20 Tips That Could Save Your Life

Life Saving Tips

’20 Tips That Could Save Your Life’ is a guest post written by Diggy.

When your life is in jeopardy, nothing else matters.

Personal safety is not a topic I see many bloggers writing about, yet it’s a vital topic to the wellbeing of our lives.  Simply put, your health and safety form the foundation for everything else you do.  Maintaining this foundation must come before wealth, success, happiness, and almost every other aspect of self improvement and personal growth.

As you might expect, preparation is the key.  Often there are many simple habits and observations a victim could have followed to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.  And sadly, in many cases, these simple habits and observations could have saved their life.

Remember, there’s a big difference between being scared and being prepared.  I am not, nor would I ever suggest you live so cautiously that you scare yourself out of trying new things and seeing new places.  I am simply suggesting that, like a boy scout, you adequately prepare yourself before doing so.

  1. Let Someone Know Where You Will Be – When you live alone or even when you go out for the night, let a friend know where you will be.  This barely takes any effort on your part, and if something does go wrong or you are not back in the morning, somebody will know where to start if they have to look for you.
  2. Keep Doors and Windows Locked – I am always amazed at people who leave all the entryways to their house wide open when they are home, let alone when they go to sleep at night.  Although it’s nice to believe that nobody would violate your space while you’re in it, there are, unfortunately, a lot of bad people in the world who would love to take advantage of your naive, overly trusting habits.  Why risk being robbed or attacked in your own home when all you have to do is adopt the habit of locking your door after you go through it?
  3. Have An Exit Strategy – Do you know exactly what you would do if you woke up to a raging fire in your house?  What if there was a sudden earthquake?  What if you are driving on a dark country road and you realize someone suspicious is clearly following you?  By going over these scenarios in your head you can come up with plans and strategies to mitigate the inherent dangers.  The more you think and plan now, the less thinking and planning you’ll need to do in a moment’s notice.
  4. Always Be Prepared For The Unexpected – Never, ever be so humble as to think that something cannot happen to you.  There are simple things you can do to prepare for unfortunate events.  For example:  Keep your cell-phone charged and always have some credits so that it is available for an emergency call when needed.  Keep some spare money in a hidden place (in your car?) in case you get robbed or lose your wallet.  Program emergency phone numbers into your phone because when you’re in shock or in a panic, you will not always be able to think straight.
  5. Learn A Martial Art – Physical confrontation is always a last resort, but if push comes to shove, you better be able to defend yourself.  I suggest Muay Thai for guys and Aikido for girls.  Besides the fact that they are both good forms of self defense, they are also fun ways to exercise.  This (and this) is an awesome guide for simple and effective self defense.  You do not need to study martial arts for years to learn and apply some decent self defense moves.  More often than not, the assailant will be male.  Attack the weak spots on his body: The eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus, groin, knees, etc.  A well-aimed strike or blow to one of these areas could instantly neutralize the attacker.
  6. Carry Pepper SprayPepper Spray (or Mace) is an awesome self-defense product.  It comes in a little pressurized spray can and one little spray of the substance in an attacker’s eyes will immobilize them for nearly 15 minutes.  It is legal in most countries, very cheap, and it can save your rear end in a hostile situation.
  7. Buy a Small Keychain Weapon – Get a Stinger or a Kubaton.  These tiny weapons will easily fit onto your keychain, and if you ever need to defend yourself in a moment’s notice they will give you a significant advantage over just using your hands and fists.
  8. Be Extra Cautious At Night – Do not stop at gas stations or quick marts late at night if anything looks suspicious or if the area is not well lit or supervised.  If you must stop, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you so you have plenty of room to drive away in an instant.  Do not walk along streets late at night by yourself or even with friends.  Darkness usually invites trouble.
  9. Observe Emergency Exits – Just like always having an exit strategy, it is important to know where the emergency exits are when you are in a public location.  The more crowded the location, the more important it is that you know where they are.  An example of this was back in the early 2000’s with a New Years Eve party at a night club in a small Dutch town called Volendam.  The emergency exits were blocked off, the club was packed with partygoers and a fire broke out.  There was a panic and people could not get out easily, the result being that many people were seriously injured.
  10. Never Trust Strangers – Never, ever trust strangers.  I know, it is sad but true.  You simply cannot trust someone you do not know.  I am rather trusting in nature, but I am very cautious when trusting somebody with any important aspect of my life who has not previously proven their trustworthiness to me.  This includes people who claim to be police, firemen or other officials.  Always ask them for identification or proof to support their position.
  11. Trust Your Intuition – If an environment or situation feels wrong, listen to your intuition (or gut-feeling).  Our subconscious mind can often determine when something is not quite right way before we can consciously determine why we have that feeling.  It’s smarter to be cautious than careless.
  12. Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth – If you are well-off and possess what others desire, do not be arrogant about it and flaunt it every chance you get.  This is just asking for trouble.  Of course you can and should enjoy the fruit of your hard-earned labor, but try to do it in a way attracts less attention and is respectful of others who are less fortunate.
  13. Ask For Help When You Need It – Don’t be scared to ask or scream for help if you think you need it.  Wouldn’t you rather risk looking like an idiot than trying to be brave and ending up hurt or worse?
  14. Don’t Get Intoxicated In Strange Places – Sometimes people like to get a little drunk, sometimes very drunk,  and this fine as long as you are in a safe place.  But do not get too drunk in unfamiliar places where it is not safe (where there are people you do not know like public locations, clubs and parties at other people’s houses).
  15. Avoid Deserted Places – When you go out alone, try to avoid deserted places.  Sure, deserted places can seem calm and peaceful, but criminals and bad guys always look for easy targets, and someone who is alone in a place where there are no witnesses or people to help out is an easy target.  If you do go out alone, always let someone know where you will be and have some sort of weapon with you (pepper spray is a pretty good option).
  16. Fight or Flight – It sounds pretty simple, because what other choices do you have, right?  Wrong!  Many people freeze up due to shock or adrenaline when they encounter a hostile situation.  And this is obviously the worst thing you can do.  Even black-belt martial artists who are really good in the dojo can become totally paralyzed when confronted with a real fight on the street.  You need to make the decision in your head and prepare yourself for intense hostile situations.  Either you run and get away (usually the best option), or if you have no other choice, you fight and you fight without hesitation and with everything that you’ve got.
  17. Get a Dog – If you like animals and have the means to care for one, get yourself a dog.  It doesn’t have to be a big vicious dog either.  Most dogs, even small ones, will alert you when they hear unusual sounds around them.  Attackers are also far less likely to mess with you if you have a dog walking beside you.
  18. Be Careful With Your Personal Details – Be careful to who you give your personal information to (name, number, address, work, credit card, etc).  This applies in real life and also on the internet.  Unfortunately, in today’s world there are lots of weirdos and criminals who try to lure people into giving them their personal details so they can steal their identity and take advantage of them in other ways.
  19. Vary Your Routine – Try not to follow the same exact routine every single day.  If you leave and come home at exactly the same times or stop in the same spot or visit the same restaurant at certain times, criminals may pick up on this and target you as a potential victim.
  20. Take Action When You Are Being Followed – If you think you are being followed, cross the road.  If you need to, do this a few times.  If this confirms your suspicion, go into the nearest public place and phone the police.  If you are in a car, first confirm your suspicion by turning into a few different roads.  If you know you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station.  If someone wants you to pull over on a dark or deserted road and he looks like some sort of official or police officer but is not in an official police car, rather be safe and drive to the nearest police station.

Do you have any additional personal safety tips?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.

Diggy writes all about self improvement and personal growth on his blog, Upgrade Reality.  He wants to inspire and motivate as many people as possible to live their lives to the fullest and to be their best selves.  Spread the word or subscribe to his blog via RSS or Email (and get a free copy of his 58 page ebook).

Photo by: B. Rosen

18 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 18

Life Lessons

This morning I was reading a book at my favorite beach-side coffee shop when an 18-year-old kid sat down next to me and said, “That’s a great read, ain’t it?”  So we started chatting.

He told me he was getting ready to graduate from high school in a couple of weeks and then immediately starting his college career in the fall.  “But I have no clue what I want to do with my life,” he said.  “Right now I’m just going with the flow.”

And then, with eager, honest eyes, he began asking me one question after the next:

  • “What do you do for a living?”
  • “When and how did you decide what you wanted to do?”
  • “Why did you do this?  Why didn’t you do that?”
  • “Is there anything you wish you had done differently?”
  • Etc, etc, etc…

I answered his questions as best as I could, and tried to give decent advice with the time I had.  And after a half-hour conversation, he thanked me and we parted ways.

But on the walk home I realized the conversation I had with him was actually quite nostalgic for me.  He reminded me of me ten years ago.  So I started thinking about his questions again, and I began imagining all of the things I wish someone had told me when I was 18.

Then I took it a step further and thought about all the things I would love to tell myself if I could travel back in time to give my 18-year-old self some advice about life.

So after a few cups of coffee and a couple hours of deliberation, here are 18 things I wish someone told me when I was 18:

  1. Commit yourself to making lots of mistakes. – Mistakes teach you important lessons.  The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake.  So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself.  In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance.  You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Most of the time you just have to go for it!  And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be.  Either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.
  2. Find hard work you love doing. – If I could offer my 18-year-old self some real career advice, I’d tell myself not to base my career choice on other people’s ideas, goals and recommendations.  I’d tell myself not to pick a major because it’s popular, or statistically creates graduates who make the most money.  I’d tell myself that the right career choice is based on one key point: Finding hard work you love doing.  As long as you remain true to yourself, and follow your own interests and values, you can find success through passion.  Perhaps more importantly, you won’t wake up several years later working in a career field you despise, wondering “How the heck am I going to do this for the next 30 years?”  So if you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  You’re on to something big.  Because hard work ain’t hard when you concentrate on your passions.
  3. Invest time, energy and money in yourself every day. – When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life.  You are simply the product of what you know.  The more time, energy and money you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.
  4. Explore new ideas and opportunities often. – Your natural human fears of failure and embarrassment will sometimes stop you from trying new things.  But you must rise above these fears, for your life’s story is simply the culmination many small, unique experiences.  And the more unique experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.  So seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you care about.  Not doing so is not living.
  5. When sharpening your career skills, focus more on less. – Think in terms of Karate: A black belt seems far more impressive than a brown belt.  But does a brown belt really seem any more impressive than a red belt?  Probably not to most people.  Remember that society elevates experts high onto a pedestal.  Hard work matters, but not if it’s scattered in diverse directions.  So narrow your focus on learning fewer career related skills and master them all.
  6. People are not mind readers.  Tell them what you’re thinking. – People will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute girl you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it; she hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given her the time of day either.   In life, you have to communicate with others.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.
  7. Make swift decisions and take immediate action. – Either you’re going to take action and seize new opportunities, or someone else will first.  You can’t change anything or make any sort of progress by sitting back and thinking about it.  Remember, there’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it.  Knowledge is basically useless without action.
  8. Accept and embrace change. – However good or bad a situation is now, it will change.  That’s the one thing you can count on.  So embrace change, and realize that change happens for a reason.  It won’t always be easy or obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
  9. Don’t worry too much about what other people think about you. – For the most part, what other people think and say about you doesn’t matter.  When I was 18, I let the opinions of my high school and early college peers influence my decisions.  And, at times, they steered me away from ideas and goals I strongly believed in.  I realize now, ten years later, that this was a foolish way to live, especially when I consider that nearly all of these people whose opinions I cared so much about are no longer a part of my life.  Unless you’re trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don’t let the opinions of others stand in your way.  What they think and say about you isn’t important.  What is important is how you feel about yourself.
  10. Always be honest with yourself and others. – Living a life of honesty creates peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless.  Period.
  11. Talk to lots of people in college and early on in your career. – Bosses.  Colleagues.  Professors.  Classmates.  Social club members.  Other students outside of your major or social circle. Teaching assistants.  Career advisors.  College deans.  Friends of friends.  Everyone!  Why?  Professional networking.  I have worked for three employers since I graduated from college (I left my first two employers by choice on good terms), but I only interviewed with the first employer.  The other two employers offered me a job before I even had a formal interview, based strictly on the recommendation of a hiring manager (someone I had networked with over the years).  When employers look to fill a position, the first thing they do is ask the people they know and trust if they know someone who would do well in the position.  If you start building your professional network early, you’ll be set.  Over time, you’ll continue talking to new people you meet through your current network and your network’s reach and the associated opportunities will continue to snowball for the duration of your career.
  12. Sit alone in silence for at least ten minutes every day. – Use this time to think, plan, reflect, and dream.  Creative and productive thinking flourish in solitude and silence.  With quiet, you can hear your thoughts, you can reach deep within yourself, and you can focus on mapping out the next logical, productive step in your life.
  13. Ask lots of questions. – The greatest ‘adventure’ is the ability to inquire, to ask questions.  Sometimes in the process of inquiry, the search is more significant than the answers.  Answers come from other people, from the universe of knowledge and history, and from the intuition and deep wisdom inside yourself.  These answers will never surface if you never ask the right questions.  Thus, the simple act of asking the right questions is the answer.
  14. Exploit the resources you do have access to. – The average person is usually astonished when they see a physically handicap person show intense signs of emotional happiness.  How could someone in such a restricted physical state be so happy?  The answer rests in how they use the resources they do have.  Stevie Wonder couldn’t see, so he exploited his sense of hearing into a passion for music, and he now has 25 Grammy Awards to prove it.
  15. Live below your means. – Live a comfortable life, not a wasteful one.  Do not spend to impress others.  Do not live life trying to fool yourself into thinking wealth is measured in material objects.  Manage your money wisely so your money does not manage you.  Always live well below your means.
  16. Be respectful of others and make them feel good. – In life and business, it’s not so much what you say that counts, it’ how you make people feel.  So respect your elders, minors, and everyone in between.  There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your baby brother.  Supporting, guiding, and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  In order to get, you have to give.
  17. Excel at what you do. – There’s no point in doing something if you aren’t going to do it right.  Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies.  Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.
  18. Be who you were born to be. – You must follow your heart, and be who you were born to be.  Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar.  Some of us were born to be poets – to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose.  Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish.  And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.  Regardless of what you decide to do in your lifetime, you better feel it in every fiber of your being.  You better be born to do it!  Don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires.

But above all, laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change.  Life is short, yet amazing.  Enjoy the ride.

Also, if you liked this article and you’re looking for similar advice on life, love and personal growth I highly recommend that you read The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  It’s an easy, enjoyable read that literally changed my life.

This article was co-written by Marc and Angel and Shaun Boyd, and inspired by Shaun’s post, 10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me 10 Years Ago.

Photo by: Taylor McBride

How To Avoid The Personal Development Plateau

The Personal Development Plateau

How To Avoid The Personal Development Plateau was written by Ross Hudgens, author of Authentic Marketing.

What’s your specialty?  How long have you been doing it?

When you started learning this specialty, your growth cycle was dramatic.  Every article you read brought on new insights.  When you practiced, implementation ingrained the information quickly in your head.  Repetition allowed you to find new ways to improve the process, and eventually, somewhere along that cycle, you hit the 90% completion rate of absolute expertise.

Then, the path to 100% learning slowed.  You burrowed in and spent tireless hours, but most of the time you spent working brought little improvement.  Whether or not you were internally aware of this is irrelevant – it nonetheless happened.

Immediate, quick growth is a reaction for any new field, but similarly, a plateau of improvement is always reached.  At this point, you’ll have to put in hundreds of hours to squeak out the next improvement up the percentage scale, and even if you do, the time invested may not be worth the improvement gained.

This happens everywhere, but similarly, most people never act on it.  If you’re in a job working the same position for 3 years, there’s a good chance your learning has all but halted.  You have to get out.  Your growth depends on it.

Why You Should Come Up Short

How about those people who spend tireless hours in the gym?  You can improve your body, sure, but to what point?  If you’re not a bodybuilder, the return on 2 hours in the gym every day hits a ceiling.  When you’re around your “perfect body”, your time should be shifted down to maintain, because your body has little room left for improvement, and the time spent to reach that improvement isn’t worth the investment back in.

Technology has changed things.  Before, your career might have called for a single investment towards the 100% goal.  However, as more and more career fields become commoditized and there’s increased room for “linchpins”, those who can expend emotional labor, solve problems, and do what can’t be measured, every business needs a “90%er”.

In small companies, it’s intensely important to be able to wear multiple hats.  Instead of wasting countless hours researching your field after you’ve hit that 90%, pivot.  Your time invested will be much better spent, and your company and business will love you for it.

How do I know when I’ve reached 90%?

The Personal Development Plateau

Now that you’ve put a name on it, you’ll be aware of it.  I especially respect Seth Godin for this – he puts names on the things that didn’t have them, and that allows us to face them and conquer.  This may be enough for the less OCD-enabled, but for those who want to realize the moment to enable a pivot, real tools exist.

  • Track your productivity.Rescue Time is a great program to track time measurement online.  You can associate productivity variables to various tasks, and from there, you have a real gauge on how you’re improving within each undertaking, at least from a speed point of view.
  • Jump back. – Return to your past work. Look at the stuff you did six months ago.  How does it compare to now?  Four months?  Last month?  If the improvement hit a plateau at some point, you have strong evidence to support a development shift.
  • Measure. – If you start measuring what you’re doing, you can start comparing.  If you can put a number on it, you have the gauge to quickly establish a plateau.  Buy a notebook.  Write everything down.  Be consistent.  Be careful in areas like weight lifting, though, as plateaus often occur in the natural growth cycle, and can quickly be burst through.

Climb at Least One Hill

There’s a need to be a 100%er in one area, at least initially.  It’s a marketing pull.  People buy specialties.  Jobs want experience.  Much of it, though, is just time commitment on the resume.  If you’re running a small web-based business for instance, do your job, get the experience that requires “doing”, but out of the office, stop worrying about the caveats of accounting vernacular or what 1% improvement you can make to your SEO technique.

Your time would be much better spent developing programming knowledge, web design or marketing ability to create traffic (and accounting leads) in multiple ways.  There’s real value, now, in being a jack of all trades.  In this internet world, where accessibility is easier than ever, it’s the best way to improve your value, both in the workplace and as a person.

Ross Hudgens is a marketer.  His primary responsibility involves driving traffic to some of the biggest websites on the Internet.  His secondary responsibility is writing about all of it on his blog Authentic Marketing.  For additional information like this, subscribe to his feed or follow him on Twitter here.

Only the Sound of People Thinking

Only the Sounds of People Thinking

Creating a Life

The head chef at my favorite local diner was once a mobster.  The first time I ate there he showed me the scars on his chest, arms, and back. Most of them were from his final night as a member of the mafia – a night that ended in a horrific battle with another mob group.  He was stabbed multiple times and then beaten mercilessly with a steel pipe.  Both of his lungs were punctured and a knife was lodged less than a centimeter from his heart.

According to the paramedics, his heart stopped beating twice in the ambulance.  During those “outages,” he had out-of-body experiences.  He saw God, who told him that he wasn’t done living, that he had obligations to his family, and that it was time for him to turn his life around.

He stayed in the hospital for almost six months.  When he was released, he immediately proposed marriage to his girlfriend, with whom he’d already had two children.  Days later, he moved all the way to the opposite end of the city, attended his first day of culinary school, and began creating a life devoted to peace and spirituality, his wife, and his two baby girls.

A Free Man

He’d been cooking at the diner for ten years when I met him two years ago.  And although he’d chosen the culinary vocation simply because cooking was the only thing he thought he could do well, he quickly found out that it was also a great way to make a difference in people’s lives.  “I serve healthy, nutritious food everyday at reasonable prices,” he’d tell me.  “And this is the cleanest kitchen in town.  I take care of this place and my customers like I take care of my family.”

Although the diner isn’t in the ghetto, it still isn’t in a best area of town.  Many of the kids who hang around there romanticize the mafia and gang cultures… until they meet him.  “It ain’t nothing to be proud of,” he’d tell the kids.  “Nothing!  So stay in school and out of trouble!”

Yesterday I went to the diner for lunch, like usual, but he wasn’t behind the counter.  I asked his assistant chef where he was, but he just looked towards the floor with a despondent expression on his face.  When I asked again, the diner’s only busboy came out from the back and said, “He was arrested for something he did fifteen years ago.  It’s really unfair and messed up.  We don’t think he’ll ever be a free man again.”

The Whole Story

Prosecutors love cases like the one he’s up against.  DNA evidence, a weapon, and multiple witnesses willing to corroborate their story (other ex-mod members already in jail, whom the country judge offered reduced sentences to if they agreed to cooperate).

But what if the facts surrounding the crime for which he was implicated weren’t the only facts that mattered?  What if those facts told a story, but not the whole story – not most relevant or truthful story about the human being in question?

The truth is, his father was in the mafia.  So were his three uncles, two older brothers, and most of the grown men he grew-up around.  As a young boy, as far as he knew, there was no alternative lifestyle.  “I was born into a war.  I started dodging bullets the day I learned to walk,” he once said on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.  “And that’s not some glamorized CNN bulls**t!  That lifestyle, my life, was always a part of a f**king war!”

Yet despite growing up in a war zone (which, by the way, happens to be a thirty-minute drive from one of the most affluent zip codes in the United States), and knowing no alternative, he managed to get his act together, become a productive member of society, and most importantly, become a positive influence to all the young people around him.


Today I went back to the diner for some lunch and learned that he was facing a life sentence without the possibility of parole.  “They put an innocent man behind bars,” his assistant chef said.  But it sort of seemed like an absurd statement.

“We all know he’s guilty,” the busboy retorted. Some of the other regular customers in the diner nodded their heads in agreement.

“Screw that!  Society is f**king guilty!” his assistant chef exclaimed, hands shaking, jaw quivering. “Cause he’s still the most innocent, compassionate man I know!”

He waited for a response.  But there was none.

Only the sound of people thinking.

Photo by: Tom Conger