Being the Hero…a step at a time

I still clearly remember the week I discovered “Lifewriting”. The idea is to be “The Hero in the Adventure of your lifetime.”


How?   By taking the motivations “Heros” feel and connecting them to what you have to do it your life.  You may not be fighting terrorists in Nakatomi Plaza, but you are raising children, climbing the ladder, holding onto your dreams, improving your health, supporting aged parents.   FEEL those emotions and use them like rocket fuel.


The moment of revelation came while teaching a “Writer’s Toolbox” class at UCLA, with things like flow state induction, brainstorming, researching, planning, re-writing patterns and so forth.  It was great, a two-day marathon of ideas.   Half-way through the second day, a guy raised his hand and said:  “Mr Barnes…I love this class but I don’t think I’m going to be able to use it.”


“Why not?” I asked.


“Well…my wife doesn’t really understand my desire to write, and my kids are a full-time job.  My job…wow.   There is really no time or slack there at all…” and I watched him go on, and felt the air going out of the room as he did, people starting to agree with him, nodding and sighing.


There is a saying I heard once that from time to time life gives you a cubic inch of opportunity, and you either grab it or its gone forever.  Meeting Tananarive was one such “cubic inch.” And so was this moment at UCLA.


I said something to him I’d never thought or heard before:   “If you were a character in a story you were writing, and you knew that at the end of the story that character got everything they wanted…what would you have them do next?”


His eyes crossed, and it seemed like steam was coming out of his ears. The class was deadly quiet as he slowly began to speak.


“Well…I could trade household tasks with my wife, doing heavy-duty things that require less time, to make time. I could convince my kids that it would be fun to have a dad who wrote for a living.  I could take my lunch to work and eat at my desk, and use the lunchtime to write…”


I was stunned.   Somehow, his fear switch had flipped, and instead of using his creativity to think of all the reasons he COULDN’T, suddenly he was using that same mind to come up with reasons he COULD.


That was the beginning of “Lifewriting.”   He had the WHAT–writing.  But his emotions were blocked by a false belief (“I can’t”).  Once I had him look at his life as a story, a whole BUNCH of things happened.


  1. He gained perspective, the “long view.”
  2. All stories are exercises in problem solving, for the character, the writer, and the reader.  As soon as you tap into that Fort Knox of experience, you will find patterns that resemble your current situation.
  3. Instead of seeing your problem as the END of the story, you see it as “the end of the second act.”  Crap ALWAYS goes sideways at the end of the second act. But usually, within the problem itself lies the solution you’ve been seeking, if you can just regain your mental flexibility.


There is more.  Much, much more.   But I’d like you to apply this notion to your own life, your own world.


  1. If you see yourself as the hero of your story, and that is liberating, you can consider that you have “internal permission” to succeed.
  2. If you see yourself as part of a losing story, you do NOT have internal permission to succeed, and have belief structures that stop you from accessing your problem-solving intelligence.  You are, in essence, using your own intelligence against yourself.


If you don’t have permission to even imagine a positive result, there is little point in wasting your energy: you will probably take half-hearted, wrong-headed actions designed unconsciously to reinforce your negative expectations.


Instead, switch to another area of your life.  Nothing you can do financially?  But you know that a good workout clears your head. Do it.


Can’t do anything on that manuscript? All seems lost?   Get a five-minute hug from a loved one.  If it turns into something more interesting, go for it.



Do what you can.  But be sure you can visualize/feel a positive result. Then when you GET that positive result, you’ll trust a little more, and you will also gain a new perspective.


“One step at a time, walk the thousand mile road.”   That’s what Heroes do.






Fractal Goal Setting

Had a wonderful conversation last night with a brilliant, funny lady Heather V. Krell, about my next novel, TRAVELER.  Monday I pitched a very few people a KILLER idea for a movie script. Everyone’s reaction was “take my money now!” and so T and I are huddling.  Starting a new story (novella?) with Larry, something unlike anything we’ve ever done, and only we could do.


At the same time I launched the EARN 100K IN 25 HOURS A WEEK freebie ( and am getting ready to launch the best writing course EVER.   It is designed to take you from wherever you are to the next level of your career:


I am creating the best writing package I’ve ever done, something that will take any writer from where they are to the next level of their career. For instance:

1) From never written to first story.

2) From intermittent to steady writer.

3) From steady writer to submitting

4) From submitting to published

5) From published to publishing regularly.

6) From publishing regularly to writing longer work.

7) First novel finished

8) First Novel published.

9) Writing and publishing regularly

10) Steadily increasing the quality of your work



Busy busy busy.  The trick to balancing all of it is to consider myself the “Hero” in my own story, with each project being a mini-cycle “Hero’s Journey” fitting into the overall structure of my life.


So…every week I know the most important things to be done that week.

Every day I know the most important 3-5 things to be done that day.


And I START my day by revving up my emotions (“Why”) and focusing on the most important outcomes (“What”). After, only after I’ve done that do I look at the “how”, which are the daily to-dos.


But wait!  There’s more!


Do you grasp that each individual “how” breaks down into another outcome, which can be represented and approached the same way? It is like “Powers of Ten” applied to your life and goals, fractal organization, zooming up or down depending on which level of clarity I need.


I can step all the way back to the life I want in ten years (finances, family, career, health and fitness) or zoom all the way in to look at…say the email I’m writing right now.


WHAT: to write a useful, powerful post.

WHY: to educate, inform, entertain, express myself, help people, move my own career forward to support my family and the causes I believe in.

HOW: write a post that is honest, expresses who and what I am at this moment, and explains how I solve a problem in a way that would be useful to my own younger self.


Good set of reasons and plans, yes?   So I’ve been fighting to get to this place, where I can take my entire business to a new level. (What).   So that I have the freedom to no longer give a #$%% what any particular person or organization thinks about my writing, and can write whatever the @#$$ I want (Why), giving the little kid inside me an insane playground, working by myself, with friends, with my sweetheart, and my mentor.


Life is good. Can you see how I zoom in and out, looking for balance and dynamics, being sure that EVERYTHING I do is connected with the most precious goals in life, so that I have full power at every moment?


I knew you could. Today was Jason’s first day back at school!   For various reasons I didn’t sleep well last night, and was wiped out when I woke up.  Wanted to roll back over and go to sleep.  But…


WHAT: Jason’s morning ritual

WHY: to help him have a great first day, send him off with love and hope and focus, so that he can have a great experience in High School, so that he can love learning, so that he can find his excellence and harness his passion to something that creates goods and services to his community, so that he can build a nest and find a mate, so that he can make grandchildren I can bounce on my knee and tell how I used to change their daddy’s diapers, embarrassing him like hell and completing the circle of shame.

HOW: Get out of bed, do my morning ritual, get my energy and focus UP so that I can transmit it to Jason at 8:00 am Morning MAGIC!



Yeah. It all fits together. And when you get it right, there is an elegance to the patterns. It will be clumsy at first, but soon, any flaw in your program will feel “lumpy” like a flat tire on a car.  Ka-Flump! Ka-Flump!  Oh, that’s right, I didn’t check my finances today!  I didn’t’ work out! I didn’t connect with Jason and T and Nicki!  I didn’t’ write at least one sentence.


If I do those things…the ride is smooth.  Macro or Micro.





(P.S.–we’re planning to announce the new program in a FB Live next Wednesday.  Not totally sure we’ll make it: we need it to be EVERYTHING the student needs, just add sweat.  And won’t start if we haven’t reached that level. You guys are my family!)

How Can I Give Myself A Raise Today?

“If you work for others you know you are going to get paid and get the a set amount.  You work for your self you will never know what’s coming in.”

I’ve heard that countless times, and everyone moving from salary man to freelancer, from employee to businessman, has that voice in their heads.  And every successful freelancer or businessperson found a way to ignore it, to believe in themselves and TRY.


It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can take baby steps.

I didn’t stop working a job until after I sold my first novel.  The pattern was:


  1. Work at Pepperdine bookstore, writing at night.
  2. Was unhappy with lack of story sales, wondered if I should give up. Decided to start counting right then, and write, finish and submit 100 stories.  If I was selling by then, I would re-evaluate. If I hadn’t…I could quit, knowing I’d given it a good shot, while I still had time to build another career.
  3. Work at Pepperdine AV department, writing book in spare time (Richard Polf, bless his heart, managed that department and made it possible for me to spend all “down” time on the typewriter)
  4. Manage the Pepperdine AV department (after Richard left), hiring an employee who did most of the work (by agreement) while I spent the majority of my time working on the book.
  5. Craig Miller, a friend from Fandom,  hooked me up with the lady who owned the rights to H.Beam Piper’s “Little Fuzzy” and I wrote a screenplay for it.  Project went nowhere.
  6. Craig got that screenplay   on Don Bluth’s desk while he was looking for a screenwriter for “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” and he hired me for seven months.
  7. While working there I also started my second book, saved every dime, and made the leap to being a freelancer in 1981.


That was 37 years ago, and while there have been scary times since then (which is why I should have saved 10% of my income from the beginning) I’ve never gone back to working for anyone else.  I came close during the Atlanta adventure, which was when I searched desperately for a way of making money that would play to my strengths, have flexibility, and would NOT be limited by what any single human being thought about me.  I wanted my future in MY hands.


To do this, I had to believe in myself (Morning M.A.G.I.C. and had to have a strategy.   I groped in the dark about that, but finally found the notion of “Coaching” and pretty much making it up as I went along, worked my butt off, and earned 70k that first year.  Kept track of what I was doing, what worked and didn’t work.


Did I say I worked my butt off?


That process led me from being a wannabe to a professional writer.   Note something:  I HAD NO MODEL.   No one I knew had done what I was trying to do (Freelance writing) and it was a HARD road.  Jerry Pournelle took me aside quietly and reminded me not to be too impressed by Larry’s house, in the sense of expecting writing to deliver that kind of wealth.  “Larry isn’t in the business of writing,” Jerry said.  “Larry is in the business of being a Niven.”


Not that Larry wasn’t one of the most successful writers in America–he was. It is just that that’s not a very high bar, financially. Anyone who has seen Hugo and Nebula award winning writers borrowing money for dinner at conventions, complaining about health care or grateful to eat Con Suite chili knows what I’m talking about.




I had no “recipe” for becoming a coach, either. There were expensive training programs, and I considered joining one.   But what I really needed was SOMEONE who had done it before, and knew where the rocks were under the stream.  If I had, I would have saved YEARS on my process: Strategies can compress decades into days.    I’d have developed a coaching business side-by-side with the work at Pepperdine, maybe helping people who couldn’t finish their work.   After I started selling, I could teach that.   All I had to do was stay two steps ahead of the students.   And that extra money would have enabled me to leave Pepperdine earlier, and build a safety net to make shifting to writing easier.


Here’s another problem with writing: the gap between “cause” (writing and submitting) and “effect” (sales, negotiation of contract and receipt of money) can easily be a year.  Months at the least.   This will KILL you.  You need something to meet a short-term cash gap.   You can often SEE that in six weeks you will be out of money.    If I had had the free information in 100K IN 25 HOURS A WEEK I wouldn’t have panicked, I’d start following that advice, putting more time into my business, burning the midnight oil, and in a few  weeks the money would have started flowing.  Bingo.




If this story sounds like what you want for yourself, you need to understand the truth about building a consulting/teaching/coaching business that can either supplement or replace an income.    Stop complaining that “they” won’t pay you what you believe you are worth, and start asking yourself the following question: HOW CAN I GIVE MYSELF A RAISE TODAY?


Here’s how: be your own boss.  Leverage your knowledge for the benefit of those following you on whatever life road you have been walking.    And go to and listen to the 100K IN 25 HOURS A WEEK course.  If you have what it takes, and something to offer, this could be the best @#$$ thing you’ve done for yourself in years.





If You See Something, Do Something

I focus on helping people feel like they have agency, but being an asshole is a violation of simple rules of courtesy, one of the most basic qualities bonding a society. And intimidating a smaller less powerful person is cowardice. Standing up for those who are in need is a core positive quality for adult human beings. All of this translates into: be kind, be good, be strong, help others.


A number of ladies have asked that I use my social media outreach to encourage men to protect women, to speak up when other men attempt to intimidate, harass, or touch without permission.  Every bit of that flows from what I said above, and I see and believe that so foundationally that perhaps, just perhaps, I take it too much for granted.


Allow me to be explicit: I was raised by a strong mother, and a strong sister.  My core wiring is protective of women, and the feminine energies in life (I admit to having some issues with effeminacy in men…probably some of my own childhood shit still working itself out).  So my attitude, despite belief in equality, is that men should be protective of all that is good, all people, but especially woman and children.

Call me a dinosaur.  Its fine.   I’ll be sleeping in a tar pit soon enough.

But that’s honestly how I’m wired. A man who would hurt, intimidate, abuse, or in any way fail to honor the feminine is beneath my contempt.  Is not a member of my tribe.   That’s the way it is, and it is simple.

You don’t hurt women. You don’t let other men hurt women.


I will never, ever stop pushing for individuals to take personal responsibility for their safety. But in no way am I suggesting that women–or anyone–who have been assaulted in any way “asked for it” or should feel guilt about the inability to protect themselves.


Responsibility MUST be divorced from guilt, blame, or shame.

Yes, I believe in warrior virtues. And one of the models of such is the MYTH (not necessarily the reality) of the European knight. The lethal skills. The sword. The lance.  The armor. The fiery steed. But all of that death was supposed to be:  “At your service, m’lady.”

The “gentleman” was not primarily gentle. He was primarily a MAN, a demon on the battlefield, but capable of gentle talk, courtesy and courtly manners at the table, with whom a lady was totally safe at all times.  Again, the myth not necessarily the historical reality. But…that was the core of my ethical education.  The fantasy on which I built my reality.


I hope that is clear: keep your hands to yourself unless you are invited.   And…if you see something, DO something, gentlemen.





Humiliation can be your friend

Long, long ago, I was arguing with a brilliant Conservative friend “Ron” about South Africa.   The question was whether blacks under Apartheid there were worse off than their neighbors.   I said they were.  He suggested that I find objective standards for the welfare of a people, and do my own research.


Following his suggestions, I found the World Health Organization’s recommendations for a “fast and dirty” measurement of a people’s health: life span and infant mortality rates.  There are others of course, that relate to overall welfare, including inherited wealth, incarceration rates, divorce rate (or proportion of two-parent homes), and subjective answers to happiness/satisfaction surveys.


But you can’t get around that First Chakra stuff.  Survival. Genetic survival. And to my embarrassment, when I compared black life spans and infant death rates, they were better for South African blacks under apartheid than they were for blacks in surrounding countries.  Lower than they were for whites, of course…but still better.


I’m a philosopher, not a politician.  Politics is about winning.   Philosophy is about truth.  I saw lots of ways to argue with the conclusion, but in my heart, I knew they would be nit-picking.  On this ground, in this way, at this time…I was wrong.  Didn’t mean Apartheid wasn’t evil, and shouldn’t fall.  But if I was honest with myself, by this set of important metrics…I was wrong.  And admitted it to him.




Years passed, and the subject of Universal Health Care became a popular topic.  I had no dog in that fight.   Had Writer’s Guild medical.  “Ron” was convinced UHC would be a disaster, and his favorite Conservative commentators agreed. Disaster.


Well…I didn’t know.   No idea really.  But I DID know that there was this standard for health that he and I agreed was valid.  Simple, I thought.  Look for the results for the same questions, and see whether the countries with UHC were better or worse.


The statistics were easy to find.  Clear.  Countries with UHC, who socialized medical care, out-performed countries with private medical care by those standards…but ALSO for cost-per-citizen.


Longer lives.  More children survive.  Lower cost of delivery.   There it was.  And…when I presented this to him, he rejected it.  Began to pick it apart (as all statistics can be) on wholly unconvincing grounds.   And for the first time I realized that there was an entirely reasonable conclusion:  he didn’t have internal permission to look at the data.  He COULDN’T.   Could I?   My reasoning:   I had been willing to be wrong about something really painful–that Apartheid might not be all bad.   I could therefore trust my ability to see painful truths.


I trusted the standard that had brought me that painful truth. I KNEW I wasn’t arguing backwards from a political position.  I’d had no idea what I might find when I went looking for that information.


But that hit me, and still does.   There is Faith-based politics.  A core conviction that will deny data to the contrary, even when it seems clear.  Just watch: there will be people who argue with this conclusion.   They will say the statistics are rendered differently in different countries. That ethnic or racial diversity is responsible for the differences. That sick people WANT to be sick. The fact that a disproportionate number of those people are brown is coincidental (let’s see: brown people WANT to die, WANT their children to die. That’s it, yes.  Wow. Glad to clear THAT up!)


To be honest…it sounds just like the people who try to deconstruct the statistics on the percentage of scientists who agree that Anthropogenic Global Warming is real and dangerous.    They argue about the definition of “scientist”. About whether it is 97% or something lower (without explicitly stating the precise number they DO believe believe it). They impugn the honor of the scientists, saying that they are bought by “the Government”, or afraid to tell the truth, or don’t know dick.


Attack the messenger, attack the integrity of the message, listen to people WITHOUT expertise in preference to those WITH expertise.


Arguing backwards from a Faith-based premise would produce identical results.


This is why I dislike politics.  It is really spiritual arguments manifesting on the mundane level.  So much of it is about the basic nature of human beings (“who am I?”).


With health care, I won’t apologize: I cannot find a rational reason to think it isn’t effective and efficient, more so than commercialize services.  But I have to admit that there are other reasons, the best of them are:


  1. A person (who perhaps already has good health care)  might not want to pay the taxes to pay for other people’s.
  2. A person with very specific health needs might be afraid that the process of socialization will change the care they are getting for the negative.  You know what?  I can empathize with this one.

By the way: my answer to people who say they don’t want to pay for other people’s health care is that I sympathize, but I didn’t want to pay for the invasion of Iraq.  That that’s the shit-side of living in a democracy: feeling complicit in the deaths of 100k to one MILLION Iraquis, depending on who you listen to and how you crunch the data.

You’re being asked to be “complicit” in saving lives.   One of us is getting the better deal.


With Global Warming, there are also some interesting reasons for denial.  Among them:

  1. Humans really do need energy to maintain our current lifestyle and population level.  Fossil fuels have, historically, been a godsend for this.
  2. The technology to provide renewable energy is more complex and sophisticated, much less tested than simply burning coal or oil.   There is a “prove it” element here I find reasonable, if not optimal.
  3. There are people who simply don’t believe human beings can damage the biosphere. That Earth was “given” to humans by a divine entity, and we are to do with it as we wish. This is survival programming encoded into religious dogma, and will take generations to change fully.



But with either of these, you’ll note that there is a single political umbrella under which both camps find shelter. They have become each other’s natural allies.  “Politics makes strange bedfellows”–you support me, I support you.


The perception that a particular belief or position is a survival value produces survival emotions, which anchor in those core beliefs with emotion, shutting down logic: logic works to prove what you already need to believe, like a mother desperately seeking ways to believe that no, HER son didn’t do that terrible thing…


Of course, there is another level: both of these are money-makers.  Corporations make huge money from medicine and fossil fuels. It would only make sense for these semi-conscious entities to stump for anything that keeps that money running.   Hell, it doesn’t even take lying: just select for the people who agree that medical care is best monetized, or that Global Warming is a myth (or that cigarettes are harmless).  Reward them.  That 3% of scientists who disagree?  Back THEIR research, promote it, and do all you can to besmirch anyone who disagrees.


See how you don’t even need lies?   But wait, there’s more!   Lies and belief in lies is VERY USEFUL.  You convince the people that the government, for nefarious purposes, wants people to believe the earth is warming, and is bribing thousands of scientists to lie.


But wait: if you start with the assumption of dishonesty…wouldn’t it make more sense to assume that the people/entities who stand to gain DIRECTLY by the maintenance of a position would be the ones who start lying first?  Or that the smaller the number of people in the conspiracy, the more secure it is?


Ummm…like the boards of medical companies or oil companies?


How do you combat THAT?  Oh, I know…you spread the notion that somehow, by some arcane magic my tiny brain cannot comprehend, CORPORATIONS ARE MORE HONEST THAN GOVERNMENTS.


Same human beings. Different sorts of organization.  But somehow, innately less honest if they are working for a government than for a corporation.  That is GREAT.  It is a brilliant tactic if you are trying to protect your bank account.  If corporations are seen as semi-conscious simple organisms, they would also function like god-things, conferring reward on those who sing their praises and carry water.


I suggest starting with a different assumption, as I do with race, and gender, despite the fact that I take shit for it.  Start with an assumption of equality.  Start with looking for the minimum amount of perfidy that would explain the problem, rather than falling into the trap of assuming that the opponents are fools and knaves.


There really are multiple ways to interpret almost any piece of data. And if we have a powerful emotional “tilt” that will influence how we see it.   You do it. I do it.  EVERYONE does it at times. To suspect this is what is happening when you have an apparent disagreement over data seems to me a matter of being conscious.


Assume that emotion is overwhelming logic. Ask what the fear is. Can you see where some kind of powerful fear could be in the system?  Loss of control, moving from the individual to the group action/identification seems to me a fairly typical Conservative position, just as a fairly typical Progressive position might be fear of being cast on individual resources rather than group action.


I could see that.  Not an absolute truth, but it would make sense of a number of things said from the different polarities.




UHC seems to me as cut-and-dried as any social issue of my lifetime.  Not a matter of “everyone deserves rights” because that is a matter of philosophy. But the most common argument against UHC is that it is inefficient and ineffective.  IMO in this instance, the stats are very clearly unsupportive of that notion.   UHC IS more efficient and effective by standards I agreed with when I found it humiliating.


That’s why I trust them.





(If you want to stay out of the “stress tunnel” that short circuits logic with fear, please harness the power of Morning M.A.G.I.C.:

100k in 25 Hours a Week?

Writer and FB friend Joel Eisenberg wrote a great post today about his transition from working for others to working for himself, complete with a seven-step recipe for success.  I looked at that and said “Yes.”


Basically, like many of us, he got sick of working for other people, thrashed around in unsatisfying jobs for years, and slowly put together a map for exiting to a more satisfying lifestyle.


Damned good for him. The meaning of life is to find joy, and if you are not happy in your job, model people who found another way.


What you have here is a man being honest about his experience, and generous with hard-won wisdom.    He could and should write a great article about his process.


But you know what else he could do?  He could make extra money by coaching people toward being freelancers, guiding them along the path he found and practiced himself.


Trust me, there are at least a million people in the world who would love to hear this message, and are willing and able to pay for that knowledge, IF they can believe it works, that they can do it, and that they will gain more pleasure than pain if they attempt it.


That’s most of what it takes. The rest is organization, marketing, and delivery of the service.   I went through a hell of insecurity making that transition, and would have paid through the nose for wisdom such as he offered.   So I KNOW that he could make money teaching what he knows, were he to decide he wanted to.


And…I’m certain that each and every one of you knows things other people would love to know.  A kid who can ride a bicycle is magic to those who can’t. Ever improved your grades?  Survived a street fight? Trained a dog?  Bred chinchillas?  Earned a black belt?  Started your own business?   Raised a kid? Taught school?   Managed a sales team?


ANYTHING that increased pleasure and decreased pain?  Then ask if a younger version of you would want what you know.  If the answer is “yes”, then you want to listen to a conversation I had with a woman who earns about FIVE times industry standard for her coaching (her modality is hypnosis) business.    She lays out a pattern for earning 100k a year in twenty-five hours a week. No joke. No exaggeration.   If I had had this knowledge eight years ago, my own nascent coaching business would have doubled, I have zero doubt.


A gift to you available HERE at  Enjoy!


Share your wealth!


Riding The Train

“To help someone, you have to get them to divorce their story, and marry the truth.”–Unknown
The “Incel” problem looks obvious to me. A recent article said that what they want is “absolute subjugation of women.” That would be true IF and ONLY IF a person remained an “Incel” after finding a great relationship. If, in other words, if FORMER ‘Incels’ still identified with their “brothers” and became “honorary Incels” or something.
But…the term “Involuntary Celebates” is sort of self-limiting, isn’t it? The instant a guy finds a relationship, he is no longer an “Incel.” Theory to be tested then: it isn’t about some broad theory. It is about individual pain and confusion and fear. The social theories that relate to “all women” are bullshi…they are just justifications for their individual pain. “It isn’t me. It is THEM. I will create/join an `us’ so that I don’t feel alone.”
A racist who only believes in black inferiority as long as he is out of work isn’t a real racist. She is only trying to justify personal pain. If having a job changes her, this is NOT some deep belief, it is merely a desperate attempt to avoid self-reflection.
So…to the degree that this is true (it is a theory to be tested, not a piece of dogma), then how would I coach an “Incel”? Easy, really.
Remember that 5-step process of conscious communication? It relates to communication WITH YOURSELF as well. I remember coaching a guy who could easily have BECOME an Incel. Call him Harry. He was angry, horny, desperate, lonely. Employed but miserable in his job. Harry was a member of the LASFS club in Burbank, so I saw him every week, and at conventions, and watched him winding himself up tighter and tighter.
And one day his ego made a real mistake: he asked me for help. That was the key: I don’t bother people unless they ask. But if they did, even forty years ago I would dig in. People who knew me called it “Being Steve’d”. Couldn’ help it: I HATE misery, and want people to be healthy.
I hadn’t evolved several of the tools I have today, but was still playing with the same notions in less focused form.
  1. Love yourself. If you do, you don’t need anyone else’s love, so lack of love from outside doesn’t diminish your self esteem. As a perverse bonus, the less you need people, the more natural you are…and the more attractive you become.
  2. Love another person. When you focus on giving rather than taking, IF YOU ARE GIVING TO A TRIBE OF PEOPLE WITH SIMILAR VALUES, you will automatically feel less misery, AND you will trigger a reciprocal response. It is hard not to love someone who loves themselves and also loves giving.
  3. Understand History. Here, I’ll say that the Chakras, Maslow, and Milton Erickson point out what all human beings, through all human history, have wanted, to such a consistent degree that you are actually pretty safe ignoring people who claim not to. (As I’ve said…yes there are people who really don’t want some of these things. But if they really, REALLY don’t, they will feel no negative emotions if they don’t get them, and few negative emotions if someone assumes they do). Just for fun, call this pattern “The Train.” Roughly, it goes like this, and in roughly this order:


  1. They want to avoid physical pain and death
  2. To mature to the point where they can control their emotions and actions
  3. To master their physical body
  4. To satisfy their sexual needs with integrity
  5. To master a discipline to create goods and services they ENJOY PRODUCING that they can use directly, or exchange with their society legally to a degree that would support them and two other people.
  6. To Love themselves and their lives
  7. To find and share love with another adult person.
  8. To have children and raise them according to their values and perspectives (to pass on their memes and genes)
  9. To contribute to your society
  10. To express themselves honestly and openly to the world.
  11. To build a map of reality that is increasingly accurate, and be able to communicate that map.
  12. To age with dignity, and die at peace
In general, development of these capacities goes from A through Z (or however far you take those steps). Earlier accomplishments first….but that isn’t always true. But the “Raise your Kundalini” stuff includes within it the awareness of what happens when the basic levels are on “automatic” (chop wood, carry water), you are internally connect and joyful. What happens? You automatically evolve to the next level. See someone “stuck”? Look at the foundations and ask where the chain breaks.
So “Harry” was an overweight, slovenly guy who didn’t like his work, but desired beautiful women. In other words, he had “breaks” at B and C: he had no physical discipline, and hadn’t focused his intellect (he was smart) and emotions to either work at something he loved, or find a way to love what he was already doing.
But what he wanted was a woman who lived with joy and discipline and personal artistry, when he himself lacked those things. He didn’t love himself, so he interpreted rejection as meaning “I will never get on the Train.” Not have sex, find, love, have children. His rigid ego wall told him that “this is who I am” when the truth is that he really had no idea. Few do, without serious, deep reflection. And those people don’t bitch and moan about their lives.
And note: ALL self-sustaining human societies encourage people to get on “the Train” and whatever genetic component there is to life strongly reinforces them as well. There are lots of side trips, just as a drop of water in the mountains takes a LOT of side-trips before returning to the ocean…but it always gets there.
All I had to do was support him in cleaning himself up, learning to enjoy his life, and then make one of two choices:
  1. He either had to raise himself to be the male equivalent of the kind of woman he wanted or
  2. Relax his standards. Not “lower his expectations”, notice. But be less rigid. How? By loving himself. Which means accepting himself, empathizing with himself, grasping that he’s done the best he could with his respources. Admiring what he has accomplished.
And what happens when you do that? You can appreciate what OTHERS are experiencing. You see the beauty in people who you never saw before. And you seek someone to share your journey, not someone who meet some external standard of beauty or power. In movie terms, the secretary or next-door neighbor takes her glasses off: “Why Janet! You’re beautiful!”
She always was.
Sure…get all you can. That’s fun. But ultimately you are dealing with a human soul, beyond categorization or number crunching. Ultimate. But yeah…the game is fun.
He was willing to learn. Why? Because all organisms seek to avoid pain and gain pleasure. All I had to do was show him the way. Why did he believe me? Because I had rapport with him (he believed I was like him in many ways, that I liked him, that I would tell him the truth.)
That enabled me to offer him suggestions designed to produce positive change FAST. I also knew that his ego would NOT go down without a fight. So I had to be sneaky, and get him to question his preassumptions.
Let’s look at some of the “Incel” nightmare of skewed and tangled perceptions.
1)Hunger for sex and love. No, sex workers aren’t going to satisfy this need. Neither will a dog. Well…let’s not go there, shall we?
2) Lack of understanding how the Mating Game works. That beauty-power thing. They don’t have a clue
3) Lack of self-love that allows them to believe that they can change. That a rejection doesn’t mean they will never find a partner. They cannot simply absorb the data, shift, grow, and try again, the feedback loop learned by all salesmen.
Fear of never finding sex/love leads to anger and stress, flattening perception and shattering self-esteem, leading to disorientation and more anger. Blame. Needing an external locus of action: THEY are responsible for my pain!
And seeking a tribe to reinforce those beliefs. This exact same pattern of emotion, building maps, finding a supportive tribe and so on is common among successful human beings whether they are “successful” at industry, martial arts, or crime. It’s how we roll.
All you have to do is get on the right train. Be sure that you are associating with people who have what you want, and gained it with integrity. Otherwise, you’ll get on the Pity Train, the “No good women” or “No good men” train, not realizing that you’ve never developed your ability to perceive and bond with the kinds of people you crave.
And what happened to Harry? He got the nerve to approach a cute little girl at the club. They started dating, got married, and as far as I know, 25 years later, they are still hitched, riding the Train…together.
Do you have any idea how satisfying that is? To feel that your life has made other lives better? And the trick is that EVERYONE READING THIS has knowledge and wisdom which, organized and expressed, could help heal the world.
100% of my ability to do this came from my focus on BALANCE in life, and being willing to do Whatever It Took to achieve it. Then when I did, people started asking me “How?”
Boom. Bob’s your uncle. Most problems are just knots of pain and confusion. When YOU have clarity, you can guide people. Then all you have to do is find the people who want to climb the same mountain.
Tomorrow, I’ll give you the key to this, totally free, the “How to earn 100k a year in 25 hours a week” talk. If what I’ve said moves you, it is for you. If you DISAGREE with my methodology, and have a better one–GREAT! Show us by helping people. Lead on!
Share the wealth! (And sell tickets on whatever “train” you believe in…)

When Do You Disengage?

I was speaking yesterday about political and economic versions of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.  Namely, that someone who brushes off any criticisms of their pet theory by saying “that’s not pure X” while trying to blame real-world examples of Y for the problems of the world can be considered True Believers, who are not primarily driven by logic, but by emotion…faith.  Now I’ve never met anyone who didn’t do this (I take human equality on faith, for instance, and think that everyone really makes their decisions about this on emotional rather than logical basis.  I’m just willing to say that out loud.)


If it is emotion, arguments are precisely the wrong way to “change someone’s mind.” When you’re in a fight, as long as the other guy is throwing punches, it would take an extraordinary person to consider the opponent’s reasons and rationales for swinging.  That’s not normal human behavior. We consider our deep beliefs when we feel SAFE, NOT WHEN WE ARE CHALLENGED.


So yesterday I interjected this perspective into a political/economic argument, with the conclusion that we had emotion masquerading as logic…a point at which I personally disengage. One of the participants asked:



At what point do we just acknowledge that we’ve hit that point of diminishing returns with the discussion?

Some people really really need to believe in these structures.

It’s not like I sought him out, but I think his need to believe far exceeds the joy that I would get by challenging his belief system.”
Let’s look at this from the perspective of that five step process for conscious political/philosophical communication and action.


  1. Love yourself.   So…care enough about yourself to take NO action that is counter productive or useless.  ALWAYS know what you stand to gain or lose from an action. Don’t get all Limbic Monkey caught up in “I have to win!” when there  is no real definition of “winning.”  Even worse: when there is nothing to win.   In such situations, you lose just by playing.   What is the point?  EVERYTHING you do, I do, everyone does, is about moving away from pain and toward pleasure.  You may have ignored the fact that the cheese is not in that particular maze.   Incels make that mistake.   Don’t be an intellectual Incel.
  2. Love another person.   Learning to expand your sense of Self gives compassion. It also teaches you that sometimes being “right” is less important than increasing the net amount of joy in the world.  Which leads to dropping your guard, which CAN lead to moments of consideration and insight.  But try to see things from the other perspective.  Why are you hammering at them?  What do you stand to gain?   Are you playing a game where, if they admit you are right, they will experience greater pain?  If so, they will NEVER admit you are right.  Never.
  3. Understand history without guilt, blame or shame.   Have your theory of human development and anchor it to anthropology or primate studies, without needing to believe “the others” are evil. If you can’t, you are more like them.  Not seeing the humanity of your “adversaries” is one of the primary flaws in perception.  It may be useful to turn farmers into bloodthirsty shock troops, but the usefulness of that blunt tool diminishes as you rise up the decision chain.  Be a leader.
  4. Nurture your own tribe, avoid trolls.  And sleepers and snakes.  Some of the people you are arguing with online are simply fighting for the sake of fighting. They love it. Others are ignorant of entire ranges of information and experience, and don’t have the same data base to pull from, or delete wide ranges of data because it doesn’t match their beliefs, and mistake emotion-based arguments for logic.  In NONE of these cases do you stand to gain more (on average) by arguing than by simply supporting the people who see the world as you do.
  5. Win, with integrity. And this is an important step: YOU MIGHT BE WRONG. Remember that. You’ve been wrong in the past. You will be wrong again in the future. You may be wrong now. So…treat others as you would wish to be treated. With respect and consideration.   Remember that they are probably thinking the precise same thing about YOU. And they may be correct.  So…when you sense that this is a Faith-based discussion masquerading as logic, step peacefully away, and spend that energy supporting someone who accepts your love and nurturing.   When you encounter someone who holds that opposite belief who can discuss it without emotion, who has no or little dog in the fight…have a polite discussion.


But if you go over the same point three times and get nowhere?  Disengage.

If fear or anger come into the conversation? Disengage.

If you see them applying different standards to others than they accept for themselves? Disengage.


Its easy to see, if you move backwards from the awareness that the purpose of life is to find joy.  Avoid pain. Things get so clear.


I found that realization to be so useful that I started talking about it to others, many of whom agreed, and found it valuable.  It was one of the engines driving the “Hero’s Journey”–the need to avoid pain (slay the dragon) or gain pleasure (win the princess.  Or prince.  Whatever floats your boat).


That was the core of my own coaching practice. The rest was a matter of building a professional structure, and then finding potential clients.


I promise you: it wouldn’t take me an hour with ANY of you to find something about your life that people would pay to learn.   And if you learned to present it properly, you could monetize it.  Do you know anything a younger you would pay to know? Something that helps you avoid pain or gain pleasure?   Of course you do.   That would be a valuable gift to someone who lacks clarity in that arena. And if you can help them, it is perfectly reasonable to ask them to exchange some of THEIR time and energy for yours.  That’s called “money.” Get it?


I promised that I’d have a special free offer for you, and you’ll get it tomorrow, a chance to listen in on a conversation with a lady who has earned millions just helping people, using her life experience and studied skills. Listen to her, it is the key to “Earning 100k a year in 25 hours a week.”


This is real.   And free. And coming tomorrow.






A young lady struggling to pass the PT test to become a Marine was my coaching client a couple of years back.  She PM’d me a month or so ago, thanking me.  She was in!   I am so happy for her, and so grateful to have had something to offer someone who just wanted to serve her country.   My very great honor, and it would be false modesty to refuse to accept her thanks.


No.  I have the ability to help people. In person.  From a distance. On the phone or Skype or email.   And although I outgrew that stage of my teaching (I no longer do personal coaching: I’d have to charge the very people who need the most help more money than they can afford) I know what it took to develop a way to help people, make money,   and have fun in the process.


But as I said, about six or seven years ago I was curled into a knot on the floor, crying…


Because the entire map of my life, built in childhood and reinforced and refined for decades, had been blown up by a family emergency.  For the first time, I lost faith that I could create a desirable future: the best of my life seemed to be in the rear-view mirror.


My decision to try to sell my skills in a different way ran into every “But…” imaginable.


But…who would pay me money for the things I give away?

But…I don’t know how to structure my time and energy to do it.

But…I don’t have the technical expertise to build an on-line business

But…I don’t know enough people locally to build a business

But…I’m in emotional overwhelm. People will smell that desperation on me, and reject the notion that I can help them.

But…I’m too old





All that stuff. And more, that I wouldn’t even write down in public.  But I asked myself one question:


If I was thirty years younger, would I pay me money for the knowledge I have?  If I could go back and give that younger me lessons in love, or writing, or martial arts, would that younger me be happy to pay for them?


And the answer was…hell yes.  IN FACT THE VERY PAIN I WAS IN RIGHT NOW WAS EVIDENCE. I knew how I’d messed up, and some very simple changes would have made a world of difference.  (Specifically and most simply?  Saving 10% of my income in an investment account.  That would have created an enormous safety cushion that would have removed all immediate fear and given me plenty of room for brainstorming.)


Once I realized that I, personally, would pay me for what I knew, everything changed.   The truth was that I didn’t need to attract “everyone.”  In fact, I didn’t have the TIME or ENERGY for more than about twenty clients a week, and really, I didn’t want more than ten.   If I used the World Wide Web, were there ten people in the world who were enough like I had been, who I could reach and present my case to?


With three BILLION people on the web?  Yeah, I kinda think so.


It stopped becoming “poor little me” and started being “who can I help? Who needs what I have AND CAN AFFORD TO PAY ME what I need to support my family with integrity?  Who would be FUN to work with?”


And that was a different set of questions.    It all depended upon loving myself, respecting the time I’d invested.  Seeing my own heart and soul in others, and not hallucinating that I was so unique that no one else would want to cook with my recipe.


No: the principles of real success were general enough that I’d profited by studying others, training with others.   All I had to do was realize that I was another link on a long, long human chain stretching back to prehistory: one human being teaching another. We are the only animals with more information in our brains than in our genes. As individuals we aren’t much smarter than chimps. It is the NETWORKING and sharing of information that we excel.


In other words…to NOT believe I had something of value to offer, I had to say


  1. I’d wasted my entire life
  2. All my teachers had been wrong
  3. I was so unique and brilliant no one could profit by my life lessons
  4. Only people with X or Y credential could teach (that certainly hadn’t been true for me!  I’d learned from people who had created success in the real world far more than those with “mere” academic credentials.  Now…those with a Masters or Doctorate who ALSO created in the real world were often the cream of the cream)


In other words, I had to either put myself WAY down, or put myself above anyone who asked me for help.   But if I’m just a human being, flawed and fearful but so focused on what I believe is true about the world, and myself, that I pick myself up day after day after day and work like hell to create the life I love…


I can show other people that path. And for those who want something similar to what I wanted, I can guide them. That’s all I have to do. Not be all-wise, or psychic, or perfect.


Just someone with genuine skills who wants to help, and knows how to communicate value. Who respects himself enough to demand to be treated with the respect I extend to others, and has a sense of the structure of life that says it is right and appropriate to teach…and be rewarded for that teaching, charging whatever I myself would have paid for that knowledge and support.


That’s all it is, really.  What have you learned? What have you become? What would you tell yourself thirty years ago?


If you can define that…you have something to offer the world that can build you a career you can be proud of IF AND ONLY IF you are willing to be adult about organization and communication.


If you are…I have something for you, a free gift.   Coming very soon.



Share the wealth!


(and if you need to believe in yourself, NOTHING is more powerful than the first step I often taught clients, the MORNING M.A.G.I.C. program.   If that’s your stumbling block, please go to and get that handled.  Your future will thank you!)

Sharing Your Wealth

When I was a kid, I wanted just three things: to be a writer, a martial artist, and to have a family to love and protect.


The problem is that I knew no writers, and everyone around me said it wasn’t possible.

The problem was that I was small and weak, a nerd with no athletic ability, filled with fear and doubt.

The problem was that my mother and father had divorced by the time I was six or seven, and she never remarried. Therefore, I had no role model of what a man was supposed to be.  And without being a good man, I would never find, attract, and hold a good woman.


So I searched, everywhere, at any cost in money, time, or energy.   I was TERRIFIED that I wouldn’t be able to reach my dreams, and that if I didn’t the world would chew me up and spit me out.


And slowly, slowly I began to find the clues.  I met people who were successful in one of those three fields, and would do as they said.


I remember in karate class when Steve Muhammad (then “Steve Sanders”) would work us half to death, and as we struggled and sweated and ached, he would say over and over again: “if you can learn karate, you can learn history, or math, or anything else. If you can earn a black belt, you can graduate college, get a good job…be a good PERSON.”


He wasn’t primarily about creating fighters (although he damned well did, some of the best in the world). He was about creating MEN and WOMEN who could stand tall, protect their communities, fulfill their dreams.


He was, and is, one hell of a coach.   And because he walked his talk, I trusted his words.  Believed. And…there was a hint there. That excellence in one area could lead to excellence in others.


I began to ask different questions: what was there about writing that related to martial arts? What about martial arts related to relationships?  What about relationships that related to writing?


What was the burning core of all three, that generalized essence which created mastery?  Was such a thing possible?  Could I find it?


I’ve pursued this question all my life, and what happened is that:

  1. I got EVERYTHING I ever wanted from life as a child, and I owed it all to the men and women who had actually had successful writing careers, become advanced martial artists, or had healthy loving passionate relationships for twenty years.
  2. I didn’t have to reach their level in ANY of them before people started asking me how I did it.  And…were willing to pay me to find out!


Get that?  You are hypnotized by the glamour and glory of those ahead of you…but don’t realize that you have your own accomplishment. Are mapping your own road. And that those who are interested in your path will be interested in your journey.


And that if you can guide them along that path, they will exchange their time and energy for yours.   That’s called MONEY.


In other words, a kid in Jr. High can coach an elementary school kid.  A high schooler coach a Jr. High kid. A college kid a High School kid. And on and on, like a Green Belt can coach a white belt.  Or someone who has published a single book can teach a Learning Tree class in writing.


YOU HAVE USEFUL KNOWLEDGE RIGHT NOW.  If you have raised children, taught school, navigated a career, found love, survived loss or healed a friendship…


If you know how to cook, clean, garden, lose weight, cope with stress, sell a story, gain muscle, or anything else people care about, YOU HAVE USEFUL KNOWLEDGE.


Someone, somewhere, would look up to you. Would think you are further down the road.  And if you can honestly guide them, you can bring value to the world…and create a new career for yourself.


Think about it: what do YOU know?  And if you don’t have anything, what would you LIKE to know? Because if you learn how to be a coach, the structure itself is a massive value, which can be filled with almost any kind of human knowledge, so long as people value it.


Do you have useful skills?  Are you willing to work to gain them?   If the answer is “yes”, you have the most basic quality you need on the path that saved me seven years ago in Atlanta.  And you’re going to want to pay close attention to a free gift that’s  coming in the next few days.


Share your wealth!