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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

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Scott Ginsberg Interviews Dixie Dynamite on Starting Over

What’s stopping you from starting over?

For a list called, “100 Self-Consultative Questions,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Publisher, Artist, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Keep Backbone Engaged

You can only nurture pointless relationships for so long.

Sometimes, you have to be willing to hold a courageous conversation to reinforce your boundaries.

Otherwise your life is no longer your own.

This isn’t just about saying no.

This is about filtering your life.
This is about safeguarding your time.
This is about honoring your boundaries.
This is about televising your priorities.

If want to keep backbone engaged, try these moves:1. Reject invitations that don’t serve you. If you don’t make conscious choices about the individuals you allow to participate in your life, you won’t like your life. Period.

For example, I recently received an email from a woman I didn’t know very well. Her request was as follows:

“I’m going through a major life change and need advice from lots of people who aren’t close to the situation so they don’t approach it with a bias. Would you be willing to hear what it is and share your thoughts? I’d greatly appreciate it.”

Although my ears were flattered by the bend request, my heart told me to stay away. Not that I wasn’t sympathetic to her life situation. But I barely knew her. And this request came out of nowhere. Out of respect, I replied affirmatively and sympathetically:

“Thanks for reaching out. Sounds like you’re going through quite the adventure. Currently, I’m already over committed and won’t be able to offer my ears. Good luck.”

That’s how you keep backbone engaged. As Julia Cameron explained in Walking This World, “Don’t turn yourself into a food source for others, allowing them to dine freely on your time, talents and reserves.”

Remember: Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who use you as a garbage dump for their emotional refuse. Who is a chronic abuser of your time and attention?

2. You don’t have to react to every attention magnet. Saying no doesn’t make you snobby; it makes you discerning. Just because somebody wants to arrange a meeting with you so can he can pick your brain for two hours – and, ultimately, take no action on the advice you give him – doesn’t mean you should feel obligated accept the invite.

And certainly, there will always be incidents when making yourself available as a resource is a generous, worthwhile endeavor. Personally, I do this on a regular basis as a way to pay forward the help I once received.

But you’re not a lunch whore. And your time isn’t just valuable – it’s billable.

Besides, in order to be fair to everybody, if you said yes to one person, you would have to say yes to all of them. And that would result in you working a hundred hours a week.

Look: Nobody likes to be rejected, and nobody likes rejecting. But you can’t let the undertow of social guilt whisk you away into an endless spiral of unnecessary obligations you clearly loathe. Otherwise you’ll wind up interacting with people in a false performance mode, which is actually worse than not being there at all. Who is helping you build a future that you’re going to feel obligated to be a part of?

3. Speak up at the slightest sense of discomfort. If you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, people will set them for you. And then they will violate them. And then they will tell their friends to do the same. All because you failed to set a precedent of value.

Not because they’re terrible people – but because you never taught them how to treat you.

To avoid this, be prolific in your communication. Constantly educate people on your priorities. Especially those who are habitually taxing, or whose perpetual laziness constantly begs your assistance. Otherwise, in the absence of communication, people will make up their own story. And it probably won’t match yours.

When all else fails, sometimes you just have to look people in the eye and say:

“Let’s get something straight: I’m not your playmate, I’m not your project manager and I’m not your delegation receptacle. We’re done.”

Remember: Don’t be unfair to yourself by continuing relationships with people who abuse your energy. You’re a person – not a welcome mat. Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?

4. Everybody has a saturation point. When you simply don’t have the personal bandwidth to sit down with every stranger who wants to siphon your genius, you need to have alternative responses ready.

Here’s what I would do: Make a list of the top twenty questions one of these bloodsuckers usually asks. Answer each question in a paragraph. Save the file in a convenient location. Then, when the time comes, simply say:

“You’ve raised several key issues that I’d be happy to address. Here’s a helpful document I’ve put together that answers most of your questions. If you need anything else beyond that, feel free to holler. Thanks.”

That’s called a deflection. And it works because it’s respectful, positions you as an approachable resource; yet still reinforces your boundaries.

The best part: Instead of draining your creative bank account, abusing your energy and exploiting your brainpower for their benefit, most people will thank you, review the document, and never bother you again. What’s your system for rejecting people respectfully?

REMEMBER: Martin Luther King famously said, “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.”

Filter your life.
Safeguard your time.
Honor your boundaries.
Televise your priorities.

Keep backbone engaged.

What are you prepared to say no to?

For the list called, “11 Things to Stop Wasting Your Time On,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!

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How to Walk Away

A song that chokes me up almost every time I hear it is, “Walkway,” by Ben Harper.

In the chorus, he sings:

With so many people to love in my life, why do I worry about one?
But you put the happy in my ness; you put the shine in my sun.
And it’s so hard to do, and so easy to say.
But sometimes, sometimes, you just have to walk away.

Walk away from toxic environments.
Walk away from broken relationships.
Walk away from valueless affiliations.
Walk away from soul-sucking activities.
Walk away from burdensome obligations.
Walk away from unfulfilling opportunities.

If you’ve been getting the sneaking suspicion that it’s time to quit something, someone or somewhere, consider these suggestions to get your feet moving in the right direction:1. Watch for the warning signs. People walk away for two reasons: Either because it’s hard, or because it’s right. Your challenge is to create a filter. To make an agreement with yourself that, upon feeling certain feelings, you’re gone.

Here’s a few from my own list, with some help from my daily Facebook fill in the blank exercise.

If you’re not waking up happy, it’s time to walk away.
If growing is no longer possible, it’s time to walk away.
If even the truth sounds like a lie, it’s time to walk away.
If sticking around is holding you back, it’s time to walk away.
If money is the only thing keeping you around, it’s time to walk away.
If the pain of holding on exceeds the risk of letting go, it’s time to walk away.
If you secretly realize that you’ve been settling for mediocrity all along, it’s time to walk away.

Ultimately, it’s not about saying no – it’s about setting healthy boundaries. It’s not about giving up – it’s about recognizing a completed life cycle. And it’s not about being selfish – it’s about being aware of yourself, staying loyal to yourself and having respect for yourself. How will you know when it’s time to walk away?

2. Walking away makes room. In an articled called Sometimes Your Happiness Depends on Walking Away, Kristen Houghton explained that too often we focus so much on a door that has closed abruptly and unexpectedly in our faces that we don’t realize that the world is full of other doors that are open to us.

“Letting go of what occurred and walking away from a closed door is difficult. It is human nature to want to stop and bang on that door in the fierce hope that it will open up again and let us in. But you won’t find your happiness demanding that a locked door reopen. All you will do is miss alternate avenues of opportunities that are available to you.”

That’s what I’ve learned in my own walkaway experiences: Sometimes we have to say no the good to create room to say yes to the best. Besides: Terminated from a job doesn’t mean terminated from life. Breaking up with your girlfriend doesn’t mean you’re a broken person. And ending your affiliation with an organization that’s outlived its usefulness doesn’t make you selfish.

But, if you’re in danger of becoming someone you don’t like, you need to walk away. Otherwise you’ll sabotage your chances of evolving into something better. Are you bloodying your knuckles knocking on a locked door that’s closed from the other side?

3. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of emotion. Walking away from anything is a painful rope to cut. Especially when it involves someone you love – or something central to your identity. Personally, I once divorced myself from an entire group of close friends that I’d known since childhood.

The reason: They thought cocaine was cool – I didn’t.

So I bailed. And the next day, I experienced a bona-fide anxiety attack. You know, the kind that makes you feel like the entire world is closing in on your lungs? That’s how my body responded to walking away. Which isn’t entirely surprising, as relationships are fundamental to my Personal Constitution.

What’s interesting, though, is that none of my old friends ever called to ask where I was. Apparently, my absence wasn’t enough to warrant any follow up. Weird. I think that’s the hardest part about walking away: Knowing in your heart that people aren’t going to come chasing after you.

Fortunately, the few close friends I had left helped me navigate the pain. And I made it out alive. That’s the good news: Walking away from a closed door usually helps you find a key to open a new one. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true – not to thine own group of friends you don’t even like anymore be true.” How will walking away make you feel – really?

4. Scratch your itch elsewhere. It’s always easier to walk away from something if you view it as a springboard. As a stepping-stone to something better. Take organizational involvement, for example. From faith communities to volunteer positions to professional associations, too often we’re afraid to throw in the towel – even when we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns.

We’ve simply invested too much emotional labor, and walking away would be too painful.

Which makes total sense. I’ve certainly been guilty of sticking around somewhere for too long out of guilt. But life’s too short to shackle yourself to an unfulfilling, unrewarding affiliation you’ve outgrown, just for the sake of sparing somebody’s feelings.

My suggestion: Instead of throwing a life jacket to something that’s already sunk to the bottom of the ocean – find somewhere else to swim. Instead of working overtime to convince yourself that your membership is worthwhile – find a better sandbox where you can be somebody.

Look: It’s never pleasant when you realize that something you love has outlived its usefulness. But everything on this planet has a lifestyle. Maybe it’s time to celebrate your victories, walk off the field and step into something better. Are you willing to confront your organizational expiration date?

5. Focus yourself to free yourself. Never feel bad about saying no to the people who haven’t learned how to value you yet. Life’s too short, and you’ve got shit to do.

For example, I recently met with a company who wanted to hire me to conduct a branding workshop with their employees. For the first fifteen minutes of the meeting, everything was going great: My philosophy engaged them, my content excited them and they seemed ready to move forward.

Until one of the executives said, “By the way Scott, we don’t allow facial hair in this building. Or blue jeans. Or open toed shoes. Oh, and your hair is way too long. Just a few things to keep in mind before you come back to our office again.”

I never came back.

In fact, the only time I talked to them again was in my email the next day, in which I wrote the following: “Thanks for your interest in my program. Although it seems that my content is the right fit for your team, it’s clear that my personality is not. And while I respect the culture of your organization – I don’t edit myself. Ever. Here’s the name of a colleague who might be a better fit. Hope she works out.”

Lesson learned: You’re defined by what you decline. How much money are you willing to turn down to preserve your integrity?

REMEMBER: Walking away isn’t just about saying no.

It’s about standing aware of yourself.
It’s about showing respect to yourself.
It’s about staying honest with yourself.
It’s about setting boundaries for yourself.

The best part is, when you walk away from the wrong, it frees you to sprint toward the right.

Are you ready to get the steppin?

For a list called, “16 Ways to be the Best,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

How to Start Over

“When you zero out your board, anything is possible.”

Robert Downey Jr. said that during a recent interview with Rolling Stone.

Coming from him, that’s powerful advice.

THINK ABOUT IT: Downey starting abusing drugs in the eighties, was frequently arrested on drug charges in the nineties – in and out of rehab several times during the process – and later fired from numerous acting jobs because of his addictions.

But then he started over.

And once he got clean, his committed work ethic enabled his career to embark on a trajectory unlike any other actor alive: He starred in successful independent films, formed his own production company with his wife, released his debut musical album and shattered box office records with blockbuster vehicles like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.

QUESTION: What will become possible when you zero out your board?

Today we’re going to talk about starting over.

In life, in business and in relationships.

Because while it’s something every human being experiences in her lifetime, it’s also something very few people have taken the time to write about.

Away we go.1. Block out why time. If you haven’t paused to honesty ask yourself why you’re starting over, you’ll never learn what life expects from you. Asking why ensures the pieces fit from the start. Asking why enables long-term survivability. Asking why assures you’re not dying for something you’re not willing to die for. And asking why prevents a flawed assumption from sending the entire process of transition into misguided motion.

The cool part is: Once the muscle of why is bulging and throbbing, everything else from that point on becomes easier. As Nietzsche observed, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

What’s scary is the confrontation. The reflection. Looking yourself in the eye and saying, “Alright. No bullshit: Why am I really starting over?” Because if you don’t anchor yourself in that sense of purpose, the waves of change will toss you around like a tugboat boat in the tempest. Are you at war with how when you should be in love with why?

2. Rewrite your definition of victory. When you start over, your currency changes. And winning starts to look different to you. But unless you give yourself permission to redefine your idea of success, you risk staying where you are.

I’m reminded of the movie Up In the Air. Natalie, the recent college grad, explains how she thought she’d be married by twenty-three:

“I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now. Corner office by day, entertaining at night. And married to a guy with brown hair, kind eyes and a one-syllable named like John or Matt.”

Unfortunately, her older and wiser friend explains the reality:

“You know, honestly, by the time you’re thirty-four, all the physical requirements just go out the window. Like, you secretly pray that he’ll be taller than you. But not an asshole would be enough. Someone who enjoys my company and comes from a good family would be enough. Or, maybe just a nice smile. That would be enough too.”

What about you? How has your definition of success change in the past ten years? I only ask because, as you navigate this transitional period of your life, you better believe it’s going to change again. And how you define success, defines you. What’s your currency?

3. Make the upgrade. It’s hard to start over after you’ve spent years building your whole life around someone. Or something. Especially if your sense of identity derived from that place. That’s why picking up the pieces and moving on is such a pervasive and debilitating internal constraint: It feels like you’re abandoning a part of yourself.

Fortunately, starting over isn’t impossible – it’s just inconvenient.

The question is: Are you prepared to let go of what you’ve always been? I hope so. Because that’s the only way to upgrade to the next version of yourself. By surrendering to the next phase of your personal evolution and letting go of the person you were in order to grow into the person you needed to be, you win.

Remember: Starting over isn’t about being better than anyone – it’s about being better than you used to be. What are you still afraid to let go of?

4. Make creativity a conscious priority. Readers often ask me how I decide what to write about each day. And my answer is simple: “I don’t – I listen for what wants to be written.”

That’s how creativity works: It’s a process of surrendering and active listening.

And when you’re starting over, that’s the smartest attitude to maintain. After all, opportunity never stops knocking – you just stop listening. The secret is to lock into the right frame of mind to pursue opportunities as they arise. To maintain the emotional willingness to open yourself to new possibilities. Then, to leverage everything you’ve got.

For example: Examine the smallest revenue centers of your business. Then ask yourself:

*Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?
*With some reinvention, could this become a brand new business unit?

By giving your artistic voice another outlet, you might activate a market segment that just can’t wait for your arrival. Remember: Creativity isn’t an entitlement – it’s is nurtured by constant cultivation. What potential opportunities are you forfeiting by rejecting or devaluing creativity?

5. The detour is the path. It’s amazing how easy it is to start over when you come to the realization that you’re always in alignment. That everything happening during your transitional period is exactly what’s supposed to happen – even if it’s inconsistent with the great life plan you orchestrated.

As John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”

Whether it’s a new relationship, new job or new city, learn to celebrate wherever the detour takes you. Go where your unintentional music leads you. And be patient as new opportunities unfold. Because sometimes it takes a while to look back with objective eyes and realize how right your leap truly was. Even if you ended up somewhere unexpected.

The point is: Leaving the old path is a choice – but so is embracing the detour. Give yourself the psychological freedom to move in a new direction. And trust yourself enough that wherever starting over takes you, you’ll still be able to excel. How does your current accident relate to your core life purpose?

6. Flex the muscle of life. A few years ago I read a study published by a California health club chain. Their research indicated that fifty-three percent of Americans could not touch their toes.

Can you? If not, starting over might kill you. Because lack of flexibility isn’t just a fitness problem – it’s a life problem.

In The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr defines emotional flexibility as the capacity to move freely and appropriately along a wide spectrum of emotions rather than responding rigidly or defensively. And he defines mental and spiritual flexibility as “the capacity to move between the rational and the intuitive, to embrace multiple points of view and to tolerate values and beliefs that are different than your own.”

That’s what starting over is all about: Flexing the muscle of life. Seeking out ways to be stretched. And making yourself uncomfortable in situations that call for creativity and adaptability. From that space of elasticity, you’ll enable the ideal starting point from which to grow. Does the muscle of your life have a broad range of motion?

7. Make yourself more efficacious. After a painful end to a four-year relationship, my friend Steve offered me a priceless piece of advice about starting over: “Don’t assume you can’t go on living without some girl’s arm around your shoulder.”

He was right: It was time to learn how to fend for myself. Time to pursue wholeness independently – at least, for a while. That way, when the time came to begin a new relationship (which I eventually did) I could come to it with a greater sense of self-efficacy, thus strengthening the partnership.

Starting over is an uncertain, terrifying journey. And it will call upon the full use of every faculty you have. But if you’re solely dependent on external sources to keep your equilibrium, your sense of balance will remain at the mercy of the masses. And you’ll never make it out in one peace.

Efficacious people, on the other hand, are high on internal control. They’re capable of influencing situations and are not at the mercy of events. And they believe that outcomes are determined by their behavior. Your challenge is to trust your resources. To remain richly supported. And to believe that you’re equal to this challenge. Are you keeping unadulterated self-belief at the apex of your value system?

8. Create a network of human healing. In the book Who Gets Sick, Blair Justice revealed how beliefs, moods and thoughts affected health. In one particular study, his research found that “social support protected your health by reducing the intensity with which you looked at and reacted to stressful events.”

What they failed to mention, however, was that that you never realize how strong your support system is until the world on top of it collapses.

And trust me: You don’t want to wait for that to happen. That’s the final component to starting over: Creating a network of healing to keep you alive in the process. Because without support from your loved ones, the road less traveled will become very windy.

That’s what I’ve learned time and time again since starting my publishing company nine years ago: Success never comes unassisted. And as independent as you are, your personal brand can’t be an island.

Be smart: Ask for help early and often. Believe that the people who love you most want nothing more than the opportunity to come through and show you so. They will. Do you live in an atmosphere of encouragement and expectation-free support?

ULTIMATELY: Boldness will be required to move forward.

Boldness of heart.
Boldness of action.
Boldness of mindset.

Because without that, starting over is going feel like an unconquerable endeavor.

AND LOOK: I understand how hard it is to abandon things whose time has passed.

But as scary as starting over is, certainly there must be some shred of optimism shining behind your terror, right?


Because when you zero out your board, anything is possible.

What’s stopping you from starting over?

For a list called, “100 Self-Consultative Questions,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

“I usually refuse to pay for mentoring. But after Scott’s first brain rental session, the fact that I had paid something to be working with him left my mind – as far as I was concerned, the value of that (and subsequent) exchange of wisdom and knowledge, far outweighed any payment.”

–Gilly Johnson The Australian Mentoring Center

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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