The Number One Rule For Screwing Up Your Life

Thursday, 9:19pm
Reno, NV
“Wait — I’ll change!” (Last thing every guy says as she slams the door, never to give him “that” look again…)


Has this ever happened to you:

You’re minding your own damn business, slogging through another day (which seems suspiciously similar to yesterday and the day before and the day before that…)…

… and — wham! — out of the blue, something NEW jumps out and scares the bejesus out of you.

You’re not scared because it’s something scary.


You’re scared because it’s… new.

You weren’t expecting it.

And you were all cozy and snug in your ho-hum predictable life…

… safe from the gnarly dangers of new stuff.

In your brain — slowly turning to sludge from boredom — the equation is simple:

New = Change = DANGER!

Climbing off the merry-go-round of a predictable, safe life is, frankly…

… an adventure that threatens almost everyone.

You ever been in that situation?

I sure have.

I’ll cop to it.

Growing up, the message from parents, school, and the culture at large was simple: True contentment could only be found by conforming to the straight-and-narrow.

Don’t think too hard about it, either, boy. You’ll just get upset.

Adventure was for movie heroes and astronauts… and you’re no astronaut.

I really thought my main task in life was to find a groove where everything was predictable.

Which translated, for me, to “boring”.

Mostly, I violated this demand from society to conform. I cultivated an appetite for adventure, and took some collosally stupid risks with life and limb.

The key word there, however, is “mostly”.

When it came to the ultimate adventures, I nearly always balked.

What is the “ultimate adventure”, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you: There are two fundamental types of choices you will be faced with in life…

1. The easy choices…

2. And, the hard choices.

Many opportunities for adventure are easy to accept. Go out partying — again — with your buddies… get sloshed, and see what happens.

Or… agree to join the company bowling league. What the hell. Live dangerously.

Or… change your hair style. Go for that promotion. Buy that hot new car.

Heck, even get married. Slide into a mortgage.

I’m not saying marriage is easy, mind you.

But for most, it’s not really a desperately hard choice to make. When you live in the groove the culture has laid out for you, the job/marriage/kids/mortgage route is well greased.

And I’m not picking on this choice. No value judgements here.

It’s just, as I say, an example of an easy choice.

For some… especially those folks who eventually become successful entrepreneurs and biz owners…

… the marriage/kids/mortgage part is fine. Great, even.

But that “job” part…

… not so much.

And so they make the hard decision to enter a world of unpredictable risk levels. Where adventure of some magnitude is pretty much guaranteed.

No safety net. Huge blowback for failing. Ego, self-respect and bank account on the line.


… is a hard decision to make.

The payoff, of course, can be spectacular.

But you can’t get there without first making that hard initial decision to get started.

And oh, the pain of making a hard decision can melt your brain.

Especially when it’s triggered not by slow, logical thought and planning…

… but rather by the sudden, rude appearance of an OPPORTUNITY.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

I’ve been learning this lesson my entire life.

Somehow, as a kid, it wasn’t such a problem. The Jones’s were driving to the beach, and did I wanna come along?

Sure. What else could possibly be more important today?

But then, the ponderous overthrow of my brain by young adulthood introduced second thoughts and paranoia.

Suddenly, my standard reply became “Gee, I dunno.”

And I really didn’t know. Didn’t know what I wanted, didn’t know how to navigate the possible adventure looming, didn’t know what to do.

I was frozen, more often than not, by choice.

Especially when real — real and dangerous — opportunity presented itself.

I’ll give you just a single example… which should echo similar experiences in anyone who also grew up shy and clueless:

During the painful early years when I was desperate to enter the hormone-soaked world of romance… I was sorta fine when I had lots and lots of time to decide which girl I should obsess on or pursue (in my usual ineffectual and hopeless way).

However… I would occasionally be surprised by a girl showing sudden, intense interest in doing something with me. Just coming in from left field, and shattering my belief that I was invisible to most females.

God, I was such a loser.

I almost always balked. I wanted to pursue things… I ached to get involved.

And if she was persistent, and not as crippled by doubt as I was… things sometimes actually worked out.

Even losers occasionally win.

But you’re a fool to bet on it.

Because most of the time, that invitation was nothing more than a whisper of a suggestion.

A flitting, quickly disappearing moment in time where — if I knew how to make the hard decision to just go for it — the door was ajar just enough to allow me fast entrance to an adventure that might change the trajectory of the rest of my life.

It’s The One That Got Away that will haunt you.

And this, more than any other story I could relate, defines “opportunity”.

In business, as in those fragile early experiments with romance, the most important opportunities will not often announce themselves ahead of time.

There will be no warning.

And there will be precious little time to consider your choices.

As a young man, I balked a lot. I hesitated.

And — even worse — I consoled myself with the notion that other, maybe even better, opportunities would always be just around the corner.

So making any hard decision could be put off. Indefinitely.

This was a stupid way to live.

And this had to change, once I vowed to pursue success without excuses.

I learned to spot opportunity… learned to hear the whispers of it that few others heard or paid attention to… and I leaned to quickly gauge the value of saying “yes”.

I became, essentially, a Player in the game of grabbing opportunities… and riding the adventure that ensued for all it was worth.

This is how I met ALL of my mentors, and secured long-lasting relationships with them.

This is how I mastered the freelance game faster — and with greater rewards — than anyone else in the game.

And this is how I’ve attained every shred of success I can lay claim to.

By recognizing… correctly judging… and grabbing onto opportunities that most people missed.

The vast majority of opportunities you will encounter in your life will never be repeated.

It’s often a matter of being in the right place, at the right time…

… armed with the right skills to take advantage of what has been laid before you.

It’s a hard decision to make, to become that guy who is always alert for chances to engage with life on a higher level. To hear what others refuse to hear. To murder your ego and crush your natural skepticism and stubborn reluctance.

To finally take huge bites of life and chew with gusto.

But once you do… you’ll never go back to being afraid of change.

You’ll never again be daunted by even risky adventure… because part of being open to opportunity is being PREPARED for opportunity.

Out of nowhere, the lovely and enchanting Suzie Q may ask you to dance.

And, once you’ve embraced being that guy who grabs opportunity, you’ll say “sure.”

And you’ll know how to dance well.

Ah, it brings tears to my eyes to remember the journey. Tears of joy, because learning to see and gobble up opportunity launched me on adventures it will take 3 biographies to adequately chart.

And so, here we are.

And here YOU are.

Staring at perhaps one of the last great opportunities in business today: A chance to share a room with me and a staggering gang of other experts for 2 solid days of ripping deep into every detail of killer marketing and advanced money-making strategies.

In San Francisco, the most gorgeous city this side of Paris.

At probably the last-ever full-weekend Hot Seat Seminar I’ll ever host.

And, since nobody else knows how to offer Hot Seat marketing interventions… this truly qualifies as an opportunity that needs to be jumped on.

Or missed forever.

It’s not the last opportunity you’ll ever have in your life to move forward with your quest for business success.

But it very well may be the last one you’ll ever have that includes having me and a mob of proven, rich veteran experts obsessing on you and your business.

Solving all your problems, opening up fresh avenues for profit, sharing killer new strategies, and giving you an Action Plan to get everything moving as soon as you get home.

So go ahead — ignore it.

Don’t even glance at the website explaining the event.

It’s February 21 through the 22nd. Coming up fast.

You wait any longer, and it’ll zoom past you. Just like all the other opportunities you’ve missed.

However… if you’re finally ready to take a chance, and to let the biggest adventure of your life begin…

… then go here now:

There are a few seats available.

And the door to the rest of your life is open… just a crack… and waiting for you to bust through.

And waiting.

And waiting…

Stay frosty,

John Carlton

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"11 Really Stupid Blunders You're Making With Your Biz & Career Right Now."

  • Hi John, Wow… I simply have to come over and read your blog more often… So many swipe-worthy stuff here – this post included. I keep forgetting to use stories and fall back into the black-unreadable world of facts-only. Thanks for the story (and the reminder).


  • Yoda says:

    I’m with Asher on this one! I would like to contribute to your reputation of being the most robbed writer on Earth (or whatever the hell it is) and swipe a few tidbits for my sales letter!!

    Ok, with you?

    Denny (Yoda)

  • Jim says:

    Great post John. Both educational and enjoyable at the same time. Thanks!

  • Peter Frank says:

    Hi, John,
    Whats up with the busines owners over there? Are they too freaked out by the economic news they’ve become paralized?

    I thought you’d have filled your hot seats ages ago.

    Sorry I can’t make it. Our new business, started in November, is going gang-busters and I don’t have the time to travel halfway around the world to sit in your lauded company and discover your pearls of wisdom. (love to though)

    Love reading anything you write. Reminds me how much I still suck at it.


  • Art Wesley says:

    I have been slogging throughout this life on a slapdash quest to uncover the primo path from here to there—less time, less effort, maximum results—minus the ‘muss and fuss’ and trial and error which, more often than not, ends in personal frustration. I like to write so my frustration is clarity—specifically, or the lack thereof, which may lead to confusion then repetition ending in distraction. I understand the point but (occasionally) lose my audience somewhere between the first line and the conclusion. Communication is my bugaboo. I enjoyed your post. You write (talk) to your audience from a conversational vantage. My sense is that you are speaking directly to me and for me. This method of writing is compelling. Style is everything, and kudos to you John, for mastering the Art. I am fortunate having discovered your blog.

  • Mariano Franco says:

    I thought you’d enjoy this quote John.

    I read it yesterday in Richard Bandler’s Guide To TRANCE-formation.

    He was referring to a life altering belief his mentor Virgina Satir instilled in him.

    She said, “You know, Richard, most people think the will to survive is the strongest instinct in human beings, but it isn’t. The strongest instinct is to keep things familiar.”

    And this is why your “buck the ho-hum” message might not land on some people favorably.

    But you and I know “they” don’t matter.

    Your beingness calls out to a select group of people. And I’m happy to say I’m in that group. I’ve spent more one on one time with you (via video, tapes, ads, blog posts) than my brothers in the last few years.

    And this is all because I’m the kinda person who enjoys the company of a straight shooter who asks me to become more and demonstrate my potential.

    Thank you John for being who you are and not keeping your music in you. When I meet you in person, I’ll be circulating the vibe of seeing an old friend. Hopefully you’ll feel this.

    Talk to you again soon,
    Mariano Franco

  • Jeff Baas says:

    Thanks for a brilliantly written and poignant piece! I know that hesitation well. I’ve just been starting to emerge from the safe and familiar to confront the adventure of the always surprising world. And I must say, it’s an exciting journey! Thanks again for the encouragement to pursue that journey (even though my adventure currently will take me somewhere other than your seminar that weekend). Best of luck with it!

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