony was in the audience and noticed a young lady sitting there. Her name was Annie, she was 6 years old. He asked her “did you walk on fire?”

“Yes.” She said.

“Did you burn your feet off and die?” he asked.

“No.” She said shaking her head adorably.

That memory really stands out in my mind. So many memories do. It’s hard to even properly write how this experience has shaped my life and everything I’ve learned, but I’ll keep trying.

Another major thing we did at Unleash the Power Within was to take on 3 limiting beliefs we held, destroy them and replace them with 3 new empowering beliefs. I literally felt my brain rewire and I can’t even say the old beliefs anymore—let alone write them down. But I would love to share some of my new beliefs. My old bullshit beliefs were in 3 categories: financial, relationship, and ethical. My old bullshit belief in finance was replaced with this empowering gem—money is a skill that I am learning and mastering. That’s what plays in my head now not the bullshit. It’s awesome. I literally have something short circuit in my brain if I even try to think or say the old beliefs. I just go to the new ones now. It’s amazing.

Can this happen to anybody that attends? I think only if you really give your best effort and focus to the exercise. If you’re in your head saying “what is this crap?” then that question is not going to provide you with the right frame of mind or answer. But if you visualize and truly block out everything but the task at hand then yes I believe that a willing student can learn to do this. I understood how this process worked intellectually, but to see it and feel it work was something else entirely. Taking notes boosts information retention to 40-50% (from 10% if just passively listening), but interacting with energy can boost retention to 80-90%. What that means is that interacting with energy during this process of transformation is why it retained for me—whereas passively listening would have 70% less efficacy for another person.

We did so much more than I can even write about but to wrap up this section of what happened DURING THE EVENT, I’ll give a few more summations. We studied Business Mastery with Mike Melio and learned the 7 Forces of Business Mastery. This was amazing and so valuable to where I am in life right now. Studying this material as I’m starting my own business is beyond advantageous. We had the pleasure of Joseph McClendon III guiding us through many hours of ass shaking, and truth telling. He also instructed us on the day where we focused on health and wellbeing—a tremendous day and experience.

There is much more I could espouse on but it’s not only what you learn, it’s what you DO with what you learn that matters. So let’s talk about what happened and is happening still after the event.

AFTER THE EVENT (Putting it Into Practice)

When it’s not working, that’s when you know it’s working. Change your state, use the teachings. Some people go through everything and then just go back to living their “normal lives”. I simply can’t do that. I’m sure I could, but I won’t. When I got home from the seminar I took massive action. I quit two jobs the next day. Burn the boats: take the island. I understood that remaining in the same situation is not going to lead me to my intended destination or produce the result that I’m committed to. So why wait? I have contingencies in place and a small runway to work off of. Do I want my dreams or not? Simple to say the yes, harder to embody the yes. I’m not about what’s easy anymore though. Unless it’s the ease that comes from the repetition of a skill until it’s honed and automatic. That kind of ease I can dig. Just wanting “things to be easier” is not me. So I’m the perfect student for the material that was taught at Unleash the Power Within. I am going to use it. I am going to keep studying it. I am going to realize my ultimate vision of my full potential. Learning is creating a relationship between the known and the unknown. I love learning. I truly do. So with that as my attitude, I cannot ever completely fail. For in failure I will find instruction and allow my love of learning to distil truth out of tribulation. After this event, I knew that if I didn’t keep my commitment to growth and learning in order to facilitate contribution at the highest level—I could regress. I learned that conditioning and training never end on the path to mastery. Certainty is created by YOU, not your environment. As said by Anthony Robbins.

Up Close and Personal Photo Credit: Lina Maria Acosta

Up Close and Personal
Photo Credit: Lina Maria Acosta

 

I came up with this metaphor to illustrate what life is like after the event for any participant. Tony is like Amazon—a way to get anything delivered—but YOU must make use of it. That treadmill, or kettlebell, or yoga mat gathering dust does work. It’s not Amazon’s fault that after it was delivered you didn’t use it. It’s not Tony’s fault that he taught you something and you didn’t apply it repeatedly until it became a habit. We all need to utilize what’s around us, and what we know–not just understand it.

I’m putting in the work after the event to make sure that I got the most out of the investment. I will schedule review time, and continue the learning. You wouldn’t work out for a weekend and say “Well, I’m fit for life. Glad that’s done”. No. That’s not how it works. After the event is the most important. Every day is the most important. What can I do today to embody the man I strive to become? That’s a question I ask myself now.

I took so much away from Unleash the Power Within. Taking it away is great. Keeping it with me is greater.

TAKEAWAYS AND HIGH-VALUE INSIGHTS

If I bored you with my previous sections I apologize. My skills as a writer are under development and perhaps I could have been more concise. With that in mind, I’ll practice that here. As follows are some of the most vital teachings and takeaways from my experience at Unleash the Power Within.

  • Complexity is the enemy of execution.
  • You can only build on success, you can’t build on failure. 
  • Our culture reinforces blame of others.
  • Words have a biochemical effect on the body 
  • Who you spend time with is who you become.
  • Information is potential power—execution trumps information every time. 
  • Stress is a code word for FEAR.
  • We are suffering so much because we are overlooking the gifts around us.
  • Trade expectation for appreciation and our whole life changes in an instant.
  • The Past does not equal the future. Biography does not equal destiny. 
  • The culture wants you to be one thing—to keep you simple. (my blog and beliefs/values are the antithesis of this)
  • People will give up goals and dreams to meet their needs.
  • A Strategy is a system of producing a consistent result.
  • Faith is freedom.
  • A belief is a feeling of certainty about what something means.
  • CHANGE YOUR STATE! (PHYSIOLOGY)
  • There is a way beyond the way you’ve been programmed and that’s to program YOURSELF. 
  • People who succeed long term live on pull not push.
  • Only 3 things hold you back in business: 
    • Failure to anticipate
    • Lack of follow through
    • Your own psychology and mindset
  • You can’t be grateful and fearful at the same time.
  • Leaders are READERS: Minimum 30 minutes a day. (A book, not a fluff piece, social media or magazine or list-acle.)

There is a lot more I could write about the experience and countless more takeaways and insights I could share. In place of that I would say look up Anthony Robbins and listen to some of his free stuff on YouTube or get his latest podcast to let the man illustrate his teachings himself. He’s the master I’m the apprentice. I can’t currently convey his work as well as he can, but I hope I was able to at least pique your interest.

Between my writings and this taste of some of the best takeaways I gleaned, I hope I gave you some insights into what it’s like to go to Unleash the Power Within, how it has affected me, and how to make the most out of it if you did go to that or any other seminar.

If you read the whole post I’m super grateful for your time, and if you liked it please leave a comment, and if it sucked also do that. I want to get better and welcome all feedback.

Today Happens To Be The 3 Year Anniversary of 27th Renaissance

WordPress just told me that this blog is 3 years old. I definitely thought it would be a bit further but nothing happens without work. I must put in more work to gain upside in value and breadth of exposure. I will. I am still immensely grateful for what chasing this vision has taught me so far and where I’m intending to be 3 years from today. June 18th 2019

  • This blog will be better and be given the love and attention it and its readers deserve. 
  • I will be a published author and my books will positively impact many thousands of people. 
  • My company 27th Renaissance Enterprises will be doing good business and making a difference. 

Those 3 simple intentions are going to manifest in the next 3 years. I will do everything in my power to assure that. 

Thank you for being a part of this journey and the next 3 years will be much more exciting! 

Reach out to me to ask anything or suggest anything. Grateful for you reading. 
Brendan 

A New Habit: Writing Wednesday 004

Today was a great challenge and opportunity to write. I didn’t know what to write about, so I used one of my other renaissance pursuits (Photography) to get the juices going. I walked through my neighborhood and took some shots of the beautiful flowers that are in bloom. One shot captivated me when I was reviewing them–the shot showed life and death in one image. A beautiful African Violet blooming, but a dead flower interspersed throughout the blossoms. Got me thinking deeply on life and death. Here’s what I wrote:

 

 

View story at Medium.com

Let me know what you think in the comments below, welcome any feedback positive or negative.

A New Habit: Writing Wednesday 003

I got it done again. Just 3 in a row, but that’s the start of a streak to me. I aim to keep this consistent and it’s helping me having this deadline. It’s only self-imposed too, so this is really an exercise in self-mastery. I chose to be here doing this today…no gun to my head. Knocked out 1250 words in under an hour. Check it out:

 

 

View story at Medium.com

 

Thank you for reading, subscribe to my blog and YouTube to see what I’m up to. Twitter and Instagram are right beside too: follow the journey to renaissance. —–>

A New Habit: Writing Wednesday 002

Well, a week’s gone by and rather than what could have happened (failure) I made it. I got another 1000 word piece done over on Medium for #WritingWednesday I’m linking to it below. Also have a new video I’m editing right now but you can also check out My First Day On Snapchat (and follow Multitude 277 for the real moments of this journey as they happen)

 

 

View story at Medium.com

 

 

Thank you for reading and as always please leave a comment below or reach out to me and let me know what you like or don’t like about my creative expressions.