Randy Cantrell

Randy Cantrell is the founder of Bula Network, LLC, a boutique coaching company specializing in peer groups to help people leverage the power of others. Visit the website at ThePowerOfOthers.com.

Growth Comes By Ending Something So You Can Begin Something New

Growth Comes By Ending Something So You Can Begin Something New

“You only grow by coming to the end of something and by beginning something else.”
― John Irving, The World According to Garp

It’s time to say goodbye! Only to The Yellow Studio 2.0. It’s officially over. Done.

Next week I’ll be getting The Yellow Studio 3.0 set up. Version 3.0 will be a transition studio that I hope will take me through the end of 2023. After that, I’m planning to settle into The Yellow Studio 4.0.

Around 1999 The Yellow Studio 1.0 was born, dubbed with that name because I wanted the walls painted this yellow color. Bright. Sunshiney. Cheerful. That was the goal. And it worked. Especially after I invested in four Ballard Street prints. They worked well with a yellow background. Truth is, everything worked well with the yellow walls as a background.

Over more than 2 decades every “podcast” episode – save those done from the field – was produced right here from inside this yellow room. Except for the first audio files that I uploaded to the Internet, 100% of my podcasts have emanated from The Yellow Studio.

A few friends have inquired, “Are you gonna miss it?”

No, not really. I’m sentimental so I’m leaving with fond memories. The countless hours spent – especially in the nighttime hours when sleep evades me – listening to music, writing, reading, researching, studying, recording, coaching, conversing with friends (in person or online)…an awful lot of life has happened in this room. I’m thankful for all of it, but it’s time to turn the page and start creating a new chapter. Time for a new beginning. That excites me.

Version 3.0 will not be yellow, but The Yellow Studio has grown to represent more than a color. It’s optimism. Positive vides. Wisdom. Insights. Experiences. It’s figuring things out. Learning from mistakes. Always improving! Those things matter more than the color of the walls. But I do love the color. And I will miss that a lot.

What I won’t miss is this moving business. Talk about a whipping!

I enjoyed the hard work of purging, but boxing up 45 years of your life together – even post purge – is a ridiculous amount of work. Rhonda has been diligently packing the most tedious items like china, glassware and lots of breakable stuff. Additionally, she’s had to box up her sewing room, which has been daunting because of the sheer volume of things she needs to keep. Thankfully, during the transition she’ll continue to have some needed space for her craft. Just today I told her, “I’m sure glad podcasting isn’t as space intensive as your passion.” 😉

I don’t plan on skipping more than a beat or two during this move so be patient. I’ll try to get back in the groove was soon as I can.

The old “broadcast table” of Version 1.0 and 2.0 is gone!

The old Heil Audio boom arms, which have served me so well for 20 years, gone! They’ve been creaky for awhile now so it’s past time to retire them.

The original Toshiba 43″ flat panel TV hanging in the studio stayed in the studio, proudly owned by new masters.

The original Rode Rodecaster Pro that YOU helped me get…not quite gone, but it will be soon. It’s pristine and I’ll be selling it to help defray the investment I’ve already made into the newer Rode Rodecaster Pro 2.

Boxed up, but not going away – except for the rest of 2023 – are the Ballard Street prints, the ladies that welcomed folks inside The Yellow Studio, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum – and the dragons and other figurines that populated the studio. These things are going to be safely stowed away in the location of The Yellow Studio 4.0. They’ll just remain boxed, safely stored in the comfortable warmth of bubblewrap. 😉

The new studio will have a brand new 62″ long desk, on casters. That’ll be a first and I’m looking forward to the prospect of moving the studio around as I want. Maybe I won’t move it around much at all. But it’s nice knowing I can.

The new studio will have a brand new chair. I sold my Herman Miller Mirra chair because the armrests are awful. They drove me crazy for years and so I made somebody happy with a killer deal. I was ready to move on. I know the Mirra and Aeron get rave reviews, but I don’t personally think they’re worth the money. One day I may break that down further, but that’s not the point today. I’ve invested in a modestly priced, highly-rated chair. I’ve about decided that those of us spend a lot of time in office/studio chairs might be better served investing in a chair that can serve us well for 2-3 years. After that, we can do it over again. Easier to do when you’re not spending over $1,000 for a chair. Besides, I’m kinda ready for a change after a few years – just because.

The new studio will have at least two new mics. The only mic that isn’t stowed away for the rest of the year is my Tech Zone Audio Stellar X. That’s what you’re hearing right now. It’s been my go-to mic for the past few years. I break the first rule of podcasting by using a condenser mic over a dynamic mic. But I don’t care. I like the crispiness of condenser mics and The Yellow Studio was always conducive for the condenser mics I’ve leaned on – this Stellar X and the Rode NT1.

The new studio will have the Earthworks ETHOS broadcast condenser mic and the brand new Gen 5 Rode NT1, another condenser that has some cool tech built-in.

The new studio will have some new headphones. Most of my headphones are packed away. They’ll stay that way until early next year. The Sony MDR7506 has been my most used phones for years. I’ve replaced the ear cups more times than I can count. They’re really great headphones. I have no complaint. I’m just ready for a change so I’m going back to a brand I used long before these Sony’s made their entrance, Sennheiser. I’m keeping the Sony’s and I also have the AKG K240’s, which never get used. They’re uncomfortable for me. And I prefer phones that fit a bit tighter on my big ‘ol head. They don’t.

The new studio will have a new boom arm, the Rode PS1+. I hope it’s everything folks claim. I’m really tired of the squeakiness of the Heil’s. I’ve endured it for at least the past 5 years so I’m looking forward to seeing if the Rode’s can be adjusted during recording without embarrassing me.

For now, the same computer will serve at the heart of the new studio – an i7 Intel-basd 27″ Apple iMac. I hope to squeeze another year out of this machine, after which I’m hoping to replace it with an Apple laptop of some sort.

I need to huddle with fellow podcasting buddy, Jim Collison (TheAverageGuy.TV) about outboard/external data storage. Jim’s much more technically proficient than me. I’ve got a handful of external spinning hard drives. I also use BackBlaze for online backup, but I’d like to organize my data storage more efficiently. Jim’s likely the perfect coach to help me figure that out. I hope to do that sometime this year before I make version 4.0 my permanent home.

The new studio will also have a new white photo-video retractable background. You won’t see it unless you pay attention to some of my video work, which never happens here at LTW. I want a clean background and I plan to keep the details of my space more confidential for the balance of 2023 (in my Elmer Fudd voice, “ssshhh, be berry, berry quiet”).

The new studio will also feature two new Elgato Key Light Air desk lights. They’ll serve as my work lights as well as video lights. I’ve not had good lighting…EVER. This will be a first. I may have to start wearing makeup like those fancy TV news anchormen.

Lots of changes for version 3.0. And I suspect 4.0 will have fewer changes like these, but it’ll have a monumental change in location. So it’s all exciting.

Everything is hard until it’s easy.

Everything is slow until it’s fast.

That’s how this process has been for us. 2022 was a hard year. Well, to be more accurate, we’ve had a bit of tough go since 2018. I’ve shared enough here – for those who pay close attention – to satisfy the most curious. But personal difficulties aren’t unique to us. You have them, too. This year began much like the past 5. Until things began to take a turn. When they turned, they really turned. At first, we were thinking it may not be real. Maybe we should be reluctant to think momentum is happening. It could be a trick. Turns out it wasn’t a trick.

So we pushed hard and leaned into wisdom to figure out what our next steps should be.

That’s when it went from good to better. For months I’d been casually keeping up with a possible opportunity. But I never thought of seizing it. I was just paying attention to see what might happen with it. I figured somebody would find it suitable, but time went on and things continued to grow even more enticing. More favorable for somebody willing to see it for what I saw it for – a pretty solid opportunity.

Yes, I’m talking about buying another place – the place where The Yellow Studio version 4.0 could be born. The goal was to sell where the original studio was, sit tight and see how the world might unfold between now and the end of the year. When it comes to real estate, my prophet skills are terrible. It’s easy to predict what might happen. It’s more difficult to put your own money on the line to back up your prediction. These are unprecedented times and I’m happy to report, I have no clue what might happen. But I’m a business guy. And I’m now an old business guy, which means I know what I like and I can spot a good deal for me. That doesn’t mean it’s a good deal for you.

So this property I’d been watching continued to get more attractive. Around the middle of the month it got so attractive I couldn’t ignore it. Up to this point I hadn’t shared with Rhonda my fascination with this place. So on a Saturday I told her about it. I asked her to do two things: a) find a reason to not take advantage of it, and b) ask yourself if you were lose it would you regret it?

I’d been doing both of those and I wasn’t able to find a reason not to jump on it. A few days before sharing it with her I’d been struck with an overwhelming feeling that if I were not take a run at it, and somebody else did – I’d regret it. By late Saturday afternoon she had had time to look it over. Keep in mind I’d been watching it pretty closely for about 4 months, so I had a big head start. She concluded what I had concluded so I sent a text message to a friend who could help us with this opportunity and we were on the hunt.

The friend provided additional information. More details. They only verified our interest. We got more serious about the hunt, making an offer.

Within half a day we had a deal pending inspection and the unearthing of some deal breaker.

Off we went – my son, the inspector and me. Follow him on TikTok. A whirlwind trip proved fruitful. A little something here. A little something there. Some things to shore up, not any major because it was a newly constructed place. It checked the boxes for us. No place is perfect but it seemed awfully close. Repeatedly we looked at each other commenting about how true those statements are:

Everything is hard until it’s easy.

Everything is slow until it’s fast.

Boy, had things been hard for so long. And talk about languishing for week after week, month after month and year after year! We knew it well and now we were flummoxed because it was like things were for the first time in a long time falling into place too easily.

Some people believe things should be easy – and if they’re not, then they’re not likely meant to be (whatever that means). I’ve never subscribed to that, but I’m close to converting.

Then, it continued. The transition location for version 3.0 had been problematic price wise. Rhonda and I had labored over it for many months in preparation for pulling a trigger. It was scary and confusing. But when my son and I returned from inspecting version 4.0’s location, the next day – things shifted. Suddenly, for the first time in a year the pricing dropped to the lowest price we’d seen in a year. So, without hesitation, we hit our GO button.

For people who aren’t impulsive about anything it sure looked – to the uninitiated – that were. But that wasn’t the case. We had slowly been grinding for about a year toward all this. It just had failed to come together. Until it did. And when it did, it went so fast it almost made up sick at our stomachs. But we took a deep inhale and took another step forward. Then another. And another. Before long we had advanced further than we had in over five years.

I was beginning to think I might never feel it again. Momentum. Plans coming to fruition. I had faith – well, I said I did. Saying you believe and actually believing aren’t the same thing. For the past 4 months or so I’ve worked harder than ever to make sure I’m honest in my belief. To be sure that I’m trusting God and willing to accept failure – or the rejection of what I most want to happen.

Here’s the thing about our plans and our ideal outcomes. We can’t know with 100% certainty if we’re correct. I can think the thing I want will serve me well, but I could be wrong. “Be careful what you wish for and all that.” Maybe there are things we can’t or don’t see. Maybe a “no,” serves us much better than a “yes.” I can think of so many things I wanted to happen, but they didn’t – and it turned out what a blessing that “no” was. Had some of those things happened, it would been awful for me. And sometimes, for my family, too.

The sudden easiness of these things seemed as evidence that we were on track – that our ideal outcome was indeed going to be our ideal. It beefed up our faith in what we had already concluded. We knew why were pursuing these things. We had worked hard to keep our hearts in the right place. Many things we couldn’t have possibly foreseen were falling into place. And that quote leaped to my mind…

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

― William Hutchison Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Commitment isn’t all that’s required though. I’ve been more committed to some things that never happened than I have things that did. But that doesn’t mean commitment is unimportant. It is. I rather focus on the word “ineffectiveness.” Not all commitment includes effectiveness. Being effective is harder than being ineffective. I’d modify this brilliant quote to include “effective commitment.” Unfortunately, I can’t define it. We know it when we experience, but like us in recent years – we’ve not experienced it very much. Then suddenly, we began to experience it in waves. It felt unnatural, like a dream.

Trepidation is a killer. Waiting for the shoe to drop is a real fear. A deadline comes and things work. Relief until the next deadline is met with success. A string of events hinge on each other and it’s unnerving. But we keep walking – having faith it’ll keep moving in the positive direction we most want. So far, so good.

That’s why today’s episode is a Saturday show, not the normal Thursday show. I didn’t want to be too quick on the draw. By now I can tell you, it’s a done deal. And like Jimmy Buffett sings, “Come Monday, it’ll be alright” because come Monday The Yellow Studio’s version 4.0 location will be secured. Signed, sealed and delivered.

It’s great when a plan comes together, huh? It’s even greater when it comes together smoothly after a long, arduous march through the muck and mire to make it reality. It’s like the conclusion of a 5-year trek through the wilderness to reach some highly sough after place of serenity. The relief when you top the hill and see the lights of the place give you such joy – it’s hard to describe.

We topped the hill. We see the lights. We’re now trekking down the mountain, looking forward to the hot shower, clean clothes and good meal that awaits us. Lord willing, by Monday afternoon we’ll be able to sit down, grab a nice drink of water – or Diet Dr. Pepper – catch our breath, then clean up so we can celebrate!

How Can My Story Serve You In Crafting Your Story?

For starters, success isn’t guaranteed any more than failure. As the Bible says, “Time and chance happens to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) There is a randomness in life, but that’s no reason to loose belief. Optimism is still our best path forward. Confidence is in our abilities. It’s not wide-eyed optimism of delusion. The foundation of our confidence is the notion that based on our skills, talent, abilities and competence – we believe we can do this thing. That doesn’t mean it’ll work. Or that it’ll work quickly. Success takes time. Failure can come quick.

Failure can be a lesson to help us figure out success. It can also be a gatekeeper to suppress the masses because failure – even early failure – defeats most people. Success seems to reward persistence – those willing to do what others aren’t. Don’t be too quick to read failure as some sign that “it’s not meant to be.” Perhaps failure is exactly what is meant to be so you’ll learn to pursue your ideal outcome no matter what.

Failure teaches us how to recognize and appreciate success. From the valley floor we look up in admiration of the peak. The moment we set out to summit that peak, defeat kicks in by challenging us, showing us how hard the climb will be. The peak illustrates the rarity of her occupants by making sure only those willing to sacrifice successfully arrive. The higher you climb, the greater the difficulty, the fewer peers you encounter willing to press on. It’s up to us if we’ll keep climbing or quit.

Success will always look like failure until it doesn’t. One step at a time doesn’t always reveal progress. That’s why faith is important. Belief that you’re making progress, even when it’s not apparent. How long you sustain that journey is entirely up to you. This, for me, has been one the hardest parts of this journey but I always believed in what I was pursuing and I was unwavering in knowing what I wanted to achieve. Deep down inside I knew it was the best, wisest course – even if life seemed to be showing me otherwise.

Changing your mind by altering your ideal outcome isn’t a sign of surrender. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up your dream. It means you may have evolved and figured some things out before you had to materially experience failure. New information coupled with your personal growth should result in some changes. And what a blessing when that growth happens in your mind and your planning, and not in a physical outcome. For example, I started four years ago diving deeply into learning all I could about the short-term rental business. As a business guy it still intrigues me, but I had a very specific notion of what I most wanted to do. It didn’t involve owning and operating as many doors as possible. I was aiming small, but rewarding. Over time, things changed. The market grew increasingly more saturated. Over the past 18 months doors where I was most interested doubled. Occupancy rates dropped. Without ever having operated a single night running a short-term rental I changed my mind. Now, I was more intrigued with the less profitable, but still lucrative model of mid-term rentals (30 days plus). That began to interest me much more than short-term rental. Turns out none of it was going to happen. At least, not yet. Was it a failure? No because I never made a single investment or suffered a single loss. This was all a mental exercise as I studied a business I’ve never practiced.

stop chasing

Now it’s time to take a break from the microphone so I can dig in and do the work required to make my way down to the valley of success after this long journey. There’s no time to rest from that work so I need to rest from this work, but just for a couple of weeks. You won’t miss me much. Lord willing, I’ll be back before you know it.

Thank you very much for being part of the journey from the beginning to this version 2.0 of The Yellow Studio. Go here if you’d like the virtual tour(s) I’ve done of The Yellow Studio.

Randy Cantrell

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Learning Optimism: You Find What You're Looking For

Learning Optimism: You Find What You’re Looking For

The story may date back earlier than 1917. President Reagan made it famous because it was among his favorite jokes. That’s likely where I first heard it.

A couple had twin boys who were six years old. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities – one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First, the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked, baffled. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?” “Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next, the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. “What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. “With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!

Dr. Martin Seligman is the Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1991 he published a book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. As the dad of two elementary school-age kids who were fast approaching junior high, I was particularly interested in seeing if I could help my children learn optimism. Self-talk was a pretty active conversation with my kids because I understood that their futures would be greatly impacted by the messages they told themselves. The book had a chapter about teaching kids to be more optimistic and included an assessment you could give them. I had my kids take the little quiz to display their level of optimism. Turns out they weren’t overly optimistic, but nor were they overly pessimistic.

The whole notion of learning optimism stuck with me. Seligman contrasted learning optimism with learning helplessness, the belief that we’re incapable of changing our circumstances. Mostly, we think of it as having a victim mentality, but I grew increasingly fond of Seligman’s term, helplessness. It seemed more insidious and made me think more people would likely disapprove of admitting helplessness when they might embrace being a victim.

As a dad I spent a lot of time coaching my kids to tell themselves positive messages. That little engine that could may have been an early childhood development story, but it’s true no matter our age.

“Think you can, think you can’t; either way you’ll be right.”  -Henry Ford

Many of us have heard this all our lives, but that doesn’t mean we’ve mastered doing it. Frequently there’s a big gap between what we know and what we do. The challenge is to control our thinking. Experience has taught me that for many of us, job one is to learn we can control our thinking because it’s easy to think we’re simply stuck with our thoughts. “We are who we are,” is the refrain of resignation. It’s as though we’re unable to grow, improve and change to develop into a better version of ourselves.

The twin boys in President Regan’s favorite joke were predisposed – one toward pessimism and the other toward optimism. We’re amused at the behavior of both of them. Maybe you’re thinking that both of them reacted ridiculously. Maybe they did, but those viewpoints had a direct impact on what each of them did. They both took action based on how they viewed the situation.

One, the pessimist, embraced misery and suffering. Helplessness was the chosen path. I’ve never found any good reason or outcome associated with helplessness.

The other, the optimist, embraced elevated expectations even in the face of apparent negativity. And again, I’ve never found any good reason or outcome that makes his viewpoint counterproductive. The only response people offer as a downside of optimism is, “You’ll be disappointed.” I laugh out loud and tell them, “We’re going to be disappointed anyway! So how does optimism hurt us?”

Listen, learning optimism isn’t about avoiding disappointment. It’s not about chasing a perfect life where everything goes exactly as we want. It’s really about something much more important.



Pessimism is about embracing helplessness. It’s about excuse-making. It’s about seeing ourselves as helpless victims unable to do anything to improve our circumstances.

Clients regularly tell me, “Well, when you put it like that…

How else would you put it?

I’m sitting across a CEO, business owner. He’s rehearsing a possible market move when he mutters, “That won’t likely pan out.” I stop him and ask, “Why not?”

He gives me a litany of reasons why it’s likely going to fail. So I ask, “Why might it work?”

He gives me an equal number (maybe more) reasons why it could likely succeed.

Then he stops and says, “I see what you did there.” And I said, “Good. I didn’t want to have to explain it again.” We chuckled.

High performers aren’t immune from bouts of pessimism. We never conquer our mind. It’s a constant act of courage to get a grip on our thoughts. But it’s the most profitable work we can do.

You Find What You’re Looking For

Some things are easy to spot and find. I was the proud owner of a Phoenix Yellow 2000 Acura Type R Integra. I easily saw the few other yellow Type R’s on the road. In fact, I more easily spotted all yellow cars because that’s what I was driving. In similar fashion, it’s easy to spot opportunities when that’s what you’re looking for. Or, it’s easy to spot challenges and difficulties when that’s what you’re looking for. Just like it’s easy to be angry, disgruntled or filled with blame when those viewpoints dominate your thoughts. We become what we constantly think about – and how we think about it. All the more reason for to be cautious and carefully guard our thoughts.

Can we change how we think?

Of course. We’ve all done it many times. We’ve changed our minds more times than we can count. It’s not always provoked by external influence either. Sometimes we just altered our decision. We choose something different. Sometimes I feel like regular mustard, sometimes I want brown spicy mustard and sometimes I want honey mustard. It’s not always something so insignificant, but it’s often not something that important either. “Where do you want to go eat?” “Do you want the green shirt or the blue one?” “What do you want to drink?” Life is filled with lots of daily decisions that vary depending on our mood or preference in that moment.

Those changes in our mind don’t usually have anything to do with optimism.

Optimism is…

hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something

Mustard. Dining choices. Color selections. Those aren’t choices made with hopefulness or hopelessness. They’re just whatever we want at the time.

Weightier things – like relationships, careers, finances, and other activities that define our lives – tend to be determined by our outlook, our approach and how we see the world. And our place in it.

I’ll bet you, or somebody you know, frequently say things to demonstrate how unlucky they feel they are. I understand why people who feel just the opposite probably just keep quiet about it. It’d sound like bragging, but I do know people who – from where I’m looking – appear to have a Midas touch. Remarkably, they’re not the brightest or the best, but they sure do seem to find success in most everything they attempt.

Years of looking at folks like that has shown me a few things.

  1. These folks expect to succeed. They don’t ever begin something thinking it’ll fail. In fact, they don’t even consider it as a possibility. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means they don’t give it any space in their brain. They make their first step and every step after that with the assumption that it’ll work.
  2. These folks have an unabashed zest for promoting their work. They have no reservations about shouting to the world that their pursuit is worth supporting.
  3. They don’t let challenges or setbacks determine the final outcome. They have a resilience forged in their optimism that they’ll figure this out. The challenge is merely a blip to be dealt with. And quickly. Challenges are not roadblocks, but speed bumps that slow down their progress. It’s often humorous to me how they get angry at challenges, not discouraged. It’s a “how dare you slow me down?” spirit.
  4. They have no reservations about changing their mind. If success isn’t quite what they were aiming for, they’ll pull the plug without fear. If the success is wonderful, they may find a great exit so they can get on with their next conquest. Most don’t start with this in mind, but they quickly adapt because they don’t get hung up about changing their mind.

Confidence plays a big role. Confidence in what? Confidence in our own competence. It doesn’t mean we have to be the smartest. It just means we have to be confident in our abilities, skills and whatever else we’ve got to accomplish this thing. Or to figure it out. In what else would we be confident?

Optimism isn’t based on being world-class. If that were the case, then only a very select few would be able to practice it. It’s based on our belief in ourselves, but that seems rather self-centered so there must be more to it. Or is there?

Randy Cantrell

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Why Do You Want What You Want?

Why Do You Want What You Want?

We’re closing in on saying goodbye to The Yellow Studio version 2.0. It’s where every podcast episode I’ve ever produced (other than a few field recordings) was recorded. But I’m looking forward to the next chapter, The Yellow Studio version 3.0.

Lots of people want more money, but they don’t necessarily have any specific thing they want to do with it. They just think having more of it will make them happy. Or maybe they do know what they want – or think they do. A nicer house. A new car. Exotic vacations. Fancier restaurants to frequent.

Many people want more recognition, but they don’t know why. They envy famous people. They imagine what life might be like hearing applause or being chased for an autograph.

Everybody wants something. Everybody wants many somethings. We all want a lot of things.

Does that speak to our lack or our lack of gratitude? Or neither? Maybe it just speaks to our discontentment with whatever the status quo is. Warren Buffett is worth $87 billion, but he’s still working every day to achieve and amass more. And he’s giving away 99% of it so he’s not doing it to lavish anything on himself. Reports claim he lives a fairly modest lifestyle. Ridiculously modest by the standards you’d expect of somebody with his income. So why does he want more?

Why do you want more?

Because you don’t yet have it. And when you get it, it won’t be enough. Never is.

I’m gonna start by using LTW as a case study.

Leaning Toward Wisdom kinda sorta officially began on Tuesday, October 30, 2001, as a blog. But I was posting content online beginning in the fall of 1996 and using the moniker, “Leaning Toward Wisdom.” It was all done in HTML and the domain name wasn’t LTW. This was before I was domain name savvy. Proved by the fact that I didn’t register my own name domain until December 1999. It would be February 2005 before I’d snag LTW. I’m a slow learner.

Why did I want to start journaling (we didn’t call it blogging at the beginning) under the guise of LTW? I was approaching my 40th birthday when I began to chronicle things. Random things. I was all over the board. No focus. Just a bunch of scatter-shooting of thoughts, opinions and takes on whatever was on my mind. I had two kids in high school with my oldest having already turned 16.

I can’t remember why I wanted to do it at the very beginning. Maybe it’s because the next year I would turn 40. Maybe it’s because I could sense the high school days of my kids wasn’t going to last more than a couple of more years. I was operating a retail company and putting in the typical long hours required of running any multi-million dollar enterprise. Maybe the journaling was therapeutic. I’m certain it was, but I’m old now and can’t really remember all the details of the beginning. Give me a break. The Internet was young and so was I (reasonably so).

Within a year I had put an audio file on my HTML site. No, it wasn’t podcasting. We didn’t yet know what that was. Keep in mind, Apple iTunes was launched on January 9, 2001. It would be about 3 years before the term podcasting would enter in 2004. But I do remember hearing about and reading about audio blogging. That’s what prompted some of my first audio files going up on my horrible website. Hard drive space was hard to come by, and drives were expensive…so no, I do not have those original files. When I abandoned that original website – which I can’t remember what it was because I didn’t keep any of those original sites – all the content went away. Probably a blessing. I’m sure the stuff was dreadful.

But the point is the question – why did I want what I wanted?

Expression? Brain dumping? Venting? Chronicling?

I suppose all those things were on my mind. I can tell you what was NOT on my mind. Building an audience. Only in my business endeavors did I really want to do that (for obvious reasons). Fast forward to the beginning of 2005 and I was much clearer in what I wanted. I registered the LTW domain name and started the podcast. WordPress wasn’t commonplace, but it was around. I found a local guy who did freelance web work on something called Expression Engine. It was a CMS like WordPress, but it was on the scene at least 2 years before WordPress. I think I spent a few hundred bucks to have the guy design me a site because I knew nothing about CMS and I wasn’t interested in continuing the old HTML strategy. I was using Blogger at this point and I had been really regular in using it, linking it to my ugly long-winded URL where I had created an ugly HTML site.

I liked the design the guy gave me, but my blogging and audio blogging slowed to a crawl after I got the design in place. I was busy with work and family. I just didn’t have time to figure out how to pilot this stupid new web-based software. The site began to grow moss, weeds, and thorns. I had so wanted a new, snazzy design — or thought I did. Instead, I found myself reverting back to the analog world where I was writing in my notebooks.

Why did I want a new, cool design? Because I thought it would have the opposite effect. I thought if I had a site that was more captivating to ME, that I’d create more content. I still subscribe to that idea. In fact, whenever friends ask me for a bit of web help (no, I’m not a designer), I urge them to get a site that’s not perfect, but one they’re reasonably proud of — because they’ll be spending more time looking at it than anybody else. And in my experience, especially for folks just starting out with their first site, if people like their site they’ll spend more time pumping out content. It’s like the photographic evidence of our first child. We capture everything. By the time the second kid rolls in, we’re lucky if we pay much attention to all the small moments.

So I know some of the why’s, but not all of them. But I do know the important ones, I think. Mostly, by the time I was really approaching LTW with more strategic intention, I only cared about one thing. Chronicling ideas for my kids. By now I was 45 and my oldest child was 22. That’s very different than being 39 with an oldest child who is 16. And some important things had happened in those intervening years, too. I was about 5 years into a new role of leadership at church. I was still running a retailing company and I was pushing as hard as ever professionally. I’ve never been accused of lacking drive. 😉

But something was happening. The church work was taking priority. My kids were nearing the end of their college careers. I knew what was likely to happen next. Marriage. Launching their own careers and lives. And I knew we were close to emptying the nest. It wasn’t a mid-life crisis. I don’t feel I’ve ever experienced that. Mostly because it feels like every phase of my life has experienced some degree of “crisis.” 😀

Mortality is ever present. I’m weird. I get it. I think about subjects that depress others. Like death. It’s inevitable. Yours, too. (Sorry, did that come as a surprise?) 😉

But it started with a more positive, although for me depressing thought (because of what might have been) — what if our great grandparents had been able to chronicle their lives? How cool would that be? But how sad, or angry, might you be if the technology had been available to your grandparents and they didn’t do it?

I was having these thoughts before the mobile revolution. Before everybody’s cell phone contained a great camera and mic. I was thinking like this when podcasting was harder, but totally doable – even for a non-techie.

And I’m a communicator. So it was deeper than an urge. It was more of a “I gotta do this” kind of a thing. So I did. Mostly to capture some things for my now grown up kids. Neither of them was married when I started. Rhonda and I now have 5 grandkids – four boys and one girl. What began as a project mostly for my kids (and my wife, only in that when I’m gone – yes, that’s a metaphor for being DEAD) has now grown to expand 5 grandkids.

Along the way, you joined me somehow. I recruited you. Coerced you. Bribed you. Begged you. Or you naturally found LTW so entertaining, compelling, or disturbing that you couldn’t resist. Well, whatever the reason — I’m thankful. And appreciative. Thank you!

I knew what I wanted when I began. It’s changed a bit, but only because the tribe – my tribe – has increased. But I was clear at the outset why I was doing it. And Simon Sinek has made a career of being the guy most people think invented the one-word question, “Why?” It’s a great question and a better answer. I know my why with LTW.

I’ve known all along why I wanted to produce LTW. Like that Westie dog attacking that ice cream cone (the graphic for today’s show), I was clear about the reward. For myself. It was an entirely selfish endeavor. I wanted to pass on what I wanted to pass on. I didn’t ask my kids about it. Rhonda and I have never talked about it. Truth is, I’ve never asked any of them if they’ve ever listened to a single episode. I rather doubt they have. And that’s fine. I understand it. But I also know how people are when somebody dies. Photos, notes, and possessions that prior held not much meaning become very important. So it’s likely to go with LTW and that’s perfectly fine. Probably as it should be.

Like I said, there are many older folks I once knew – and many more I never was able to meet because they died before my birth (or my ability to remember) – who I wish I could hear speak. That thought of a grandfather or great grandfather (or mother) recording some thoughts on audio or video fascinates me. What a gift it would be, right? LTW is my gift to my family. You’re crashing our party and that’s cool.

Most people think about what they want in terms of jobs, incomes, and possessions. Increasingly, the younger generation is thinking in terms of experiences, too. But so do some older folks who love to travel. We want what we want. We just seem to rarely give deep thought as to why.

Why do you want THAT job and this one?

Why do you want to earn THAT amount of money?

Why do you want THAT car instead of the one you’ve got?

Why do you want to take THAT trip instead of some other trip? Or instead of staying home?

“Why?” is a great question. But one not always easily answered. The Westie wants ice cream for the same reason you do. It tastes great.

Some time ago I was helping a fella out with some free counsel. Career counsel. He tossed out a number. The income he hoped to one day achieve. I asked him, “Have you ever earned that amount?”

“No,” he said. I dug deeper, “Have you ever earned anything close to that?”


“Why did you settle on that amount then?” I asked.

Long pause.

“I don’t know. It just feels like an amount that would be right,” he continued.

“Be right how?” He had now really piqued my curiosity how he had come to this specific annual amount.

“Oh, I don’t know. It just seems like a good amount that would give me the life I want,” he concluded.

Well, I couldn’t leave well enough alone so I continued to probe. For the next half-hour or so we talked with me pressing him with questions. Turns out other than a newer model car there wasn’t any specific motivation behind the number. His why turned out to be closely associated with his self-esteem. His perception of himself was that until he was able to earn that amount, he wasn’t as successful as he felt he should be. And it wasn’t based on his own views, but on how he perceived he stacked up to other people at his stage of life. He was busy comparing himself to others and he didn’t think he measured up or would measure up – until or unless he earned that amount.

Within a few miles of where I live are many multi-million dollar houses. I don’t live in a multi-million dollar house. And for good reason. I can’t afford it.

All over town, I see big, foreign cars that any car guy (or gal) would love to drive (or own). Cars costing $80,000 or more are quite commonplace in Dallas/Ft. Worth. The most expensive car I’ve ever owned was about $32,000 and I thought that was ridiculous. Why? Because I can’t afford to drive an $80,000 or $100,00 car. I know guys who custom order Bentley’s – a quarter of a million bucks for a car! How do I stack up? Well, I’m not even in that deck of cards. These folks are playing chess while over here playing checkers.

Would it be fun to play chess? I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not losing any sleep over it. Because I know something you may have yet learned. Not because I’m smarter, but I may be older. Much older. A man’s or woman’s worth isn’t measured in dollars. You know it’s true even though you may not always act like it. Or think like it.

Sure, a person’s value professionally can be mostly is measured in dollars. Warren Buffett is worth 83 or 87 billion because he has made many other people very wealthy. His investment acumen (and his equity position) warrant the money he earns. Ditto for every other business owner or CEO or Chairman. You may not think the CEO of Exxon/Mobil is worth $25 million a year, but if he can get it, then that’s what he’s worth. Dollar value is based solely on what people will pay. Nothing else. But dollar value is just one angle of the thing.

I’m confident to think LTW is a pretty decent piece of content. But there are no dollar values assigned because LTW isn’t a business. It doesn’t earn a dime. So does that mean it’s worthless? You tell me. It’s worth something to me. When I’m dead it’ll be worth even more to the people who love me.

So it goes.

Social media is terrific. I’ve always thought so.

Doesn’t mean there aren’t downsides. Most notably the drive behind why some people want what they want. The social media platforms often help drive people’s desires. Money, looks, trips, all the rest. It’s the consumerism that drives world economies. Buying stuff makes the world go round. Human nature isn’t going to disappoint though. People will always want to buy things they don’t yet have. Or better than what they currently do. Nothing inherently bad about that.

Wisdom is largely restraint. Self-control. It begins with controlling our thoughts, which drive our feelings and desires.

You see a friend post pictures of a trip overseas on Instagram. You think, “I’ve never been out of the country. Man, it would be so nice to go see Ireland.” And envy and morph quickly into jealousy. All the while thinking, “If we were doing better financially we could make a trip like that.” Funny thing is, we may have never thought about taking a such before seeing that Instagram post. That’s the downside of social media, but it’s not the medium’s fault. It’s our fault for being so out of touch with why we want what we want. And understanding if it’s even good for us.

I’m engaged in conversation with somebody and the talk turns specifically to dollars. Specially, what we’d do with extra money. It wasn’t about any specific amount of money. He brought up a story about a person who won a big lottery. I mentioned some specific things that I’d so with extra money. They were ridiculously simple, unsexy things. Things most people would scoff at.

A nice steak dinner with Rhonda. I don’t even care for steak, but she loves it.

A few house renovations. There’s always a few things that could use shoring up.

A piece of audio gear I don’t need.

That was about the extent of it. His list wasn’t much better although it was a bit different than mine. Ironically, neither of us mentioned real life-changing things.

What would your list look like? Suppose you got an extra $1,000 to do with as you pleased. How would you spend it? Why would you want what you want?

Look at my 3. A steak dinner because Rhonda would love it. House renovations because we could always use it. Audio gear for me because I enjoy it. I at least knew why I named the ones I named. I’m not saying they’re smart, or wise. Or that I might not change my mind if I had the money in hand.

It’s not money that matters, but that seems to occupy us most. I get it. We all need it. Mostly, we feel like we need more. Why? Frankly, because so often times we need to stay up with the crowd. Which crowd? Our crowd. Whomever the crowd may be.

Significance. Respect. Love. Ability to help. Deep conversation. These are just a few things that I want. Why?

Here’s the punchline to the show. Because these are the things I value. Because they make me feel useful. And feeling useful means I’m making a difference. And making a difference feeds whatever beast lies within. For me – and I suspect for you, too – the fuel we most crave is whatever fills us up.

Some people are shopaholics. Shopping makes them feel better. It fills them. Sadly, it maxes out their credit cards, too. It’s destructive behavior attempting to fill a void it’s unable to fill. Like drugs or alcohol. Or any other destructive behavior. Short-term enjoyment or pleasure followed by the negative consequence that destroys us. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes not.

Some people are thrill chasers. I don’t understand rock climbers. I hate heights. Nothing about that activity speaks to me. I’ll watch it in amazement. But no thanks! They want it because they love everything about it. The risk is worth the reward because the value proposition is extraordinary for them.

We pursue and chase what we value. We want what we want because something about it is important to us.

Should we accept that at face value? No. There’s going to be some piece of audio gear I want. Always. Do I need it? Will it make a difference in my life? No. I can just imagine having it though and in that moment I can think, “That’d be nice.”

Would a few house renovations be nice? Sure. Some might even in time become necessary. It’s a much more practical want.

Would an expensive steak dinner be nice? Yes, for Rhonda. And if she’s happy, then I’m happier. And it’d likely be the cheapest of the 3 so I’m going with that one. 😀 (I’m nothing if not practical)

Largely I think these ideas are worth considering because it boils down so often to what do I want for myself versus what do I want on behalf of others. It’s the lead that I buried all show long, until now. The why is an important question, but maybe the bigger one is the pronoun contained in the question. Why do YOU want what YOU want?

Well, because it’s all about YOU, right? No, it’s about ME. Wait a minute. Who is this about? We all think – or know – we’re the most important person on the planet. The old adage about WII-FM is true. It’s the station we all have on our preset. What’s In It For Me.

If you think that Westie is gonna share that ice cream, then you don’t know Westies very well. Or any dog. Or any human. We’re all largely selfish. Yes, even those of us chasing significance and other things that appear so noble. Maybe they’re not noble at all. Maybe they’re supremely selfish.

Think about it. Significance is a pretty big thing. Who’s significance am I worried about? Not yours. I’ve got my own to fret over. 😀 Don’t get me wrong. I hope you are significant. Maybe better said, I hope you feel significant. But I don’t care about yours as much as I do mine. Besides, I figure you’re worrying about your own so I don’t have to. I just want you to worry about mine, with me! So it goes.

Seriously, it’s probably wise to question why we want what we want. And to ask ourselves what’s being accomplished if we get it. Or what we’ll miss if we don’t. There’s empirical evidence that when it comes to income we migrate back to some type of set point within a short period of time. We think the big raise will solve all our problems. Only to find within a few short months that those problems persist. The more things change the more they remain the same.

Randy Cantrell

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Conversations, Podcasts & A Focus On Others

Conversations, Podcasts & A Focus On Others

I leave a client’s office after a normal, but intense 2-hour conversation. These are common conversations for me. Twice, during the course of a few hours, the client grows visibly emotional. I love these moments because it means we’re speaking to issues of the heart. These are the things that really matter.

As I walk to my car, leaving the client’s office building, I’m thinking about podcasting, co-hosts, having guests and engaging in conversations. But mostly, I’m thinking about two words: compassion and leadership. Both of which are defined in my mind (at least in part) as “a focus on others.”

Randy Cantrell

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The Ask-Me-Anything Episode

The Ask-Me-Anything Episode

Let’s do some scatter-shooting today. Today’s show covers a few subjects:

  • Our 45th wedding anniversary (me and Rhonda, not me and you) 😉
  • My hyper-local podcast, HotSpringsVillageInsideOut.com
  • Spammers and scammers
  • Personal pain
  • Your ideal outcome / my ideal outcome – plan A may give way to plan M, O, or Z
  • The Starfish Parable
  • I’m an INFJ-Introvert, Intuitive, Feeler, Judger
  • The VIA Survey, click here to take it (free) – this is a character strength assessment
  • Our (me and Rhonda) encore chapter (just a teaser)

“What You Do Makes A Difference, And You Have To Decide What Kind Of Difference You Want To Make.” -Jane Goodall

Randy Cantrell

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