Developing creativity no matter the situation by Benjamin Steele

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Blog #52

I recently heard about a famous author who said the key to his success was (in his own words) simply writing “200 lousy words a day”. He went on to explain that it was the process of starting to write that was often the most difficult for him. If he set aside the time to at least put 200 words down on paper, then inspiration would kick in and he would begin to really form something amazing, often writing for hours.

I’ve found that this is often how creativity and success for that matter happens in my own life. We don’t simply create amazing things right away, but it’s a process that we must work towards over time. I’ve found that if I set aside the time to do something creative (like writing this blog for example) even if it’s just for five minutes, than the simple act of starting on it will give me inspiration to eventually produce something great.

Since being a Marine Officer I have found it more difficult to create or be creative than I had before. Part of this is due to the greater lack of time and part of it is because the military isn’t exactly the most creative organization in general. I suppose it’s also because these creative side projects are no longer a necessity to ‘sustain’ myself as they were before because of the steady income I now have. I’m sure it would be easy for me to simply stop trying to be creative and just be satisfied with my 7-9 job, but I know that would in the end leave me disappointed and empty inside.

I believe that it is crucial that we all find ways to continue our creativity, no matter what our daily occupation is or how difficult it may seem. Even if it seems unnatural at first, making time to be creative will be the secret sauce to help us achieve our dreams. This creativity can obviously come in many different forms. Just some ways that I see people developing creativity around me today are:

  • Blogging

  • Photography

  • Videography

  • Writing

  • Programming

  • Design

  • Music

  • Art

Creativity can even take place in the more traditional workroom (if you’re lucky to work in this type of environment), like a team manager coming up with a creative solution to build unity with his colleagues or even an intern thinking of the next big marketing plan. One key benefit of creativity is that it fully engages our minds, which leads to true growth. There aren’t many things more boring than just going through the motions.

I’m always a fan of someone who starts a ‘side hustle’ to fuel their passions and creativity. I am especially impressed when that side hustle eventually becomes his or her main source of income. A lot of podcasters and bloggers such as Pat Flynn and Tim Ferris are this way. They started creating content without huge expectations of what it would become and then eventually saw remarkable results and actually made a lot of money from their work.

Some people say that the only way to turn something you love into something you hate is to do it for a living, but to be honest I completely disagree with that statement. Although the process of monetizing your passion will not be perfect, I am a firm believer that working for oneself in an industry that you are passionate about is FAR better than working for someone else in a job you dislike. I would just recommend that you do it for the right reasons (because it’s something you love) and that you be patient with how and when the money comes.

There are really so many different ways to make a living these days it’s pretty incredible. I myself have been mind blown this past week when learning more about the professional gaming community that has really started to grow over the past few years. I am impressed that gamers can make good or even great incomes doing something that may have been viewed as simply a waste of time just years ago. Some people may still hate on this form of work and say that it’s “easy” or “lazy”, but again I disagree. Any gamer who makes money one day took the initiative to set up their streaming room and stream for hours daily until their audiences formed and the sponsorships arrived. Just like starting anything new, I’m sure that their journeys weren’t easy. In my mind they deserve it. Any skill and passion that can generate an income is a good thing! Also, if you’ve seen Ninja play Fortnight, it’s pretty incredible.

So…what is the purpose of this post?

Challenge yourself to be creative every day. I am positive that it will reap results. Maybe you’ll find a new way to make money. Maybe you’ll grow as a person. All it takes is 200 lousy words a day, or 15 simple minutes.

Thanks for reading. Please subscribe to the email list,

Ben

An audience...Doing something amazing. by Benjamin Steele

Blog #51

This is one of those blogs that I won’t likely advertise, but that one day I might look back on fondly.

I’m currently sitting in my Airbnb apartment (in between places due to Marine Corps training) having drunk a little too much gin and all I can think about is the future and the positives that I can see. I seriously need to make something incredible happen and I am hungry to make it happen.

I’ve been blessed with a great life (as much of us have). Good parents, a good education and opportunities to make it. America is the land of opportunity and those opportunities are there. This blog will serve as my vow to do something incredible in life.

I’m reminded of the scene from “The Social Network” where a young Mark Zuckerburg (I might have spelt that wrong) starts creating an app to compare girls in his school to farm animals while drinking beer. Yes, he might have been just having a good time, but he makes a website that gains so much traffic that it crashes the Harvard network. Mark was a visionary.

I want to do something amazing. A few steps that I’m taking to get there…

  1. Starting a podcast. Hopefully this weekend about creative people and how they live their lives differently than others. I’m intrigued with the unique people of society that actually make an impact on the world.

  2. Blogging / creating photo content more. I need to do better at this haha.

  3. Working to better myself. Be a better / nicer person and contribute to society the best I can. I’m grateful for the US Marine Corps for the opportunities it gives me at this.

I wish I had a audience. Just some people to listen to the message. So how do you get an audience? Consistency I suppose? Having something unique to say?

I love the new move “A Star Is Born”. In the movie Bradley Cooper’s character, Jack, talks about having people listen to what you have to say. That’s all I wish. If I had people listen to what I say. If I did, I would say to be a better person…to work harder…to serve more…to wake up earlier…to love more. Maybe I’m prideful, but I actually feel that I have one or two good things to say to people, it’s just about finding an audience to say them to.

As for now, I’m going to go to bed at a reasonable price because I work out at 0500 am. I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast while listening to Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan or Jocko Willink and I’m going to go to my training as a USMC Logistics Officer. I’m going to work my hardest during the 10+ hour day and I’m going to return home content that I’ve tried my hardest. When home I’m going to start taking steps to move forward in the creative world that I love.

I’m currently listening to Post Malone. The perfect example of someone ‘normal’ who accomplished something amazing. I honestly believe that anyone can achieve this.

God bless you all. Don’t stop. Make it count.

"A Daily Checklist" and some thoughts on goal setting by Benjamin Steele

 This photo doesn’t exactly relate to the following blog, but I took it in Conwy Wales and liked it.

This photo doesn’t exactly relate to the following blog, but I took it in Conwy Wales and liked it.

Blog #50

I’ve had a recent conversation with a good friend that has got me thinking about goal setting. I thought I would write some of my thoughts down in this blog.

I’m one of those people who spends hours a day scheming. By “scheming” I mean planning for the future. Thinking about a better life that I can make for myself and how I’m going to get there. Generally I end these pondering sessions with to-do lists and goals that point me in the right direction, but unfortunately some of these goals don’t exactly come to fruition. Over time, I forget to actually make them happen and end up thinking about them again in another scheming session down the road.

This brings me to the conversation that I had with a friend lately. She talked about making a checklist that she could review every night to keep her accountable to who she wants to be. A list that has all of the goals that she was working on and that included steps to achieving them. This list could include questions like: Did I read today? Did I workout? Did I try my hardest at work? Did I take time to tell those close to me that I loved them? Did I eat healthy?

Such a list isn’t designed to make us feel guilty or insufficient. It’s there merely as a tool to help us evaluate and reset for the next day. It’s just a way to improve.

I loved this idea to make a list and took it upon myself to make such a checklist this weekend for myself. I vow to review this checklist every evening for the nest month and am excited to see what happens with it.

A few of the things on my list are:

  • Did you build your relationship with God today?

  • Did you workout? Run?

  • Did you do some good in work?

  • How did you spend your money today? Did you save? Invest?

  • Did you eat healthily?

  • Did you play guitar?

  • How’s the blog and podcast going?

  • Do you have any collaborations on the horizon?

  • Did you do a random act of kindness today?

As you will see, some of my goals aren’t things that I necessarily will do everyday, but they are part of larger goals that I have. Simply by asking the question to myself nightly will allow me to think about it and plan to address it in the coming days. A good example is the podcast. As you are aware, I haven’t started a podcast yet, but plan to in the coming weeks. Also, I believe that asking these questions daily will allow me to notice more blessings and miracles in my life.

I’m a firm believer that goal setting is an essential element to our success, but that it’s only the first part. The second part is reviewing our goals every day and making plans daily to change and improve. This obviously isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but unfortunately it’s something that is often overlooked.

Make your own list.

All the best,

Ben

The 8 Most “Embrace the Suck Moments” of USMC’s The Basic School by Benjamin Steele

The following blog includes a list of what I believe to be the 10 most “Embrace the Suck Moments” of the USMC’s The Basic School (TBS). Although it may not be an all inclusive list, it definitely includes some memories worth preserving.

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Blog #49

In order to best prepare Marines for actual war, the USMC makes training as challenging and realistic as possible. During my time at TBS, I experienced some pretty sucky times with my fellow officers. Here’s a list of 8 of those times in no particular order:

  1. WAR FEX - What was supposed to be a enjoyable and somewhat laid back final field exercise turned into a 7+ mile weighted movement in dense vegetation, without water and in 90+ degree weather. This movement coupled with the night attack, night movement and defense to follow spelled heat exhaustion and a very difficult 36 hours for most of the company.

  2. PEX Night Patrol - The night patrol field exercise that turned into us carrying casualties for miles in the tree line under no illumination certainly gains a reputable spot on this list. This experience was a brutal introduction into the challenges of operating during the night.

  3. Night Land Nav (or land nav in general) - Unfortunately I will never forget the long nights of looking down at my barely visible glow in the dark compass while stumbling my way through the tree line to find the box I was to be looking for. Land nav was especially brutal because failing meant coming in on a Saturday to remediate and try again, a misfortune that I had to do twice.

  4. R-15 (105 heat index) - Each live fire range had their own challenges, but R-15 was especially memorable due to the insane heat that day. We trained all day in an open field and into the night on this life fire range, leaving myself and most around me pretty spent.

  5. MOUT FEX - Although MOUT (Urban) FEX was an incredible experience overall, there was one mission that left me experiencing some serious signs of heat exhaustion and projectile throwing up all the fluids in my body. Luckily I was able to avoid the silver bullet (rectum thermometer), but it still was not a fun experience.

  6. Quad Stress Test - Only the US military would have you hike 12 miles with 90 pounds on your back and then take a two hour long written exam right when returning. Literally we got back, dropped our gear, then were told to get an exam and begin.

  7. Range Weeks - Two of the first weeks of the program deserve to be on this list because of the absolute grind that they posed. For nearly two weeks straight we woke up between 0300-0500 in the morning, hiked 3 miles up a hill to the range, shot weapons all day, then returned back to the barracks late in the evening around 1900-2000. Doing this everyday for two weeks got old to say the least.

  8. FEX 2 Defense - My first experience with digging fighting holes and the constant patrolling / hard work that encompasses a USMC Defense was FEX 2. Overall the field exercise was a valuable experience, but it was one of the times that I felt really challenged in the field. We didn’t sleep much or hardly at all this week.

TBS was a difficult experience overall and I can’t said I’m disappointed to see it wrap up in a few weeks. Long days, challenging academics, leadership situations, physical demands, leading peers, a lack of sleep, an unpredictable schedule and other things all contributed to making TBS the challenge that it was. I would never volunteer to take this course again, I can say that I’ve learned a lot and that it has been a valuable contribution for my life.

God bless,

Ben

You are in the driver's seat by Benjamin Steele

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If you read this and it feels like a self-empowerment motivational speech then I'll consider that a mission accomplished. If it makes you want to jump up on your feet and scream "I can!" at the top of your lungs, than feel free to do so. I write these blogs to help myself remember what is important and possible in life just as much as I write them for the readers. Although what I share may at times be the "ideal" situation, they are still the standard that I strive for.

Blog #48

Sometimes life can feel like we aren't in control, I of all people can relate to that. Work can feel repetitive and romantic relationships stagnant. Personal fitness goals can seem impossible and recreation inexistent. I admit that at times it can feel like the universe has plotted against our existence and that our goals simply won't come to fruition. 

I obviously can't speak for everyone, but despite how hard life gets, I still need to remind myself that the world really isn't against me. In the end, we are still in control. Things might not happen exactly like we want, but if enough fortitude and persistence is applied, eventually it will work out. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in a brief from a Lt Col in the Marine Corps and listen to his top advice for obtaining a successful life and career. His advice included key ideas like (1) Be great at the basics, (2) Do the right thing for the right reason, and (3) Have a mentor early on. Thinking about it now, one overarching theme from his brief stands out to me; this is that regardless of how we seek to improve our lives, its up to us to make it happen in the end. He never said to just sit back and let life happen, but that it's up to us to take control. Life doesn't simply happen, but we can influence it. 

Being in the military and especially because I'm currently in training it can feel like I don't have much control in my life. Compared to when I was able to plan out every moment in my day, I now am forced to follow a certain schedule from the time that I wake up until nearly the time that I go to bed. I am told where to be and what to bring with me when I get there. Despite the situation, I need to remember that even I am in control. Yes, someone may determine a lot of my schedule, but they don't determine how I carry myself throughout the day. They don't determine whether I am successful or not. They don't control my evenings. They don't control the attitude that I have. 

I am thoroughly convinced that we are in control. Sometimes we get knocked down, sometimes we are doubted, but if we keep pushing forward, it will work out. We are in the drivers seat. 

This reminds me of a quote I read from Chip Gaines' book Capital Gaines

"Some of the greatest success stories of all time come from people who were misunderstood or even miscategorized. Maybe their strengths weren't noticed or valued. Perhaps they got a slow start or went about things in an unusual manner. They somehow didn't fit into the world's narrow definition of what constitutes achievement or success."

It is important to remember that some of the greatest of all time were counted out on their first try... 

  1. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. 
  2. Walt Disney was told by his editor that he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas". 
  3. Albert Einstein didn't start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was initially thought to be mentally handicap. 
  4. J.K. Rowling was a single mother, broke, depressed, and studying at the same time she was writing "Harry Potter". 
  5. Jerry Seinfeld went from standup gig to standup gig until making it with his show. 
  6. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. 
  7. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times. 
  8. Harrison Ford was told after his first small acting gig that he would never succeed in movies. 
  9. Theodor Seuss Geisel's (better known as Dr. Seuss) first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.
  10. Lady Gaga got dropped by her record label, Island Def Jam, three months after getting signed. 

Each of the people above could have given up after being rejected. They could have let the universe determine who they were going to become. The entire world may doubt us, but at the end of the day it's up to us to overcome the doubters. 

Some days are definitely harder than others. If it's one of those days that feel impossible, don't let it stop you. Fight through the challenge, stand up and overcome it. No matter what situation you are in, you determine your destiny. 

There's my two cents for a Wednesday evening. 

God bless, 

Ben