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11 11, 2018

Breaking the Chains that Bind You

2018-11-07T09:09:17+00:00

Pools of water reflect the sky and the railings on the porch after last night’s massive storm, which I thought I had dreamed in the middle of the night. Cool, crisp air and a slight breeze swaying the tops of my twisted oaks signal cold mornings to come, when I may have to build a fire in the porch fireplace. This morning my thick, fuzzy old navy blue cotton robe makes me cozy, though my hands are a bit chilled. Just four weeks ago, my freezing hands were bundled in two layers of gloves as I stood in the snow painting while giant snowflakes landed on my canvas, so today is easy in comparison. And, once again, it’s good to be home on my own porch, knowing the family is here with me, all nestled in their warm beds. Like Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Yellow Brick Road lately. I wonder what the writer had in mind when he created this metaphor for life with twists, turns, and challenges along the way, hoping to get to Oz — only to find out Oz was unable to provide what had been imagined and that what we have at home isn’t so bad after all.

Have you ever set a goal, achieved it, and found out it wasn’t really what you wanted after all? I have.

Our society places a lot of emphasis on goal-setting, but sometimes we strive for goals that don’t make us happy when we get there. That’s why it’s important to understand Oz before you get there.

“Ah, The Good Life” May Not Be So Good

Frequently I hear stories of businesspeople chasing the good life that’s promoted by advertisers, products, and marketing, all trying to make us think what they offer will solve our problems and make us happy. Just a few weeks ago I met a man who worked like a dog to get massive wealth. He had the jet, several Ferraris, houses in many places, and he was traveling the world whenever he could. He told me he became arrogant, dismissive of others who did not have what he had. He said he became a complete jerk and as a result, he lost his wife and his kids. Soon he had another wife and more kids and lost them, too.

He was richer than most people could ever be, yet he became very lonely. Then he lost his Midas touch, his business fell on hard times, and he lost everything and had to rebuild from scratch. He quickly learned his friends only liked him for his money and were not there for him when he lost it.

I think sometimes we chase things because we think we’re supposed to, or because society expects certain things of us. Most of this disease is driven by comparing ourselves to others and caring too much what other people think.

Not Such a Hotshot After All

I made a lot of money early in my career. Not enough money to buy a jet or multiple houses, but enough to buy a really nice car and have a little money in the bank. I was pretty full of myself and I wanted more, and it came so easily for me, I thought I had the Midas touch. But in reality, I got lucky. And once I lost all my money, lost my fancy cars, and destroyed my marriage, I got a much-needed dose of humility pretty fast.

I kept trying, and came close to making a fortune another time with a company I started, and raised money to start, but I screwed that up too, and lost again. For years I blamed circumstances like 9/11, blamed my board of directors, but I didn’t blame myself. Yet I was the problem.

Being Stuck in My Past

It turns out I was stuck in my stories. In fact, I clinged to blaming others for my failure for almost two decades, until finally I had a revelation that I was the problem. I had to accept the blame for all those employees losing their jobs because I didn’t have my act together. That was a hard pill to swallow.

The Art of Reframing

In the process called reframing, I learned that we can take the painful moments in our lives and ask ourselves, “Though it was extremely painful, is there possibly anything good that came out of it?” Then I write that thing down and keep asking myself what other good came out of it. I’ll do this until I’ve come up with six, or 10, good things.

Suddenly, once I’ve gone through this process, I’ll realize that my pain is gone, and that I’m looking at the good that was done for me instead of the bad that was done to me. By reframing the story, I am able to let go of the pain.

How I Killed Two Decades

We all hate and want to avoid pain. Yet we try so hard to avoid it, we actually cause more pain because we let fear of it hold us back. For instance, I stopped taking risks. I was so hurt by taking a risk and losing my company that I avoided risk completely. And for 20 years my company was stagnant, not growing and not providing the kind of growth my family and my team deserved.

Waking up to my pain, reframing it by finding the good and the lessons, is what broke those chains and set me free to take risks again, and the result has really changed my life.

The Worst Horrors Relieved

Reframing takes away your chains. I’ve heard stories that are more horrific than I could imagine. People who have experienced child abuse, or rape, or terrifying fires, or other terrible events. They understandably live in fear, yet that fear has made some of them afraid to really live. I’ve watched people snap out of those situations in less than a half hour when coached by someone in reframing — and when those chains go away, life changes.

Pity Is Our Comfort Zone

We fall so in love with our own stories and our own pity, our love of blaming circumstances or other people who have hurt us, that we get stuck and don’t live our lives. We get stuck in traditions, we get stuck in religions, we get stuck in things our families require, we get stuck in the way we think we should be, and we get stuck in comparison to others.

They say the biggest cause of depression today is spending an hour or more a day on Facebook because we’re watching our friends and their wonderful lives. We get caught up in their travel, their events, their happiness, and we compare ourselves to them.

Don’t Should on Me!

We get stuck in “shoulding” on others. You should be like me. You should vote the way I vote. You should believe what I believe. You should … fill in the blank. This shoulding causes anger, resentment, and depression. If we can stop trying to put others in our box, stop shoulding on them, we can live freely, and care less about what they think.

Certainly, though I offer my ideas here on Sunday mornings, I don’t intend to “should” on you. I share what works for me, but I want you to find what works for you.

The Yellow Brick Road is filled with challenges. Life is never easy, but it does not have to be awful. There are those who frame everything with a positive outlook in spite of going through some terrible stuff, and others who frame it badly. You get to pick.

Know Why You’re Going

I do think it’s worth considering what Oz looks like for you so you can design your life to fit what you really want. I think it’s worth considering that what we think we want may not really be what we want. It might be a good idea to find someone who has what you want and find out from them if it’s truly worth it. Look at Anthony Bourdain, who seemed to have a cool life of fame, travel, and money, yet he pulled the plug for some reason. Maybe once he got what he worked for, it wasn’t what he expected. Why not find people who are living the same dream you want to live and study them, talk to them, get them to level with you about the good, the bad, and the ugly?

Don’t Wait for Others to Fix You

You may also ask yourself about the biggest pain in your life and see if you can reframe that pain to break your own chains. If it can work for me, it can work for you. I keep finding things that are holding me back because I’m clinging to something old. I had to learn that no one else can change things for you, only you can change them. If you’re expecting someone to be a certain way to free you up, it won’t happen. I learned from many years of therapy that all the things I complain about start with me, my perception, my story, and my chains.

I truly want you to live fully. Chains are no way to live, and most people don’t realize they are living in chains until they reframe their pain, and suddenly one little breakthrough opens their life and gives them rich experiences they were missing.

Have you defined Oz and made sure it’s something you really want?
Have you defined the steps to get there and exactly what it will look like when you arrive?
Have you found your pain points and reframed them?
Are you comparing yourself to others?

In the ‘60s they used to say, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

Make today count.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Last week we held our FACE event (Figurative Art Convention & Expo). I thought it was a great experience and one that enriched the lives of those who attended. I want to thank everyone who attended. You enriched my life.

This week, another adventure. My same time, next year time with an old friend while I do my Radio Forecast conference in New York. I always love seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Last, Thanksgiving is coming. I have friends who avoid reconnecting with family because of the pain. Sometimes distance is healthy, but sometimes just a little reframing will make you want to go again.

Breaking the Chains that Bind You 2018-11-07T09:09:17+00:00
4 11, 2018

Art From the Ashes

2018-11-03T11:17:01+00:00

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

If you live in Austin, Texas, where I am this morning, the past few weeks have been made up of those howling winds and driving rain, flooding, and a water-boil order. This morning, November’s first Sunday, is chilly, but not cold as frozen iron.

Fortunately, the rain and two weeks of boiling water occurred while Laurie and I were on the Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine Italian Art Trip, hosting about 42 guests who accompanied us to see the art treasures of Italy. I’m jet-lagged and a little groggy still, but so invigorated from miles of the best art in the world.

It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I have to admit the highlight, among many, was one private hour inside the Sistine Chapel just for our group, which is simply unheard of. I may be the only person who’s ever held a Facebook Live broadcast from inside the Sistine Chapel (you can find it on my Facebook page), until I was scolded and shut down by the guard. It was such a wonderful experience to be there with just our small group, without sharing the room with a noisy 5,000 others, shoulder-to-shoulder and unable to see anything.

Tears welled up in my eyes at the overwhelming experience, not only because I was pleased I could make that happen for my guests — a privilege typically offered only to presidents and ambassadors — but because of what the room represented to me. 

Here I was in a giant room, where one of the great artists of all time spent several years creating one of the world’s great masterpieces. To know that one man, and a couple of assistants, could accomplish such a feat in just nine years. I am in awe of Michelangelo’s ability as an artist, and the nearly impossible task of filling the ceiling and one end wall of a 12,000-square-foot room, and with such perfection. Keeping in mind that he was a sculptor, not a painter, when the Pope appointed him for the task. And it was not just painting, it required a fresh second layer of plaster and the ability to do fresco painting, a very special and difficult technique. He essentially learned as he did it, which shows what a genius he was. Though legend has him working while lying on his back, Michelangelo did the entire painting standing on scaffolding. Most of the great artists I know today, some of whom are tremendous at figure painting, could not complete a fraction of that room in a lifetime.

Michelangelo’s influence was felt in every city we visited throughout Italy — not only his sculpture, but his exterior and interior designs, such as one of the most amazing staircases I’ve ever seen, still in use today. It was humbling to walk on it, knowing he designed it and walked on the same steps hundreds of years before. 

Of course we also had a private time scheduled for Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and we had a private dinner inside an amazing palace filled with the works of history’s best painters to entertain our gazes as we dined. 

And we visited the massive home of a prince, who greeted us and told us about his family’s amazing collection of art. We had numerous experiences like this, too many to mention here; it’s something we will cover in an upcoming article.

The biggest surprise for me was a visit in our post-trip to Pompeii, the ruins preserved by volcanic ash at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Having seen photos in National Geographic as a child, I assumed we would see just a room or two, but what we saw was a city, acres and acres of homes, and there are more acres still under ash to be explored for generations to come.

The art found in Pompeii was exquisite, not at all primitive but highly sophisticated, with form, perspective, and shadow, and all of it made possibly 500-600 years before the time of Christ. Yet this was unknown because the city was buried and its art unseen — and “early” art that came hundreds of years later was primitive, flat, and lifeless. It was not until the Renaissance that the techniques of perspective, form, and shadow were reinvented. The Romans were doing it hundreds of years before, but no one was aware because that artwork was underground and undiscovered until 1549, and the art objects were not revealed till 1748.

An estimated 11,000 people in Pompeii died in less than three minutes from the heat of the volcanic eruption five miles away, and then the city was pounded with pumice stones and ash. Just a few short years before, the same city had been destroyed by a major earthquake and then partially rebuilt. Being there was sobering yet enlightening, and seeing the art, now housed in the Naples Museum, was an unexpected pleasure. 

We know of life in Pompeii because of the art left behind — the mosaics, the architecture, the sculpture, the glass, the jewelry, and the writings by a witness to the volcano from across the bay. It was art that was archaeological evidence of life. From it, we know how the Pompeiians lived, we know what they worshiped, we know their myths and legends, and we see the faces of their people. 

Art left behind not only told the story of Pompeii, it told the story of Rome, of Florence, and of life throughout Italy. For me, this reinforces the importance of what we do for those of us who create art in various forms.

Though I’ve traveled the world, this trip had a profound impact on me. In a way, it put me in my place, taking away my smugness about how good we are at things today as it was so clearly demonstrated that life was rich with experiences, art, and quality of life thousands of years ago. It truly is ashes to ashes, but the art remains to tell future generations about the world.

The stories of life, of wars, of famine, of successes and riches, of political rulers and failures, demonstrate that life is an endless cycle that will go on well past each of us. A reminder that life needs to be lived, and experienced richly, and not a moment wasted. And a reminder that we need to embrace those things that will tell the future world what our world was like. Our writings, our art, our architecture, and our stories — a contribution each of us can offer.

Looking over thousands of years of history, we see the evidence that we are each a brief blip, yet what we choose to do with that blip can have an impact for thousands of years, just as many of the things we saw were carried forward for us all to enjoy today. Those who produced the best stood head and shoulders above others, making a statement that striving to be the best holds great value. Whether it is the works of Bernini, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, or those who created the treasures of Pompeii, art lives on.

One of the guests on the trip said that part of the key to life is “to finish well.” Those who devoted their lives to their craft, striving to be better, finished well, as evidenced by millions of tourists who come to see their works in person.

A trip like this offers a fresh perspective on the world, in a land out of our comfort zone, looking at life today and life in the past. It’s made me rethink my own purpose, my own art, and what each of us might do to leave something behind that could be recovered from the ashes to astonish others.

Comfort may be cozy, but our minds can do more when they encounter discomfort, and examples of brilliance made by mere mortals of the past. Having the world may not be possible, but seeking discomfort in our own world will make us all stronger, better, and maybe a tad bit more interesting. 

How can you get out of your comfort zone? It may be as simple as a visit to a gallery or an art exhibition or a museum you’ve not visited before, or learning a language, or finding a book outside what you’d normally read. While most seek comfort and security, it’s the discomfort that fosters growth and an invigorating life.

Eric

PS: Thank you for a much-needed break. I asked my team to deliver some past writings during my absence so I could take time away, disconnected from the news, from social media, and from e-mail and work. Disconnecting was a gift. No election news, no Facebook rants, no stress of work, just a week of living in a fantasy world of art, history, and amazing beauty.

The week before Italy I left my comfort zone and painted in the snow in the Banff and Lake Louise area of Canada, and hosted 74 painters who did the same. We had a blast. Most of us had never painted in the snow — we hadn’t planned to, but we ran into a 100-year early storm. It made it better, made it more fun, brought us all closer, and took us out of our comfort zone. I feared snow, and now I am a snow painter, as are all who came with me. You can see the story here.

Tomorrow I venture out to Miami to host our Figurative Art Convention & Expo. We have a few hundred people coming, and it’s going to be amazing to see the world’s top figurative and portrait artists teaching in one place. Perhaps you’ll attend, to get out of your comfort zone. Then the following week, we have our big annual Radio Forecast conference at the Harvard Club in New York. 

Let me leave you with this. I cannot remember when our world has ever been more polarized. I’ve never seen friends have such division over political discourse. 

I never talk politics. My views are my own and not ever shared with anyone. I keep more friends that way. And I’m careful not to judge others because they have a different view than mine.

You have the privilege of voting, and it’s something we should all honor with our presence. I’d like to believe that every vote matters, and I’d like to encourage you to vote. 

Art From the Ashes 2018-11-03T11:17:01+00:00
7 10, 2018

Conquer Your Unrealized Dreams

2018-10-05T10:46:06+00:00

My body was shivering uncontrollably as I stepped out at the Calgary airport last Thursday, coming from 80-degree Austin heat to 30 degrees and an unexpected winter storm.

I’m not a winter person. When I was a kid growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I recall winters with giant snow drifts that towered over our front door on the old farm out on Illinois Road. I loved making snow angels and snow forts, and heaving giant snowballs at friends and at passing cars.

Why I Developed an “Attitude” About Snow

But once I was driving age, I realized snow and ice had a downside — after getting stranded on the sides of roads, being stuck in snow drifts, and sitting in freezing weather waiting for rescue. Coming out to a dead battery on mornings I was headed to school or work was another frequent occurrence.

Looking back, I realize I developed a story about snow. I decided I did not love it and remember telling my parents that I didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to live in a climate with snow. My internal story about snow was so negative that I worked hard to get an early graduation from high school, set my eyes on a climate where I could wear shorts year round, and soon moved to Florida for my first real radio job at a new station called Y100, which we put on the air on August 3, 1973.

I Wanna Wear Shorts Every Day

When possible I strive to live in places I can wear shorts 90 percent of the time, though opportunity was often more powerful than my dislike of snow and I lived in places like Salt Lake City, where we owned our first radio stations. Learning to ski and enjoy the snow helped change my internal story. So now my story is that I’ll tolerate snow for the sake of skiing.

Here, this morning, I awaken in one of the most magnificent places on earth. The morning is cold, the fireplace is warming the room, and as I peek out the frost-covered window, the scene is like a postcard from the Canadian Tourism Bureau. Snow is weighing down the branches of giant pines, and in the distance I see a huge valley below and massive mountains towering above us, more spectacular than our own El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

It’s Time to Change My Internal Story

Here in Kananaskis Provincial Park in Canada, about 40 minutes outside of Calgary, I’m changing my internal story again, standing still outside with flakes falling heavily on my canvas as I paint plein air in some of God’s most spectacular scenery. Though I cannot do it justice, it’s sure fun trying. And I found that if I changed my attitude about snow, romanticizing that I’m following the path of artists like Hibbard and Redfield, who are known for their snow paintings, I can feel honored to take my best shot in reverence for the freezing temperatures they endured.

New Friends and Great Times

I’m here with about 80 of my closest friends. Though many of us were not close before Friday, we are rapidly getting acquainted, bonding, and having a ball, in spite of the fact that we are here for Fall Color Week to paint the orange aspens and the amazing mountain lakes surrounding Banff, Lake Louise, and Kananaskis in the Canadian Rockies. For those who are not painters, you would think that snow is white … but it’s filled with colors in the shadows and reflections of the sun and the surroundings.

Let Your Hair Down

A few minutes from now, I’ll meet my family of painters for breakfast, make my announcements for the morning, and then we’ll pack our sack lunches and head out to endure the snow for the sake of the opportunity to paint, and we’ll do that till next Friday. Tonight we’ll gather for dinner, probably sit around the fireplace and sip hot chocolate, and some will sit in the outdoor hot tub sipping glasses of warmed wine. We’ll paint portraits, and Rick Wilson will play his guitar and we’ll sing along. It’s a “let your hair down” moment of fun in an otherwise busy life for all of us.

It Was Spectacular

I have to admit, I love my life. My goal is that before my final breath, when I’m asked one last question about how my life was, I will be able to say, “It was spectacular.” And though I’m in no hurry to reach that moment, I know that “spectacular” does not come by accident. It comes by planning your life and making a point to create memories.

Another Goal Met

Last weekend I would have been returning from our paint trip to Africa, which I had to miss due to a temporary illness. But because I was in town, I grabbed the opportunity to take a four-day class on business and marketing, which I’ve been unable to do for the last couple of years due to my schedule. Though it was ridiculously expensive, it was the best money I think I ever spent. My dad always says an education is a bargain at any price. Learning empowers me, and I never want to stop.

Smart people learn from their mistakes. Brilliant people learn from other people’s mistakes. That’s why I invest in constantly learning from others. It’s why I attend workshops, it’s why I watch art training videos, it’s why I listen to podcasts. Because I hope to someday be brilliant.

The Great Lie

People think practice makes perfect. It’s a lie. Practice makes permanence. If an Olympic hopeful practices what she or he is doing wrong, it will hold them back. If you use the same bad golf swing for 20 years, it won’t get better, it will just become permanent.

Stuck in Business Mud

I spent 20 years practicing in my business, but I was not getting results because I was repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over. I had resourced my limited experience again and again until it became permanent. I did not see it or know it was happening until I hit a 20-year milestone in my business and realized I had not come anywhere close to the financial and other goals I had envisioned two decades before.

It was not until I decided to get out of my comfort zone to attend things I was uncomfortable attending, to learn about new things, that I started to solve my problems. It changed everything. And the minute I stop doing that, I’ll go back to my old ways. That is why I try to attend four or more learning events a year, and why I join mastermind groups to be around smarter people than me. It’s why I try, when I can, to pay for some of my team members to attend learning events. Sometimes I insist, though they tell me it won’t give them any value, and usually they come back wide-eyed about all the things they learned.

Simply put, we don’t know what we don’t know. My friend author Chris Lytle calls it “unconscious incompetence.”

Keith Cunningham says, “The key to mastering the art of living starts with defining your vision of excellence.” In other words, define what spectacular is for you. (Keith is author of The Road Less Stupid.)

Why Goals Fail

In my new book I talk a lot about defining your life and your goals (which goes hand-in-hand with art marketing but applies to us all). But goals alone are not enough. Most of the people I know never achieve their goals, because a goal without an execution plan is simply folly. Goals have to be broken into milestones, and each of those milestones must be broken into steps and sub-steps, the critical drivers to accomplish those steps. Though I’m big on vision and manifesting what you want, manifesting requires commitment to the steps. Things don’t just float to you. Execution is required.

A Cabin in the Woods

I remember my cousin Jim, decades ago, telling me his goal was to have a cabin in the woods and saying that if he kept thinking about it, it would happen. Though there is truth in the vision part, the focusing on dreams part, you need a plan. So you take the goal and work backward. Start with the cabin, and define it in excruciating detail. Where is it? What is the square footage? What does it need to have in it? Going into exact detail not only helps you envision what you dream about, it helps you build a plan.

The Magic Is in Execution

When do I want it? Now? Five years from now, or 20 years from now? What is the cost of building that exact cabin 20 years from now? What is the cost of the land? How much are the taxes and the cost of maintenance? Now that I have that number, I back it out. If I need $50,000 within five years, then I know I need $10,000 a year … extra. Now how do I save the money? What will I need for a down payment, and how do I get the extra money I need to make the payments? With each step come several action items. To save $10,000 a year, I need to cut other expenses, or I need to get a job that pays X a week extra. And that money, after taxes, goes into a separate account that is never touched.

I think you get the point. Start with the goal, define it in detail, then back out all the steps, the sub-steps, and the things that must happen in order to make your goal happen. That’s how goals actually get achieved.

Working on the Gap

A goal without a plan to execute is a goal that is unlikely to be realized. Understanding where you are and where you want to be helps you find the gap between those two points. What are the obstacles within that gap? We all need specific clarity about the problem to be solved, the specifics of the opportunity or obstacle, and the steps required to execute our strategy.

Mastering Snow

So this week, the gap for me is that I don’t know how to paint snow because I have never done it. I can get out there and try, or I can find someone in the group who knows how to paint snow to speed my progress. And I need to break it into the steps I need to learn, in order to fill the gap between where I am and where I want to be. And before I leave, I’ll study the great snow paintings of great snow masters. If there had been a video or book on painting snow, I would have bought it.

I’m definitely out of my comfort zone, and because of that, I’ll learn new things and make great progress.

What about you? What is the gap between where you want to be and where you are? What are the obstacles? What are the specific steps required to get past them? Who is the best person with experience that you can learn from? What are the steps and sub-steps? What happens if you don’t do it? What is the question you’re not asking but should be? What don’t you see that you should see? (Cunningham says, “It’s what you don’t see that kills you.”)

Surprisingly, the answers are in the questions you ask. You have to give thinking time to your questions.

Have a great day, and wish us all luck painting snow! And hopefully we’ll get some warmer weather and some of that fall color we hoped for.

Eric Rhoads

PS: I’ll leave Canada next Friday, be home for a few hours, then board a flight to Italy for our annual art trip, seeing the art world in Italy behind the scenes as Fine Art Connoisseur Editor Peter Trippi and I lead about 50 collectors, art lovers, and artists on our Italian Art Trip.

Upon returning, I’ll be with about 350 people who are willing to put themselves out of their comfort zone to study under the best figure and portrait painters in the world at our Figurative Art Convention & Expo (FACE) in Miami. This was a 20-year dream that I turned into a goal, breaking it into steps for what had to happen and what obstacles I had to overcome (everyone said it would be impossible to get that many of the world’s best painters teaching at the same conference because it had never been done).Though it was not easy, and pretty much put my life savings and the health of my business at risk (which I don’t recommend, by the way), we will enter our second year of FACE. And when it’s done, we will decide if there will be a third year.

I remember in the 7th grade, getting scolded by a teacher who mocked me in front of a laughing class for drawing portraits of people when I was supposed to be listening. That moment discouraged me, yet it also made me determined to one day be able to draw and paint amazing portraits. It’s been a life goal, and though I’ve got a lot of progress yet to make, I could pinch myself because I’ll be able to sit and watch the world’s best, teaching how they do figure and portrait drawings and paintings. Though it took me 49 years to get to this point, some dreams never die. Keep in mind, I could not draw well but always wanted to. I have since learned that the majority of artists don’t have “talent,” they learned a skill that became their talent. If you’re telling yourself you can’t even draw a stick figure and that you can’t learn, it’s a lie. You can learn. If you would one day like to be able to draw or paint with great skill, make sure you take that first step, then introduce yourself to me at one of our conferences. I’ll high-five you for stepping out of your comfort zone and showing up to work on your unrealized dream.

 

Conquer Your Unrealized Dreams 2018-10-05T10:46:06+00:00
30 09, 2018

Embrace the Seasons

2018-09-25T13:37:39+00:00

Gray-blue is the color of the distant mountain, almost obscured by the light sage green scrub oaks at the edge of our country property on the outskirts of the Texas capital.

Baby raindrops lightly kiss the shiny tin roof above my head, making an ever-so-slight random pattern of sound, breaking the silence of this moist gray cloud-covered morning.

Packets of moisture shine on the dark green leaves of ivy that crawl like erratic, busy little ants in all directions on the rails of the deck.

Hints of red infiltrate the otherwise green leaves like old age creeps into our bodies, indicating fall is here, followed by the end of the season and the beginning of winter and a new year.

In Celebration of Fall

Fall is my most celebrated season, the biggest Thanksgiving feast for the eyes. It’s when our color shines the most, when we’ve graduated to a time when our wisdom is strong though our leaves may one day fall.

Vivid Contrast

The contrast of seasons is demonstrated in my own household, where the spring greens of youth dominate our home as three 16-year-olds awkwardly seek independence and want adulthood too soon, just as my generation wish they could keep their vast wisdom but take on the bright greens of spring once again.

Wanting to Be Older

The hairs barely visible on my chin and the hint of a mustache never got shaved when I was a youth wanting to look older, and now, in the fall season, my sags and wrinkles make me want to look younger. When we’re young, we want to let go of youth, and when we age, we want to return to it.

The Life of Trees

I can’t imagine the fall leaves, in their stunning beauty, looking back at spring and wishing they were green. Instead they shine brilliantly in celebration, and we humans drive long distances to marvel at their color. They don’t stop shining because of the fear that they will one day become brown and crisp, and will soon leave their branches to dissolve into the ground and enrich the soil. Instead they embrace their role, their season, their purpose, as part of a cycle that endlessly repeats.

Be the Tree

Focus not on the season or the season to follow. In youth, spend not your time wishing you were older. In old age, focus not on wishing you were young. Just be the tree … the seedling absorbing the nourishment of light and water and growing out of the soil, or the thin growing sapling, feeling tall and on your way to being a master, or the giant mighty oak crowning the top of a hill, confidently spreading twisted and gnarled branches that reach out like vast open arms to embrace the sun, providing a safe place for birds to nest, a place where young energetic squirrels playfully jump across the wide and secure branches. Acorns fall from your tree and soon peek out of the soil below, and the seed creates a forest.

Live the Questions

“Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves, like closed rooms and like books written in a very strange tongue. Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, one distant day live right into the answer.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

The Natural Flow

Joy is found in the discoveries and in the pursuit. The flow of water is too rapid and vast to overcome; let it flow over you like a rock in a raging river. Embrace each time, each season, each moment, whether you’re young wishing to be older, or old and wishing you were not suffering the aches of age.

The Purpose of Seasons

You were planted by elders before you. Your season — your tiny sprout peeking through the soil — was nourished by the fallen leaves before you, feeding your growth, your shiny green buds of spring leaves, your dark end-of-summer leaves, your coming fall leaves, your brilliant reds and yellows, your delicate brown, crunchy leaves, and even your escape from the tree as you float to the ground and into the soil. It is a season with a purpose.

You’ve been given the gift of life. Embrace it as it is.

Feel the Breeze

Your circumstances have been created for you for a reason. Change what needs to be changed, embrace what cannot be changed, but feel the breeze on your skin in every adventure, every moment. Like it or not, you’ve been given a purpose, and the questions you live will provide a clear direction.

Live it fully, embrace what is. Don’t ask why. The answer is in the season. Instead ask for guidance so you can make the best of the season you’ve been given.

 

Eric Rhoads

 

PS: We all provide gifts to one another, and sometimes we don’t know the great value of the gifts we’ve been given. Gifts of difficult trials, gifts of opportunity, gifts that don’t seem like gifts at the time. Recently when I was talking artist Joe Paquet into presenting at the coming Plein Air Convention this April in San Francisco, he gave me the gift of the Rilke book, which is a bouquet of words every artist should read. Only a few pages in, its impact is mind-boggling. Thank you, Joe.

This week I’m so excited I could jump up and down with glee as I check the box for another bucket list painting spot. On Friday we begin Fall Color Week in the Canadian Rockies, where we’ll paint the rich color of aging aspens, and the snow-capped mountain peaks in front of lakes filled with turquoise blue-green glacial waters. I feel blessed to be able to go for a week, and to welcome the new friends I’ll make and amazing artists I’ll discover. These events are a gift to me. A week of painting not only makes me a better painter because I’m painting two or three canvases a day, it enriches my soul to be in the beauty of God’s great creation, and it reduces my stress to lose myself in piles of paint. Though doing something for oneself seems selfish, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s not selfish at all because it enhances our mental health, improves our outlook, and makes us happier and able to be better at our other responsibilities. Still, my absence from the family is hard for me and for them. I want to thank my wife for her patience and understanding, encouragement, and the increased work she takes on. She is a true blessing to me and our family.

Embrace the Seasons 2018-09-25T13:37:39+00:00
23 09, 2018

The Need to Reconnect

2018-09-20T07:52:30+00:00

My hot cup of coffee feels good in my hands. I close my eyes and feel the first sip rapidly warming my body. It’s not something I think about normally, but I missed it, because I had taken a break during recent medical tests.

Moisture in the air on the back porch is so thick this morning it might as well be raining, as it has been for the past couple of weeks. Yet the sky is clear, the sun is bright, and it almost feels as though the rain may be over. Sometimes it’s nice to have a little hope from a bright sunny day, which somehow makes the rain more tolerable when it comes back. Little rays of hope are all it takes.

For me a little ray of hope is a day when I’m feeling normal again after a few weeks of not feeling great. I had a great night’s sleep, awoke with my normal energy, and feel like today is the day I’m supposed to conquer the world. Not that the world needs to be conquered.

A Bad Day

Though I’m having a good start to my day, there are others this morning who don’t want to roll out of bed to face what today may bring. This morning I’m thinking about the 30-year bride of my friend Sean, whom I mentioned after he had a stroke, six months ago. He passed away last week. Her days for the past six months have been about being brave for him, giving him a ray of hope, being at his side, dealing with doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, and trying to cope with the financial issues all of it brings. (His GoFundMe page is still up if you want to help her.) Now she has to deal with her grief, and perhaps feelings of guilt about a sense of relief that he is no longer suffering, and the fear of how she will survive without him. There is a line in the movie Unbroken saying that marriage is like two trees that grow side by side and get intertwined over the years. Those of us who are the other trees in the forests of their lives need to step in and do what we can to fill the unfillable void.

My Own Space

When my friend of 40 years passed, I went out to my little art studio back behind our old Texas ranch house, my equivalent of a man cave. Instead of a big screen TV and football memorabilia and beer signs, I’m surrounded by the things I love … paintings friends have sent me, paintings of places I’ve been around the world, and my art books. I sit in the old rocking chair — it belonged to my wife’s grandmother — and just rock and think. I was wondering how I should react to his death.

Though that seems like an odd question, I think we get to a point in our lives where we can control our reactions to some extent. I’m not talking about stuffing our emotions, but making good out of a bad situation.

Funerals Can Be Fun?

Though I think my friend would appreciate that his friends are saddened by his passing, knowing his gleeful personality, I think he’d rather I found something funny in it. You know, put the FUN back in FUNeral. He would be cutting up, making jokes, and being filled with life about his own passing because he was that kind of guy. And in it all, he would find some depth and meaning, some next steps. I simply don’t think he would want to see us wailing about him uncontrollably, which is why I shed some quiet tears to myself, and had a lot of smiles remembering where the tree branches of our lives intersected. How can I make the best of a bad situation?

I came to a few conclusions, the first being that I need to do more things with my family, my kids, so that they have memories. It’s too easy to let them sit reading their phones or playing video games, but those are not meaningful memories like a hike together, or something fun. And with college two years out, there is no time like the present to schedule memories.

Get My Own House in Order

Seeing what my friend went through because of a stroke was also a reminder to clean my own house. There is more I can do to lose weight, to get exercise daily, to control my diet, to manage my attitude and reduce my stress. My recent illness was not only a surprise, but a wakeup call that maybe I’m not a superhero after all, and maybe I’m just trying to do too much. It’s something I don’t want to admit, especially because I’ve had a vegan diet for the past 13 years and thought that would keep the wolves away.

The day before Sean died, I was having a discussion with my wife about whether I should get on an airplane to go see him, since it had been several months. She appropriately reminded me that though the thought was good, I just had my own health scare, and getting on an airplane and adding one extra trip might not be in my best interest. And as I was still pondering it, he passed away. The good that came out of that is realizing that I need more time with the friends I cherish, not just visiting them in hospitals, but having fun with them while they are filled with life. So I plan to do that, somehow, without adding more trips.

Same Time Next Year

Each year I hold a big radio conference at the Harvard Club in New York, and each year one of my closest friends, Jackson, flies into town. We room together at the National Arts Club, and we spend two or three days catching up over breakfast and dinner, sitting up late nights, laughing. We’ve done it for probably 10 years, and it’s a way to take advantage of a trip I’m doing anyway, to spend time with a friend. And it sure beats being in another hotel room alone at night.

Roomies

When I did my recent painting trip to Cuba, my old friend Mitch roomed with me, and it was like two schoolmates telling jokes till two in the morning, laughing a lot, and reconnecting. And in a couple of weeks I’ll be rooming with Rick Wilson, a painter from my home state of Indiana. I suspect we’ll sit up playing guitars till the wee hours. I cherish those moments and regret that I never did anything like that with Sean while he was full of life. Though we were both busy, there was no excuse. We could have found a way. So my plan is to do this with my best buddies in places I’m already going, whenever possible. Not adding extra days of travel, but making good use of the time I’m there.

What about you?

Who are you not reconnecting with that you need in your life?

What excuses are you making for not spending time with them?

What can you do to take advantage of something you’re doing anyway, where they can be woven into the fabric?

What needs to be done to make more memories with your kids, grandkids, parents, and friends?

What’s stopping you?

Moments like these force us to think about things that need to change in our own lives.

It also makes us realize what we need to do for ourselves. I always say that you have to give yourself oxygen before helping others, because without it, you can’t help others as well. What do you need for yourself that you keep thinking about doing, but you find all the reasons you can’t? What old stories are holding you back?

There is a mountain you must climb. It may be Everest. There will be a time you can no longer climb it and can only dream about what could have been. Don’t look back in regret. Focus on today because we don’t know what tomorrow brings. Don’t just exist, fight to create memories and live dreams. It’s worth fighting for.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: Last week I told you why I was unable to go to Africa. They are sending me photos and messages, which I’m reposting on my Facebook page. It’s a missed bucket list opportunity. I want to publicly thank everyone on that trip who was expecting me to be with them, and thank them for being so gracious and understanding. I don’t like to disappoint, and this is the first time I’ve been unable to attend one of my own trips.

 

The Need to Reconnect 2018-09-20T07:52:30+00:00
16 09, 2018

A Life-Changing One-Word Substitute

2018-09-14T08:12:44+00:00

Brilliant sunsets, scenes of the African bush, and experiences with elephants and lions should be part of my Sunday Coffee this morning, as I was due to leave from New York to meet up with my Publisher’s Invitational trip to South Africa.

A Childhood Dream

I was about to live a dream I’ve had since leafing through issues of National Geographic as a child, about to go on a game drive. (I just learned the word safari is no longer considered correct because it has connotations of a time of oppression and the killing of beautiful animals.) About to see animals in their natural habitat, not a zoo. I’d get to paint Africa and create painted jewels for my necklace of memories, and spend time with old and new friends who came along.

Packed and Ready

I spent months getting ready for Africa, studying which lenses I should get for my camera to capture distant game, what kinds of paint I should take along — knowing I might not get my normal solvent through the airlines — and what I should take to accommodate the weight restrictions on luggage. I spent my spare time last week picking up some adventure clothes, and packing my painting gear, clothes, and cameras.

A Last-Minute Change of Plans

I think I mentioned that I had not been feeling well the week before, and as a precaution, I scheduled a visit to my doctor to find out why. Knowing I had very little time, he got me in to see a specialist, who put me through a battery of tests to be done in time for my trip. When we met for the results, he told me he was not confident that I would feel better and he felt I needed even more tests, and he wanted to give me some meds that had to be monitored for a week or so to make sure I did not have a bad reaction.

Then, the words I feared. “I’m afraid, Eric, I’m going to recommend you not go to Africa and that you spend the next couple of weeks getting better so you can go on the rest of your trips.”

(I’ll be going to our Fall Color Week in the Canadian Rockies, Banff, and Lake Louise, and then to Rome and Florence for our Italian Art Trip, then our FACE convention, and then our Radio Forecast conference.)

A Week of Crashing

In the midst of getting packed, having two kids home sick with a virus, and having a deal I had been working on for three years suddenly fall apart, plus trying to get our new soundstage video studio fully decorated and operational before leaving (including getting a floor laid), plus my normal workload and trying to get things done so I could be gone, and then the doctor putting an end to my going on the trip, I was stressed, disappointed, and feeling pretty blue.

Why is this happening to me?

Because I was not feeling well, because I was not sleeping well, because a major deal had fallen through, and because I had to cancel going on my trip, my first reaction was “Why is this happening TO me?” Though it’s unlike me to be negative, it’s easy to get that way when you’re not feeling well.

Once I got some rest and was feeling better, I realized that something wasn’t happening to me, it was happening for me.

What We Want May Not Be Right

Think about this for a second. People always say things like, “If God loves me, why would he let this happen to me?” Yet how many times in our lives has our not getting the things we hoped for ended up leading us to better things? Just because we think something will be good for us does not mean it will be.

I’ve come to realize that I need to be more trusting that all things are being done for me — even the things that don’t go my way, even the things that happen that I don’t understand.

I’ve also learned to pay attention when doors close and stop trying to force them back open.

And sometimes doors keep getting opened that I ignore, and I need to be trusting and go through them.

No, Not One More Thing

For instance, this week, in the midst of all this chaos, I kept seeing a peek of light through a door that has kept opening for me for years. I had resisted it, not because it was not inviting, but because I kept telling myself an old story and had a thousand reasons I should not pursue it. When I stopped to think about it while all this other stuff was going on, I realized it was something I wanted, that I needed, and that I was resisting because of fear and because of being worried about what others would think. I was also so busy, so stressed, that I almost walked away from it because I could not handle one more thing.

A Different View

When you trust that doors will open and close FOR you, when you trust that things happen FOR you and not TO you, it opens your eyes to a different way of looking at life. So I held my breath, held my nose, and jumped through this open door that was about to close forever. And I trust that it was the right thing, and that if it is not, the door will eventually close.

Changing one little word, from TO to FOR, impacts the way we process everything. Suddenly you’re not the victim, you’re the beneficiary.

Remarkably, you see the world differently.

  • What am I supposed to learn?
  • Why do I have to go through this?
  • Why do I or others have to suffer?
  • What am I supposed to see that I’m not seeing?
  • Am I being self-centered instead of selfless?

Though I know what I want, what I want isn’t as important as the grand plan for my life.

The Gift of DNA

Like it or not, the DNA you were given at the moment of conception is the same DNA that determines how your body responds over time. Some believe that same DNA carries a divine plan for your life. If that is true, shouldn’t we embrace it rather than fight it?

A Talk with My Girlfriend’s Dad

When I was about 17, I was dating a girl who I thought at the time was the love of my life. I dated her on and off till I was about 20. With the girl came a great family, who I adored, and one day her dad sat down with me for a talk. He said, “I’ve noticed something about you — would it be OK if I pointed it out? You’re an amazing young man, you’re bright, you’re intelligent, you’ve got lots of ideas, and you’ve got a promising future. But my daughter has told me you’ve become very negative. You’ve got to manage your self-talk. You’ve got to look at life as the glass half-full, not half-empty. And if you don’t turn this negativity around, your life isn’t going to go well. You’re going to look for problems, you’re going to hurt your success, you’re going to hurt your health, and you’re going to die young and unhappy.”

Wow. Did he just say that?

He went on to coach me about how to change my mindset.

Nothing New

Now, it was nothing I had not heard before. In fact, my own father had coached us on this very thing repeatedly, but because my girlfriend’s dad had seen it and wanted to point it out, he changed my life — because I was not even aware I was doing it. My self-image was that I was a positive person, but my actions didn’t reflect that. His talk made such an impact in my life, I dedicated my first book to him.

Manifesting Action

About a year ago my wife attended an event called Date with Destiny, put on by Tony Robbins. During the event he gave several days of training about how to get your life together, how to think, and how to manifest things in your life. Though she went through the process, I’m not sure she believed any of it. Yet yesterday she said to me, “I don’t know if you know this or not, but I’ve been manifesting my goals every day by seeing myself in them. Do you know that every single goal I set for myself has come true this year?”

Being Negative About Being Positive

Negative people say that positive thinking doesn’t work, that it’s all nonsense. They will come up with excuses for why good things happen to others, things like “they had advantages” or “their family had money” or “they had a better education.” I know people who had every advantage in the world who had crummy lives, and I know people who had no advantages, who had horrific upbringings and experiences, who are living amazing lives.

Magic Mindsets

Mindset is everything. I’ve seen it manifested in my life, and when it gets out of tune, I see bad things happen. It is why I have to constantly remind myself, check myself, and get away from negativity. It is why we need sleep, we need something to distract us from our stress, we need laughter and fun, and time away, and whatever else recharges our batteries, because sometimes we have to go for long stretches of time dealing with difficult things.

Today, I’d like you to consider how you’re processing this message. What are you finding wrong with it? Why?

I’d also like you to consider the times in your life when closed doors resulted in good things.

And what would happen, if just this week, for one week, you looked at what was happening FOR you instead of TO you?

A Big Negative Snowball

Last week things were happening TO me. I was not feeling well, things I’d been working on were falling apart, I was grumpy, I was making others around me unhappy, I felt as though everything was crashing down on me, and I was not able to go on my own trip to Africa. It was very out of character for me, but things started to snowball. Yet the minute I caught myself, I embraced the closed doors and realized it was all FOR me. As my attitude changed, the negatives became positive.

Self-Correction

I don’t know if this is a vibe I was putting out, a change in the universe, or God getting my attention, or what, but the moment I changed my attitude back, even though a lot of things were crashing down, everything corrected itself. And some of the biggest and best things I have been working on for years, months, or weeks suddenly came together, when three days earlier it had been clear they were all not going to happen.

Attention Needed, Please

I also realized one other thing. I spend more time in prayer when things are not going well, and I need to spend more time in prayer when things are going well. It’s almost as though God is saying, “I’ll do what it takes to get his attention and get him into prayer.” By the way, all my prayers were answered. All prayers are always answered. Though it may not be the answer I want, they are all answered, and I have to trust more that I can’t always see things clearly and what I want today may not be what I need today.

I hope you have a great week, and I hope you’ll consider FOR instead of TO.

Eric

 

PS: This past week we remembered the anniversary of 9/11. I was due to be in the South Tower on the morning of September 11. My RadioCentral team was on a fundraising tour, and we were to meet at the towers at 8:30 for breakfast, then wait in the lobby of the SEC while one of our members, Mark, had a meeting there. Then we were going across the street to meet with the Wall Street Journal people who were going to invest. Then that night, we had a flight to Minneapolis to meet with Ginny Morris of Hubbard Broadcasting the following morning. But at the last minute on the Friday before we left, Ginny called and asked to reschedule the meeting for a week later. We would either have to do two trips or cancel the one trip and reschedule everything for a week later. We decided to reschedule and not go to New York.

The man Mark was meeting with died that fateful morning, and we would have been in the waiting room of his office at that time.

I have to admit I was miffed when Ginny called, because I was eager to meet with her and because we had to change our plans. Yet that call to reschedule saved my life and the lives of five of my team members. This is a great example of something that happened for me when I was thinking it happened to me. Since then I’ve learned to accept closed doors.

Though I was pretty frustrated that I could not attend my own trip to Africa, my tests revealed the need to be on some meds, and who knows what would have happened if I’d gotten ill in the middle of nowhere? I have to assume this happened for me. And the good news is I’ll be feeling 1000 percent by my upcoming trip to Banff and Lake Louise and won’t have to disappoint the people going on that trip. I’m so grateful I’ve been placed in a role that allows me to help people live their dreams with trips like that one. If painting in exotic places sounds fun, we probably have a couple of seats left for the Canada trip, and if you love art but don’t paint (or do), there are two seats left for the Italy trip.

A Life-Changing One-Word Substitute 2018-09-14T08:12:44+00:00
9 09, 2018

A Tale of Two Mindsets

2018-09-06T08:05:06+00:00

Quiet things seem loud in the early morning as everyone sleeps. The creaking of the door as it opens, the slam of the screen door as it closes. Yet I make my way to my special spot in the corner of the old porch on the back of my Texas ranch house.

My neighbors’ cows are scratching their backs on the fence this morning, their tan and brown coats shimmering from the early sun and their long horns catching the light.

The heat is more intense than a sauna, which I suppose is good training for my upcoming trip to Africa. But it will be spring there, so it may not be this hot.

About last week: When Sunday Coffee failed to appear in your mailbox, some of you wrote, wondering where it was. First, all is well, nothing is wrong. I just needed a break. I had flown to Florida and spent the entire week in the long meetings where we plan our year, work on our budgets, and try to dream up new ways to help people discover and live their dreams.

When I travel, I try to make the most of each day so I don’t sit idle in my hotel room (have no fear, I always have paints if I need them). So one night I had a meeting I needed to do in person, one night I visited my 92-year-old mom and my brother, and one night I met with two dear old friends.

Mom’s Cooking

Mom’s dinner was the highlight for a couple of reasons, the first being I just don’t get to see her enough and it’s a red letter day when I do. I am so pleased she is able to live on her own, in her own home. Though I offered to take her and my brother to dinner, she insisted on making it. There is no cooking like Mom’s cooking, and it’s a chance to eat old comfort foods I rarely eat anymore, and a chance to catch up. I thought she was doing great. And it was the first time in years I’ve been with my mom around my birthday, so this was even more special, since it was on the eve of that event.

A Working Birthday

The next morning, on my birthday, my team, which I am so honored and proud to have, had balloons and vegan cupcakes waiting. Of course they then treated me to another day of meetings, and then I drove a couple of hours to a distant airport, boarded a flight, and arrived home about 11 that night.

Forgiveness, Please

I have to admit that hardly anything ever takes the wind out of my sails, but during the week I had not slept well, had picked up a touch of a stomach virus, and I arrived home feeling exhausted — and I awoke exhausted the next day, when I had a schedule full of appointments, and a list of important chores and family things to get done for the weekend. And so on Sunday morning, when I normally awaken early for the quiet and to write, I slept and slept, waking late, just in time to rush to get to church. So please forgive me for missing a Sunday.

From all of this, I picked up a few lessons, one of which is that you can power through something if you need to, no matter how bad you feel. Though I would not say my knife was the sharpest in the drawer during the last couple of days of meetings, when you get involved, you tend to forget about not feeling well.

Second, nothing new: If you don’t sleep well, everything gets out of whack fast. Though we all try hard, sometimes we can’t control what is spinning in our minds or causing us not to sleep.

Grumpy and Out of Character

Third, attitude is everything. It holds us together. I noticed the worse I felt, the worse my attitude became, and I got grumpy and even had a brief moment of poor judgment and lashed out at my team during a meeting over something minor. I later apologized, but I know that you can put a lot of chips in an emotional bank account, and one moment of negativity can wipe out your account with others.

I try to be a great boss (I hate that word) and treat my team with respect, but when a leader fails to lead and becomes a dictator, a team suddenly stops being a team and instead becomes a bunch of people in a job they want to leave. I try to avoid going there, ever. But I’m human, though I should have taken a deep breath instead and not said a word.

An Abusive Boss

I suppose if there was a silver lining to acting that way, is that it got attention because it was so unusual from me. I’ve worked in the past for bosses who yelled all the time, scolded all the time, and after a while it all blends together. It doesn’t stand out as anything different, so their message gets ignored. I once worked for an abusive boss who also threw things — which is how you knew he was really mad. The yelling was so normal that you just assumed he was an unhappy guy whose only way of dealing with things was yelling. Eventually his wife left him because he physically abused her. Sad.

A Reunion of Old Friends

After my first day of meetings, I had the pleasure of meeting with two men I’ve known for probably 30 or more years. One used to work for me, and we’ve remained good friends since he left to start his own business. The other, who used to be a competitor, is someone I always liked. I see the one on occasion at radio industry events, and the other I have not seen in 20 years, so it was a special but alarming treat. Both men are exactly the same age, 71.

A Physical Change

Though I had seen photos on Facebook, when I arrived I was shocked to see one old friend as an old man. When I last saw him, he was vibrant and full of life. Sadly, he looked like death warmed over. He was moving slowly, he kept forgetting things mid-sentence, and though his old personality shone through, his language was defeatist and negative. He had been in the hospital two weeks before, in a coma for two days, almost died, and was talking as if these were his final days. Though we had a great time talking about old times, I was sad and disturbed to see my friend deteriorating.

The Polar Opposite

When the other friend arrived, he was exactly as I remembered him from 20 years before. He had a sparkle in his eye, a big smile on his face, and a spring in his step. He was upbeat, fun to be around, and looked 50 — he was all positive. He talked about all the things he was doing, all the people he was seeing, about some of the projects he was doing to bring in income, and what he was thinking of doing next.

Keep in mind that both of these men used to be the most fun, upbeat, happy-to-be-around people, always filled with jokes, laughter, and with the momentum of a freight train. People wanted to be around them, which is why both had such successful careers.

Yet at this dinner, one was beaten down and running out of life, while the other was upbeat and full of life.

Why Were These Men So Different?

One of the reasons I could not sleep that night is because I was so disturbed by my time with them. Why is it that one was thriving and the other was dying? The thought of losing an old friend was daunting. What could I do to help? What was the difference between the two, who had started out the same, yet one ended up beaten and bruised.

It’s Not About What Happens

It first crossed my mind that life had just beaten one of them down. His business had failed 15 years ago because the market changed, his wife had left him, and his grown child had ended up doing drugs and has spent a life in and out of rehab. This man had served his country in Vietnam, was dealing with PTSD issues that came up later in life, and was on lifetime disability, meaning he could not get a job and make money without losing the security of those benefits.

But as I started thinking about it, the other had also been beaten down. He lost his wife, the love of his life, just two years ago, and he lost his first wife 17 years before. Yet today he is upbeat, vibrant, and even dating a younger woman.

So why the difference?

First, I have to say we cannot always control our health or the things that happen to us. But we can control how we accept or perceive them, and we can take actions toward prevention with diet, attitude, and exercise.

Deep Emotional Dive

But over the years I could see the one friend fall into a deep emotional dive. He just never recovered after his wife left him. He was continually frustrated and beaten down with the problems with his child, and when his business died, he just decided to stop and live the rest of his life on his savings. When he received government disability and an inheritance, he could survive the rest of his life without work.

My perception is that he had no mission in life. He had a lot of time, but was not using it for a bigger purpose. Which may be what contributed to his downward spiral.

I’m not here to judge anyone. I don’t have that right, and we don’t know what someone has gone through until we have walked in their shoes. Nor do I know how I would react if I lost the love of my life and my kids turned to drugs. All I can do is love him, and if he asks, offer my thoughts or opinions.

My Advice, If Asked, Would Be…

If he did ask, I’d probably suggest that being alone with your thoughts all day isn’t a great idea, and that he needs to find a bigger purpose, perhaps volunteer work for some cause, to use the great skills he developed over his life. I’d also recommend something that gets him around people, where he can feel he is contributing to help others, and maybe even a hobby (can you guess which one I would recommend?) where he can do something that challenges him, and be in nature and around other people. Being in a cave is the worst thing you can do when you’re down and depressed.

Be On Guard

I can tell that when I’m not feeling well, my mind starts to go into a downward spiral, and it would be a lot easier to stay in bed. Yet I know if I don’t pull myself up, force myself into getting out there no matter what, I could easily slip into a funk that would get worse with each passing day. I know that when I skip yoga or going to the gym or even talking a walk, my brain stops functioning normally. I don’t feel as good, my outlook isn’t as good, and I start allowing negatives to creep into my life. If I’m not social, and if I have no mission or purpose, things worsen. If you wonder why I stay so busy, it’s because it keeps me healthy, happy, and engaged. We have to be on guard constantly so we don’t get pulled down.

What Is Your Story?

I’ve talked in the past about the stories we tell ourselves, and that sometimes we have to let go of a story and create a new story so the old story no longer controls us. You and I, and everyone we know, has a story, and has had some horrible things happen in their lives. Some absorb it and spiral down, while others get tired of repeating their old story and allowing it to hold them back.

Why Drive Matters

I turned 64 this week. Yet I still feel like I’m 15. I have more ideas than I can execute, and I’m committed to working and not retiring. In fact, I’ll be announcing a major project that will be the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my entire career, which should keep me busy for decades to come. I’m involved and engaged in the radio and art communities, where I love the people. I travel about 30-plus weeks a year and I’m always out doing something, whether it’s leading a paint group to Africa, which will happen next week, leading a paint group to Canada in early October (join us), leading a group of art collectors and artists on a behind-the-scenes art tour in Italy later in October, leading a convention of figurative artists in November, and meeting the leaders of the radio industry in an event the following week at the Harvard Club in New York.

The Battle in Your Brain

I’m not saying any of this to say, “Hey, look at me.” That’s not really in my DNA anymore, to be insecure and brag. I’m saying it because age is a battle with your mind. We’ve all been so conditioned that 65 is where we hang it up to relax and enjoy life that it’s a signal to some that the work life is over and the fun is just beginning. Yet I’ve always operated on the idea that it had all better be fun because you never know if you’ll even make it to 65. Sadly, I’ve had lots of friends along the way who passed far too young. What matters is that their lives were rich and full and fun during the time they had.

Watch Your Words

I’ve talked about this before, but seeing evidence in a side-by-side comparison has really made me take notice. Though some are blessed with good health and good genes, it’s the mindset that contributes to the outcome, and there are studies to support that. Therefore I’m constantly pushing things out of my head, telling myself it’s not like me to think that. And my prayers are often about pushing things out of my head that should not be there. I intentionally never refer to getting old, because I don’t believe I am. Yet I have friends who started saying they were getting old at 45 — and ended up dying young. Coincidence? Hard to really know. But words matter, and there are certain things I never say to myself, like “I’m getting old,” “I’m dying,” “This is killing me.”

So what about you?

It doesn’t matter your age. What stories are you telling yourself that give a message to your subconscious mind? The longer I live, the more I see evidence that the subconscious mind is responding to the messages we implant there.

Are the repetitive thoughts and stories you tell yourself hurting you or telling your body to shut down? Though some will read this, laugh, and say it’s utter nonsense, it’s what I believe to be true.

What, At My Age?

Recently when I was approached about this major project (sorry, you’ll need to wait a year to find out), the first thought that came to mind was, “Should I be starting something like this at my age?” As I caught myself, I pushed it out of my head and told myself, “Of course I should. I’ve never been more ready, my mind has never been sharper, and it’s the perfect time.”

Our brain’s subconscious mechanisms default to negatives to protect us. Our conscious mind is the only thing that can overcome these negative defaults.

You Choose What Wins

Will and attitude win. I’ve watched it over decades of my young life. You and I have a choice, no matter what our circumstances. If you choose life, choose to make the best of your current circumstances, no matter how dire they may seem. Choose to be an example of how to live, or even how to die.

You may find fault in this idea, and I honor you and your thoughts. This works for me. And one day someone may say, “It didn’t work for him after all.” But I’m not going to live a story that the government decides for me because they think 65 is when I should stop. You and I should not live the stories others set for us. We should live the stories we set for ourselves.

Don’t Accept Bad Advice

The choice is life or death, living or dying, thriving or existing, active or inactive. We don’t have to accept our circumstances; we can try like mad to change them. A year ago I was in agony, in so much pain I could barely stand. My doctor told me I needed to live with it and accept it. I went to a different doctor. I worked hard for a year experimenting with different solutions, and I’ve been pain-free for the past three or four months. Churchill said, “Never, ever, ever give up.” I say never, ever believe something just because someone else believes it.

Not Giving Power to the Wrong Thoughts

Today is a good day to have a chat with yourself about what you believe and how you want to change your story. I can tell you that if you repeat your new story enough, your old story will fade. Don’t give it power over you. You get to choose how you perceive your situation. You get to choose how you can change it or what you believe about it. You deserve the best. You still have time to change the world, to make an impact or impression on others, and to make the remaining days or years the best they can be. It lies within you. Wake it up.

 

Eric Rhoads

PS: You can interact with coffee in the comments section of CoffeeWithEric.com (just scroll to the end of any post and join the conversation). That’s also where you can point others to sign up (or you can of course forward these to them). I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you place them there, others can see them too. Or you can respond privately. I try to respond to every single e-mail.

A Tale of Two Mindsets 2018-09-06T08:05:06+00:00
26 08, 2018

Nature Calling

2018-08-24T14:35:19+00:00

Trading cool lake breezes on the dock in my favorite red Adirondack chair for Texas heat in my wicker chair on the house-length back porch of the old Rhoads Texas ranch house is a signal that summer for our family has ended. It was hard to leave the Adirondack lakes because I never want summer to end, yet it’s always nice to be in the cuddle of our home here in Austin.  Plus, if I had summer all the time, I’d never appreciate it like I do.

This morning the heat is intense, and the natural grasses in our little slice of heaven are parched, begging for water, and looking a little shriveled up. Yet the scrub oaks offer rich sage greens and the deep green cedars seem to thrive in the dry climate and oven-like heat, which will last through mid-October. This spot, in spite of the arid climate, offers its own form of beauty — a place I’m grateful to call home.

Though dead silent this morning as everyone catches up on lost sleep, our house has been a flurry of activity as the kids return home to their friends, who have all been visiting to tell their stories of summer. Boxes have to be opened and suitcases of clothes never used have to be unpacked to restore order to our routines.

Summer was a time to slow down, and soon my life of intense business travel begins.

Golden Silence

Slowing down isn’t something I ever considered very important because I tend to be a high-speed, “on to the next task” kind of guy. I walk fast, I work fast, and I’m highly productive because life has so many things that need to get done.

Rushing Through My Art

When photography was my hobby, I’d rush to great locations, take a quick shot, then move on to the next potential photo. But painting helped me see the value of slowing down, enjoying a spot, and becoming a part of nature. Slowing down and painting is just what my soul needed. In fact, my friend the great Russian painter Nikolai Dubovik taught me that he, and many others in his country, use painting as an act of meditation and prayer. I find that when I paint, I’m having a continual dialogue with God. I find myself in a meditative state, lost in the rich greens, the crashing ocean waves, or the distant mountains. It simply doesn’t get much better.

One of my dear readers in England, Kate Edge, wrote me this week to say this:

“By far the hardest thing to be today is to be at peace, to be centered in the place of stillness where the Spirit of God resides as it clearly does in Creation. The miraculous sunset which you witnessed is without limit, it is just simply a total flow of joyfulness in the creation of colour which all of us register with our retinas too.”

She goes on to write,

“Painting is a response to the pure beauty we are blessed to witness and which we honour by the desire to wish to capture, which is also the desire to remember that moment when we were present in mind with the eternal. When you let go of all techniques and must try to do this or that, there is another, deeper painter within which does not have an agenda. It flows its wisdom over the canvas, and if it is given the space before the busy mind engages what it wants to do in the extraction process from nature, into a rectangle, someone else flows through the heart and mind, and it registers a different feel altogether in the brush, and the result.

“When Turner exhibited the painting The Fighting Temeraire at the Royal Academy in 1839, it created an enormous response from the public. But the history of the painting included his seeing the ship being tugged just outside Margate behind a blazing sunset, and given his tremendous memory and note-taking, the emotion it evoked in him remained. He would never part with the painting despite numerous offers, and he came to refer to it as his ‘Darling.’

“The point of this is, I am sure, Eric, you have paintings that you have really loved to paint and you would be reluctant to part with. The evolving process of painting is being compassionate towards our attempts to realize that love, and when we do make progress, it also signals  an inner change in us.

“It’s good to compare our efforts with others, see masterworks, but it is more important to quietly recognize how we see nature and communicate that experience. All of us have perfection in our DNA, and one of the great ways to get in touch with that is to sit quietly with Nature and allow ourselves to truthfully respond, and accept the response too!!!! But know that in our re-creations we are on an unfolding path of happiness, as you say, which links us firmly with the Creator.”

It’s About Us

Kate opened my eyes in new ways with this lovely note, but it isn’t about me, it’s about us. You and me, and those you love. What would happen if we all spent more time in touch with nature?

My morning walk in the deep woods, down the dirt path to the lake where we have spent our summers for decades, is something I look forward to each morning, and something I miss when I’m not there. It’s time in nature, time with the Creator, and it impacts my response to everything throughout the day.

Touching Base with Creation

This reflects the reason I’m so insistent on finding ways to reach millions of people and help them discover painting. Though I know painting will give them rich challenges, wonderful experiences, and a creative outlet, it’s being outdoors, losing yourself, and touching base with Creation that makes the experience so important.

Remarkably, it’s rare to meet an outdoor painter who is angry, unhappy, or carrying an ego the size of Texas, and I think it’s because they are in nature, still, looking at one spot, and taking it in. It’s the stillness that makes this special and gives them peace.

It’s also why we are teaching veterans how to paint, and why I’ve enlisted thousands of painters across the U.S. to go to schools, play my documentary on plein air painting, and invite others to learn to paint. It’s why I have free lessons online, because I believe painting outdoors opens hearts and calms us inwardly. And I’m hearing from people all over the world who have tried it and found this same peace.

Though this little weekly missive started out reaching just painters, the 100,000-plus readers now come from all walks of life. If you’re one of them, please know this message isn’t about painting, though you might have fun trying it. It’s about stillness in nature.

Family Frenzy

We’re all living very busy lives. We’re not communicating with our families when we’re all on our phones around the dinner table. We’re in a world of constant stimulation, feeling the need to not let a second pass us by without a new e-mail or social media post. Though it’s a wonderful time to be alive and to gather information, it’s also a dangerous time of addiction when our phones and social media posts become more important than love, human interaction, and communication with our Creator, however you define that.

On occasion I take one of my 16-year-old triplets out painting with me. Often it’s a battle to get them to come because their phones tend to rule their attention, but this summer at my Adirondack painting event my son Brady spent the week with me painting, off his phone, and told me he had so much fun he did not miss it. Every minute was occupied not with a small screen, but with a big canvas.

Without sounding like an old school fuddy-duddy, our families need leadership away from their addictions, so they can realize what else is out there — so they don’t grow up and only visit places on their phones or in virtual reality. We need experiences in nature, and we all need, somehow, to plant ourselves in one place to take it in. That’s why I find painting so appealing; it satisfies my busy mind’s need to be doing something, yet it offers me peace and meditation.

Soon your summer will come to an end. Schools are starting, vacations are ending, and time alone with nature often becomes less easy to find. If there is time, give yourself this gift of one spot, breathing the air, smelling the scent of pines, and staring into the rich colors of nature. It will feed your soul.


Eric Rhoads

PS: Because of my podcast and this blog, lots of people have decided to believe me when I tell them no special talent is required to learn painting, it just takes following a process and the courage to try. The result is that a couple of hundred people have shown up at our Plein Air Convention & Expo to learn to paint for the first time and started their path toward a lifetime of painting. Many have also shown up at my Publisher’s Invitational retreats. If you want to come hang out with us in Banff, Lake Louise, and the Canadian Rockies this coming October, we welcome painters at all levels, including beginners. We’re just out to have fun, connect with nature, and hang out with other painters.

PPS: I’m thankful for all the people who have reached out about our cool new FACE conference, and I want to use this opportunity to say thanks for signing up. I’m told we’re making art history by the fact that so many amazing top tier instructors will be teaching in the same place. If you’ve not signed up yet, you can save $400 if you sign up before Labor Day Sept. 3.

 

Nature Calling 2018-08-24T14:35:19+00:00
19 08, 2018

A Fresh Perspective on Failure

2018-08-16T15:31:52+00:00

Dark, ominous storm clouds engulfed the lake last night, billowing high into the sky, blocking an intensely red sunset we could barely see on the horizon. Light shows go on each night, starting with mild color and developing into intense reds, pinks, yellows, with hints of blue peeking through.

Distant thunder echoes across the lake, with mild flashes of light within the clouds — storms here tend to reach the mountain and pass to its sides, keeping us storm-free. Sitting here, into the darkness, we watch the clouds break and distant stars peeking through as the air chills.

Each sunset here is a gift, as is each morning on the dock, watching the fog lift and the sun break through. Sadly, this is my last Sunday morning on this dock as our summer here draws to an end. It seems we just arrived, and there is so much I didn’t check off on my summer bucket list.

Summer Can’t Last Forever

Sundown has a powerful meaning to me today because it’s the close of a wonderful celebration of summer, with much of the family gathered together. I can think of nothing better than giving the kids time at a lake filled with adventures, hikes, canoe rides, mountain climbs, and independence on boats with their summer friends. This time here is also a gift for the rest of the family who gathers here — this summer there were more than usual, and, though not everyone was present, it was a chance to reconnect, just sit and chat, cook and eat together, and just be. Now we depart for our separate lives and wonder what next summer will bring. Will there be a place to gather? Will there be family members added or lost? We always wish for just one more summer together, and dream that we can make this tradition last for generations to come.

Never a Summer Missed

Last week at a lake cocktail party I was speaking with a lake friend, celebrating her 80th summer here, never skipping a year. Her memories of childhood, spending her summers with her friends and watching them grow, having kids, grandkids, and now great-grandkids, and even watching some of her friends and relatives inevitably pass, has been a gift like no other. It’s rare anywhere in the world that someone could claim such a gift.

Sunsets and seasons are the cycles of the earth and the cycles of life. Change, too, is a cycle of life — out with the old, in with the new. Change causes personal growth and creates a new cycle, and even failure brings growth.

Edison Embraced Failure

I’ve been reading a lot about growth lately and the importance of failure. Failure led Edison to the invention of the light bulb, after 1,000 attempts. He did not stop when things got hard, he failed forward. He took his failure as feedback to learn what works and what doesn’t work.

What would happen if you and I looked at failures as feedback?

People tend to give up too easily when they receive negative feedback, since they perceive it as failure. Yet if they would look at all feedback as positive, their entire outlook would change, in all areas of their lives, their careers, and their relationships.

How many marriages have ended because relationship problems were looked at as failures rather than feedback?

Turn Failure into Feedback

Too often we communicate with someone and fail to get the response we want, so we get angry and huff off. But what if you were to alter your communication so you turn failure into feedback? It will make you listen more, learn more, and adapt your communication until you are no longer failing.

Saving Marriages and Businesses

How many relationships or marriages end because people fail to get what they want immediately? How many businesses fail because their investors take failure as a reason to stop or give up?

What if in our marriages or our work lives or our businesses, we were more like Edison, who found a thousand ways not to build a light bulb but kept persisting until he brought light to the world? Think how much light you would bring to your own world by looking at failure as feedback.

Defuse Emotion

When you and I look at failure as feedback, we remove the emotion from a situation. Rather than blowing up because we did not get our way, what if we detach from our emotions so we can learn what’s not working? Then we can make adjustments until it does work, and we are less likely to get stuck.

Being Right May Not Be Right

Everything you and I do in our lives is designed to give us meaning. We want to be heard, we want to be significant, and sadly, we want to be right. Yet accepting feedback keeps us from having to be right all the time and helps us seek solutions that work.

Looking Inward

My tendency is to blame others when something does not go my way. They simply don’t see what I see. Yet if I’d accept more blame, look at others’ failure to embrace what I’m trying to communicate as a failure on my part, my guess is that I’d tend to look inward for a solution, based on that feedback, and see it as a chance to try something new next time.

Next time you have an argument, stop yourself and tell yourself that you just got feedback. Same when you’re experiencing political discourse or a business disagreement.

Turn failure into feedback, and you may find yourself happier, less frustrated, and able to see a different side of things.

Eric Rhoads

 

A Fresh Perspective on Failure 2018-08-16T15:31:52+00:00
12 08, 2018

You Can Strive to Be the World’s Best

2018-08-10T09:34:15+00:00

In the 1850s the Hudson River School painters painted in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York — and were accused of exaggerating the colors of the sunsets. Yet living here and experiencing the sunsets each night, I can testify that the colors are so brilliant, so vibrant, that no matter how brightly or brilliantly they may have been painted, they could not touch the colors in the sky.

Banner in the Sky

In 1861 Frederick Church painted a piece called Our Banner in the Sky, a depiction of the American flag made up of bright-colored clouds, with a hint of blue sky and stars showing. I always thought it was a bit kitschy and made-up, until I saw an almost exact reproduction in the sky here, with red stripes of clouds between white stripes, and a patch of blue showing. The only things missing were the flagpole and the stars.

On Golden Pond

This has been the summer of sunsets. I posted a video on my Facebook of brilliant golden light shimmering on the water, reflecting the gold in the sky. Almost every night has been a display of color so brilliant that no paint color could possibly represent it. Last night I sat here on the dock as the sun went down and watched a light show of color that got better with every second, and just as I thought it had peaked as the sun slipped behind the pines’ silhouette, the entire cloud-filled sky lit up like the Las Vegas Strip.

This morning the sky has reset in preparation for yet another show tonight. There is dew on the dock and it’s cooler today, the lake is like glass, and the birds are happily entertaining with some soft, quiet chirps to fill in the silence.

Last week I mentioned giving yourself some oxygen, but what I didn’t tell you is that I had planned a little oxygen for myself this past week. I blocked the week out on my calendar, took the week off, and spent all day, Monday through Thursday, working on improving my painting skills.

Two Big Goals

Specifically, this goes back to a moment of frustration two years ago when I felt I was not making the kind of progress I should be making. So I crafted a plan to see if I could make a dramatic leap, starting by realizing I had two goals … to get better at landscape and plein air painting and to get better at portrait or figure painting, my two passions. (It’s no coincidence that I have a magazine and a conference for each, with the PleinAir Magazine Plein Air Convention & Expo and the Fine Art Connoisseur Figurative Art Convention & Expo.)

Great Mentors

I decided I needed to study under two people I greatly admired for their skills and their ability to translate those skills to the feel of emotion in their work. I then decided to watch their videos to learn and practice all that I could. I considered a workshop with each, but found my available time was limited. With busy family and business obligations, more time away was not an option, so I had to figure out how to fit them into something I was already doing. So I made an arrangement with a top landscape artist to meet me at one of my events, where I would be out painting daily anyway, and asked him to paint with me and coach me for the week. This past week I did the same with a top portrait and figurative painter I highly admire. Since I would have been working anyway, we worked 9 to 5, and I was home with the family the rest of the day.

It’s a little soon to know the impact of this past week on my painting, but if it works as well as my landscape painting adventure, it should make a significant difference. In both cases I had good basic skills but needed to get to the next step fast. A week of solid, dedicated instruction was just the ticket. Now I’m committed to using these techniques and colors going forward for the next few years so that I reinforce what I’ve learned. And in both cases I’ll watch the videos a few more times to remember things I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

Learning Obsession

I find it a bit comical that the guy who could barely graduate high school because of bad grades could be so obsessed with learning, but the key is finding something you’re passionate about and making it a lifelong education. My dad used to tell me, “Education is a bargain at any price.” It’s so true.

Meeting the Challenge

Over decades I’ve interacted with and experienced lots of different kinds of people, and the ones most frustrating to me are those who claim expertise, yet don’t reach or strive to be at the top of their game. God has given us each a life, and it seems as though we should choose to be the very best in the world at what we’re trying to do. Why just get by? Why not be the world’s leading expert? Though I’m far away from being the world’s leading expert at anything, I’m driven to be the very best I can be.

It’s Not Done Till It’s Overdone

Painting is just one example. I want to be the best I can be in my business, be the best I can be when I’m on stage, and be the best I can be when writing. That’s why I am a member of a mastermind group that meets monthly by phone and three times a year in person. That’s why I travel to conventions and events so I can meet and study under the best in the world. That’s why I pay to attend writing workshops and speaking workshops, and why I take lots of online training. Anything done should be done well.

What I Strive to Be

I once saw a speaker on stage at a radio convention. He was the best speaker I had ever seen. He was confident, entertaining, outgoing, and exuberant on stage. I wanted to be that guy, so I went up to him after his speech and asked if he would teach me. I then attended his workshop for a week. I’ve done this with several great speakers because I want to get better at my craft.

The Deep Dive

We are all wired differently. You may be thinking, “This isn’t for me. I don’t see myself working that hard.” Or maybe you simply don’t feel it’s the right direction for you. I hear you, and I don’t want to suggest this formula is right for everyone. But I can tell you one thing I’ve discovered on this journey … a deep dive into anything you love is an investment in your happiness. These things can excite you, reinvigorate you, and make you feel better about yourself. And there is no better confidence booster than seeing personal growth and having it reinforced by others.

Not only is pushing yourself great for your head and your actual performance, you’ll find yourself getting to new levels, then challenging yourself to see how far you can take it. Wouldn’t it be cool to be invited into an art show of top artists, knowing it was earned?

Recently I received a compliment when a top marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, invited me to speak on his stage at his conference. Though I declined because of a travel conflict, it’s recognition that what I’m learning is making me better.

Never Ever Give Up

The normal view of the world is that you go about your days, do your job, retire from that job, and coast the rest of your life. My view of the world is that you be the best at your job and become the best in the world at what you do, just to see how far you can go. And when that ends, you keep going by finding something you’re passionate about and becoming the best you can be, and you do it so that you have the enthusiasm and energy to go forward at 180mph the rest of your life.

Though retirement isn’t for me, if it’s for you, be the best you can be when doing it. My friends from Colorado retired and started yoga training for veterans and now have an organization doing 200 classes a week. That’s what inspired me to create our initiative to teach painting to veterans. Just because your body is aging or because your career in one area will come to an end does not mean you have to coast the rest of your life. It’s great if that’s what you want, but if you keep learning, your brain will tell you that you’re alive and keep you strong and vibrant. And having a goal like mine, which is to teach a million people to paint, gives you a focal point to concentrate on. (If you’re not a painter and want to be, check out my free lessons.)

Recently I spoke about how my brain was scrambled, confused, and overwhelmed in a guitar lesson. I honestly did not think I could do what my instructor wanted me to do, yet by practicing it over and over in small chunks, I’ve mastered it. (We teach this for artists in our video The Master’s Mind).

What have you always wanted to learn? What are you doing where you can see yourself working toward being the best of the best? Maybe it’s learning a new language, learning a craft or a hobby (please try painting!), being a better painter, a better marketer, a better writer, a better  … fill in your blank here. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get the training you need, and once you start to focus on something and spread the word that you want to learn more, great things will come to you.

What’s the first thing that came to mind when I asked what you see yourself learning? What was the limiting thought that immediately crept in? (I’m too old, too young, too poor, too rich, too lazy, it’s too hard.) Push that aside and go for it anyway. You’re in control of your mind; don’t let your thoughts put up roadblocks.

Here’s to you and me learning some new things yet this summer and fall! Have a great day.

Eric

 

You Can Strive to Be the World’s Best 2018-08-10T09:34:15+00:00