Great Reading – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

51y1-une0elEvery Monday, for more than twenty years, a guy named Roy Williams has sent a memo to his friends, fans, clients, and subscribers called the Monday Morning Memo

Every Monday! Period. He never misses. The “memo” is interesting. Sometimes it applies to what I’m doing. Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes it smacks me in the face like a 2×4.

This week’s was one of his best …ever! It’s about the story we tell ourselves is how our story unfolds. What story are you telling yourself?

I encourage you, read the whole thing. Subscribe. Read it weekly.

The most important stories I tell, by far, are the stories I tell about myself, to myself. Those stories are the source of my identity and the foundation of my purpose in life. Here’s the truth…

  1. Whether good or bad, your current circumstances are temporary.
  2. Success is temporary.
  3. Failure is temporary.
  4. Your future depends on your choices.
  5. Your choices depend on what you believe.
  6. What you believe is not determined by what you see and hear, but by how you interpret what you see and hear.
  7. How you interpret what you see and hear is determined by the stories you tell yourself, about yourself.

He asks…

Who do you believe yourself to be? What do you believe about this world we live in? What does the future hold?

Then he asks…

Did you experience 5 years of life during the past 5 years? Or did you experience 1 year of life 5 times? Don’t let 2018 be the 6th straight year of 1 years’ experience.

Then he begs…

Do something new. Tell yourself a different story about yourself.

I beg myself to do the same, and beg you, too.


OK. I’ll Try Meditation

meditation_20171214A few things are universal in the self-help and coaching world.

  1. Exercise daily
  2. Avoid starches and sugars
  3. Sleep at least 7-hours each night
  4. Meditate

I’ve tried meditating. It’s difficult. My brain is the kind of brain that never stops. During the guided meditation session below, I drifted away at least 6 times. Thought about Christmas gifts I haven’t bought for my wife and when I do buy them, they’re going to suck compared to what she gives me. I thought about three Leads and a few people I need to call for appointments, I thought about my overdue library items and the current $15 fine, I thought about going to see Star Wars tonight, and a few other things.

Each time I came back to the meditation because I remember the lesson – meditation is a process that takes time and practice – like golf …or playing a musical instrument.

The world provides no shortage of meditation guides, tips, and Apps, but this one (also shown below) from Michigan State University’s own Professor Karl Gude (College of Communications Arts & Sciences) is as good as any (and he designed it to tap into creativity, which goes along with something else I want to rekindle, which is writing).

I’m going to try this every morning, as the first thing I do, from now until the end of the year.  Oh, and something that bothered me while doing this meditation was the fact I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes and my sides hurt. I need to work on that.

Were you thinking about adding meditation to your 2018 resolutions? Maybe this will help.

Information or Confirmation?

logo2I start every day with the Darren Daily. He’s a guru/life coach and I take everything free he gives me. And if I had some extra scratch, I would quite likely take one of his courses.

This morning, he talks about how we consume information. He makes the case that we like information more as confirmation of what we already think more than we like to actually learn and be informed.

Who isn’t guilty of that? He points out the way you consume news (Fox or MSNBC, New York Times or Drudge Report) is proof of this. Believe it or not, I have a theory that you need to watch Sean Hannity and listen to Rush Limbaugh, and then watch Rachel Maddow and Stephen Colbert, then read articles in various publications and only then can you find the middle, the truth, and form your own opinion.

Gasp. I have my own opinion? Well, I try.

Darren’s lesson, however, wasn’t political. It was about our work, personal, and spiritual life.  For me, I need to apply it to my work life.

Very soon I will celebrate 20 years in radio advertising sales. I’m an “old dog”, yet I want to learn “new tricks”. I desperately want to work with the energy, optimism, and open-mindedness of a guy (or gal) just breaking into the business. I want my mind to be free of the “we’ve never done it that way ” or “you can’t do it that way” mentality that creates roadblocks before I even try.

A guy on the staff “cold called” via Facebook Messenger and landed a great big account. Before he did that I would probably have said everything is about seed-letters (by mail) and cold-calls (using an actual phone).

But good lord! It’s 2017. A “cold call” is an old term. It’s more philosophical than literal. If someone gets a random email, or Facebook Message, or LinkedIn message, or Tweet, or we connect on SnapChat and I start telling him about what I do for a living and how I might be able to help his biz …it’s still “cold”. And think about it …someone pointed out we all hate getting phone calls because we …dont’ …have …time.

That “we hate phone calls” concept came from Gary Vaynerchuck as did this…

Gary Vaynerchuk, another guru type guy, has a podcast and last week (listen here) he addressed “sales” and scolded his audience for having dozens of extra ways to “cold call”, prospect, and make sales and yet when he asked for a show of hands from the audience on who’s using LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube and other connecting apps and networks, he laughed at the lack of raised hands.

“Do you know how many of you have a point-of-view on what Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can do for your business and you’ve never used the fuckin’ product?”  -Gary Vaynerchuk

In my day-to-day worklife, it’s time I, too, embrace change and seek out information that is less confirmation and more instigation, aggitation, and frustration. Only then will I grow. I will shake up my own comfort-zone to eliminate complacency and a victim mentality.

Send me a Snap or Instagram DM. Please. Together let’s get outta our old-timer comfort zones.

Snapchat: donkowalewski




Beginning Again

I’ve let some things slide. I don’t make and sell my Donnie Jalapeno Salsa, anymore. It’s the best salsa that anyone has ever made, anywhere, and I owe the world my salsa (did that sound dirty?).

I don’t write, anymore. I used to write for myself, for, for clients, and other random stuff. I wrote random articles on a variety of topics through a site looking for website content. I wrote two books. Two. Books. Dammit. I’m not the best writer in the world, but if you give me an hour, I’ll churn something out.

I miss the “old me” who would get home from bowling on a Thursday night and then make 30 or 40 containers of salsa and sell it all weekend. It gave me some nice walking-around cash. I miss creating and telling stories.

I think my happiness level would increase if I got back to doing some of these other things.

Oh, and I used to run 5Ks and train for triathlons. Really. I did stuff like that. Now, I do nothing like that.

Sure. I coach two of my children’s soccer teams, and the three kids and their activities keep me busier than I was 4 or 5 years ago, but I still feel like I’m making excuses when I don’t do my “side hustle.”

What’s a “side hustle?” It’s something the great Gary Vaynerchuk talks about when you have a full time job and a dream. The “dream” is your “side hustle.” He also has great thoughts about actual “hustle.”  I can’t find his definitive blog post on “side hustle”, but essentially it’s respecting that 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., but your “side hustle” is that passion project you do from 5:00 p.m. until midnight when you can’t go on another minute, and then you go to sleep for 6.5 hours, wake up, and start the “hustle” over again.

So? The question for myself, and maybe you, is what is that thing you always dreamed about?

For me, it’s . . .

  1. Write my memoir (don’t laugh, it’s actually more than a memoir)
  2. Establish a Donnie Jalapeno business model
  3. Write again for money

Now. How to fit that into my world. Give me #44 days.

Fear, Loathing, Hesitation, and Whining

I’m not a firefighter.

I’m not a cop.

I’m not serving in our military and I’m not deployed to a war zone.

I’m not a tight-rope walker.

Why do I bring this up?

I listened to Tim Ferriss’s recent Podcast titled, “How to Overcome Fear – Lessons from Firefighter and Luger, Caroline Paul,” and something really struck me . . . my “fear” is not real fear. Do you “fear” things that, truly, shouldn’t invoke fear and the natural biological reactions that usually accompany a dangerous situation? I remember one time, when my first-born was really small, I was out for a walk pushing her in a rickety stroller, and a stray pit-bull approached us. This thing didn’t look like it was doing well – it was trotting, but limping, and sat down. Then got up and started walking, again. It came right up and started sniffing my daughter and I tried to spin the stroller around and put myself between the dog and my 1-year-old. The pit-bull didn’t like this and my quick movements made it angry. The pit-bull stopped and barked. I grabbed my daughter out of her safety buckles and lifted her over my shoulder. She started crying. She was afraid. I was afraid. Dogs, I’ve been told, sense fear. The dog got excited because, now, the toy (my daughter) or meal (again, my daughter) it wanted was being taken away, and was making noise, and I was making quick, jerky, defensive movements. I tried to remain calm, fully aware that acting and being excited would be seen as aggressive. The dog started jumping on me. Kinda playfully. But kinda aggressive. Pit-bulls are full of muscle and strength. I spotted a fenced-in yard about a hundred feet away. I began slowly walking towards this yard with my daughter on my shoulder (still crying …the dog definitely startled her), and leaving the stroller in the road. The dog started barking more and more (I think it was barking, “give me the baby and no harm will come to you, old man …and I’ll only eat one leg …I promise.”) It was walking and barking a few feet behind me. My plan was to throw my daughter over the fence and then jumped the fence, myself, in hopes the standard chain link fence would be tall enough to foil the dog’s pursuit. The dog’s barking turned to angrier snarling as I got to the fence and moved my crying daughter from my shoulder gently to the ground in this stranger’s yard. Snarling. Barking. Then it was my turn to hop the fence and when I quickly (quick movements don’t keep a dog calm) jumped onto the fence to throw myself over, the pit-bull saw this as aggression and bit my leg and jumped at the fence. His jaws didn’t lock. He loosened his grip to try for another chomp and because I was falling over the fence, my leg went flying and I fell over (almost on top of my daughter sitting on the ground crying). The dog was angry. Barking. Snarling. Jumping on the fence. I grabbed my daughter and went to this stranger’s back porch to catch my breath and calm down and . . . and I really don’t know what else. If that dog had jumped the fence, these people weren’t home, and I was trapped in their yard. Luckily, the dog ran back and forth along the fence. Barking. Jumping on the fence. Then it ran quickly around the perimeter (smart fuckin’ dog) trying to find an opening or get a better view, but the fence was enough. I knocked a few times on the homeowner’s door wall (or sliding glass door for those not from Michigan), but they weren’t home. I calmed my crying daughter and pulled up a chair at their patio set.

And waited. 

The pit-bull eventually got bored and slowly walked away. When it was out of site, and was out of site for 5-minutes, I hopped the fence. Got the stroller and put my daughter in it. And then I very, very (very) quickly got the two of us home. Quite an adrenaline rush. Quite a lot of fear. Quite a feeling of helplessness.

Quick aside to dog-lovers and tough-guys . . . you can judge me for being afraid, but I was. This dog was big, had no collar, and was aggressive. Sure, some of you would’ve probably knelt down in non-threatening way and calmed the dog. Fair enough. But I was scared and had read and heard enough stories about stray pit-bulls mauling small children and old men, so I wasn’t going to channel my inner-Crocodile Hunter.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, sometimes I’ll sit and wonder why I’m “scared to make a tough phone call” and I think I’m not alone. If I was alone, and crazy about every-day bullshit “fear”, there wouldn’t be hundreds of articles about overcoming fear of public speaking, cold-calling, dating, opening a business, writing a book, or dozens of other things (my favorite …”fear of failure.”).

An angry pit-bull made me scared. But today, I’m going to start differentiating real terror and the anxiety that comes with it (like knocking on the door of a drug dealer’s house with a gun drawn like a police officer) and being slightly-uncomfortable about a conversation, phone-call, or project.


Always Searching for the Next Perfect Breakfast

My breakfast is usually the following:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp Macca powder
  • 1 tsp Chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Green Vibrance
  • 1 tbl spoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbl spoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbl spoon melted grass fed Kerrygold butter

And I use it to wash down 200mg magnesium tablet and a baby aspirin. And then I enjoy a cuppa coffee.

Is it balanced? Does it lack protein? Does it taste good?

Other days, I’ll have an egg and diced spinach (and sometimes some lean turkey sausage).

But I’ll try this granola dust – soon.

American Ninja Worrier?

I’m worried about 2015. In many ways, 2014 was my best year, ever. But I’m worried …what if I look back some day and say, “wow, 2014 was the peak? That was as good as I’ve ever been and will ever be?”

I’m really, really good at worrying. I didn’t worry about much for most of my life. I always just kinda thought, “hey, things will work out …they always do.” Then I started worrying about stuff (“stuff” I shouldn’t worry about) half way through 2013 and in 2014, I took my worrying to the next level, man! Worrying so much it effected my sleep and eating and day to day performance.

My 2015 resolution will be to change “worrying” into “warrioring” (not a word, I know). I talk a big game, but my “game” could actually benefit from better game-planning and definitely execution. And when I say “warrioring” (that word I invented), I truly mean fighting a battle. A battle against my fear. A battle against my lack of confidence in certain situations. A battle against my procrastinating. A battle against my feelings of unworthiness.

Over this last week I’ve been watching American Ninja Warrior. For the most part, this is a boring show. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a buncha really physically fit dudes running through an impossibly difficult obstacle course. Over and over and over, contestant after contestant after contestant, but they’re always competing to head to Vegas, and from there they might head to Japan to compete and as far as I can tell, no American has ever completed Japan’s Ninja obstacle course. Trust me …it’s fun to watch for about a 1/2-hour, but after that, it’s pretty much the same thing on repeat. Don’t ask why I ended up watching it for 4 days straight and logged about 20 hours of viewing.

But I did manage to get something out of this show. The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things. And I was blessed with a fairly healthy body …which is truly a gift …and I don’t really take care of this body. Or my mind. And sometimes my soul.

While driving home after a nice long weekend, my kids and my wife and I saw the Power Ball and Mega Millions highway billboards indicating the jackpots were at $170-million and $100-million and we all started telling what we’d do and buy if we had all that money.

One of my kids said, “I’m going to pray we win that.”

It’s OK. She’s a kid and it’s my job to explain we don’t “pray” to God for a lottery jackpot. We pray for help and guidance and enlightenment. We pray (or meditate, or reflect, or philosophize …if theism isn’t your thing, it’s OK) that we can know ourselves and realize we have what we need to get what we need, and sometimes what we want. And we should realize true enlightenment and “getting what we want” should come with the benefit of helping other people and/or making the world a better place.

Like, if I won $170-million, I told my kids I could quit my job, but only to take another job working for a charity or volunteer organization and I’d be able to work 8, 10, or 12 hour days changing the world. I’m not sure they understood what I was saying, exactly.

After the “what I’d do if I won the lottery” conversation, I went back to driving and everyone went back to their books and electronic devices and I started thinking …wait. I’ve already won the lottery. And I win it again every day when I wake up and my lungs fill with air (not always the case for me) and I get to hug and kiss my kids and wife. I have a roof over my head. I eat food every day and drink clean water (Seth Godin had a really good blog sorta related to this). I have access to medication and doctors and that’s because I had two great parents that worked hard so I would have access to everything I needed and who explained and showed me the importance of an education and hard work and how to have a healthy, happy marriage and relationships and friendships.

What does this have to do with American Ninja Warrior? Well, American Ninja Warrior shows what the human body can do when it’s pushed to it’s limits. My body sometimes only succeeds in showing what a stomach is capable of when pushed to its limits (meaning I eat alot, too much, and to extremes).

We can talk about what we’d do “if we won the lottery” or “if I was 10 years younger” or “if I was taller” or “if I didn’t have kids and a mortgage” but the truth is, we can daydream about what we would and could do if this was this and that was that, but if we’re not already doing everything we can with what we’ve been given, we’re lying to ourselves about how great life would be with $170-million in the bank.

I want to spend the next 6 months training as if I’ll be auditioning for American Ninja Warrior.

I want to spend the next 6 months writing as if I’ll be on American Author Warrior and working at my job like there’s a show called America’s Best Sales Warrior … and I’m going to win.

I may never get the chance to count $170-million in my bank account, but I need to take the time and count my blessings daily …because that’s the jackpot I’ve already won.

In 2015 I’m going to commit to “worrying” less and turning that negative energy into more positive energy. And I’m going to make a t-shirt that says, “What? Me warriory?” Who’s with me and would you buy that shirt?