After reading today's "Quote of the day" I started to think a lot about challenging yourself to do great things.  It also reminded me of two recent events that happened in the past few weeks. The first was reading the comments under a recent post (Don't Take It For Granite) by two very strong women. I encourage you to read the post if you haven't, but it brief it dealt with a close friend of mine recently getting injured and realizing how much having something taken away affected his life. The two women that commented recently had similar events happen in their lives where they were either diagnosed with a disease, or recovering from a major injury. 
                The second event came from a question that somebody recently asked me. I have recently made a career change and am going through the hardships of doing so. The person said to me: "since you are struggling at what you are doing now, and you were doing fine before, why don't you just stop and go back to what you were doing before?"  I thought about it for a minute and financially it made sense (in the short term), but then I thought about how happy I was before (which wasn't very much) and how stopping now would be quitting and settling. (Plus I'm not trying to do "fine" or "ok" I'm trying to do great, but that's off topic.)  I'm sure the women mentioned above could have easily just mailed it in and stopped fighting, but then what position would they be in today? The easiest thing to do when the going gets tough is quit. And I'm not knocking anybody that has done so, because it is in human nature to avoid pain.  But is it ok to just settle in a comfort zone? I'm sure it is for some people but not for me. This goes for anything in life, whether you're sick, coming off an injury, applying for a job, going to school, anything!  I recently read an article that said that only about 33% (if that many) of urban middle school students go on to graduate college.  Reason being? Because it takes a lot of work to do so, and not much work to quit. Now, don't get me wrong I understand that college isn't for everybody, and I have many friends that have either not went or went and discovered it wasn't for them. And that's fine because all of them have some type of plan. However, I'm talking about the people that just don't care at all, and have no reason for not going.  Two main reasons for this are lack of motivation and encouragement. 

                Just as it is important to push yourself, and challenge yourself to get better. It is equally as important to have a good support system. The type of support that will keep you on the right track and encourage you to do what you don't want to do when you're having one of those days.  This is the main reason that the "Team Royalty" Movement was developed. In order to be that support system to anybody that is willing to accept. Not necessarly on a personal level, but more so being an example of a group of people that are in the same boat as you are, fighting the same fight, going through the same struggle. And when people share their stories like the two women did, it just adds and builds on what we're trying to do. 

                So to everybody out there, follow your dreams and make them come true. If you want to be great, don't let anybody tell you that you can't. We all go through struggles and hardships. However only a handful of us fight through them and come back stronger. "Legends aren't admired because of their greatness, their admired because of what they went through to achieve that greatness." - P 

You never know where knowledge may hide.

                Today has just been one of those days. :-( I've been feeling under the weather, it's the middle of the week,  and to top things off it is snowing.  This morning I got a message that the college I work at is closing early, therefore I didn't have to go in to work later. When I got this message the first thing that came to my mind was, 5 years ago I would have been jumping up and down celebrating, thinking about what video game I'm going to play all day. Or even better, "let me take my behind back to sleep." But today was a little different. What came to my mind today was "yes!  I have more time to research and master my investment craft."  I don't know what it is (maybe it's a survival issue) but I always ask myself how can I get better?  How can I achieve the things I see my mentors achieving?  The answers are more knowledge and hard work.

                This brings me to a conversation I had with one of my closest friends the other day. We talked for a while about how when he goes into work, he doesn't just do what's asked of him, he's always networking and trying to talk to others. Does he have a reason for this? No. But he understands that the world (along with his goals) are much bigger than his desk and computer. He knows that knowledge is out there. But it just won't knock on his door and say "what's up", he has to go out and uncover it and sometimes it's hiding in the strangest places.  To this day I believe that I've learned much more from talking to others and going through my own successes and failures than I did in college. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking college or anything, school is cool (me giving the thumbs up with a kool aid smile), but sometimes talking to a real person that lives that experience is the best knowledge you can receive.  Sometimes a person can make one comment that opens up a world of thought for you, weather they meant it or not.

                To get back on track, today I started reading and watching a lot of videos on the various investment markets, fully knowing and accepting that half of the stuff I hear (especially on youtube and google searches) will be BS or just plain non-credible. However, out of the blue I heard one little piece of information, and idea, that got me thinking. And from that one idea I was able to create something that may help me out in my trading. And that made it all worth it.

"Trying to find a needle in a haystack is almost impossible . Not trying to find it takes that almost away." - P

Last night I received an instant message on facebook from an old friend. This friend of mine I have not seen or heard from in at least 5 years. We talked for a while sharing old stories and reminiscing of the good times. As my friend was updating me on his life and what struggles he was facing in his current situation I realized the negative pool of energy he was drowning himself in, at that point I attempted to uplift his spirit and try to adjust his mindset to be more positive. As we continued to talk about his situation he started to think a bit less negative and this is when he made a comment that I will never forget “Devon I think your website is going to change my life honestly”. It was at this point I realized my words had the power and ability to stimulate another human being to make a change in their life for the better. At the conclusion of our conversation he later said “I’m telling you believe me people are reading and I know it, people love to hear positivity in the negative world we live in”.

In this fast paced world we live in we sometimes do or say things and not realize the impact it may have on people. In this case I wrote quotes that are motivational and inspirational in hope to give others the positive support in which they need in order to create change. I can honestly say I don’t know how my friends and I words impact people nor do I know who reads what my friends and I post on our site. This goes to show people listen and people watch and you never know when they are doing either so it best to practice what you preach and be consistent.
Old friend you know who you are, I am sure you will make the right decision and not to say things will not be hard or you won’t struggle but trust and believe all will be well.
On January 18, 2011 I woke up and rolled out of bed like any normal day. I eat breakfast as I prepared to go to the gym as I do every morning. Once I got to the gym I did my usual warm up and light strength in preparation to do some back squats. I do a few warm up sets to get the blood flowing and warm my muscles. On my first set of 8 of 315lbs I squatted down and on the way up I felt a sensation never felt before in my lower back, but like most people I thought to myself “oh it’s not that bad” one hour later I was not able to walk in strides of more than 6 inches apart and there was pain shooting up my back and down my legs. It was at this point I felt most vulnerable and weak to the point I could not protect myself if needed. 

The purpose of me sharing this short story with you is because there are too many things in life we as people take for granite and do not take the time to embrace and acknowledge all that we do have, so much energy is wasted on what we don’t have (the crazy part is if we had the things we don’t we still would not be satisfied). I believe one who spends more time focused on what he/she has will obtain more than the one who focuses on what they do not have…

                In order to be successful in anything you do in life, you must be a winner. Let me rephrase that, in order to be successful you must have the winners mindset.  Anybody who knows me knows my belief on success is the only reason people aren't successful is because they give up before giving themselves the chance to succeed.  If success was easy, then everyone would accomplish all of their goals. But the fact of the matter is, it's not and therefore many people do not. Of course there are numerous factors out of our control and can affect whether we are successful or not. But in general, I think that many people simply don't have the mindset that it takes to win and don't like putting themselves through the pain of winning.  yes the pain of winning.  I say this because if you're going to win, you usually have to lose first. We've all heard the saying, take one step backwards then two forward.  Well, usually that step backwards hurts and most people don't want to put themselves through that pain so they quit. However, a person with the winning mindset will look at that step backwards as a chance to gain perspective on the situation, see what they did wrong, then attack it away the right way.

                In order to win, you must approach your goal with the mindset of winning.  Ask yourself this question. When your teacher asks you do write a report on a subject, do you simply write a report? Or do you write a report that includes pictures and graphs or anything else that future explains your topic? The difference between the two is asking yourself "when I'm given a task do I simply just do what I have to do to get the job done? Or do I try to improve each time, not because I was asked to, but rather because I want to. That may have not been the best example but I hope I got my point across. We can even take a sports example and look at NFL quarterbacks. The two best QB's in the NFL are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Do they both have the strongest arms...No. Are they the quickest most agile players at the position...Heck No! The difference between them, and the reason for their success is that they spend the most time reviewing film and preparing for each game. No this isn't required, but they know that if they want to get better, it is something they have to do. Michael Vick was an amazing QB in Atlanta, but he only relied on his god given abilities and never pushed himself to get better, therefore he was stuck as a good QB, but never a great QB.  Good doesn't make the Hall of Fame. Great does.

                A word that I learned a few years ago that I've grown to love and model my life after is the Japanese word "Kaizen". Kaizen in short means continuous improvement.  After the WWII while Japan was rebuilding their economy, they used this word in their factories. They didn't look to go from zero to hero in one day, or even one year. Rather they told themselves that if they can become 1% more efficient each day over the last, then they were taking steps in the right direction. 

                Each day I wake up, I ask myself, "how can I become better today, than yesterday?"  Try it for a month and see if it works for you.  The goal in life is to progress in whatever you do. However if you simply settle and become stagnant then what's the point of doing that task at all?

Yesterday I had a meeting with a former college football buddy of mine about a business he has started and his interest in using me as a consultant. Out of respect for his ideas, I won't go into detail about what his business entails but we ended up talking a lot about "Success" and "Motivation".  I am very familiar with these words, as I try to integrate them into my life on a daily basis, but the way he spoke of them had a different twist to it which really opened up my eyes to a lot of things that I knew but didn't realize I knew. 

When you think of the word motivation, or motivate you often think of it as meaning "to provide motives" or  "to provide reasons to do something". This is fine and is something that I do every day.  But as we talked I began to realize that motivation by its self can be pretty much pointless.  Certain types of motivation will only get you to you immediate goal and then what?  For example, when I was in middle school I was one of those students that had the entire alphabet on his report card.  During my 7th grade year my parents made a deal with me. They said if I was able to bring my grades up to a respectable level by high school then they would buy me a video game system. Long story short, I did so. However as soon as I got to high school my grades dropped again because I had already completed the task at hand and was no longer motivated.  This is why  I say it can be pointless. Certain forms of motivation will only get you from A to B. But once you get to B then where do you go?  You're stuck in the cycle of needing to find something else to get you to succeed again.  Sounds like a drug to me. Chasing a high again and again.

My friend then informed me that the key type of motivation that works is empowerment and "Self Motivation". This way you have a goal but it's broader than just receiving a video game system. Let's remember that goals aren't supposed to be specific. Objectives are.  So having a goal like "I want to get better" and really meaning it isn't bad at all, because getting better is infinite.  You can always get better at something, and that way your never satisfied.

He also mentioned something about using the word  "great", especially in a past context. For example, "hey man, I used to be great at basketball" or "I'm great at singing".  He told me that you shouldn't use those words because once you have defined yourself as being great you are pretty much saying you maxed out and have reached your potential. Because what's above great? So if you're a great singer now, how can you ever be any better? And yes I know we can argue on specifics all day but in general I'm just trying to make the point that once "you" call yourself great. You are pretty much settling into a comfort zone.  All of the people that "we" call great, probably don't believe they are great. Kobe is a great basketball player, but every time he talks he mentions an aspect of his game that he is trying to improve.

Our conversation went on for probably about an hour, but the key point were don't limit yourself by words or by another's means. If you're going to do something make sure you do it for yourself and because "you" want to reach a goal that "you" made for yourself not  because someone else told you to. If that is the case then as soon as you meet those others approval, you will stop and be right back where you started.

  The difference between "having" to do something and "wanting" to do something is BIG.


•An appropriate or favorable time or occasion
•A situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal
•A good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success

July 1, 2009 I was given an opportunity in which my life changed, this was the day I started my career in Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts. As I progressed through college and gained knowledge and a better understanding of my purpose it became clear to me I wanted to work in the health/fitness department at a University/College. In grad school I pursued to work in campus recreation for one year, in that year I was like sponge soaking up all the information possible (professional development opportunities, workshops, state/regional/national conferences, socials etc). By time I completed my one and only year of experience in campus recreation I had the same amount if not more knowledge as a person who was there for 2 years. 

I applied to multiple jobs all across the country from Massachusetts to California. The only University that gave me a chance was UMass, this was the one and only opportunity I had to do what I loved. I never thought I would visit let alone live in Massachusetts but July 1, 2009 started my new life.

Since being a staff member at UMass for 2 years I have increased my knowledge of the field, improved as a young professional, and created a change in culture in my department.

What I am saying is when opportunity comes it does not wait for anyone nor would it present itself to one if he/she were not ready to take it on. Doors open up every day in our world; it is up to you to walk through those doors.

Thanks for reading my story of opportunity