Monthly Mash Up (July 2017)

Education doesn’t end when your time at school is done. It continues the rest of your days. Do this and you’ll continue to grow and mature over a lifetime, becoming smarter and wise with age. Do it not, and you’ll wish you had.

I stumbled across some outstanding resources in July and I’d like to share a few of them with you here. Below is a quote I’m pondering, three books I’ve read and four videos or documentaries I’ve watched. They each taught me some incredibly valuable lessons. Lessons that made me better and that’ll do the same for you if you let them.

Quote I'm Chewing On

“How you look is just as much a reflection of how you eat as how you train.” — Michael Mathews

You can’t out train a poor diet. This simple truth has us taking a fresh look at what we eat with a fine tooth comb. We’re tracking nutrient intake is a start but we’re also looking at food sources and timing to optimize our performance.  

What I'm Reading

  1. Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews - I have been encouraged by the in depth look it takes to all aspects of training, especially nutrition.   

  2. The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield - This short missive on the Warrior Ethos is a great reminder of the historical and universal truths found in every culture throughout history. A warrior is a warrior no matter where he calls home. That’s good news. Because we can do something about it. We can cultivate a warrior mindset.

  3. On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman - The world is not a perfect place. Things go wrong and often that puts lives on the line. What happens when and if that moment comes is important. Preparing yourself for that day is even more so. This book is part of that preparation. It will help you understand what happens when life and death hang in the balance.

What I’m Watching

  1. God’s Colonial Intent by Dr. Myles Munroe - This one was shared with me by a member of my community group and I immensely enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a little bit different spin on the overarching theme of the Bible, this one might be up your alley.    

  2. Creating Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard - How you make customers feel is the most important thing about your business. The better use you make of this truth, the healthier your bottom line will be.

  3. Fittest On Earth: A Decade of Fitness - Discipline is required however  you want to grow and improve. The athletes competing in the Crossfit games are perfect examples of this.

  4. What The Health - Watching this documentary earlier this month kickstarted a conversation around nutrition and exactly what we’re putting in our bodies. You may land on one side of the meat debate or the other, but films like this are often best used for self examination. They give you an opportunity to take a deep look at yourself.

Today's Enemy And Tomorrow's Friend

While reading books, blog posts and trying to learn in general, one comes across sentences and ideas that bear particular relevance to the present. This can be remarkably stunning when the persons involved are long dead. What’s captured in those moments is the essence of human nature. That collection of values and principles hard wired into our very souls. 

Respect is one of the many shared and treasured values of mankind. You find it in every culture and people group throughout history. Respect for one’s elders. Respect for one’s family. Respect for one’s self. Respect even for one’s enemies.  

“From Cyrus through Alexander,” Steven Pressfield said, “to the Greeks and Romans and on down to Rommel and the Afrika Korps, today’s enemy was considered tomorrow’s potential friend—and thus granted his full humanity.” 

Said another way, today’s enemy should be seen a likely friend tomorrow—and treated with both dignity and respect.

How do we measure up? Are we succeeding in treating our enemies respectfully? 

It seems we are far too quick to demonize and dehumanize our rivals. 

How can we unite, work together and be friends again after such brutal attacks? 

Who wins if everyone only serves to ratchet things up in a never ending game of one-ups-manship?

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves a blind and slobbery world in the end.

I’m for ratcheting things down, lowering the temperature and introducing respect back into the conversation. 

Because the other game isn’t one we should be playing in the first place. 

It requires discipline to hold your tongue and to listen instead of speaking. It takes discipline to control your emotions and respond instead of react. 

Engage discipline. Bring it to bear on your conversations with your enemy. In the end, it might save more than your neck. It might just save your country as well. 

20 Powerful Resources To Improve Your Writing

It seems everyone has a blog. This can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I choose to view blogging as an unlimited opportunity to grow and improve as a writer. Like almost everything else in life, improving your writing requires doing it a lot. The best thing you can do to improve as a writer is to write. Force yourself to sit down each day and put words on the page. Few outlets serve to create a space and opportunity to acquire necessary repetitions to accomplish the goal, like having a blog. 

From time to time, people mention that they enjoy writing and are thinking about starting a blog. That's always exciting. I love to see people jumping into the blogging space and starting to write more! The world needs more voices not fewer. 

There are few things more terrifying than sitting, and starring a white blank page, however. The cursor just blinks at you, as if taunting you. You can hear it laughing in the back of your mind, it's daring you to write something. Fear wells up inside, you start sweating and your mind goes blank. Everyone's been there. 

I know that feeling all too well, and want to help you conquer it. The goal isn't just to turn out pithy sentences and paragraphs, but to impact other people with the words you pen. I've compiled several resources to make your task easier, and more enjoyable. It is my hope that what follows helps you become the very best writer you can. 

Blogs to Help You Create Awesome Content:

1. Michael Hyatt

2. ProBlogger

3. Jerry Jenkins

4. Steven Pressfield

5. Jon Acuff

Despite all advances in technology, ours remains a world of the written word. Here are a few books that'll aide you in honing your skills and becoming the very best writer you can.

Books for Honing Your Skills:

1. On Writing Well by William Zinsser

2. Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. & E.B White

3. On Writing by Stephen King

4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield 

Good Writing Worth Reading:

1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

2. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

3. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

4. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

5. Secrets In The Dark by Frederick Buechner 

Writers may read and readers write, but what if your schedule doesn't allow tons of time for reading? Thanks to the proliferation of the iPhone and a million apps you've still got a shot to fill your mind with what it needs to produce great work. Here are audio options to get your brain jump started and churning out content like a pro.

Audio for While You're On The Go:

1. Home Row: A Podcast with Writers on Writing

2. ProBlogger Podcast: Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging

3. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

4. A Way With Words

5. Audible - (great way to consume audio books)

Now that you're in the mood to make a move and kick start your blogging life, here is an extremely helpful blogging challenge to get you started. In this seven day challenge you'll find ideas for not just what to write about but the immensity of directions and approaches to the job.

7 Days to Getting Back Your Blogging Groove