Showing Posts from: Self-Improvement


What is the First Step to Improving Your Life?

Someone recently asked me, "Your book, “Your Next Chapter,” provides advice on creating the life of one’s dreams. What’s the first step in that process?"

My answer is pretty simple: people need to understand that if they are not where they want to be in their lives -physically, mentally, emotionally, academically, professionally, financially, relationally, or spiritually- they have the power to turn the page. To turn the page means that they are committing to take proactive steps to improve the quality of their lives, one belief, one decision, one step at a time. It means that you are taking action to make your life align to the story that you want. Turn the page.

What Kept Me Motivated?

Sometimes people ask me, "After that fortuitous park bench encounter with Martin Stokes, how did I maintain the motivation to keep working hard, to push away the despair and keep it from pulling me in the wrong direction? Was it sheer force of will that kept me going back to school or something else?"

Early on, I was running from poverty, from abuse, from alcoholism, homelessness, misery and pain.  My primary motivation was to get as far away from those things as possible, and school was the means by which I could do that.  School was my “way out,” my passport to freedom. 

Along the way, however, I also starting running toward some things.  I wanted to play football, run track, be the first in my family to graduate from high school, and graduate from college. I wanted to become the faithful husband I never saw in my family. I wanted to become the father I never had.  Furthermore, I wanted to fly airplanes, travel the world,help other people, and become financially free.

Those dreams motivated me to keep pressing forward, sometimes with tears in my eyes, through the pain. I believed that there was a bright future for me, and that I could not rest until I found it. 

Finally, there were key people in my life- teachers, coaches, a lunch lady, friends, roommates, professors, and pastors who encouraged me to keep fighting for the life that I wanted.

That's what kept me motivated. What about you? What are you running from? What are you running to? Think about it.

After 7 YEARS, I Finished My Coursework for My PhD!

I began this PhD journey in 2010, and have kept at it all these years, taking one course a semester so I could continue to speak around the world. 

Well, I'm not quite finished yet, but I see light at the end of the tunnel!

About 10 minutes ago, I submitted all these assignments, completing all my coursework for my PhD! Now, I prepare for comprehensive exams, a dissertation proposal, and then the real fun begins: my own original research on communication and culture.

What Has Your Self-Image Cost You? Mine Has Cost Me SO MUCH!

My poor self-image has cost me SO MUCH:

  • I ditched 60-90 days of school every year from 4th-9th grade because I believed I was too far behind, and too dumb, to catch up;
  • I second-guessed myself when my football coach, Steve "Mooch" Mariucci, wanted to give me some playing time;
  • I talked myself out of approaching a woman I liked because I didn't think I was on “her level;”
  • I refused to apply for a better job because I didn't think I was qualified;
  • I turned down an invitation to hang out with some people I admired because I didn't think they would really like me.
  • I could go on like this FOR DAYS!

My self-image has cost me: 

  • so many opportunities,
  • so much money,
  • so much time,
  • so many rewards,
  • so many friendships,
  • and so much growth! 

To be sure, my negative self-image was not of my own doing.  All those times other kids made fun of my hair, clothes, and shoes, and all those times I was told, and treated, like I wasn't very smart; and, all those times I was told that I was not cute absolutely shaped how I saw myself.  Still, after all those people who had hurt me were long gone, their words were still very present with me, living in my head and heart, and controlling my opinions about myself. When that hit me, I realized that something had to change and I had to change it. I had to evict some people from my head and heart, and throw out all their toothbrushes, clothes and furniture with them!

Yes, if I were ever going to improve the quality of my life- which I desperately wanted to do, and which I believe God wanted me to do-,then I would have to improve my self-image. So I got to work repaing my self-image.  It has made a world of difference for me.

How do you see yourself? If you have a positive, healthy self-image, where did that come from, and how do you maintain it?  Or, if you have a negative one, like I used to have, where do you think it came from, and what is it costing you?  Think about it, and be honest with yourself. You might discover something about yourself that can help you, or others, to grow.

-Manny