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2018-01-23T17:36:11.815Z
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During my competitive cross-country running days it wasn’t uncommon for me to run five miles at five o’clock in the morning and another nine miles at nine o’clock at night, five days a week.  I was competitive.  I wanted to win races.  And I was smart enough to know that if I dedicated myself to extra training, while my opponents were lounging or socializing, I would often be one step ahead of them when we crossed the finish line.

When I first started these early-morning and late-night runs, the experience was pretty overwhelming.  My body didn’t want to cooperate—it ached and cramped up.  My mind resisted—it came up with a laundry list of excuses.   And I found that the only way to consistently endure the extra training was to disassociate my mind from my body, putting my mind somewhere else while my body ran.

Over time, I became quite proficient at doing this.  I got so good at it, in fact, that I actually looked forward to running.  Because when I ran, my mind was clear, my body was in rhythm, and I was at peace with the world… especially when nobody else was around.  In the midst of what appeared to be a strenuous workout, both my mind and body were in soothingly tranquil states of being… similar to that of a deep meditation.

I don’t compete in races anymore, but I...

If somebody is working on themselves and changing for the better, it’s unnecessary to keep bringing up their past.  People can change and grow.  You know this is true.

But, have you given yourself a fair chance to change and grow, too?

Have you consciously loosened your grip on everything that’s behind you, so you can step forward again with grace?

If you’re shaking your head, you aren’t alone.  I know exactly how you feel.  I’ve been there myself, and I know dozens of others in the same boat.  At times, we all fall victim to our attachments.  And sometimes we don’t even realize we’re blocking our own present blessings by holding on to the past.  Do your best to realize this right now…

Growth is painful.  Change is painful.  But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere in the past.

Let me share a quick true story with you… (more…)

Where you ultimately end up this year is dependent on your daily attitude and response.

This morning one of our course students, Monica—a recovering victim of a very recent and debilitating car accident—was smiling from ear to ear the minute our FaceTime coaching session began.  “What has you in such good spirits today?” I asked her.  “I’m thinking differently about things…about how lucky I am to be alive,” she replied.  “I thought the injuries I sustained in that accident signified the end of life as I know it, but now I realize they signify the beginning.”

All details aside, Monica decided to begin again, in her mind first and then in her life.  It’s taken her several weeks of healing and practice, but she has consciously let go of the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” attachments in her head about her circumstances, and she has stepped forward with grace and determination.  Her new beginning has nothing to do with the recent New Year, and everything to do with a new way of thinking.

Truth be told, even though we’re already several days into 2018, today is really just the beginning, for all of us.  And we can prevent the wrong thoughts and beliefs from getting the best of us as we move forward with our lives.  We can train our minds to make the very best of the...

The New Year means nothing if your mind is still boxed up in its comfort zone.  You know this is true.  Don’t live the same year 89 times and call it a life.

And don’t just think outside the box in 2018…

Think like there is no box.

Free your mind!

How?

Start by asking yourself better questions.

Questions that break you away from all the comforting distractions in your life, so you can refocus your thoughts on what matters most:

1.

2.

3.

4.

(more…)

When you look back on the past year, don’t think of the pain you felt.  Think of the strength you gained, and appreciate how far you’ve come.  You’ve been through a lot, but you’ve grown a lot too.  Give yourself credit for your resilience, and then step forward again with grace.

The next best step forward?

Doing something uncomfortable that will move your life forward.  Let me explain…

Almost two decades ago, when I told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance and regretting my choice, she hugged me and said, “Trust me, kiddo, that’s not what you’re going to regret when you’re my age.  If anything, you will likely kick yourself for not taking more chances on the very real and accessible opportunities you have today.”  And the older I get, the more I realize how right she was.  Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the journey, and realizing that every step is worth it.

But (and this is a big “but”)… you have to be willing to take each step.  You have to (more…)

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

The wisest, most loving, and well-rounded people you have ever met are likely those who have been shattered by heartbreak.  Yes, life creates the greatest humans by breaking them first.  Their destruction into pieces allows them to be fine-tuned and reconstructed into a masterpiece.  Truly, it’s the painstaking journey of falling apart and coming back together that fills their hearts and minds with a level of compassion, understanding, and deep loving wisdom that can’t possibly be acquired any other way.

Angel and I have worked with hundreds of these incredible people over the past decade, both online and offline, through various forms of coaching, side projects, and our live annual conferences.  In many cases they came to us feeling stuck and lost, unaware of their own brilliance, blind to the fact that their struggles have strengthened them and given them a resilient upper hand in this crazy world.  Honestly, many of these people are now our biggest heroes.  Over the years they have given us as much, if not more, than we have given them.  And they continue to be our greatest source of inspiration on a daily basis.

So today, to honor these unlikely heroes of ours, we want to share some of their stories with you

Ten years from now, it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of clothes you wore.  What will matter is how you lived, how you loved, and what you learned along the way.

Deep down you know this already, right?

Yet today, just like the majority of us, you are easily distracted and derailed by the insignificant.

You give too much of your time to meaningless time-wasters.

You step through days, skeptically, with inner resistance.

You take your important relationships for granted.

You get caught up in hurtful drama.

You give in to your doubts.

And the list goes on.

But why?

Why do you follow these hurtful patterns of behavior?

Why do you set yourself up for regret when you know better?

Because (more…)

“A 10-year-old patient of mine will be undergoing her 14th surgery in three years’ time to combat a rare and aggressive type of cancer.  Even after all the medical procedures and surgeries, I’ve never seen her frown—I’ve never seen her skip a beat.  Although the odds continue to work against her, I’m certain her attitude, acceptance and presence are the principal reasons she has lived so well to this point.  She’s still positively engaged in living her life to the fullest.  She laughs and plays with her friends and family.  She has realistic, intelligent goals for the upcoming year that she’s already working on.  A kid like her who can go through everything she’s been through and wake up every day with enthusiasm for the life she’s living, is the reason I’m enrolled in your course.”

That’s the opening paragraph of an email I received this morning from (more…)

Tragedy strikes a woman who isn’t yet old.  A minivan traveling toward her on a dark mountain highway hits her car nearly head-on just after sunset.  She grips her steering wheel as hard as she can and veers into the rocky mountainside until her car screeches to a halt.  The minivan flips onto its side and skids in the other direction off a cliff, plummeting nearly 500 feet to the ground below.  Inside, a young family of five on their way to grandma’s house for Christmas Eve dinner.

The woman doesn’t recall the events that followed during the next several days.  She doesn’t recall the three eye witnesses who comforted her and assured her that it wasn’t her fault—that the other driver had swerved into her lane.  She doesn’t recall how she got to the emergency room or the fact that (more…)

It’s time for a quick story about life, gratitude, and inner strength…

Once upon a time there was a woman in her mid-sixties who noticed that she had lived her entire life in the same small town.  And although she had spent decades enthusiastically dreaming about traveling and seeing the world, she had never taken a single step to make this dream a reality.

Finally, she woke up on the morning of her 65th birthday and decided that now was the time!  She sold all of her possessions except for some essential items she needed, packed these items into a backpack, and began her journey out into the world.  The first several days on the road were amazing and filled with awe—with every step forward she felt like she was finally living the life she had dreamed.

But a few short weeks later, the (more…)

Earlier today, I was sitting on a park bench eating a sandwich for lunch when an elderly couple pulled their car up under a nearby oak tree.  They rolled down the windows and turned up some jazz music on the radio.  Then the man got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, and opened the door for the woman.  He took her hand and helped her out of her seat, guided her about ten feet away from the car, and they slow danced for the next half hour under the oak tree.

It was a beautiful sight to see.  I could have watched them forever.  And as they wrapped things up and started making their way back to the car, I clapped my hands in admiration.

Perhaps doing so was obnoxious.  Perhaps I should have just appreciated being a silent witness.  But I was so caught up in the moment—so incredibly moved—that my hands came together before my conscious mind caught on.  And I’m sincerely grateful they did, because what happened next inspired the words you’re reading now.

The elderly couple slowly (more…)

Let me share three quick stories and some life-changing lessons with you…

  • This morning at a train stop near the hospital, a man and his three young kids got on.  The kids were loud and completely out of control, running from one end of the train car to the other.  An annoyed passenger sitting next to me looked over at the man and asked, “Is there a reason you’re letting your kids go nuts right now?”  The man looked up with tears in his eyes and said, “The doc just told me their mother isn’t going to make it.  Sorry, I’m just trying to think before we all sit down at home to talk about this.”
  • Two of my ex-coworkers actually laughed at me last year when I told them I dreamed of opening my own hair salon.  When I spoke with you and Angel on a coaching call that same day, Angel said something like, “We’ve known quite a few people who went after their dreams and succeeded.  One thing they all had in common was they got laughed at in the process.”  That advice really pushed me forward.  And I’m proud to say I opened my salon almost six months ago, and business is really taking off.  But to think I almost didn’t do it … I almost took my ex-coworkers’ negativity to heart!
  • Today one of my regular customers, a really grumpy elderly man who has...

I was writing at a local beachside coffee shop when a young woman approached me.  “You’re Marc, right?” she asked.

I looked up at her.  She had piercing eyes, a pierced nose, an elegant smile… but nothing that rang a bell.  “I’m sorry.  Do I know you?” I inquired politely.

“No,” she replied.  “But I know you.”  She swiftly walked back to the table where she’d been sitting, picked up her iPad, and carried it over to me.  On the screen was our blog, Marc and Angel Hack Life.  “You look just like your photo,” she said in a chipper tone.

I smiled.  “So you’re one of the three people in this town who read it.”

She blushed.  “What I like about your writing is that it’s so real.”

I cleared my throat.  “Real?” I asked.

“I mean . . . you don’t hide anything.  You say it just like it is.  And that gives me hope.”

“How do you know that I don’t hide anything?” I asked.

She paused, tilted her head slightly and squinted her eyes as if, maybe, to look for something inside me that she had missed before.  “Well, your words seem so, so . . . honest.”

Her compliment was appreciated, but it didn’t feel fair.  Perhaps because I’m not always good at accepting compliments, or perhaps because I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty lately . . . and how I sometimes fall short.

“There are some things...

I’m sitting here on the tenth anniversary of a dear friend’s passing, thinking about the last conversation I had with her.  With a soft, weak voice she told me her only regret was that she didn’t live every year with the same level of love, passion and purpose she had in the final two years of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  “I’ve accomplished so much recently.  And I’ve touched so many people,” she told me.  “If only I had listened to the good advice of my elders—if only I had known—I would have started sooner.  I wouldn’t have wasted so much time on drama and distractions that don’t matter.”

My friend’s words were hard to hear in that moment, for many reasons.  And although her sentiments—her lessons—were concepts I had listened to others say a hundred times before, I had never truly heard them until that moment.  My heart broke wide open for her, and for me.  It was downright painful to see the glimmers of regret in her eyes, and then to realize that I too had wasted time … that I too had let so much good, common sense advice go in one ear and out the next.

For a decade now, I’ve lived (more…)

A petite, light-skinned Jamaican woman sits with her husband in a crowded beachside ice cream shop in Miami.  Although she doesn’t speak loudly or occupy much space in the room, people notice her.

Her hair is long, flowing and black like a windy night.  Her lips are soft and red like rose petals.  Her curves are subtle, yet they dip and bend in all the right places.  Her skin is smooth, brown, maple cream.  And her clothes are modest, accentuating everything, while exposing nothing at all.

She knows why they’re looking at her.  “It’s because I’m not white,” she says.  “It’s because we’re an interracial couple and they don’t understand why you’re with me.”

Her husband groans and closes his eyes.  There’s nothing he can say.  They’ve already had this conversation a hundred times before.  He threads his fingers through his hair in frustration and watches as (more…)

She has light brown hair, a seductive smile, and the most engaging set of hazel-green eyes I’ve ever seen.  It’s the kind of engaging I can’t ignore—the kind that makes me want to engage too.  Because she’s mysterious.  And I’m curious.  And I need to know more.

Yet, I do my best to avoid making eye contact.  So I stare down at the pool table and pretend to study my opponent’s next move.  But only long enough for her to look the other way, so I can once again catch a glimpse of magnificence.

I do this, not because she intimidates me, but because I think she may be the girl Chad met last night.  A wild night that, he said, “involved two bottles of port wine, chocolate cake, and sweaty bed sheets.”

Then, just as her eyes unexpectedly meet mine, (more…)

In the early 1990’s, 12-year-old Severn Suzuki was passionately obsessed with real world issues like poverty, ocean pollution, and global warming.  She was just a child, but she also understood that the decisions adults made concerning these issues would impact her life and the lives of all children for generations to come.  And she believed she and other children should have a voice and be present during critical global meetings on these issues.

Severn boldly set her sights on attending the next United Nations (UN) Conference.  At the time, in over 50 years, no child had ever attended a UN Conference—a formal meeting where ambassadors from nearly every developed country come together to openly discuss the future health of the world.  But Severn believed it was time to change this—it was time for children to have a voice too.  So not only was she determined to figure out how to attend, but she resolved to make sure her voice was heard loud and clear too.

Severn applied to attend the UN Conference through the environmental non-profit she and her friends founded when they were all just 9-years-old.  And when her application was accepted—not because of her age, but because she had helped build a relevant non-profit—she knew it was just the beginning.

When Severn arrived at the UN Conference she hit the ground running with one goal in mind:

In 1911, two explorers, Amundsen and Scott, embarked on a race against each other to become the first known human being to set foot upon the southernmost point of Earth.  It was the age of Antarctic exploration, as the South Pole represented one of the last uncharted areas in the world.  Amundsen wished to plant the Norwegian flag there on behalf of his country, while Scott hoped to stake his claim for England.

The journey there and back from their base camps was about 1,400 miles, which is roughly equivalent to a round-trip hike from New York City to Chicago.  Both men would be traveling the same exact distance on foot through extremely cold and harsh weather conditions.  And both men were equally equipped with experience, supplies, and a supporting team of fellow explorers.  But what wasn’t certain is how each of them would approach the inevitable challenges they faced on the road ahead.

As it turned out, Amundsen and Scott took entirely different approaches to the very same challenges.

Scott directed his team to hike as far as possible on the good weather days and then rest on bad weather days to conserve energy.  Conversely, Amundsen directed his team to follow a strict regimen of consistent daily progress by hiking exactly 20 miles every day, regardless of weather conditions.  Even on the warmest, clear-sky days, when Amundsen’s team was capable of hiking much farther, Amundsen was absolutely adamant that...

In the final decade of his life, my grandfather woke up every single day at 7AM, picked a fresh wild flower on his morning walk, and took it to my grandmother.  One morning, I decided to go with him to see her.  And as he placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked up at me and said, “I just wish I had picked her a fresh flower every morning when she was alive.  She really would have loved that.”  As you can imagine, my grandfather’s words touched a nerve in me.  And over the years I’ve often reflected on what he said that morning, and how his sentiment relates to everyone and everything I care about.

God willing, when I’m on the cusp of my 80’s, I don’t want to sit with regrets.  I don’t want to wish I had done things differently—especially something as simple, yet meaningful, as picking wild flowers for the love of my life.

Don’t you agree?

To an extent, I know you do.

In the end, more than anything else, we regret (more…)

This afternoon I took my son, Mac, to the community playground.  As I was chatting with another parent, I looked over and saw Mac’s eyes welling up with tears.  I ran over to him and asked what was wrong, but all he could do at that moment was quiver his bottom lip.  So I turned to a young teenage girl swinging on the swings and asked her to tell me what happened.  She explained that two bullies had been teasing Mac and calling him names for the past few minutes.  “I told them to stop,” she said.  “But they kept calling him smelly and telling all the other little kids that he pooped in his pants.  And then all the other little kids stopped playing with him.  Those bullies are so mean!”

I felt my heart aching and racing at the same time.  “Where are those bullies now?” I asked.

Mac suddenly spoke up.  “They (more…)