Self Improvement

What Children Can Teach Us About Failure

What Children Can Teach Us About Failure

This is my daughter, Allie.

She's my firecracker, my spitfire. She's the epitome of unbending willpower.

Fathering her is a delicate balance between goodnight kisses and unwavering stare-downs over the appropriate number of cookies one should have for dessert.

My boys aren’t like that.

One son is rule-bound and the other finds every way to please us.

But all three share one thing in common; the same thing all children share in common.

They don't worry about being humiliated. They don’t worry about failing.

They just barge ahead.

Two Words That Will Help You Bring Joy to Others

There are exactly two places in the world I feel 100% me.

The first is my home office.

I’ve worked from home for a decade, so have refined every corner of my office for optimal comfort, productivity, and happiness.

Take my typewriter, for example.

It’s my prized Olympia Spendid 66, refurbished and mailed from @mr.mrs.vintage in London. The machines curves and deep navy blue glossy finishes are beautiful. But when I start hammering those keys, it walks right off my desk.

So now, underneath, are four hidden globs of poster putty holding the typewriter within millimeters of my Game of Thrones book set (which is simultaneously on display and positioned for instant reading).

It’s not just the poster putty. Everything in my office is arranged just so. My whiteboard, my pictures, my computer, my chair, my desk. Even my samurai sword is on display, out of reach from my children, but accessible to me for the inevitable zombie invasion.

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The second place I feel 100% me is Hotel Kabuki (@hotelkabuki).

When I walk through the doors of this hotel, unobtrusively located in Japantown San Francisco, I have dreams of buying the place, moving my home office across the country, and living there with my family for the rest of my natural life.

It’s the lobby library, stocked with history books, pop culture references, and classical literature. It’s the vinyl’s in a grid on the wall decorating the front desk. It’s the black and white wall art, squared off modern furniture, fancy phones, and bonsai trees in the garden exercise room.

But what really gets me is the coasters...

For all the grand decorations, coasters seem like a trivial flourish. But the small white round cardboard with its red brushed circle gives a certain zen-like calligraphy feeling, emphasizing a message that I’ve now taken to heart:

“Shine Brightly”

When my brow is furrowed because I’m concerned about how much I’m getting done or thinking too hard about what I’m supposed to be doing next, these two words remind me to keep trying to bring joy to others and to help those near me with what I have and what I’ve learned.


About the Author

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Michael Mehlberg

HUSBAND, FATHER, ENTREPRENEUR, BUSINESS STRATEGIST, AUTHOR, FITNESS NUT, ORGANIZATION FREAK, PRODUCTIVITY JUNKIE

I help high-achieving entrepreneurs live their passion and achieve their dreams by consistently saving time, getting productive, and being more efficient and organized.

Subscribe to my free, short, 60-second newsletter for tips, tricks, links, products, and other discoveries to becoming a more purposeful, passionate, and productive human.

Reset Expectations of What's Possible

Everyone knows it snows in Michigan.

I remember shuffling down the streets of Midland one October, trick-or-treating, with thick ski pants and boots covering my Halloween costume; just a kid with a pillowcase wearing a Chewbacca mask staring out from under a winter hat.

Two feet of snow. In October. And that was in the lower peninsula.

The upper peninsula? That’s no joke.

The people that live up there, lovingly referred to as uppers (pronounced yew-pers), get hammered in the winter.

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Yet, even knowing that, we stopped in awe at a lone sign in the woods. Deep into our seven hour drive, in the northern part of Michigan’s upper peninsula, we stared up at the sky where this sign, 29.5 feet in the air, marked their record snowfall.

When you grow up seeing two to four feet of snow at a time, 29 feet seems unbelievable.

But this sign didn’t lie. It was accurate, and the record it represented has been beaten since.

(Email me a pic if you’ve seen it recently, I didn’t have a camera back then and I’d love to marvel at it’s height again)

This sign, and the extreme snowfall record it represented, reset my expectations of what’s possible. It made me wonder what else I didn’t know, didn’t realize, or couldn’t imagine.

It’s easy to get used to the status quo. But that’s not how to stand out. That’s not how you make the biggest impact. That’s not how to strike awe in your customers.

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Recognizing that, it’s helpful to ask yourself a question—one that will help reframe your expectations of what’s possible:

“What am I continuing to do myself that I’m not good at?”

Think about it. Write it down. Then improve it, eliminate it, or delegate it.

Improve what you’re not good at and raise the bar on what you can accomplish.

Eliminate what you’re not good at and give yourself time to work on more important tasks.

Delegate what you’re not good at and buy yourself energy while allowing for someone more skilled to set the bar higher.

Don’t wait for a sign in the woods. Challenge what you know. Ask yourself this question monthly to reset expectations of what’s possible, what you can focus on, what’s important, and what’s holding you back.


About the Author

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Michael Mehlberg

HUSBAND, FATHER, ENTREPRENEUR, BUSINESS STRATEGIST, AUTHOR, FITNESS NUT, ORGANIZATION FREAK, PRODUCTIVITY JUNKIE

I help high-achieving entrepreneurs live their passion and achieve their dreams by consistently saving time, getting productive, and being more efficient and organized.

Subscribe to my free, short, 60-second newsletter for tips, tricks, links, products, and other discoveries to becoming a more purposeful, passionate, and productive human.

The Real Measure of Success

The Real Measure of Success

I don’t often get excited by bronze statues.

To be honest, bronze statues of basketball players are even less interesting. Despite being 6’4” tall, I’m more of a baseball guy.

But this statue of John Wooden, sitting just outside of Mackey Arena at Purdue University, had me reaching for camera. Not because he played basketball for my Alma Mater (though that is awesome), but because of the Success Pyramid that he developed before being named the “greatest coach of all time” by The Sporting News in 2009.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, I’m not going to tell you. Look him up. You need to know about him, his legacy, and the principles he stands for.

One Life Hack Every High Achieving Entrepreneur Should Know

One Life Hack Every High Achieving Entrepreneur Should Know

It was 4 am, and the house had long since settled into its frame after a day of heavy traffic. Every creak had worked itself out. Every computer had gone into hibernation. Every child had sunken into their slumber.

It was calm. Peaceful. Silent.

My sleep, however, was interrupted by a deep, unsettling feeling that something was wrong. I gasped for air, sucking in oxygen quickly as if my head was forcefully plunged into a bucket of cold water. My eyes shot wide open, searching for the source of trouble, unable to find it in the black of night.

Success Doesn't Make Sacrifices, It Make Choices

Success Doesn't Make Sacrifices, It Make Choices

Your mind is an incredible transportation tool. 

In it, you can travel the world. You can put yourself in others' shoes. You can envision a future, more successful version of yourself. 

Your mind can also flip a bad situation on its head. You can see the good side of things, figuring out how to benefit from a regretful experience. 

Choosing how we view the world is a superpower. One that every human-being shares. 

This power is what incredible athletes, winning entrepreneurs, and high performers use to outperform their competition. They transport themselves into a world where there is only one path: Their path to achieving their goals. 

On this path, they don't make sacrifices. They make choices

Need a Breakthrough? Try Working the Impossible...

For the longest time, I couldn’t squat more than 200 pounds. Though training 5 days a week had quickly pushed me from squatting zero to 195 pounds, adding five extra pounds to the bar felt like adding 1000.

I knew this limit was artificial, manufactured in my brain that tried as best as it could to preserve itself by not taking risks. Regardless, I couldn’t break through. So I looked to a friend and fitness coach for some expert advice:

“Throw 300 pounds on the bar,” he said. “Don’t try to squat it, just put it on your shoulders. Feel the weight, hold it, then re-rack it. Do this a few times, then drop back to 200 lbs and try squatting again.”

It worked.

In theory, nothing had changed. I hadn’t gotten any stronger. I hadn’t learned a new technique or used some new device to artificial increase my lift. I had simply forced my mind to believe that it was possible to hold more weight. And after holding 300 lbs, squatting 200 felt much, much lighter.

What seemingly impossible task are you dealing with right now? What is holding you back from taking that next step towards your goals?

Acknowledge it, but move quickly to build tasks that challenge you. If someone has achieved what you are trying to achieve before, study them. Open your mind to the possibility that, if they can do it, so can you. Push yourself to operate at a new level, even if only briefly. When you come back to your work, what seemed impossible before may be that much easier.

Sometimes, when you get stuck and can’t seem to break through to the next level—when you hit a plateau that prevents you from furthering your goals—showing yourself the impossible is possible can be the breakthrough you need.


About the Author

Mike Mehlberg

In Search of Breakthroughs

Mike is constantly searching for breakthroughs for high-achieving entrepreneurs. Contact him to find out how you can get more productive, align your passion with your vision and purpose, and crush your goals with a balanced, achievable plan for success. 

When the Struggle Gets Real, Remember to Have Fun

Baseball is a game of failure.

Failure to hit the ball. Failure to get on base. Failure to push a runner home. Over and over, play by play, someone, somewhere on the field is failing.

It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just the nature of the game. And, of course, there’s the flip side...

Some games see big hits, great plays, and few failures. Those games you usually win. Other games though, the failures accumulate and you wind up with a loss. Every once in a while, a real struggle sets in where every play seems to end up in error. Small failures build on each other until you see no chance to recover. Deep in your mind, you believe you are going to lose. And so, against all your beliefs and training, you stop trying; you just go through the motions until it’s game over.

Why the monologue on baseball? Because baseball (like any sport) is in microcosm of life.

You’ve faced failure countless times. Maybe you’ve swung at an opportunity and missed. Maybe you ran hard toward your goal, but just couldn’t reach it. Or, maybe you put all your effort into throwing a competitor out, but they somehow managed to slide under your tag and score.

Those are the times you feel the struggle; the times when winning feels too painful too bother trying. But you know you have to... try, that is. The question is, how?

Remember to Have Fun

Yes, have fun. This isn’t empty advice aimed at taking your mind off your problems, though it does help.

No, having fun is a call to action. A call to remember why you are playing the game in the first place. Having fun is actionable advice, reminding you not to take the game you play too seriously. It’s pain medicine administered to

  • prevent burnout,
  • spark creativity, and
  • avoid giving up.

So the next time struggle hits you hard, step back and remember why you started. Remember what made your game fun in the beginning, then go do that.

If you’re a photographer struggling to capture the perfect pic, take some silly photos of your kids, weird looking bird, or whatever. If you are an entrepreneur struggling to capture the next big idea that will skyrocket your company to success, draw some wacky doodles on a whiteboard and brainstorm how you can build and sell whatever you’ve created.

Then, when your mind is at ease and your smile returns, gently guide your mind back to the problem at hand. Transform the fun you had into a renewed energy and focus, leveraging the childlike sense of wonder that first captured your imagination, long ago, before the stakes got too real and everyone started taking themselves too seriously.

Remember to have fun.

About the Author

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Mike Mehlberg

Chief Child in Charge

Mike loves having fun, but often forgets because he’s “too busy” helping entrepreneurs get productive and turn their ideas into reality. Come to think of it, he should probably go have some fun right now. That way, next time you contact him, he’ll be fresh, energized, and ready to rock and roll.

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

On Systems for Continuous Business Improvement

I remember the pain of losing my first sale.

I’d spent nearly $1500 on flights and hotels, taken two days out for travel, and spent another two days preparing for what I thought was going to be a slamdunk meeting.

As it turns out, if you want to slam dunk, you have to clear a path to the basket before you jump.

The funny thing was, my meeting went exceptionally well. I had my talking points, I answered all their questions, I was friendly, funny, and otherwise firing on all cylinders.

But in sales, that’s not always enough...

How to Stay on Track (and Massively Productive) Every Day

How to Stay on Track (and Massively Productive) Every Day

You know what's coming... 

At the end of today, you'll either feel a sense of accomplishment, or like you've wasted another day. 

It's not that you didn't work hard. 

You answered emails. You took phone calls. You attended meetings. You made decisions. 

But for some reason you got nothing done. 

Well, that's not true. You got a lot of other people's work done, just not your own. 

You've made little progress toward your goals. You've been running around solving other people's problems. You've been answering other people's questions, and spending time in other people's meetings.

In other words, you've been working on urgent, but not important tasks. 

There's a solution to this problem. A way to move closer to your goals every day. 

The Entrepreneurs Guide to New Year's Resolutions

The Entrepreneurs Guide to New Year's Resolutions

I'm going to do something that scares the hell out of me. I'm going to share something very personal. Something that took me hours of reflection to create. Something I hesitate to share with friends and family. I'm going to share my new year’s resolution. 

To be clear, you shouldn't care about my new year’s resolution. Sure, it's deeply personal so may be interesting in much the same way secrets and rumors are interesting. But beyond that, it's not the resolution that's important; it's the process by which this resolution is created that will affect your year for the better. 

Every successful entrepreneur I know is out there working hard, working long, and trying to work smart. They are thinking and creating and building. They are searching for a meaningful solution to their customer’s problems and purpose in their lives. Every entrepreneur I know has goals, lists, objectives, and to-do’s. But not many have created a yearly resolution for their business. Not one like this at least.

The new year’s resolution I'm recommending isn't your typical one. It's less of a goal and more of a statement... a guide of sorts. A word or two to live by. Something that, if you get it right, will change yourself and your business for the better in the coming 365 days. 

Learn How to Learn. Yes, There's a Best Way

Learn How to Learn. Yes, There's a Best Way

"Take the controls," she said. She didn't blink, didn't smirk, and didn't waiver. I glanced at her quickly, then again as her words sunk in. Two thoughts flew through my mind:

  1. Was she joking?
  2. Was she serious?!

Our Cessna 172 engine drowned what once was an otherwise quiet airfield. After cranking the engine, the propeller came to life with such force it felt as if the entire aircraft would shake itself apart. The plane rattled uncomfortably on the runway, wanting desperately to fly.

My instructor chattered instructions through the headset for the next 45 minutes, all of which she left me in control of the airplane. From taxi to takeoff, flying to the landing approach, I was in full control (she didn't let me land, it was my first flight after all). 

And through the sweat of this first-time, hands-on experience, I learned more practical information about flying than all the previous books I'd read on the subject combined

Defining Your Renaissance with 27th Renaissance and Modern da Vinci

Defining Your Renaissance with 27th Renaissance and Modern da Vinci

What goals drive your behavior? Which challenges excite your passions? Can you name a few activities that renew and revive you? 

With a little thought, these answers will come. We all have driving goals, exciting challenges, and reviving activities. Whether we consciously know what these goals, challenges, and activities are, they motivate us. But until we make them conscious, they are nothing more than motivators.  By forcing them to be a part of our daily routine, we can turn them into a personal renaissance.

With Brendan McCaughey from 27th Renaissance, we discuss our own renaissance and aim to inspire you to create yours as well.

How Creating a New Daily Habit is the Answer to a Better Self

How Creating a New Daily Habit is the Answer to a Better Self

Since birth, we have been constantly learning. Though it is not something we "feel", we assimilate knowledge and build habits from new experiences daily. In the beginning, learning was effortless. As we grew into adulthood, the roots of our knowledge spread deeper becoming ingrained in us and making it more difficult to pick up new concepts.

This has nothing to do with our intelligence, we are simply creatures of habit... and not just those hard-to-break habits like nail biting. We unknowingly create habits for nearly everything. It's a matter of efficiency. 

Of course, we all wish to break ourselves of those unappealing habits. We design clever tricks to catch ourselves in the act--strings around fingers, random chimes every few minutes, etc. But building a better self is more than eliminating bad habits; it's about creating new, positive, fulfilling ones.