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How to Climb Your Mount Everest

Maya Gurung was 14 and on the cusp of becoming one of the first girls to complete high school in her Nepal Village. Her father however, had other plans. He didn’t see the point and had already begun arranging her marriage.  “What would you do with an education?”

He wasn’t the only naysayer, her Aunt told her that she would never be anything more than a poor village woman.

After stealing $2.30 from her father, Maya ran away from home by taking a bus and getting off more than 250 miles from where she started. It didn’t last long. The next day she was discovered by police and returned to her school.

Maya returned a disgrace to her family and when she asked her father for forgiveness, he showed her a video he had made that depicted the rituals of Maya’s death. There would be no reconciliation.

Maya’s homeland in Nepal is a landlocked country of 27 million people that borders China and India. It also just so happens to be located in the Himalayas and the home of Mount Everest. Eight of the world’s ten highest mountains are located in Nepal with Mount Everest owning the title of highest peak.

Of 4,000 people who have reached the top of Mount Everest, only seven have been woman from Nepal. The first woman to reach the top, died on the decent.

At 5 foot 3 inches tall, Maya may be small in stature, but there is no shortage of heart and determination.  A few years after the failed runaway attempt, Maya enrolled in a basic mountaineering course, not long after that Maya set her sights on Mount Everest.

Maya joined 9 other woman at the base of Mount Everest in April of 2008. They climbed 5-10 hours a day. “With each step, we went further than we’d been before.” “Each step was a success.” Their mantra was simply, “ONE MORE STEP.”

On May 22nd 2008, Maya’s team reached the summit. Now, that would be more than enough for even the most adventurous, but not Maya and her fellow female climbers.  Before she was done, Maya would end up at the top of five of the tallest peaks on five continents!

I share this story, because I believe there are a few really important lessons we can learn from Maya Gurung.

Your story only lives in the past

Many of us are holding onto something that has happened to us in the past. We are giving credibility to those who said we couldn’t do it, that laughed at us, or made fun of is. Or maybe we had a negative event in the past that we still carry with us today. We are stuck in our old story. I can’t do it because……. It’s too hard because….

Maya could have listened to those same voices as well. The voices of her own family telling her she would never be anything but a poor village girl. That woman don’t need education, that girls like her don’t climb mountains, certainly not Mount Everest. She proved them all wrong and now takes her message to other woman across the world to show them what is possible. Maya is living proof that you can accomplish what you truly commit to and work towards every single day.

Greatness starts with one step

Nobody can shortcut the process. We all start at the bottom of the mountain. Many of us get held back by overwhelm and our fear of failure. Maya and her team understood that even if they took it slow, as long as the keep moving forward, one step at a time, eventually they would get to the summit. It is easy to want our results NOW, to look for shortcuts and always look for the easiest route.

For life’s major accomplishments there are no shortcuts. You must follow the process step by step. That could mean losing weight one workout or healthy meal at a time. Closing deals one phone call at a time, upgrading your skillset one book at a time. Become financially free by saving one dollar at a time. If you follow the process, step by step, your results will come.

What are you capable of achieving? What is your first step?

Are you READY?

Your Partner in Success,

Josh Paulsen

Blog Maya

The inspiration for this post came from the article After the Seven Summits by Alyssa Roenigk

5 Reasons you can’t get yourself to _________.

We all have things that we would like to accomplish that we keep putting off. Wants or dreams that we just can’t seem to move forward with. Every day I tackle this subject with my students, my clients and many times with myself.

In fact, this is a common reason people hire a coach, to help them finally make that change they have been trying to do on their own for years. Many are looking for that magic pill or easy solution. “Motivate me”, give me the once sentence that will make it all click!

Oh if only it was that easy!

I have found that understanding why you are not taking action, or isolating what is holding you back is the best approach to arriving at a solution and to move past it.

These are the 5 most common culprits.

1) You don’t know how. I put this first for a reason, not biggest it is the biggest hurdle. Quite the opposite, this is usually the easiest problem to solve. However, most people MISTAKE this as the obstacle. Now you may not truly know all of the steps to completing your task right now. But we live in the information age. We have access to more information at our fingertips than ever before. If you have a smart phone, you literally have access to a huge mountain of information at your fingertips. Search the Internet and you can find an article, or YouTube video on just about any topic you can imagine. Finding the “how” in our world today has never been easier.

2) You don’t think you can do it. Beliefs are a powerful thing. We typically tap our potential at our belief level, not from a reservoir of what we are truly capable of achieving. Find someone with a strong belief and you will see them tackle a project with perseverance, passion and grit. If deep down, you don’t feel like you are capable of being successful your mind will work on protecting you from failure. You will find an infinite number of other projects or priorities. In most cases, you won’t even get started.

3) You are scared. Fear is probably the number one thing that holds us back. It is a protection mechanism. Our brain’s first priority is to keep us safe from harm, not only physical harm, but emotional pain as well. If there is fear of failure, rejection, or of not being good enough we get stuck in the mud. Most of us will do much more to avoid discomfort or pain, than we will to seek gain or pleasure. If you don’t deal with the root cause of why you are hesitating, your brain will do its best to protect you from this “harm” with avoidance. It will even supply you with some great excuses along the way to rationalize your thinking and procrastination!

4) It isn’t important enough. These last two are tougher pills for many to swallow. I know it has been a wakeup call for yours truly. In many instances, the culprit is that you just don’t want it bad enough. To accomplish something new, or to make a change, requires quite a bit of effort. It sounds nice. You might really want to lose a few pounds, make more money, and find a new job. But how hard are you willing to work for it? The sad reality is that there is a cost to change. It requires effort and sacrifice. If we could just wave a magic wand, we would all be skinny and rich. But it doesn’t work that way. Are you willing to wake up earlier, stay up later, turn off the TV or put down your fork? If your reasons aren’t strong enough, the path of least resistance and your comfort zone will win out every time. You need strong reasons to get you out of bed on that cold morning when the alarm goes off. You need a burning why to get you to the gym when you don’t feel like it, to attend that networking event or make the extra phone call. Your reasons for wanting the results come first.

5) You are more committed to something else. This is similar to number four, but worth mentioning separately. We all have limited resources. Whether it is time, money, or energy, we only have so much of it. If you choose to engage in one activity, you are taking yourself away from another opportunity. Sometimes the most powerful word is NO. It is critical to be clear with your priorities and values and to stay strong amidst the sea of distractions. Whatever you are most committed to will win out every time.

I have been “talking” about getting up earlier in the morning and establishing a more structured morning routine for a while now. I would really “like” to wake up at 5am. It would be great to start my day before my kids wake up and knockout a few wins before the sun rises.

I have even tried a few self-coaching techniques:

  •  I have note cards with reasons why I want to get up at 5am
  •  I read a book called the Miracle Morning to create a stronger why
  •  I have implementation intentions and wrote down all the steps I would take once my alarm clock goes off
  •  I made a list of morning items that I would enjoy to help give me the payoff of getting up earlier

The reality is, when I am truly honest with myself, I am much more “committed” to sleep and my reasons for waking up aren’t strong enough.

Just last night my three year old woke up three times in the middle of the night. Before I close my eyes at night I often wonder – will I actual be able to sleep through the night without interruption? Couple this with the fact that I have seen all the research on how important sleep is to keep your mind and body running in tip top shape and it is no wonder I can’t seem to get myself to sacrifice sleep to wake up at the crack of dawn!

What I have realized is through trial and error is this. What I truly want are the results from what I think waking up at 5am would give me.

  • Starting the day on my terms. Not having the screams of “DADDY I NEED YOU!” be the jolt that starts my crazy day
  • Making sure exercise happens
  • Having dedicated time for reading

Armed with this information I have been able to structure my day so that I can get the results I want, without sleep deprivation or continuing to fight a losing battle. I have a routine that has me waking up before my kids are screaming my name, but thankfully not at 5am. I have shifted and scheduled (crucial element), some of the activities to later in the day.

Most importantly, I no longer have that unaccomplished “goal” calling to me every day, eating at me. Without knowing what was holding me back from taking action, I would have never been able to figure a plan to get the results I wanted.

Fill in the blank from the title. What is something you would like to accomplish that you keep putting off?

Which of the five areas are holding you back? Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments!

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen


Your Secret Weapon For Increased Productivity

Don’t you wish you had less time available to you? If there were only 18 hours in the day, maybe you would spend less of it starring at a wall because you have nothing to do? Yeah right!

I have yet to work with a single client or student that hasn’t said they were “too busy”, or that they “didn’t have enough time”, or that there were “too many things to do and too little time.”

Procrastination and time management are two items that come up frequently in our discussions. Yes, time does seem to “fly” for most of us, but the great news is that you are the pilot.

Today I want to give you some insight into how your mind prioritizes your tasks if you let it run on autopilot. But I will also give you the secret weapon to increasing your productivity in order to move from being busy to getting results.

Gain vs Preventing Pain

Psychology research shows that when we get right down to it, we can categorize all sources of human motivation into two categories.

  1. To prevent PAIN
  2. To move towards GAIN

You have probably heard this before, but it is important to understand it from a productivity and procrastination stand point.

Preventing Pain Tasks

Let’s start with preventing pain first, because that is the one that your brain gives more attention to. I have written about the brains negativity bias in a previous post. But these tasks associated with preventing pain throw up DANGER signals to your brain, which means survival, which means it will get the most attention, focus and priority. If fifteen things go well today, but you have one failure or setback, the chances are you will continue to think about that one failure and not your fifteen accomplishments.

Prevent pain tasks are items such as paying bills, doing laundry, mowing the lawn and completing tasks other people have given you (like your boss).

When we are engaged in prevent pain tasks, we are really attempting to prevent negative consequences from occurring: late fees from bills, services being cut off altogether, getting reprimanded at work, or laundry piling up and not having any clothes to wear. Our results are only big when we don’t do those prevent pain tasks. And those results are negative.

Gain Tasks

Your goals fit into the category of gain tasks. Starting a business, reading books, going back to school, learning a new hobby or language, and going to the gym. These are the tasks that will have the biggest impact on your life. The things you will look back on later in life and feel the most pride and accomplishment. When we look at the results they produce, there is a substantial different. We will receive 90% or more of our results from our gain tasks and only 10% of our results or less from those tasks we perform to prevent pain.

One of the biggest challenges with gain tasks is that in most cases they lack urgency or a deadline unless WE create one. You could put off these tasks until tomorrow, next year, or like most people, for your entire life!

Another key element of gain tasks is that they are not easily delegated. You can’t have someone else go to the gym for you (wouldn’t that be great), you must read the book to gain the new knowledge and insight.

So we now know that our brain will prioritize our avoid pain tasks much higher than our gain tasks. But we also know that our gain tasks provide all of our results.

What do we do?

When it comes to time management and productivity, people typically use two tools in some form or another. These are of course a to do list and a calendar. Whether you use an app, a hard copy planner, or just a piece of paper and a pencil, to some degree you have some type of calendar or to do list. Even if it is inconsistent.

We use and treat these two tools drastically different.

Your to do list is your dumping ground for all the things that need to get done. Your calendar is where you record your appointments or tasks with a specific time and date. There is a big difference.

Unlike your to do list that becomes your dumping ground. You will defend what gets put on your calendar and gets scheduled. It requires an extra step. You must determine if you have a conflict or have something else going on at that time and you must decide if it is important enough to add to your calendar. You are much more protective of what you will put on your calendar.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is never a moment in your life when you couldn’t be working on some type of prevent pain task. There is always something we could be doing, whether it is the dishes or responding to email and phone calls. When is the last time your Inbox was empty, your house spotless, all bills paid and all of your clothes were clean?


So if there are always prevent pain tasks we could be doing, technically there is “never any time for gain tasks or our goals”. That is, unless we schedule and commit the time.

The Secret Weapon

This is why your calendar is your secret weapon. What gets scheduled gets done.

Your calendar is your secret weapon to ensure that you put enough focus and time into your gain tasks and aren’t stuck in autopilot working on one prevent pain task after another. This is the difference between being busy and getting results.

When something is important it is time to Schedule It, Defend It against distractions and less important items and Neglect our to do list with the prevent pain tasks. They will still be there when you come back.

Whether you use a planner, a white board,  or a calendar on your phone it doesn’t matter. Use what works best for you. The key is to use it. Schedule time for your goals, and important  gain tasks. Treat it like any other important appointment and keep it. You will thank yourself later.

How can you start using your calendar to schedule out your priorities and those items that will really get you the results you want?

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen


Thanks to Steve McCatchy author of Decide for the inspiration for today’s post and to Alicia Ford for sharing it with me.

What is your definition of SUCCESS?

What is success?

If you ask someone if they would like to be successful, you probably won’t have to wait long for a resounding YES. How about you, would you like to be successful? Of course you say. But what is success? Most people I work with have a much more difficult time with that question, defining what success is.

Is success about having a good job, a nice house, car, buying the most recent gadget, or making lots of money? I think that is a popular starting point for many people. However, research indicates that after a certain level – money doesn’t correlate to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people that thinks money is the root of all evil. Money is simply a tool that magnifies your character. The lack of money however can certainly lead to unhappiness.

The research shows that money does in fact correlate to happiness up to the point where you can provide for your basic needs. This is the point where you don’t have to worry about how your rent is going to get paid next month, if you are going to be able to pay your bills and provide for your family. But AFTER that point, once you have satisfied your basic needs, the correlations starts to disappear. That is counterintuitive to what most of my clients think or has been conditioned to believe. It is quite different from what I used to believe as I was graduating from a great college, landing my first job in consulting, buying my first home – doing all the things successful people do. Or so I thought.

If it isn’t money, is success about accomplishing certain milestones or climbing up the corporate ladder? I have seen many people do just that only to be left unfulfilled. I have seen plenty of people land that great promotion, or finally get that job they have been waiting for and then once they get there, they say “is this it?”

To me, success is about staying true to your values and utilizing your strengths in a way that provides that “juice” of life. Whether you have a need for achievement, contribution to others, significance, growth or stability, you are pursuing a path that allows you to meet those needs on a daily basis.

success blog 2

Success is much more about the journey than a destination. Have you ever looked forward to a great vacation, or life event? Sometimes the planning, anticipation, and build up can be just as exciting as the event itself. You might even find yourself once you are there being a little let down. Your expectations and vision might have overshot the reality of the event itself. Now that the event has come, you have lost the energy and excitement that came from all the buildup. That doesn’t mean the event itself is a disappointment. Our brains are wired to seek, to strive for the next goal, the next area of focus to challenge ourselves and grow.

Many people will spend much more time planning a beach vacation, or purchase of a new car than putting time and effort into planning what it is they really want from life. Maybe it is because we don’t know where to start? Or we don’t know what it is that we really want? Maybe we don’t believe we are deserving, or can actually have what we want anyway?

I believe everyone is capable of much more than they are achieving right now. What are you capable of if you could get out of your own way?

To get you started on your path to success, ask yourself these questions……

  •    What are my top three values? The three things I hold in importance above all else?
  •    What strengths and abilities do I have that makes time stop time for me and I become lost in the moment?
  •    What would my ideal life look like and more importantly, “feel” like?
  •    What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  •    What does success really mean to me?

The worst thing you can do is get to your destination and realize you have been traveling the wrong path the entire time!

 So, what does success mean to YOU?

 Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen