Steven Cox Featured on Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast

By Business Philosophy, Entrepreneur Insights, Leadership, Motivational, Speaking, Start-Ups, TakeLessons.com, Uncategorized No Comments
If you can dream it, you can do it!

If you can dream it, you can do it!

I had a great time being interviewed by John Lee Dumas of Entrpreneur on Fire.

Listen in and hear about my worst entrepreneurial moment, my big ah-ha, and a few awesome resources for entrepreneurs.

To subscribe to Entrepreneur on Fire through iTunes, go here.

TakeLessons Free Downloadable Holiday Cookbook

By Food and Drink, For Fun No Comments

TakeLessons Holiday Christmas CookBookIn the spirit of the Holidays, the team at TakeLessons put together this awesome cookbook, filled with our favorite recipes. I’d like to give it to you as my gift and to wish you and yours the most joyous Holiday season!

Steven

Download the eBook here

“Our team at TakeLessons put together a little something special (and scrumptious!) just for you!

We’d love to bring you a plate of cookies and Grandma’s eggnog, but since we can’t be everywhere at once, we had to get a little more creative to bring our home to you! Below you’ll find the TakeLessons Holiday Cookbook 2014 with our favorite holiday treats. We hope you enjoy these delicious homemade dishes!

From our home to yours, cheers to an incredible year. Here’s looking forward to a delightful 2015!

Warm wishes,
The TakeLessons Team”

Happy in Paris

Try This Instead: Learn to Set the Bar LOW

By Life Lessons, Motivational One Comment
Set the bar high

We’re all taught to set the bar high. Does that always work?

We’ve all heard these pep talks before…

“Expect more out of yourself!”

“Be all you can be!”

“Good enough is never good enough!”

“Set the bar HIGH!”

Your parents, your boss, your childhood soccer coach, and of course every self help book you’ve ever attempted to read has made these statements at one time or another.

These mantras are the melody of success for high achievers. We spend most of our days in a constant state of movement attempting to make ourselves better, richer, and smarter.

High achievers often beat themselves up about past mistakes and fret over the possibility of making new ones in the future. We’re so caught up in engaging in personal and professional growth that we miss the moment here and now. We read The Power of Now. We think we are enlightened. And, then we forget how it works by the very next day.

These mantras aim to push us to do more, be more, and learn more. They are ultimately what drives us to try what’s not been tried and do what’s not been done.

And, when we engage in these high-achiever tendencies, we do in fact get better. We lose the extra 5 pounds. We connect with our kids more. We make our spouses feel more satisfied.

Life is good. We’re happy.

But sometimes, despite our best efforts, life throws us a curve.

Our company downsizes. Our kids fail a class. We gain the 5 pounds back.

And, that happy, enlightened feeling you had just a day ago? Well, that has disappeared in just a matter of seconds.

And, all of a sudden, we’re not so pleasant to be around. We snap at the Starbucks barista who uses whole milk instead of non-fat. Our head feels cloudy. Our chest tightens up. The little things become harder to deal with.

We tell ourselves that when we get life back on track, we will definitely feel better.

But, in that moment, we are not happy. Things are not going our way.

For the most part, setting the bar high is an admirable and worthwhile way of thinking.

Except when it relates to our happiness.

When it comes to being happy. We need to change our way of thinking. Instead of requiring perfection before allowing ourselves to feel joy, we need to make it easier for us to actually experience happiness.

We need to set the bar LOW.

That’s right. I know. I know. It goes against everything we high achievers tell ourselves on a daily basis.

But, it’s true. We need to set the bar LOW. Hear me out and imagine this scene.

Let’s imagine Mike (name made up). Mike is on track for success. He has a beautiful wife and family. He is well educated, and he maintains a good job and a good living. Mike is moving in the right direction!

Mike should be happy, but he is not satisfied.

He thinks he needs to make more money. He wants his kids to do better in school. He knows he needs to drop some pounds. According to Mike, if all of this happens, then he will really be able to feel good about life.

So, Mike keeps on pushing the boulder up the hill, and most days, he feels pretty mediocre at best.

Mike plays a continuous record in his head that says, “When I just get to the next level, I’ll be much happier”

Does that sound familiar?

Why isn’t Mike happy now? It’s not because his life sucks. It’s because he hasn’t given himself permission to be happy, to be joyful for the moment he is in right now.

Happy in Paris

Set the Happiness Bar low. Give yourself every chance to be happy.

His Happiness Bar is too high.

It’s a delusion for Mike to think that the ‘next level’ will be the answer to his happiness. It never is, because as soon as we climb the mountain, there’s another one right over the horizon. We never get there.

Fancy what would happen if Mike lowered the bar? What if he made it drop-dead easy to feel joy? What if he changed his perception about what needs to happen before he can feel happy?

Today, what if Mike just decided he needed to accomplish these two things in order to feel joy in his life:

1. He has to wake up

2. His wife and kids need to wake up, too.

That’s it. If those two things happen, Mike is allowed to feel happy.

What do you think Mike’s chance of success would be? It’s certainly not foolproof, but at least for this one day, his mindset would change, his attitude would change, and his level of happiness would change.

If Mike decides to make a more consistent effort to think differently, 99.9% of the time, he could choose to be happy. He could realize that happiness is a state of mind that can be altered.

Because he set the Happiness Bar LOW.

A couple tools to helping us set the Happiness Bar low is practicing positivity and prioritizing people. In a recent article on happiness on the FirstRound blog, Scott Crabtree, CEO of Happy Brain Science, says that these two factors are key to helping us build the necessary muscle to rewire our brain.

Practicing positivity helps because the brain only holds one thought at a time. The more positive thoughts we have, the less time and energy we spend on negative thoughts and emotion. When you focus on negative though, you’re phasing out your ability at that time to focus on what’s not going right.

The number one factor in happiness is the quality of our relationships, according to Crabtree:

“When you focus time and attention on your relationships, they improve, and that improves your happiness. You also improve your coping ability because you have more support. Bottom line: Warm relationships can fuel happiness more than any other single factor we have found.”

So, there’s more than just cliche behind practicing positivity, and the key to jumpstart your happiness is to make sure you’re sepending time building high-quality relationships.

Summary

How high is your Happiness Bar? Would you consider trying to lower it for couple weeks? You just might like all the joy and bliss that comes along with setting that bar closer to the floor instead of the ceiling.

 (Thanks to Natalie Susi for helping me edit)

 

Steven Cox Life Lessons

44 Life Lessons on my Birthday

By Life Lessons, Motivational, My Writings 6 Comments

A couple weeks ago, I grew another year wiser. It was the big 44!

I don’t know if you’ve experienced this where, one day, you kind of wake up and realize you’re in the mid-part of your life. It’s surreal. It’s surprising. It’s life.

Honestly, I really feel wonderful. Life just keeps getting better and I feel more centered, fortunate, blessed, and happy than I’ve ever been. I guess time has a way of making things better.

This morning, I woke up and wrote down 44 things I’ve learned over the past 44 years. Things about love, work, drive, direction, purpose, health, and curiosity. Things that have become beliefs. Things that have shaped my view of the world. Things I hold as important.

I’m writing these so when life takes a downward turn, I can go back and remind myself of what’s important. But, perhaps you might find something in here as well that you can apply to your life to make it a bit more fulfilling. If that turns out to be the case, then I’d be a happy man to know I’ve helped you out in a small way.

Enjoy! I’d love for you to comment below and let me know what your favorites are:

Steven Cox Life Lessons

44 Things I’ve Learned in 44 Years.

 

  1. The value of life is not in what is owned, but what we experience, who we experience it with, and the quality of love we give.
  2. Live life in a way that makes a positive lasting difference on others and your environment.
  3. The air I breathe is borrowed.
  4. When considering happiness, set the bar low. Make it easy for you to find reasons to be happy.
  5. Practice kindness daily.
  6. We are allowed to make mistakes and still be awesome.
  7. Our happiness depends greatly on what we choose to focus on.
  8. We are all one.
  9. Meditate daily.
  10. Character is determined when no one is watching.
  11. There is a difference between looking at someone, and truly seeing them. Focus on the latter.
  12. If you randomly think of someone, stop for a moment and send them positive energy.
  13. Give love freely, for, it is infinite. Receive love openly. You are worthy of love.
  14. Instead of asking what your mate can do for you, ask if you have the character to be the man she needs you to be.
  15. Never stop touching.
  16. It’s OK to cry.
  17. A short, hand-written note is more meaningful than a text or email.
  18. Make a photo book of your friends, family, and events every year.
  19. Friendships must be cultivated, watered, and grown.
  20. At the next party you go to, make it a point to ask questions, be interested, and listen three times more than you talk.
  21. Travel Often. Let curiosity be your guide.
  22. Trade your time only for WOW!
  23. Dress up on Halloween
  24. Go see live theatre
  25. Every so often, only listen to new music for a week. It could be a new station, a new band, or a new genre that you normally woudn’t listen to. Get out of your routine.
  26. Take time to play.
  27. Discover the artist within you without judging him or her.
  28. Risk more than is comfortable. Take a step. Even when you’re unsure, step anyway.
  29. Exercise your body and mind 5 days a week.
  30. Your health matters more than your bank account.
  31. Every so often, do fruit, veggie, raw diets for a few days, and don’t drink during that time.
  32. Buy fewer things of higher value.
  33. Commit to taking full responsibility in every area of your life.
  34. People aren’t watching and talking about you as much as you think they are.
  35. Our greatest challenges yield the most beautiful memories.
  36. Money is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.
  37. When you feel arrogance in yourself, ask what you’re afraid of.
  38. Surround yourself with people who play at things you have to work at
  39. Set stretch goals. The greatest value is not in what you accomplish, but the type of person you become while working on it
  40. Strive for excellence over perfection
  41. Many times, the race is won by those who keep running.
  42. You are not your work. It is a part of what you do, but it is not who you are.
  43. We never have another day to make this day meaningful, so spend more time working on things worth dying for.
  44. Love. Then, love more.

 

Teaming up with the International Women’s Hackathon

By Start Up San Diego, TakeLessons.com, Web and Tech No Comments

International Women's HackathonTakeLessons is proud to be a part of the video, and a supporter of this years International Women’s Hackathon, held at Cal State, San Marcos.

The International Women’s Hackathon is sponsored by Microsoft Research to empower young women leaders (ages 16 and older) in computer science. Teams of 4-6 girls will make a website, game, cloud based service, application, or mobile app to address one of these two world challenges: Disaster Response or Climate Data.

To encourage participation, especially girls from low socioeconomic families, registration will be free for students, including snacks, lunch, dinner, parking, access to state-of-the-art computing facilities at CSUSM, and collaboration with peers and volunteering mentors from the software industry. In addition, bus services are provided for selected local high schools to bring their students on the day of the event.

Why We Support It

Alan Cole, COO TakeLessonsAlan Cole, our COO drove the initiative.

“At TakeLessons.com, we come to work each way driven by the idea that we can make a positive difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with. We choose to do that through technology and software engineering. We want to encourage young people in the San Diego area, and around the world, to see the possibilities of using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as tools to make positive change in their world as well.” says, Cole.

The International Women’s Hackathon at Cal State San Marcos helps inspire students to follow their passions and make a difference in careers that have historically been underrepresented by women. We know that women who choose these fields not only change the world, they also earn an average of 33% more than women in other fields. As a big fan of San Diego, I believe that giving young women the technological tools to earn more – while changing the world – is an incredible gift to the San Diego Innovation Economy.

Steven interviewed for the IWH video on empowering young women.

Steven interviewed for the IWH video on empowering young women to think about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.