Mentors in Hiding

There is immense value in having a mentor. A mentor serves as a coach, friend, teacher and motivator. Recently someone asked, “Hey Barry who is your mentor?” I looked at the questioner with a wide stupefied gaze. Mentor? I don’t have a mentor. So I told them I was temporarily without a mentor. Days after the conversation the question lingered. Where can I find a mentor?

Well I have fantastic news! Are you excited?! There are mentors everywhere. Right now the smartass reading this and looking underneath his sofa is thinking,

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“I don’t see a mentor here Barry…”

Okay so maybe not literally everywhere, but all around us. A mentor doesn’t not have to be constrained a living breathing human. We can find mentorship in books, movies, videogames, art, and sometimes even ourselves. Here’s a great example:

In 9th grade I stumbled upon an anime called Fairy Tail. This cartoon is basically about a group of misfit magic users who come together and form a family like bond. To this day my favorite character in the show is Gajeel. No more what challenge Fairy Tail faced you could rely on Gajeel since he is a tough, no-bs guy that NEVER backed down even when obviously outmatched by an enemy. Watching Gajeel’s boldness at a time where felt pathetic and wimpy empowered me to copy find those traits in myself. Years later while in college I got the same tattoo as Gajeel has in the show for self-reinforcement.

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Of course, the 9th grade kid me didn’t realize this. I just wanted to watch an awesome show. The lesson is if you’re willing look past the surface of entertainment you can find real insight. This not me encouraging you to binge watch 12 hours of TV. Instead of blindly consuming ask yourself, “what about this character resonates with me?”

Is it Superman’s pledge to uphold truth, justice, and the American way?

Is it Jon Snow’s commitment to his cause despite constant resistance?

Is it Kermit the Frog’s ability to be in dank memes?

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“I take mentoring very seriously”

Diversifying your portfolio of mentors is important too. Fantasy/fiction teaches great lessons through metaphor and biographies/non-fiction show how people overcame real life challenges. Earlier I wrote that sometimes mentors can come from within. What I mean is leveraging the power of questions to push yourself in a positive direction. For me this is asking,

“What would the absolute best version of myself do about this?”

If you’re totally honest, this usually produces a good answer. Go fourth and scour the planet in search of a mentor.

May the force be with you – Barry

 

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Give your ideas an expiration date

It was the wildest thing I could do in that moment. While staring at the dozens of notebook papers scrawled with blog ideas taped to my fridge I suddenly decided “To Hell with it all!” For the next 3 minutes I furiously crumpled and dumped every single idea. The good ones, the okay ones, the bad ones, and even the absolutely amazing ideas.

Every writer/blogger suffering from Writer’s Block reading this probably wants to curb stomp me. “Barry! Why in the world would you throw away good ideas?!”

Rest easy. There is a method to my madness.

We all know how valuable a good idea can be. A good idea put to work possesses amazing transformative power. Look at Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling etc. Many of us see ideas as mental objects to be stored and sheltered. It’s this line of thinking that leads us to stockpile ideas in our secluded mental basement. I take issue with this. Consider this for a moment: What use is a great idea hidden away?

Ideas are a biological form of currency. They hold extraordinary potential, but only when used in a certain amount of time. Otherwise they ripen and die. Fresh ideas taste much better than rotten ones every day of the week.

So, am I insane for trashing all my old ideas?

Absolutely.

A little bit of insanity often leads to the best ideas – Barry

Smiles away

Everyone carries a tiny match. We can this little thing a smile. It only takes a second to light someone up. A simple smile can defrost the chilliest exterior. It can illuminate those trapped in darkness. It can be a present gifted to friends. It can bridge the gulf between total strangers. Someone, somewhere needs your warmth. Smiles and smiles away. – Barry

Now you see me

My approach to social media differs from most people. To start all my cellphone notifications remain silenced except for calls. Social media apps are banished on my device. This forces me to browse Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. periodically on my laptop. Lastly, I arranged my phone home screen with my most used apps and eliminating the ability to swipe through multiple pages.

Why go through all the trouble?

Raw human connection is a beautiful thing. I love that feeling of shared vulnerability as two people shed their masks leading to a moment of a collective “Now you see me.” Getting to that level of intimacy requires both time and attention. The 90% of people addicted to their smartphone create an artificial barrier to raw connection. Every beep, boop, whistle, ring and ding summons our attention to a glowing palm without hesitation. It rips us from the present and tosses us into a digital vacuum.

Don’t mistake my observations for an anti-smartphone stance. I love technology. I do not love the way it is used. A serious danger occurs when we mistaken social media for raw human connection. The colorfully filtered photos generate a reality distortion field. A screen is not a substitute. If real human connection is “Now you see me” social media is “… Now you don’t.” It is a digital mask free of nuance and sincerity – an illusion passing for reality. Always remember this.

Go out into the world and truly “See” someone for the first time. – Barry

Distance and Expectations

While reading Essays from Ralph Waldo Emerson I stumbled upon an interesting quote:

“Things are always more beautiful at a distance. The mountain a far is more beautiful than the one near.”

Emerson used this line in his discussion about nature. When I thought it about more this quote is a great life analogy. This simple concept reveals an important insight about human nature. Getting too close to something ruins the beauty of the thing. Our imagination idealizes what we covet which skyrockets our expectations out of control. Humans are intuitively aware of this. We express it in sayings/clichés like:

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

“Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

Present day Minimalism gains momentum as our heavily consumerist world begins to gain sobriety from our expectations about “things”. This idea transcends our feelings about ownership of personal possessions. Have you ever had a crush on someone, but once you got to know them found them repulsive? Ever dream of traveling and when you arrive it’s not quite what was expected? See an amazing movie trailer only to sit through a subpar film?

Everyone can relate to similar or equivalent experiences. My goal is not to convince people away from their desires. Wanting more out of life allows us to aim higher. It is the first step of growth. We can be smarter about our wants and chase the things that will truly fulfill us.

The mountain a far is beautiful, but nothing beats the view from the top of the mountain. – Barry

Maybe I’m Insane

Maybe I’m insane, but the past does not matter. It is literally insignificant to now.

Today is the eleventh day of the new year. I need you to stop focusing on the trivial things. Take your eyes of the rear-view mirror. Pull your mind of the gutter, soak it in success then rinse and repeat. Your dream is asking you to take a single step. Move an inch. Turn the dial ever so slightly.

Stop looking for approval. Instead look for opportunities. Or better still:

“Don’t justify your dreams, execute them.” Gary Vaynerchuk

What step will you take today? – Barry

San Diego Seven

Sitting on the five-hour plane ride from Charlotte to San Diego with a screaming baby adjacent to my destroyed eardrums all I could think was, “Is this worth it?”

Yes. Yes, it was.

My week in San Diego, California was incredible. Even in January the weather remained perfect. For most of my visit the temperature stayed around 65 – 70 degrees F and sunny. It was even sweeter when juxtaposed against the snow storms that hit the East coast.

Sights

The first destination on my adventure was Balboa Park. This is a huge park dotted with a variety museums and the San Diego Zoo! To see everything Balboa Park has to offer requires multiple days so I spent most of my time in the zoo. Animal lovers this is the place for you! On the zoo bus tour I saw animals like flamingos, giraffes, zebras, and even polar bears! Yes, polar bears!

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Day two I spent immersed in the beautiful cliffs and beaches at La Jolla. Be prepared to walk a bunch if you visit this area. There is so much to see and the undulating waves gracefully hypnotize ocean watchers. I even luck enough to saw seals napping on the beach! Shout out to the Lyft driver who suggested I stay until sunset. Words cannot do it justice.

On the third day, I made a trip across the Mexican border only to realize I forgot my US passport back at the hotel. Yeah not good. After having a mini stroke, I immediately to crossed back into US where I was crossed examined thoroughly by border patrol security. They seemed hesitant, but they eventually allowed me back in. You never realize how much you love a place until there’s a slight chance you may not be allowed back in. Moral of the story: ALWAYS double check for your passport before leaving the country.

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Travel across the Coronado Bridge you can see the San Diego skyline from Centennial Park. Another popular spot in the city is the historic Hotel Del Coronado. This massive resort is a preserved hotel located right on the beach. I suggest walking through the city of Coronado too just to get a glimpse of the beautiful luxury homes in the neighborhood.

My final trip landed me at Pacific Beach (PB) for a morning stroll near the shore. In the evening visitors can check out the amusement rides in Belmont Park. Admittedly, the foggy weather discouraged from walking much that day.

Things to know

  • The trip is expensive. To get around this I limited myself to one major activity per day.
  • The amount of homeless people wandering the streets took me off guard. They are literally everywhere.
  • Food is good. Sooooo good! Especially in Little Italy.
  • Using Uber and Lyft to get around is inexpensive and a great opportunity to ask locals questions.
  • The people are super friendly.

If you want to see pictures from my trip check out my Instagram: bluebarry42 – Barry

Define

Define what you want to be this year. The 2018 canvas is blank so grab a brush. Now is the time to divorce yourself from your past. We can all create the person we want to be. Among other things, personal development lends us the tools to develop our selves. Starting can be the most overwhelming part of any journey. Below I’ve listed the self-improvement resources for those unsure of where to begin.

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Self-Improvement Books

  • The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
  • The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins
  • The Art of War – Sun Tzu
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie
  • The Power of Positivity – Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
  • The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • The Science of Getting Rich – Wallace Wattles
  • The Art of Extrme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time – Cheryl Richardson

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Podcasts

  • The Minimalists
  • Secret to Success with CJ & Eric Thomas
  • Quote of the Day Show
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Tony Robbins Podcast
  • Sean Croxton Sessions
  • School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
  • Art of Charm
  • Daily Boost
  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • The GaryVee Audio Experience

Personal Development Leaders/Authors

  • Earl Nightingale
  • Napoleon Hill
  • Jim Rohn
  • Zig Ziglar
  • John Maxwell
  • Stephen Covey
  • Lewis Howes
  • Eric Thomas (ET the hiphop preacher)
  • Les Brown
  • Inky Johnson
  • Darren Hardy
  • Bob Proctor
  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Lisa Nichols
  • Mel Robbins
  • Gretchen Rubin
  • Jack Canfield
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Simon Sinek

YouTube Channels

  • Fearless Motivation
  • TED
  • etthehiphoppreacher
  • Big Think
  • Be Inspired

Hope this list is useful! Leave a comment below if you have more suggestions! – Barry

Are You from Tennessee?

Today I returned from a four-day spontaneous road trip from Memphis, Tennessee. Driving all the way from my neck of Pennsylvania takes roughly 18 – 19 hours one way. I don’t take long trips often, my longest drive before this was a six-hour weekend visit to Rhode Island.

So the big question: Why Memphis? Many years ago when I was a teeny wittle Barry I remember seeing a image of a blue pyramid on Food Network. My young impressionable mind clung to that image immediately. The thing is kinda bizarre. I never understood why someone randomly builds a pyramid in a major city that isn’t Egypt.

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Wow! A pyramid! And it’s blue!

Throughout the years that image stayed nestled somewhere in my subconscious. I always wanted to visit someday. I imagined how tall the building was, guessed what the interior looked like, but never made the trip. Then last week my SUV needed to be towed away from repairs. Without transportation readily available I found myself thinking, “This sucks. Now I REALLY can’t go to Memphis even if I wanted to.”  It was frustrating to think that I may have missed my opportunity to go. Continue reading

Ask

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Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Ask before you accuse. Reality is not a cohesively shared experience. Our past experiences, traumas, fears, wins and gains tailor our perceptions. When we assume, we project our way of thinking onto another person. We stain their actions with meaning to fit into our puzzle.

The best way to get an answer is to ask a question.

So, ask before you accuse. Let go of what you know. Or more accurately what you think you know. Guessing, hypothesizing, ruminating all lead to the same place: nowhere. Certainty comes from knowing and you can’t know unless you ask.

People lie. I get that.

You know what? Ask before you accuse. No lie can be discovered without asking questions first. Questions hold power. Silence keeps the door locked. We lie to avoid truth. To avoid inflicting pain. To avoid been discovered for who we really are. Lying is a warm shelter with a rocky foundation. Eventually it will crumble.

Mel Robbins said it best:

 “The shortest distance between any two people is the truth. Silence creates distance.” – Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule

Ask. – Barry

The Best Advice of 2017

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Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

During the summer, I took a deep dive into the world of self-help/personal development. I read a ton of biographies, listened to hours of podcasts, and watched a bunch of Ted Talks. After immersing myself in the wisdom of the most talented and successful people on the planet I gained ONE major take away. I know, Just one? Yes, just one piece of crucial advice. Here it is:

Start small, be consistent.

At first glance, this advice seems… underwhelming. And yeah, it may not be as sexy as “follow your dreams” or “never give up.” That’s exactly why it is the best advice of 2017. Let me explain. Back in May I just finished reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. While searching for a new book a buddy recommended The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The whole premise of the book is mastering consistency. My favorite line in the book is, “Learn how to do the small things well and eventually you will be trusted to do the big things.”  The Slight Edge helped me realize you cannot achieve success with mastering consistency first. Small wins help us build momentum that propel us to go even further.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, master it – Barry

2017’s Greatest Hits

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Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

November creeps to an end as December looms over the wintry horizon. In a little over a month, 2017 while be another year in the history books. Now is the perfect time to look back before moving forward. Below is a list of positive things I experienced this year. Listing only positive things was difficult because bad memories stick more. Luckily, life is not a series of unfortunate events. Search hard enough you can find something to be glad for. While making this list I surprised myself with the number of great things that happened this year I forgot about!

Graduated College

Started Grad School

New Tattoo

Road Trip to Rhode Island

Road Trip to Long Island

Service Key Award

Made Raspberry Pi Console

New Car

New Name

New Blog Name

Read 26 Books

Went to March for Science

Relay for Life

Meet the new University President

Hired as a Grad Assistant

Baby sister was born

Moved into a new apartment

Adopted Minimalism

Wrote a post a day for an entire month straight

New blog logos

Donated most of my clothes to charity

Interviewed for a podcast

Started recording audio

Shared great stories

Coffee and Code meetup

Listened to new podcasts

Reconnected with old friends

Made new friends

Learned new skills

Connected with other bloggers

Started exercising regularly

Voluntarily watched a horror movie

Joined BayArt

If you decide to make a 2017’s Great Hits list please link it to this post! I would love to read what others have to be grateful for this year! – Barry

Struggling with Chronic CB

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Ughhhhhh.

That noise perfectly illustrates my life lately. Everything feels so repetitive, mundane, and flat out boring. This plague of Chronic CB (Continual Boredom) I’ve contracted is killing me. Nothing can release me from this dire slump. No cure is within reach.

Stranger Things 2? Nope.

New Car? Yawn.

New Marvel movie? Eh.

My guess is this Chronic CB stems more from my desire for a different environment. I relished my four years of undergrad at Bloomsburg University, but my cabin fever is through the roof! You can only enjoy the same sights for so long! Gray November skies make me yearn more for the sweet Californian sunshine.

Intellectually, I know I should enjoy the present moment. Emotionally, my heart lies somewhere else. What I’m feeling can best be described as what one author calls “the space between stories.” The space between stories signify those transitory phases between big life changes where everything seems to stand still.

Time to enjoy this story until the next chapter begins.

Looking forward to the future – Barry

Concerning the Self

Everyone can benefit from self-centered.

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Not self-centered in the traditional sense of the word, meaning to be selfish and narcissistic. My observation comes from a literal interpretation of being “self-centered”. Splitting the phrase apart leaves the two words “self” and “center”. With this perspective, the term self-centered is redefined to mean “centered in one’s self.”

What exactly does it mean to be centered in one’s self? Like sailboats out at sea all people have an anchor. This anchor serves as the focal point of what defines our individuality. At first glance it feels synonymous with our identity. A true center lives in an internal space within ourselves, devoid of our external identity. In that space we experience the freedom to be our most authentic selves. To be centered outside of one’s self is dangerous. It leads us to be tethered to external forces: objects, habits, people, jobs, etc.

Self-centered = centering myself. Finding the core of who I am and operating from that place.

Struggle

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Everyone struggles from time to time. My current struggle is self-inflicted. Pursing a path of self-improvement creates a widening gap with the people in my current social circle. As I redefine my values, I start notice the strings of certain relationships begin to strain. They long for the person I was, and increasingly feel alienated by the stranger I’m becoming.

Drifting away from relationships is never easy, especially with nostalgia creating a sturdy mental anchor. Strong tides of loneliness hit occasionally. They signal the ushering of a new season. During the worst hurricanes I repeat the following: Focus on the lighthouse and you will escape the fog.

May your ship survive every storm – Barry