The Initiated Woman

The initiated woman has bled.

She’s bled from poor decisions that sliced her esteem wide open; and from unguarded boundaries being obliterated; and she’s bled willingly, because that’s what you do when people you love are anemic or have been hit by life—you give them your blood. Here, I have lots, it’s fresh and warm. I’ll make more.

She has gone through the eye of a needle, stripped, shed, pared down to the pure pith of her power. The few people who have seen her so naked will never speak of that beauty to anyone else.

She knows that when people are ready, they’re ready, and they’re never ready before they’re ready. Still, she holds the light for your readiness, because she knows how sweet it is when the time is right.

She’s modest, but bold to the depths. She knows that initiations are waiting for everyone to claim them. Courage is key.

She’s asked people to leave her house because they were consistently rude.
Now, she asks after the first offense—she knows where things are going.
If you don’t respect her, there’s not much to talk about.

It’s usually a succession of rigors—rarely a lightning strike—that earns her the license to teach. Her lessons can be precise, like the diamond that cuts diamonds. Essentially-focused.

She knows that playing nice perpetuates irresponsibility, but that kindness is wildly fertile.

She’s mindful of the how and the who in her bed, because it’s always more than that.
She doesn’t spiritualize immorality, but she understands it.
She has no time for excuses, but all the time in the world for intentionality.
She reveres accountability, which includes using the sword of justice, and singing operatic praises for things done the good way—or even attempts at the good way.

Scarred. Faceted. Radiant. Wide.

She’s so tender she prefers to whisper about her true nature, or write a poem. Abstract. Protected.

When the initiated woman tells you that “everything will be okay,” you tend to believe her.

She uses compassion like a lever to see what’s really going on.
She applies willfulness sparingly, like gas to fire. (’Cause she is the fire.)
She awaits, but gets on with things.

She can tell you with calm and certain sympathy that love is the shortest distance between you and me.

And that there are no shortcuts to initiation.

Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries.

Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.

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How to Let Go of Your Ego

I have a confession: I am a control-freak.

I mean, it has its perks – I get a lot done, I get to be the boss of things, people listen to me like I am an authority figure… BUT, there is also a part of this trait that doesn’t care about other people’s experiences, a part that micromanages, and a part that uses negative emotions to manipulate people. That part, I am not so fond of. It took years of practice, but I’ve finally learned how to keep the negative aspects of this trait in check!

How?

Yes, there are still times where I need to be right, and I must convince others to see my perspective and go along with my plan, right? But, rather than resort to my old tactics, I had to learn new ones. There are ways to get “your way” without being controlling or manipulative.

So today, I want to give you a birds-eye view of how I put that practice to work with my family and children, because YES, my kids really test me on this one a lot!

An example:

I signed my daughter up for a Kid’s Self Defense program, but when the time came to go to the first class, she didn’t want to go. She claimed that it sounded “weird,” and was no longer interested; she wouldn’t know anyone there and she was already busy enough with her other activities.

As her all-knowing parent, I felt it was well within my rights to say: “I know what’s best for you and you are going to buckle down and do what I say!” But I resisted. Instead, I listened, affirmed her concerns, and told her more about what to expect. I even offered the class info to her friends mom in hopes of bringing in some familiar faces. I did not react, I did not resist, and I did not argue with her feelings. I also didn’t let her out of it, even though I was tempted.

When, after the first session, she still said “it was pretty lame,” I again listened and nodded, without saying much. I was patient and trusted the fact that I had something to offer and she would eventually see it. Just as I knew would happen, a few weeks went by and she started to look forward to the class. Upon the completion of her course, I relished the sight of my daughter kicking butt – proudly demonstrating her new skills, buddying up with her classmates and beaming with self confidence, even posing for photographs with the instructor!

Technically I got my way – but I did it without giving into my impulses to control and manipulate the situation. As a result, I avoided the bickering, moping, pleading and whining that used to happen every time my daughter and I didn’t see eye-to-eye.

I’m telling this story to illustrate three points:

There are occasions in every relationship where we sincerely feel that WE ARE RIGHT, and WE KNOW BETTER than the other person.

I knew better than my daughter when it came to taking a self defense class. My own parents knew better than I did about certain friends I had. My husband knows better when it comes to driving directions. I don’t argue anymore. There is much room for debate in this world, but sometimes you do know better than the other person (and sometimes, they know better than you).

Sometimes “getting what you want” doesn’t get you what you really want.

We sometimes feel that we are serving the greater good when we force ourselves onto our partner, kid, parents, friend, or co-worker, yet somehow, we screw the whole mission. Through all our good intentions, even when we really do know what’s best for someone, we become too aggressive and belligerent (or alternatively, obsequious or pandering) in forcing them to see it our way. Fellow control freaks know this dilemma all too well. If I don’t keep this trait in check, I can come across as condescending and manipulative and be met with resentment or rejection of the whole idea! In the end, even if the situation does go as we predicted (“I told you so!”) and we technically “win,” we lose a sense of trust, mutual respect and harmony in the relationship.

I could have chosen to belittle my daughter by saying: “I’m older and wiser than you, and you’re wrong about this class.” Even worse, I could have completely ignored her concerns and complaints and not even asked how she felt about it. She would have taken the course either way, but this way, we both walked away from the situation feeling like we got want we wanted.

There are ways to persuade others… happily.

One of my specialties is teaching people how to engage in better relationships. It always astonishes me how a change in behavior or attitude in ONE person can affect the dynamic of the whole family, or the outcome of a big decision. While it’s obviously not always appropriate or helpful to force your opinion or plan on someone, there are times when it is appropriate – especially if it involves someone’s health, well-being or happiness. The following tips are for those times:

  1. Zip It and Listen. I’m pretty sure they teach this in sales training: to get your way you must first mitigate the concerns and fears. You can only learn what those are by listening! And it puts the other person at ease too.
  2. Take It In and Reflect It Back. Repeat what you heard without belittling or aggrandizing it. Don’t add anything. Play it cool, just take it in and reflect it back. This ensures the other person feels important and that their concerns matter to you. This allows them to let their concerns go more easily, as belittling and aggrandizing often leads to a defensive or apprehensive conversation. I If appropriate, you can use this time to offer more information or negotiation points, but only after you’ve made the person feel heard.
  3. Keep the Faith. Don’t let ego drive what you want. Keep providing perspective on why you think it’s a good idea while still validating concerns and playing it cool. Be patient, the other person is probably working out how to come around, or at least compromise.

Proud Mom Moment

During my daughter’s self-defense class, I had so many chances to break these rules. It took great amounts of self-awareness and mind-management to stick to my higher ideal of empowering my daughter. I not only got her through the class, but helped her to feel it was her choice and her process! I am so proud that my daughter learned to defend herself, and that she didn’t have to practice defending herself from an overpowering mother.

Love,
Laurie

P.S. If you’re ready to engage in better relationships and start to shift your thinking , join our coaching community with a subscription to Inner.U, our digital coaching course. With 14 hours of audio coaching, you’ll learn the step-by-step process of The Handel Method including the ability to get yourself out of any mess you might be in.

Laurie Gerber is a Senior Coach and Co-President of Handel Group® Life Coaching. For over 15 years, Laurie has led international events and private coaching courses. She has appeared on MTV’s True Life, A&E’s The Marriage Test, Dr. Phil and TODAY.

Image courtesy of Savs.

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How to Improve Yourself in 6 Months

You can’t. It’s really hard to change. I’ve been an addict. When you’re addicted to a drug you can’t just say, “Well, this is bad for me. I’m going to stop.”

Just give up now or be ready to go through a world of pain.

Or…

You can. But it’s really hard and few people do it.

You can’t say, “I’m out of shape and I don’t exercise so I’m going to start exercising every day now for an hour a day.”

I started exercising three times a week. Some weeks two. Some weeks one. I knew that if I overdid it, then I would simply lose interest.

In any case, I lost interest. I hated it .

I stopped even though I knew that stopping would hurt me and not help me.

It’s really hard to change.

But…

Here’s how you can improve in the next six months.

Remember this line: The way you do Anything is the way you do Everything.

Remember it.

I’ve had to improve at lots of things. Sometimes to survive and feed my family. Sometimes to stay healthy and LIVE. Sometimes because I simply wanted to.

Learning to improve at ONE thing gives you the ability to improve at everything. @jaltucher (Click to Tweet!)

I read the other day there are three aspects of “well-being”:

  • Connection with community or friends or family or partners
  • Freedom (every day you make more decisions for yourself instead of relying or being dependent on the decisions of others)
  • IMPROVEMENT

It doesn’t say “Improve yourself”. It just says “Improvement”.

Because if you improve at anything, you are improving yourself.

And the way you do anything is the way you do everything.

I’ve had to improve at investing, interviewing, writing, selling, negotiating, creativity, public speaking, leadership, programming — all just to survive.

I’ve had to improve at chess, comedy, poker, parenting, being a good husband/boyfriend, reading, friendship, charisma, authenticity — all because I wanted to.

I realized quickly that the “language” of getting good at one thing taught me the basic grammar to get good at everything.

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

FIND ONE THING TO IMPROVE:

You can’t improve without passion and obsession.

After interviewing on my podcast 400 of the most successful people in recent history, there’s one thing I know: all of them were obsessed.

They were obsessed with their ONE THING.

But improving at their one thing meant they were improving at everything.

You can’t be great at golf without weight lifting.

You can’t be great at physics without having the charisma to get across your ideas.

You can’t be great at inventing the light bulb without knowing marketing.

HOW TO FIND YOUR ONE THING:

Some basics:

A) There will be many “one things” in your life. I’ve been obsessed with chess, computers, writing, TV, business, investing, speaking, podcasting, marketing, stand-up comedy, etc.

Each thing feeds the other.

B) Go to a bookstore: which section could you see yourself reading every single book?

C) List what you LOVED at the age of 13. How did it age?

For instance, Matthew Berry loved sports at age 13. He later was an unhappy Hollywood screenwriter. Miserable.

But he wasn’t going to be an athlete. He was too old. Not in the right shape for professional athleticism.

But he quit Hollywood. Got divorced. Went broke.

And for $100 a post he started writing blog posts about fantasy sports.

He improved every day.

And now he’s the ESPN anchor for fantasy sports. I can’t walk down the street with him without people going up to him constantly and thanking him.

D) Try lots of things.

E) What are you a little good at? Usually what you have some talent at could easily grow into an obsession.

I asked Sasha Cohen, a former world champion of figure skating, what was the one most important ingredient of being the best in the world at something. Anything.

“Obsession,” she said. And so did the other 399 people I’ve interviewed.

And once you find your obsession, how do you improve?

And remember two things:

  1. When you improve at any one thing, you… IMPROVE.
  2. The way you do ANYTHING is the way you do EVERYTHING.

PLUS, MINUS, EQUAL:

When I was 17 I barely knew how to play chess. But I was a geeky, lonely kid and I wanted to be popular and I wanted to be good at something.

I wasn’t an athlete and girls didn’t like a pimply scrawny kid like me with no confidence.

I knew the rules to chess and they asked me to play on the bottom board of the school team. They gave me a book of rules to read while we are on the bus to the match. I won my game.

I don’t know why, but I became obsessed with getting better. People liked me when I won! I wanted to be liked.

Within three months or so I was the best on the team. A year after that I was the best high school student in the state and one of the best people in the country for my age group at chess. A game that millions of people played.

Here’s what I did:

I found my PLUS:

I took lessons from Sammy Reshevsky (once the best player in the world) and Michael Wilder (the US Champion). I took lessons up to three times a week.

Not everyone lives near a mentor they could take lessons from.

But I also read one-two chess books a week. And I studied the games of all the top grandmasters. For instance, Bobby Fischer’s book “My 60 Memorable Games”. I went through each game and his analysis over and over again.

I had real mentors and virtual mentors.

I found my EQUALS:

I found other people my level who were striving to be better. We would study the same books and try to analyze different positions. We would play against each other and this was a way to see how I was improving relative to my equals who were just as obsessed as me.

I found my MINUS:

After I became better than everyone else on my school’s chess team I started giving them lessons.

If you can’t explain a concept to a three year old then you don’t fully understand that concept. Which means I’d have to go back to my PLUS (real or virtual) to understand more.

30+ years later I’m a nationally ranked master. I play every day. It’s something I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life.

(Frank Shamrock, the best MMA fighter in history, explained to me his Plus, Minus, Equal theory)

I had to get better at investing to survive.

It was 2001 and I had lost all my money I had made by selling a business for $15 million. I was struggling to raise a family, pay my mortgage, and nobody would give me a job.

I found my PLUS: 200 or so books about investing. I also found real mentors by trading for various hedge fund managers, although I had to gain knowledge from the virtual mentors before real mentors would even talk to me.

I found my EQUALS: many message boards of investors, everyone trying to figure out the right strategies that gave good, consistent results. Was it value investing? Momentum? Arbitrage? Etc.

I found my MINUS: I started writing about investing to people who understood far less than me. The MINUS was critical because it helped me understand how the masses invested and what they were doing wrong that I could model via computer software.

I became a good investor and made a lot of money and pulled myself out of the hole at the exact moment I was about to be buried alive.

TEN A DAY:

In the summer of 2002 I was so depressed. I had about four months before I would lose my house.

I was scared. One thing made me happy.

I would write down ten ideas a day. Somehow being creative just a little bit made me happier. Made me have hope. Made me think I would make it. That no matter what I could make it.

I could climb. I could improve I could wish and hope and live and love. Just ten ideas a day and maybe one would be good or okay or something I could grab onto and it would pull me out.

And it did.

MICRO-SKILLS:

I wanted to get good at stand-up comedy. It’s scary to go onto a stage with a room full of strangers.

It’s like public speaking but it’s not. I could go up and speak about Donald Trump and everyone could nod their heads and then my job is done.

But in stand-up comedy you go up to a room full of people who have no idea who you are and you have to make them LAUGH every fifteen seconds, more or less.

It’s HARD to make people laugh.

Do you know how many times the average child laughs per day? 300 times!

Do you know how many times the average adult laughs per day? FIVE TIMES!

So if I’m doing stand-up comedy for 15 minutes I have to make the people in the crowd laugh roughly sixty times. 12x more than they normally do in a 24 hour period.


(Dave Chappelle has all of the comedy micro-skills: storytelling, likability, crowd work, punchlines, point of view, etc.)

I did the PLUS, MINUS, EQUAL. I did the ten a day. And still do.

BUT… “stand-up comedy” is not one thing. Just like “investing” is not one thing. And “chess” or “tennis” or “piano” or “business” are not just one thing.

Comedy is a collection of micro-skills where each skill has nothing to do with the other skills.

You have to master each micro-skill in order to improve.

Here are some of the stand-up comedy micro-skills: likability, crowd work, crowd control, humor, delivery, dealing with hecklers, stage work, act-outs, writing, voice work, etc.

Here are business micro-skills: ideas, execution, leadership, sales, negotiating, fundraising, marketing, customer relations, etc.

Here are chess micro-skills: openings, endgames, attacking, defending, tactics, positional ability, and each of those are broken into micro-skills (king and rook endgames, king and two bishops endgames, king and pawn openings, queen and pawn openings, tactics in closed positions, tactics in open positions, etc.).

Divide your passion into micro-skills. Pick one each day. Get a little better at it.

Last night, for the first time, I did a full hour of comedy in front of a full house of people.

I had a blast.

Did they? The key skill of comedy is to know that if you are having a party, then they are also.

BORROW HOURS:

Malcolm Gladwell says that the Beatles practiced for 10,000 hours before they became the best in the world.

(The last time the Beatles performed together)

I’m 50. I don’t have that many 10,000 hours left in me.

But the good thing is: we’ve all done many things in life. You can borrow hours from other things you got good at.

I’ve put in my 20,000 hours writing. I’ve put in my 10,000 hours public speaking.

I was able to “borrow” hours from the time I’ve spent doing humor writing and public speaking when I started to get interested in stand-up comedy.

I had put in my 10,000 hours running businesses when I needed to get good at investing.

Investing means: “investing in businesses”. Too many people treat investing like a game. It’s not.

When I buy a share of Apple, I’m owning a piece of a real company with products, management, employees, investors, etc.

I borrowed from my hours running companies in order to understand how to value the companies I was investing in.

The other day someone said to me, “You can’t skip the line.”

Shut the F up.

I can do what I want.

FAIL FAST:

When I was 17 I was playing chess for my high school team. I was in the #1 spot after playing for just a few months.

I lost.

I threw the pieces on the board and ran out. I heard everyone laughing.

I didn’t go back to school for a week. I hated myself. I hated life. I judged my life by my ability to be good at something and now I was “bad”.

I was a sore loser.

I stayed at the same level for years. But then, I don’t know why, I stopped being a sore loser.

I loved chess but maybe it was because I had other things in my life. I had a business. I was married. I was creative in other ways.

So I took lessons again (plus minus equal) and I quickly hit the Master level.

How did I improve so quickly then?

By losing a lot of games and then studying them.

Where did I go wrong? What micro-skills did I need to learn? What was I missing?

I studied with my PLUS. I asked my EQUALS. I taught it to my chess students.

I got better.

At comedy I was heckled when I first started. I was telling an extremely crude joke.

A father had taken his two sons. He started yelling at me, “Get off the stage!” I was so new I didn’t know what was happening so I kept telling my jokes while he was yelling

Afterwards, the MC came on and said, “Sir, do you need a drink?”

And the heckler said, “That guy was weird.”

I didn’t know what I did wrong.

So I asked my PLUSses.

“Videotape yourself,” one said. So I started doing that and, now, several years later, I still do it. I videotape each set and watch myself with both the mute and un-mute buttons.

Another PLUS said, “Likability is more important than humor.” I went too fast into my crude humor without focusing on likability.

Another PLUS said, “Work on setup/act-out/absurd-ism/punchline.”

Another PLUS said, “Work on crowd work.”

One of my EQUALS said, “You didn’t show enough confidence on stage so the audience knew they could overpower you.”

Another EQUAL said, “Find things that the audience can relate to first.”

I had to fail and bomb and die before I could kill and destroy and murder.

SAY YES:

People always say, “Say no”. This is true. I even wrote the WSJ bestselling book, “The Power of NO”.

Well…

Say yes.

When you first start improving, say yes to everything. You need to learn.

I didn’t know what to say “no” to at first.

When I started my first business, “Can you design a logo for us?” Yes. “Can you write this software for us?” Yes. “Can you help us develop a new kind of tea?” Yes. “Can you come to LA for a meeting?” Yes.

I learned what to say Yes to and what to say No to. But I had to say a lot of Yesses.

With stand-up comedy, “Can you do one-liner jokes on a subway?” Yes. “Can you go up for 15 minutes even though you never have done that before?” Yes. “Can you go up tonight without any notice?” Yes.

“Yes” gives you the opportunity to build out the map of your comfort zone.

GO WHERE IT’S LEAST CROWDED:

I asked Peter Thiel, the first investor in Facebook, what made Facebook so special.

“It’s the tenth social media network out there. It wasn’t unique.”

“No,” he said. “It was the first.”

“The first what?”

“The first social network with verified identity.”

Every other one prior to it: MySpace, Friendster, GeoCities, Tribes.com, etc allowed anonymity.

Facebook went to the place least crowded and became a $500 trillion company while the others went out of business.

Warren Buffett worked at 40 Wall Street for Benjamin Graham. He could’ve stayed there. That’s where all the Wall Street investors were. That’s where all the information was.

No.

He moved to Omaha. There were no investors there.

(A very young Warren Buffett learning public speaking in Omaha because he had the foresight to know he needed that micro-skill to raise money)

By himself, he studied every company report. He read all day long.

He’d find small companies in the middle of nowhere that he thought were undervalued.

He would drive to those towns and put up signs: “If any employee has shares they want to sell, you can find me at this motel.”

And then he’d buy up all the shares he could. He didn’t buy them on a Wall Street exchange, competing with everyone else. He went to people’s homes.

He was the only person who did this. Everyone else stayed on one little block in one city.

He became the most successful investor in history.

Everyone wants to stay in their comfort zone for a very good reason: It’s comfortable!

Of course it’s good and fun and easy to stay in the comfort zone. I HATE being uncomfortable.

But since EVERYONE is in the comfort zone, the comfort zone is where it’s most crowded. Everyone does the same thing, shares the same ideas, believes the same rumors, loves the same people, pursues the same dreams.

Right outside the comfort zone is a friendly neighbor: Opportunity.

Opportunity is just sitting there, waiting for someone to find it. But nobody wants to be uncomfortable.

Practice being a little bit uncomfortable each day. Practice getting outside the comfort zone.

Take a cold shower, tell jokes in a subway. Pitch an idea to your hero. Say sorry to your mother.

TALENT SEX:

Scott Adams, the creator of the most syndicated cartoon strip in history (Dilbert), told me:

“I was not the best drawer, but I was pretty good. I was not the funniest guy but I was pretty funny. I was not the best at business, but I was pretty good. But when I combined them all, I was the best.”

And that’s how he created Dilbert.

POINT OF VIEW:

When I look at social media, it seems like there are only two points of view: pro-Trump and anti-Trump.

One side screaming at the other. Nobody listening to anyone. Oh, and if you need to scream louder, find out what the latest viewpoint of your “team” is and shout it out loud.

Everyone in their air-conditioned suburban homes yelling how they’ve “lost faith in humanity” because of the other side.

Whatever I do, I try to have a unique point of view. Else I’m just replaying someone else’s thoughts.

Point of view on publishing: don’t beg an agent or publisher to publish your book. Self publish a book! And here’s why X, Y, and Z.

Then I self-published my most successful books, helped Amazon advertise their self-publishing, and even created a course on self-publishing.

I do a podcast. I don’t just interview people to get facts. I have a point of view: I want to know how people survived their darkest moments. How they climbed out of the hole.

Selfishly, I wanted to learn this so I could get better.

I didn’t ask Kareem Abdul-Jabbar how to get better at basketball. I could care less. I asked him why I couldn’t find any photographs of him smiling.

I didn’t ask Sara Blakely how to sew underwear (which made her a billionaire). I asked her how she avoided doubting herself when she had never been in the fashion business.

I didn’t ask Jewel how to be a better singer. I asked her why she turned down a million dollar deal when she was homeless and sleeping in a car. I wanted to know how I could have such authenticity.

(Arguing with Jewel)

I had a point of view that created my “question compass”.

In stand-up comedy, point of view is critical. Else you just tell fart jokes. I have insecurities about relationships. I’m afraid to lose all of my money. I think most of society is hypocritical. I think people are 100% irrational 100% of the time.

Jerry Seinfeld looks for the absurd in everything. Then he makes a joke.

Point of view is funny when it’s unique.

BACK TO BASICS:

Whenever I bomb on a 15 minute set in a professional lineup in a crowded room, the next day I do an open mic with beginners.

Whenever I make a bad investment, I get back to my basic formula (invest with people smarter than me).

Whenever I have a bad relationship, I try to meet people who I can just be friends with. Restore my faith that there are good people in the world.

There are good people in the world.

Connect with them.

That’s how you improve.

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Jorge Fernández.

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The post How to Improve Yourself in 6 Months appeared first on Positively Positive.