The Devil’s Vortex

Where Dreams Go To Die!

Don’t Let This Be The Resting Place of Your Dreams!

I don’t want to scare you with this episode, but we’re going to talk about some scary things with the strategy and mindset I’ll be teaching in this one. The strategy, let’s call it a tool, is one that I learned from several of the different coaches I have, and have had over the years. I learned some great goal setting and time prioritization strategies from Dan Sullivan, the well known Strategic Coach. I was given a very simple tool several years ago from another good friend and coach that helps me prioritize my daily top 3 things that must get done for me to feel accomplished at the end of the day. And then I learned about the one that added some rocket fuel to both of those tools from Darren Hardy, the Founder and publisher of Success magazine, and well known author and speaker. I talked about Darren in last week’s episode when I told the story about the mother who scaled the rough mountainous terrain in the Andes mountains to save her baby where all of the strongest male’s of the tribe were unable and unsuccessful and it was because it wasn’t their baby. She had a stronger ‘why’, which was the takeaway from that story.

The exercise, the tool, the practice that I learned from Darren Hardy comes from a story he tells in one of his coaching sessions about a 94 year old billionaire named Conrad. At 94 years old, Conrad was stepping back into his consortium of businesses because, as he put it, his 70 year old son that had been running the company had made some costly missteps, and all due to his loss of focus, as Conrad said. Conrad called his priority system his ‘sunday planning system’. Now, as per the telling by Darren Hardy, Conrad was a devout Catholic and so his system came with a fair amount of religious references and bible verses to back up some of his systems. However, there is nothing religious about this system, other than maybe how religiously you find yourself using this system.

So, let me first explain the system I’ve been using from one of my personal coaches, Josh Smith, that has helped me over the years stay a little more focused. It’s a simple spreadsheet called ‘daily top 3’, which I simply go into each day and write down the three things I want to accomplish that day to feel like I’ve made a dent in the Universe. As all of the little tasks pop up throughout the day that could possibly distract us from our bigger goals, I would just check in with my daily top 3 throughout the day to make sure I was moving on each one of those in some way. So, despite having 17 things that were important, but not urgent, maybe urgent, by not important, not urgent and not important, and maybe a complete waste of my time, I always check back in with my daily top 3 as my north star. At the end of the day, I make sure I’ve checked off all three of those things and, if I haven’t, I need to have a damn good reason to push one of them to the next day. Does it happen? Sure! We’re human. Sometimes things come up that can override the importance of something I initially put as one of my daily top three and now that thing becomes a top 3 thing I’d like to have solved by the end of the day, and it just might have taken priority over one of the other things. 

Within the last year I have taken a role as the head of community and the Chief Evangelist with a company and a cause I’m very passionate about. The company is called True Footage and it’s a growing national appraisal company with a very strong mission to better the lives of appraisers, make them considerably more efficient, more profitable, and more valued and valuable in the valuation process. I’m still an appraisal company owner, I still run the Real Value Coaching Academy for Appraisers, I still do all the things I did before, I just added this role because it fits in with my bigger mission of positively impacting the lives of as many people as humanly possible with the time I have left on this planet. All of the values aligned, the mission aligned, and the vision for improving the lives of appraisers most certainly aligned with what my mission, vision, and values are, so it was an easy decision. As you can imagine with a young company, there is a lot going on day to day, a lot of challenges to solve, a lot of zoom meetings to coordinate efforts and get projects pushed forward in order to get our own company mission accomplished. My daily top 3 sometimes turns into my daily top 10 in record time. 

But here’s what has helped me tremendously in that regard and it’s the name of today’s episode. The Devil’s Vortex is a reference to Billionaire Conrad’s dreaded fourth column or category in his Sunday planning system. It was what I believe was missing from the daily top 3 system that I’ve been using for the past several years, and here’s why. If you recall the story of the mother saving her baby and the message being about your ‘why’ in life and business, well the thing that I believe was missing from my daily top three exercise was my big why. I would look at the spreadsheet every morning and kind of decided in that moment what was really important for me to accomplish that day to feel like I had made a difference. But I didn’t  necessarily tie it to a bigger mission, a North Star, or a divine purpose, so to speak. What Conrad’s sunday planning system introduced was the idea of a ‘divine purpose’. He would take out a sheet of paper every sunday evening and make a cross, thus creating four quadrants. In columns one, two, and three he would simply write goals one, two, and three. In the fourth quadrant he would write the word ‘miscellaneous’. On the top of the page he would write what he called his divine purpose. 

Your divine purpose is much different than your goals, by the way. This is something closer to what you might refer to as your big mission. He used the word ‘divine’ because he believed his purpose was given to him by his creator and was his divine mission in life. Maybe you do too, and that’s great. If you’re not a religious person, call this whatever you want, but I want to encourage you to think bigger than just a monetary or metric goal. This is the reason you get up and do whatever it is you do every day. This is your north star, your guiding beacon, the reason you believe you exist and you will continue until your last day trying to accomplish. If you don’t have this sense of a divine purpose, well, that’s what this kind of exercise and practice is great for because it forces you to do one of two things: either you really start thinking about your big mission, your divine purpose, the reason for your being, or you avoid doing this exercise because you don’t have a divine purpose to put at the top of the page, but the idea is stuck in your head and will gnaw away at you until you come up with something. 

Your big mission and purpose can change, by the way. Mine certainly has over the years. With more practice doing this kind of thing you get more clarity each year, and you get better at seeing what you really need to be doing, what you want to be doing, what you’re uniquely suited to do, and that starts to reveal to you what your divine purpose, your unique gifts, your big mission might be. Let it reveal itself to you over time, but start doing this kind of practice even if you don’t have it all figured out yet. So you have your 4 quadrants, you have whatever you think for the time being is your big mission or divine purpose at the top, and then your goals 1, 2, and 3 and your miscellaneous quadrants. Why do we put our divine purpose or big mission at the top? Because all of your goals should be intimately connected to that bigger purpose. It’s your baby! It’s your ‘why’. Why have a goal that doesn’t, in some way, tie to a bigger mission or goal. 

I’ll share with you one of mine and how it ties to my big purpose. I write at the top of my Sunday planning sheet the words ‘to positively impact the lives of as many people as humanly possible with whatever time I have left’. I’ve learned to shorten it into the acronym, PIMLAP, which stands for ‘positively impact as many lives as possible’. I see the acronym and it stirs something in me because it’s my mission. It’s what I believe I am uniquely suited to do and it’s where I get my motivation and inspiration from. Each of my big 3 goals then needs to be tied to that bigger purpose, otherwise why spend my valuable time working on them. One of my big three goals is around health and wellness so I am easily able to tie it to PIMLAP. How? Because if I’m not at my best physically, mentally, and spiritually, I can’t possibly positively impact the lives of as many people as humanly possible. If I’m not taking care of my body, my mind, my spirit, how can I give that to others? Not only that, but I also need to be able to follow and keep up with those that are positively impacting my life so I can continue to learn and grow. So, if one of my big 3 goals is tied to health and wellness, anything that I may add to my daily task list in that area is tested against my bigger purpose and it passes the test. And that’s the next step in the devil’s vortex process. 

With your 4 quadrants, your bigger mission or divine purpose at the top of the sheet, your 3 big goals in their appropriate quadrants, you now list out all your tasks that you know you’ll have to do that week. I have found that, although doing this on Sunday night is super helpful in helping me frame the week and look ahead, I also do this each morning because things get added and altered each day. I write down all the things I know I need to do throughout the day or week, regardless of how mundane or boring it might be. My pitbull needs medication for his itchy skin each month, the bottle needs to be refilled this week, add it to the list. My cleaning ladies need to know I’m going to be gone all next week running an appraiser trainee bootcamp for True Footage, add it to the list. I need to pick up more dog food for my dogs, add it to the list. And then there are the bigger things like recording and editing two different podcasts, meeting with my people and making sure their lives and work are fulfilling and their needs are met, and all of the gazillion things that we all have to do during our days and weeks. Once your full list is made you then start placing every one of your tasks into one of the four categories. Every single thing you write down as a task must go into one of the four categories. Every task you do must fit either into goals 1, 2, and 3, or into the miscellaneous quadrant. 

Can you guess what the name of the fourth quadrant is? Yep, you’re right! It’s called the devil’s vortex! Why? Well, if you were to ask Conrad, he would say it’s because, in his worldview and belief system, the devil is there to distract and pull him off of his divine purpose. If you’re like me, I don’t necessarily believe there is an entity or energy out there actively conspiring against me to make me fail, but I know that we are all easily distracted by the little things that can very easily keep us from achieving much bigger things. I mean, my dogs do need food, my pitbull needs his meds, the laundry needs to get done, shit needs to be taken care of. The big question for you each sunday night, or maybe each morning, is simply what category every one of those individual tasks belongs in. Is this task part of goal 1, goal 2, or goal 3? No? Ok, into the devil’s vortex it goes. The devil’s vortex are all the things that threaten to waste your valuable time and pull you off of your big 3 goals. 

Once you have your list made, you look at the things in the DV quadrant and ask yourself one of the most important sets of questions in this whole process: how can I avoid doing these, or eliminate them completely, meaning they don’t really need to be done at all. If you didn’t do one of those tasks and the world wouldn’t change at all, why is it even on your list, scratch it off. If it’s something that needs to be done, start asking who else can do that for you. I have two adult boys that can easily pick up my dog’s meds from the vet and buy dog food. My assistant can call my cleaning ladies and let them know not to come this week. Now, I get it, everyone might not have an assistant to do that stuff. I don’t want to sound arrogant or conceited about this kind of thing. However, I hired an executive assistant when I started to do this exercise because I realized that the cost of paying somebody to do all of the things in the DV would be offset but how much more time of my own I would be buying back! 

Some of you might think, ‘damn Blaine, I can’t afford to hire somebody just to go buy my dog food!’, and I totally get it. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is that, when you start to recognize the real value in having that big mission or divine purpose as your north star, and then all of your tasks tied to one of your big 3 goals, everything that falls outside of those must be scrutinized how to either get them accomplished without you, or eliminated completely. Most stores have some kind of delivery service now. Many stores have drive through pick up service. There’s Shipt and comparable services that will pick up and deliver your groceries for a fee. “But Blaine, you have to pay extra to use those services! Why would I pay .95 per can for green beans to be delivered when I can get them for .63 at the store?!” If I have to explain to you even one more time the value of your life and time over a can of green beans, you haven’t been listening! “But Blaine, I really like grocery shopping, it’s relaxing for me!” Cool, save it for the weekends, that’s all. 

By the way, I like shopping too. I go to Costco almost every Sunday just to stroll through and throw shit in my cart. It would be a nightmare during the week when my day, and my brain, is filled with a bunch of other stuff, but Sunday is a relaxing active recovery day and it fits in nicely with setting me up for the week ahead. Shopping can also fit into one of your bigger goals just fine. Maybe it fits in nicely with your health and wellness goals because shopping for good, healthy food is how you keep from eating junk food, and maybe it’s also how you plan out your meals each week. All I’m telling you to do is make sure you put every single one of your tasks through the DV filter. Either a task fits in with your big three goals, or it goes in the DV. If it’s in the DV, it’s either handed off to somebody else, or it’s eliminated completely. 

Beware the devil’s triangle at all costs my friends, lest your valuable life energy and time be wasted on things you needn’t be doing because they don’t fit into one of the top 3 things you want to accomplish. Until next week, my friends, I’m out…

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