Currently, I am sitting outside in the bone-chilling cold. Well, it’s 11C (51F), but as a Floridian who has lived in Singapore for the past 6 years, I can barely feel my fingers as I type on my keyboard.
We are in Kentucky right now at the Red River Gorge for 5 days of rock climbing.
It has been such a change of scenery after being in NYC and Milwaukee for the past week and a half.
NYC was amazing to get to catch up with some incredible people I get to call friends and colleagues. We got to explore the city, eat great food, and share in an endless supply of laughs.
Then we moved on to Milwaukee which was really special because I got to see my step-sister get married. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and there was nothing that made me happier than to see her truly happy.
Truth be told, it was the first wedding I have ever cried at and I have been to dozens and dozens of weddings. Actually, there are two things that bring tears to my eyes: my step-sister getting married and the ending of an Undercover Boss episode. I know, I know. Don’t judge me.
In Milwaukee, we stayed at a very interesting Airbnb. It was a giant house that was built in 1895, and originally was a neighborhood for the rich and famous. The entire third floor was used as a ballroom for entertaining.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood changed over the years and most of the houses are really run down but there is still a lot of charm in the house we stayed in. Our hosts were wonderful. They picked us up from the airport and even drove us around a few times throughout our stay.
Not much has been done to the house in the last 100 years. The floors look original and creak every step you take. The foundation is slanted so the doors shut on their own. There are multiple pianos, Christmas decorations up in April, and the house appears to be a shrine to countless visits to garage sales.
It definitely built more character than staying at a generic chain hotel.
Now, staying in the Red River Gorge is a major change of scenery yet we continue to meet wonderful people.
Yesterday, we were purchasing some more rock climbing gear and found a couple of guys at the shop whose car broke down. They drove all the way down from Canada and they had no way of getting to the climbing areas. We offered for them to spend the day climbing with us and we had a fantastic time. We will be exploring more of what the Gorge has to offer today with them.
I was really skeptical about climbing in the USA because the climbing we did in SE Asia was so spectacular, but it has only been 2 days and I am blown away. The quality and quantity of the climbing here is incredible.
As this journey continues, I find more and more that fulfillment in life comes from connecting with and contributing to people.
Sure, doing things for yourself is fun for the moment, but lasting fulfillment comes from contributing to other people’s lives. It comes from connecting with other people. It comes from learning from other people’s lives and backgrounds that are different from your own. It comes from looking for ways to make someone else’s life better.
We don’t grow when we stay in our own little bubble.
We grow when we step outside of our comfort zone and connect with old friends as well as make new ones.
Give that old friend a call. Join the club or organization you have been putting off. Volunteer at a homeless shelter and look for ways to add value to the people around you.
I promise you. If you find enough ways to add value to other people’s lives, other people will find ways to add value to your life.
– Matt Westheimer
It seems like every time I sit down to write I am doing so from an entirely different vantage point.
Last time was from the living room of a 34th floor apartment in Hanoi.
The time before that I was overlooking Cat Ba Bay from the dining room of our hotel.
This time it is on the rooftop terrace of our Airbnb with beautiful views of Saigon.
When we departed on this adventure, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I had never done anything quite like this before, and historically I have preferred much more stability in my life.
This time was going to be different. Unlike the rest of my life, I had done very little planning for this trip. Truth be told, we are supposed to fly out of Saigon tomorrow and up until just a few minutes ago, we hadn’t even booked a plane ticket. It was really stressful for me in the beginning to have such an uncertain future but I am learning to let go more and more and enjoy the adventure of it all.
Many wonderful things have been able to occur due to this spontaneity such as rock climbing in Vietnam. It was never even on our radar before this trip started, and it only happened because we let go of the need to plan and decided to be open to what came up along the way.
It is the same reason we are here in Saigon right now. We never had any intention to visit Saigon. I had been here before and there were 50 other places on our list that we wanted to see, but along the way an opportunity came up to spend time with an amazing individual so we took it. We said yes immediately, booked our tickets, and we were off.
Living this way is tough sometimes though.
We never really know where we are going to be. We literally live out of a suitcase and it seems like every time we turn around, it is time to pack up and move on.
The things we took for granted like the ability to go to the grocery store, buy some fresh fruit and vegetables, and cook our own food has been more of a luxury than a regular occurrence, but it has opened the door for some pretty interesting experiences.
One of these occurred just last week in Cat Ba.
There are no supermarkets that we could find in Cat Ba, good Western food was almost non-existent, and we had nothing but a mini fridge in our room so we had to resort to eating every meal at restaurants and food stalls.
We asked around where the best Pho Ba was located which is a stock based clear soup with beef, rice noodles, scallions, and sometimes fresh ginger. It is always served with fresh lime and really spicy red chilis on the side. Eat the chilis with caution. They are hot!
If you want to know where the best pho is, just look for the places with the giant vats of broth simmering for hours or sometimes days with beef bones. They are the tastiest and most authentic. Some other places just use instant broth and just taste like one of those cheap cup of noodles you buy at a convenience store.
Anyway, we had been eating at this place probably a half dozen times. This time was the first time I needed to use the bathroom.
After we order the food, I walk to the bathroom and open the door. There next to the toilet I find a giant plastic container of beef bones sitting in putrid water.
I was immediately grossed out thinking that I had been eating here for the last few days, and I am just about to eat a soup made from old beef bones that had been soaked right next to the toilet.
I realized I had been traveling in Asia for a while when my next immediate thought was, “These bones will be boiled in hot water and probably kill all of the bacteria so I am sure I will be fine.”
Next thing I knew I was sitting back in my seat enjoying a delicious bowl of Pho Ba.
If you want to grow you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
I know you have probably heard me say this before, but are you doing it? If not, then it is worth repeating.
Book a ticket or drive a few hundred or even a few thousand miles to meet someone that you have always wanted to see. You can’t connect with someone the same way over the phone that you can sitting face to face with them.
Yes, it costs more money. Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it requires booking a hotel and dealing with some of the misfortunes of travel.
But also, it is an emphatic yes that it is worth it.
You will never regret investing in yourself and your relationships.
– Matt Westheimer
There is no greater asset than relationships.
There is no greater capital than your social capital.
Isaac Newton famously once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Another one of my favorite quotes is by Zig Ziglar: “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help other people get what they want.”
In order to maintain healthy relationships you must make a list of the most important people in your life, connect with them, and always look for ways to contribute to their lives.
We can all be selfish at times but it is important to recognize that and get back to serving others. The greatest way I have found to reduce stress, anxiety, and frustration when things just don’t seem to be going well in my life is to lose myself in service to others.
There is no greater way to influence people than through communication.
Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated communication mastery with his “I Have A Dream Speech.” He mobilised millions of people to fight for equality. John F. Kennedy did the same thing with his “Man on the Moon” speech and in doing so did what was thought to be impossible at the time which was putting a man on the moon. Steve Job’s did so with his iconic new product launch presentations building one of the wealthiest and most influential companies in the world.
Communication is not only oratory in nature. It can also be accomplished through the written word. You have spiritual texts like the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Tao Te Ching, Koran, and Old Testament whose written word has inspired billions of people around the world. You have literary works like Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” that led to the decimation of millions of innocent people. And you have positive pieces like those of Dr. Wayne Dyer, Eckert Tolle, and Viktor Frankl whose literary masterpieces have led to millions of people transforming their lives in a positive way.
Words are powerful. The ability to formulate and articulately present those words is priceless. When we can craft our communication, similarly to the manner in which Michelangelo and Van Gogh paint, we can literally change the world around us.
I just delivered a talk today for a great group of people on the topic of health. Before every talk, I have a routine where I remind myself, “With this opportunity, I have the potential to transform these people’s lives. Make it powerful.” I then follow that up with one of Tony Robbins incantations that he uses every time before he goes on stage which is “I now command my subconscious mind to direct me in helping as many people as possible today; by giving me the strength, the emotion, the humor, the brevity, whatever it takes to get these people to change their lives now.” I repeat that over and over again to influence my physiology and get myself in the maximum state to be present and be influential.
I make it a goal to be able to go to sleep each and every night knowing I gave every conversation, every interaction, and every presentation everything I have because the people I have the opportunity to serve deserve it.
I am certainly not perfect and fall short of my goal many times, but the journey never changes; the process never changes. It was always the goal in the past, is the goal currently, and will always be the goal into the future.
Are you working on YOUR communication?
All the best,
Dr. Matt Westheimer
Time is running out.
What in the world could I be talking about? I am talking about setting your goals for 2016! Some of you might be thinking I am crazy. Some you might be saying to yourself , “It is only October. I still have 3 more months before it’s 2016 and I need to set goals. Pleeeeeeenty of time!” My answer to you – “WRONG.”
Would you walk into a gym and throw your maximum weight on the bar the moment you walked in? Do you get to your office the moment the doors open and it’s time to start the day? Do you study for a meeting or a test the day of the event? Do you plan a presentation the day of the talk? I hope not!
It takes time to “prime the pump.” The term refers to older pumps where the suction valve had to be primed with water in order for it to function properly. The same applies to your goals.
If you want to get the most out of your goals, it is best to have them lined up at least a couple of months before the end of the year so you can plan and prepare to crush them beginning with the start of the new year.
Now is time for me to insert a shameless plug. If you need help with the goal setting process, click here and you can download a free copy of my goal setting e-book.
Seriously though, don’t be like everyone else and wait until the beginning of the year to start setting your goals, or even worse, fail to set any goals at all and just take whatever may come your way.
Happy goal setting!
Dr. Matt Westheimer