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overload

The Best Advice So Far - overload - Frankenstein-like coconut with lightning striking ear bolts

I’ve mentored teens and young adults for more than 25 years now, and part of that role is inextricably linked to education in some form or other. Whether it’s finally helping kids make sense of the quadratic equation, or teaching them new strategies for dealing with conflict, I love the look that comes over kids’ faces when they finally get whatever it is that’s been stumping them up to that point.

(I equally love the feeling of learning a new thing myself and knowing “that look” has crept over my own face, though I’ve never actually seen it … which is good, because that would be weird.)

As you might imagine, over the course of a couple of decades, I’ve worked with an awful lot of kids and covered an awful lot of topics. One especially fun exchange is whenever I get to explain to a kid for the first time how money works. (And mind you, this is often during high school or even early college years.)

I take out a dollar bill and ask, “How much is this worth?” And they generally say, “A dollar.” And I reply, “Nope. It’s worth basically nothing.”

Mouths quirk in a mix of confusion and curiosity. It’s clear that I’ve got their attention.

I then take out my checkbook and show them a blank check. “How much is this worth?” They generally try to guess the “right” answer at this point. “Nothing?” they’ll ask more than state.

“Yes, that’s right. Nothing. But what if I write it out for one hundred dollars? Then how much is it worth?”

“A hundred dollars?” they suggest, still unsure.

“Nope. It’s still worth nothing. It’s just paper with printing on it, and now some of my handwriting. It’s worth nothing.”

Here’s where I really get them.

“Hold the dollar up to the check. What do you notice?” I ask, handing them the money and the checkbook.

First, they’ll look for words or numbers that match. Not finding any, the realization I was after soon dawns on nearly everyone …


prime time

brightly colored paper clocks

First, let me say … Happy New Year to you! I do hope your holidays were happy and that you are filled with hope and purpose as another year begins.

Leading up to the holidays this year, I’ve been thinking more than usual about time (and for me, “more than usual” is saying something, because I think about time a lot).  I’m tempted to divert from course here and interject some witty or pithy anecdotes about time as I see it; but I’m afraid that, by the time I finally finished my meanderings, I’ll have lost focus regarding what I really came here to say.

So let me get right to it.

My first book was released in print in May of 2015, and it was enjoying positive traction even early on. I was talking often with close friends, dreaming and scheming, plotting our individual courses and buzzing with the unlimited possibilities that lay on the horizon for all of us in various areas. The future was looking bright.

Prior to this, I’d been protective of my creative time, because I knew I’d need to be if I were going to accomplish on time all that goes into the monumental event of releasing a book, particularly one such as The Best Advice So Far, which was not primarily designed to be a point-of-sale item, but rather a precursor to live speaking engagements, a conversation starter – a way of life. I went to bed each night (or, rather, early morning) tuckered out, but happy.

I was investing time into meeting new and like-minded people regularly and cultivating those relationships, both live and through social media – building real connections with others equally passionate about their own quests for adding positivity to the world.

And, of course, I was exploring and experimenting daily with how best to let the world know about the book, the blog and the potential for change that the power of choice can bring. I created engaging media daily, posted often to social sites, and engaged in meaningful conversations with people the world over regarding their experiences with the book and blog.

But somewhere back about late June, something in me shifted. To this day, I can’t really say exactly why or pinpoint the specific details. It wasn’t one event and it didn’t happen overnight. But it happened nonetheless.

I began to be less diligent in guarding my time.

Leading up to that period of time, I’d been investing concerted energy and focus into finishing the book, and that milestone had been reached. Truly, there was never a time during the day when there was nothing left to do in that regard. But I’d succeeded. The book was finally out there. And, as I say, the initial groundswell was encouraging all around.

Maybe in the wake of it all, my system wasn’t used to having free time with no structured “next thing to do.”

Maybe I was just worn down and didn’t realize that my mental defenses were weakened, due to all of the positive energy swirling about.

But, whatever the reason, I began allowing other things to creep in and take over that newly found “free space.”

I started saying “yes” to a lot more requests from people all of a sudden. As I look back, it was seemingly small stuff at first. Things that would “only take an hour or two.”

Or five.

Things that started as a “yes to a couple of hours” somehow turned into “… oh, and just one more thing, if you don’t mind.” And before long, I began to realize that 9 out of 10 times people were contacting me, it was to say, “Hey, Erik, I was wondering if you could just [fill in the blank] for me.” Somehow, I’d forgotten my own advice:

“No” is a complete answer.

As the cool kids say, here’s the sitch.

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