I dare you to be like this.

In the 3rd grade I wrote a book of poems. By “book” I mean collection of wide ruled, off brown with red and blue stripes papers my teacher Mrs. Harris laminated.

I felt like an author in that moment and swore that some day I would be a writer.

I then proceeded to take the ole “26 year path to getting another book published” path.

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Do Brave Stuff.

Brave

A few weeks ago, in downtown Franklin, TN, I saw someone singing on a street corner.

In the middle of the sidewalk, this guy was absolutely killing it. While people walked to dinner, while antique shoppers stepped inside stores, he was giving it his all.

It was just him, a small speaker, a microphone and enough bravery to fill a stadium. I would have been terrified.

You would have thought ten thousand people were there. Didn’t matter to Joshua A McCartney. He was supposed to sing. And dance. And own that sidewalk.

So he did. (You can get a small glimpse of what he was doing in my very poorly shot video.)


Got a dream you want to chase? You’ve got some sidewalks in your future.

No one gets to skip the sidewalk on the way to the stage.

When you find yourself on one, do brave stuff.

Sing loud.

Dare big.

Even when you don’t feel like. Especially when you don’t feel like it.

Don’t try to skip the sidewalk.

Own the sidewalk.

Make it yours.

Joshua did and I think you can too.

From bread to blogs to Hawaii. A picture of staying committed to a dream.

(Today is a guest post from Kimanzi Constable! I loved hearing this story and I think you will too.)

Are You Committed To Your Dream?

There are over 900 million websites, 250 million blogs and 170,000 being added everyday. Some of these websites and blogs won’t make it past the first two months.

At first there will be the excitement of something new and the content will flow freely. As time goes by and there isn’t a ton of fame or income the excitement fades. Reality sets in that this is hard work.

That point is the make it or break it point where websites die. You go back to visit three months later and the last post was the last time you read it. I remember clearly being at that point.

I started a blog on blogger and was blogging away five days a week. When I hit the two-month mark I looked at my stats and saw I was averaging ten people a day.

I was frustrated. I poured my heart, sweat, and tears into the blog and no one even knew it was there. I even got my wife to admit that she wasn’t reading it anymore. That was adding insult to injury.

I had a decision to make at that point. Was it worth it spending time with this “hobby?” I mean I had a bread business that generated over six-figures a year. Yes it sucked waking up at midnight but this blogging stuff seemed hopeless!

I know many reading this can relate. It sucks to work so hard and not have anyone reading or sharing. It’s even worse when you want to be supported by your online endeavors.

You too will have a decision to make. Is this just a hobby or do you want to make this something more? If you want to make this something more you can. If you want to create a business online that supports your family you can.

To get here you have to decide you’re committed and that no matter how many times you fall you’re going to get back up. In the end persistence wins, hustle wins, thick skin wins. Here are the three commitment moments I faced:

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Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.


Critic

Today, I took a picture of my worst critic.

Though it’s fun to rail on haters, the truth is, they have nothing on the critic I see in the mirror each morning.

Each day, he lobs insults when I least expect it.

He’s convinced what I write is not good enough to be shared.

He’s pretty sure other people have already done what I am trying to do.

He’s positive they are all going to laugh at me.

He doubts. He belittles. He cuts me at the knees.

And he’s good at it, because he’s got an entire 38 year history to pull from. He can go deep in the archives of my life and pull out a mistake I made in college as evidence that I will fail tomorrow. He knows my secret hopes and my unspoken dreams and will leave no stone unturned when it comes stirring up anxiety.

You might have a critic like that too. You might have heard the same voice of fear from inside when what you needed most was bravery.

The funny thing is, if someone talked to you like you talk to you, you’d never get coffee with that person.

You’d never spend time with them for their rhetoric would be too mean. You’d call them out on their nonsense.

But when the fear is in our own voice, we tend to listen.

Not anymore.

Today I took a picture of my worst critic. I caught him when he least expected it. I did it to let him know “I see you! I know what you’re about! I know that you’re not angry, you’re just afraid. I forgive you, but I can’t listen any longer. The world is too bright, too fun, too unexplored to worry about the mirror.”

Maybe you need to have the same conversation with your mirror today.

I dare you to take a photo of your worst critic.

Hashtag it with #MyWorstCritic and share it for all the world to see. Fear hates the light of day. Critics can’t stand community.

They had their run, but life is waiting.

It’s time to stop listening.

No one remembers boring.

(This is a post from the ever talented, ever awesome Casey Lewis!)

Bank

Most people choose a bank based on proximity to home and work and the ATM locations in between.

Let’s face it, outside of using the camera on your phone to make a checking deposit, there’s not a ton of innovation happening in the personal banking world.

There are checking accounts, savings accounts, CD’s & money market accounts. And every bank, on every street corner in America provides pretty much these exact same products.

So how is a bank to stand out from the crowd? What’s the differentiating factor?

Service.

The primary way banks can show why they’re better is through taking exceptional care of their customers.

But it’s one thing to say you provide great service, but a completely different thing to educate people on how awesome you really are.

You could spend $500,000 in an ad campaign telling people how amazing the service at your bank is and probably not land many new customers, or you could do something awesome like TD Bank did.

Choose Delight.

For more great insights from Casey Lewis, read his blog!

Comfort doesn’t create great art.

Art

I don’t know what you are trying to create right now.

A business?

An album?

A book?

A brand?

There are a million possibilities, but I do know one thing about the creation process. I have never heard someone say, “My life finally got so comfortable and easy that I was able to create my greatest art.”

Does comfort and safety create some good things? Definitely. They both have value and importance, but every great artist I’ve known, every business owner who has changed the world and every dreamer who has climbed the peaks told me the same thing.

It was hard. It was not easy. It was up for grabs. It was terrifying at times. It was not comfortable.

I’m writing a new book right now. It is hard. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written but it difficult. I’m terrified of jumping back on that laptop every morning because what if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not really creative? What if the process is not easy?

It’s not. The process is challenging. That’s OK. The struggle is not failure, the struggle is art.

Today, instead of trying to make your life more comfortable, make your art more honest.

Write from the difficulty, dream from the challenge, hope from the wreckage.

Comfort doesn’t create great art.