Set the Standard

Set the Standard

I’ve always wondered why rules are so hard to follow. Have you ever felt that way? It seems that when there is a rule, I gravitate to it. The rule is like the front porch light, and I’m the bug – frantically trying to break free but trapped by its gravity!

I was driving my daughter’s friend home when we came to a stop light. I glanced over and saw a really BIG sign. It said “NO TRESPASSING! VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED.” I said to her, “Look at that sign! That is the biggest no trespassing sign I have ever seen!” It was painted on two 4’x8’ plywood boards! She looked at me with her eyes wide open and said, “That makes me want to go in there!”

Why is this? Why are rules so hard to follow?

You become what you focus on

I once heard a story. There were two young boys who loved to visit their grandpa. He had a great big backyard with toy tractors and tools, and they were always excited to go to his house. When they arrived this day, they quickly asked, “Grandpa! Can we go play in your backyard?”

“Sure you can boys! But just don’t spit on my bushes!”

The two boys looked at each other in confusion, then shrugged and sped out the door. The grandpa walked over to the window and peeked through the blinds. The two boys walked down the steps and looked over at the bushes. They looked at each other, grinned, and before they ran to the tractors they spit on the bushes, which they would have never noticed had Grandpa not mentioned them.

You see, when we set rules to follow, we bring to the forefront of our thoughts and mind those things we shouldn’t do. In my own life, and in the lives of those whom I coach, I’ve found that the best way to break a rule is to make one. We all gravitate to what is forbidden. Adam and Eve did it in the Garden. God told them they could eat of any tree except the one. And we know the outcome of that story!

I had lunch with Jillian Michaels in Los Angeles and said to her, “Jillian, I can’t shake it! The more I think to stay away from certain foods, the more I seem to want them!” She said to me, “Danny, I have one all-natural, Newman’s Own dark chocolate peanut butter cup every single day of my life. Why? Because if I deprive myself of it I will only want it more – then I eat 2 or 3 or even 4! Don’t deprive yourself of the things you love – just work them into your plan and stick to the plan!” I’ll tell you, I’m not the thinnest guy on the block right now, but I’m not 300, 400, or even 500 pounds anymore either. And it has to do with that plan Jillian was talking about.

Set standards, and make them a part of your plan

If we tend to become what we focus on, why would we want to focus on what not to do? Let’s focus on the plan – let’s focus on what we need to do! Let’s set some standards.

Let’s look at the definitions of standard: “A level of quality or attainment. An idea used to measure the norm (normal) in comparative evaluations. Accepted as normal or average.”

When we set standards, we raise the bar, creating a target to shoot for. When we set rules, we create governing boundaries for ourselves, or curbs, to stay within. Rules limit our performance instead of creating a higher standard to attain. And in my experiences, when I’m shooting for something, I am much more motivated to achieve it.

Know the standards, find the target

When I was at The Biggest Loser ranch, we learned which foods to eat. We learned to add water to our diet and to increase our steps every day. We also created a standard of workout that expanded our lives. One of the running jokes about being a Biggest Loser Alumni is that once you’ve been a contestant, walking distance means a completely different thing. I used to think walking distance was 600 feet, but now it means 5 miles!

Sure, we knew to stay away from certain foods, but more than that we knew the foods to gravitate to; and when we eat the right food and drink plenty of water, the wrong foods don’t even come into the picture. You see what I mean? Sure, we avoided having certain foods within our grasp; we just left them off the grocery list.

Standards work in all areas of life

Standards work in your office or family, with your team, or in any area of life! I once heard Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke University head coach and coach of several U.S. Olympic basketball teams explain something. How can you coach The Dream Team  and have several huge egos such as Michael Jordon, Scotty Pippen, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley, and have them work together as a team? How do you tell them to be on time or adhere to a curfew? These are the greatest names in basketball! Well, Coach Mike explained that at the first meeting, instead of laying out rules to the team, HE asked them what standards should be created for the team. They went around one by one and shouted them out: “Be on time!” “Get your sleep!” and on and on…until they set the standards for their team themselves. Because they had ownership in the standards, they adhered to them. Coach Krzyzewski said that if he’d set rules for them, they would have gone out of their way to break them and prove who was in charge.

This can work in your own life, too. In your family, let your kids take part in setting the family standards. In your office or business, let your employees or team take part. Their ownership of the standards will give them a voice, and in turn motivation to adhere to them without so many rules. And in your own life, don’t deprive yourself of all enjoyable things, but set standards that include some of those things, and more importantly the things that will get you where you want to go. You might just find that the rules will fade into the background and not become the focus when you are busy shooting for your standards, and in turn shooting for the stars!

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Stress, More or Less

Stress, More or Less


Stress is a funny thing.  During The Biggest Loser, stress management was a life or death situation.  Too much stress and your weight loss would dwindle. Too little stress and you’d be too comfortable and forgo the workouts.  Jillian and Bob were all about keeping your stress level perfect – in balance.  Let’s look at the word “stress” and what it means:  Stress: A state of mental or emotional strain or tension (pressure) resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Synonyms: strain, pressure, tension, worry, anxiety, trouble, difficulty.  Causes: Deadlines, frustrations, demands.

Stress is normal

Stress is a natural physical response from your body when you feel threatened or when you are out of balance.  It is the “fight or flight (or freeze)” response.  Stress is the natural reaction to protect you from harm.  It is a survival mechanism.  It can give you extra strength, help you rise to meet challenges, and keep you on your toes.  It sharpens your concentration or drives you to excel and work hard when time is short. That being said, stress can also kill you.

Stress, when in overdose, can cause damage to your emotional or physical health.  It can ruin your mood, productivity, strain your relationships, and affect your life.  Out of balance, stress is an enemy. In balance, stress is just a part of life.

Stress is inevitable

It’s not a question of if you will experience stress; it’s a question of when.  And sometimes it’s all around you and you don’t even realize it – you may not even know how it’s affecting you – and those around you.  Have you ever been told, “You sure are grumpy lately.” Or “Is there something wrong?  You’re just not yourself today.”  That could be a sign that stress is upon you and you just weren’t aware of it.

Stress can look different for different people and in different situations.  You can be in the “fight” mode, seeming angry, agitated, and even looking for a fight.  You might fidget or be overly emotional, ready to pounce at the slightest inconvenience. Or you could be in the “flight” mode, and appear withdrawn or shut down.  You may seem spaced out or even tired and depressed.  And you could even be in both modes at once – shut down, but ready to attack on a whim!

How do you handle stress?

How you handle stress can depend on a number of things.  It can depend on your emotional maturity, network of support, confidence in your ability to handle situations, or your attitude.  In The Journey Training, we teach about different personality traits.  One personality may hate spontaneity, while another thrives on it!  What stresses you out may be fuel for another.

Optimistic people can generally handle stress in more healthy ways than pessimistic people.  An optimist takes challenges head on, often seeing the problem as a challenge.  A pessimist usually sees a problem as a problem, and a situation that could cause pain and hurt in their life.  Pessimists worry about things before they even happen, causing stress in their life.  Once, Arthur and I were at the airport in San Francisco.  We had planned to sit by each other to discuss a training we just went through during our time of designing The Journey Training.  When we got our tickets, I saw that we weren’t sitting with each other.  I freaked out!  My status on the airline is supposed to avoid this!  I kept saying, “We have to sit together!  I want to talk about what we’ve just gone through!”  Arthur said, “It’ll all work out.”  I replied, “It had better!”  He then replied, “Worst case scenario is that we don’t sit together.”  I then said, “That had better not happen!”

When we got to the counter, I began my rant and was explaining to the attendant all the reasons this shouldn’t – and couldn’t – happen!  This airline employee, who was from a foreign country, raised his hands and said loudly with his accent, “STOP!  YOU ARE SCARING YOURSELF!”  Arthur began laughing profusely.  I was confused – until I realized that I had created a bigger problem than it actually was.  To Arthur, it wasn’t that big of a deal not to sit next to each other for 3 hours.  For me it was a catastrophe!

When we boarded the plane, the two men who were sitting in the aisle between us wouldn’t budge!  They were “aisle hounds” as I like to call them.  It turned out I sat beside a man that lived with the creator of American Aikido – something Arthur and I were going to talk about!  It turned out to be a divine appointment!  I was creating a problem where there was just a hiccup – or a detour.

Am I stressed?

Probably the most important thing in how you are able to handle stress is your knowledge and awareness of it.  If you ignore it, or stuff your feelings when they come to the surface, you’re more prone to the explosions that can cause damage to your physical health as well as your emotional health and relationships.  Like I said before, stress is a part of life.  How you respond to stress is the key to making it work for you and not against you.

Stress can come in many forms.  It can be financial problems, big life changes such as moving or buying a house, or deadlines that you feel you may not be able to handle. It can come from your children or family, work or school, or just feeling as though you’ve got to do it all.  It can look like worry, an all-or-nothing attitude, unrealistic expectations, or even perfectionism.  The crazy thing is that although stress can come from many different sources and look very different at times, your body doesn’t know the difference.  It handles all stress the same way.  Because this is the case, you’ve got to direct the responses of stress in a more healthy way.

Stress induced response

When stress hits, you can do a number of things to turn the tides on how you handle it.  There are several ways to avoid those damaging levels of stress.  In The Journey Training, we teach that when feelings arise, you must give them a healthy voice.  This doesn’t mean yelling at people and raging, but it does mean getting those feelings out in some healthy, non-abusive way.  This may look several different ways.  We teach that though journaling you can process your feelings and seek why you feel the way you feel.  You can do this with a journal, or even through processing with a buddy.  You can also deal with stress by turning that energy in to a physical exertion such as exercise or cleaning out that garage you’ve been needing to tackle!  In one way or the other, the physical energies that stress causes don’t go away, and they should be let out in a healthy manor.

Sometimes you need to avoid stress.  There was a relationship in my life that always caused stress. I was trying to get on The Biggest Loser television show and this certain person was completely negative about it. Every time we talked, the conversation either turned into a political argument or a Biggest Loser dream bashing. I decided to quietly move away from the relationship. I’d answer texts and emails, but I always was “too busy” to take their call – on purpose.  I knew when I picked up the phone, an argument would ensue.  In this way, I successfully avoided the stress and was able to stay focused on my goal.

When you can’t avoid the stress, you can change the situation by changing what you can: your response.  You can respectfully let your feelings and concerns be known, or explain why the situation is painful or stressful to you.  You can choose to find a compromise instead of being that “all-or-nothing” person.  You can’t change other people or even the situation at times, but you can always change the way you respond to the situation!  You can change YOU.

In AA, the serenity prayer asks for God to give you the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  I was having sort of a stressful time in the relationship with another friend, so I decided to talk to my pastor and get some counseling on the situation.  His response was, “Are you expecting this person to be different than what they are?  Are you surprised they do that? It just seems to be the way they operate.”  This opened my eyes that the power was in my hands.  I had a choice: I could avoid the person or accept that this is how they are. Why would I expect any different? That simply piece of knowledge helped me heal my relationship with my friend.  My expectations were simply too high, and I shouldn’t have the expectation of him acting different than he naturally does.  My choice was to accept him or avoid him.  I chose to accept him the best I could.

The Truth about Stress

Stress is inevitable.  You must avoid it when you can, embrace it when you can’t, and learn the amount that is healthy for you.  Stress can motivate you or break you and decline your health.  So how much is the right amount?

I equate your life like a guitar.  With no stress, the strings have no tension.  You can’t play a single note.  Turn the tuning peg too much and the tension becomes too much, causing the string to break, and it loses the ability to be useful. But with the right amount of tension on each string (or each area of your life), beautiful music can be played. Your guitar must be in tune, each string given the proper amount of tension to vibrate at the exact speed to make the notes work perfectly together.  This is balance.

When your life is out of balance, with too little or too much stress, your song is quelled.  Too little stress and you are too comfortable, and in turn you become stuck.  Too much stress and you’re stretched too thin, and eventually, you break and are no good to anyone.  But the right amount and a beautiful song is played called life.  Avoid stress when it gets too much, and apply a little pressure when you get to lax, and your life will turn out just fine!

While I was on The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper – and all of America watching – applied just the right amount of stress to make me sing a beautiful song.  Now, it seems too much stress has left me tired and worn out, and in response I have gained too much weight.  It’s time for me to re-prioritize and cut some unhealthy stress, I need to add some useful pressure to my life.  Will you join me in singing a song to affect your own life and that of those around you? Will you tune your guitar to make beautiful music?  In the end, ask yourself one question when a stressful situation hits.  Will it matter tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year?  If not, let it go.  If so, find the strength to change what you can, accept what you cannot, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference.

Danny facilitates monthly in an experiential training called The Journey Training.  In this weekend-long seminar, attendees are taught the self-awareness needed to make positive changes in their lives.  Sign up now for the next Threshold class and begin singing your new song today!

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Giving From The Heart

Giving From The Heart

In the days leading up to Easter we often hear about what people are giving up for Lent, but when Holy Week is over, we tend to fall back into our old lives. Often these things end up being somewhat superficial. What if rather than thinking about giving things up, we started looking for things we can give away? This type of thinking involves our hearts, and giving from our hearts always leads somewhere good. If we can somehow separate ourselves from the busyness and distractions of our messy and complicated lives, we often discover things of far greater value.

Giving from the heart helps us do just that.

Many of us may be living with purpose, but are we purposely living? Each week that goes by, I learn more about what this really means. Probably the biggest principle I’ve learned lately is that the more my heart loves to give, the more opportunities I will have to receive. Let that sink in…

The more my heart loves to give, the more opportunities I will have to receive.

I am a mentor for, the world’s premier online education platform that helps entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and “in-trepreneurs” (entrepreneurial-minded people who work within an organization). created “1 for 1 HandUp Movement.” With every new Thrive15 membership given away, they give a free subscription to a U.S. Veteran or active-duty service member and their spouse. That’s what I call, “giving from the heart.”

When a farmer plants a lot of good seed, he gets a good harvest in return. When giving from the heart becomes part of our daily thinking, we will be on the lookout for opportunities to give. Chances to give may include simple things like:

  • Opening the door for someone.
  • Letting a car in front of you in traffic – and smiling.
  • Saying “thank you” to your children’s teachers (especially when the kids are older and we don’t know the teachers quite as well).
  • Connecting with a friend or co-worker that may need assistance or help, mentoring.

If a farmer plants cheap vegetable seeds, he gets cheap vegetables. If he plants premium seeds, he gets premium vegetables.If you want to take giving from the heart a step further, try including a small amount of money. The opportunities to bless others financially are endless. Here are just a few:

  • Get some $2 bills and give them to a homeless person or the person in front of you in line at Walmart.
  • Pay for the person behind you in a drive-thru.
  • Pick up a tray of cookies from Chick-fil-A and take them to work.
I can guarantee when you look back, you will have gained far more than you invested. Giving from the heart changes the giver as well as the receiver. What can you do this week to give to others?

At the time of this post, the video below has had over 9 million views. That’s 9 million people it may have inspired to give from the heart. What does it inspire you to do?


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Praising and Cursing

Praising and Cursing

I’ve been thinking and praying for several days about how to share my thoughts on what I’ve been witnessing on Facebook. I love it when God sends the perfect message to help me focus my thoughts and get things started. I received this today, found in James3:9-10.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” NIV (New International Version)

Unfortunately, what I’m seeing the most on Facebook these days is more cursing than praising. Many people are joining in what I’ll call the “virtual riot” of the moment about abusive police officers, racist white people, protesting black people, our president, republicans, democrats, Muslims, Christians, etc. People are commenting on and sharing things based on anger and hatred that are only meant to humiliate, denigrate, demean, or condemn another person, race, or religion.

These posts have nothing to do with actual solutions. They only add fuel to the fire and encourage others to join in the virtual riot. That place where anyone can sit safely behind a little screen and never actually participate in a real discussion with those that they are so bravely cursing at. And when others join in, it justifies their feelings and comments and makes them feel so right!

I’m a very proud American citizen! I believe in our right to free speech and I served in our military for 20 years to protect it. I’m not saying that we don’t have the right to speak what’s on our minds. I’m asking us all to make the choice to really think about what we say before we say it! Is what we have to say constructive or destructive? Would God want us to post and share these things?

I know in my heart that we can all do better on this!

In The Journey Training we believe EVERY person is a child of God who has value beyond measure and deserves to be loved as God loves them.

As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus gives all Christians these words as part of the great commandment. He does not say “please do this”, or “please think about this”. He commands us to do this!

The easiest thing to do is to follow the crowd, join the anger and hatred, and go along with the rioting mob. The hardest thing to do is something different from the crowd – to choose to love someone, as a person created in the image of God – even if that person has done something that we think is wrong or hurtful.

Loving our neighbor doesn’t mean they get a free pass to do whatever they want. Loving our neighbor means that we are willing to help them see when they are not being who they were created to be and that there is another choice or choices they could make.

Loving them means we do this with honesty and grace, without humiliating them, condemning them, or crushing their spirit. It means we do the hard work to build them up to be the man or woman that God created them to be, not what the world has told them to be or told them that they are. Loving them means we do this with dignity and respect while we may disagree.

As we head into 2015, I challenge all of us to make the CHOICE to look at things from another PERSPECTIVE and do something DIFFERENT!

Stop doing the easy thing by participating in the virtual riots that are based in anger and hatred!

Make the harder choice. Have the courage to live your life from a foundation of LOVE. Look for ways to build people up to be the best they can be instead of tearing them down.

If you can’t imagine how to do this or you don’t think it’s possible, check out The Journey Training. Come join us in 2015!

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Do We Really Want to Know?

Do We Really Want to Know?

I’ll never forget it. I was playing a gig and half way through the 3rd set I noticed my zipper was down. How embarrassing! I was rocking out, acting like the coolest thing in the world, and everyone was staring at my underwear, not my bass guitar! I was so embarrassed!

My friend later told me, “I was going to tell you, but I didn’t want to embarrass you.” WHAT?!?! As if NOT telling me saved me any embarrassment! It caused more! I told him, “Next time, TELL ME!”

The fact is you know what you know, you know what you don’t know, but you also don’t know what you don’t know. Let me explain. I know 2+2=4. I also know that I can’t speak German. But there are a number of things that I don’t know even exist. In many areas I’ve been walking around in ignorance, making decisions and not even knowing they were destroying my dreams; just like playing that gig with my fly down. If someone knew something you didn’t know that might help you, wouldn’t you want to know it? Are you sure?

Well, I can tell you that there are things about you that, if someone told you, might hurt you. I remember the day it all came to a head. I was sitting on the couch when Mary Claire walked in. She said, “Daddy, I want to be just like you.” I was flying high then! Who wouldn’t want to be just like me, right? She continued, “I want a belly just like yours.” That line echoed throughout my brain. You see, I was 460 pounds, and my stomach was 69 ½ inches around. That is C-R-A-Z-Y! I got angry. Not with her – with me. I stared at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like the man staring back at me.

I was a mean man; angry at myself and in turn angry at everyone else! I treated my family like dirt, and most of all I was probably the poorest role model my kids could have! Oh God! Mary wanted a belly – JUST LIKE MINE! NOOOOOOOOO!

Well, that did hurt, but I can say that becoming aware of how my anger and obesity was affecting my family, a change became possible – I no longer didn’t know what I didn’t know. Of course I knew I was obese, but I was oblivious to what my obesity was causing in my life and in the lives of those around me. After Mary told me, I could deny it or I could weigh it. I weighed it heavily – and I cried.

She was right. She did want to be just like me – and I didn’t ever want that to happen.

What are you walking around with that you don’t know about? How do you come across to people? Are you rude without even realizing it? Are you running scared and hiding out from your responsibilities? Or is your fly down? One way to find out is to ask. Simply find someone and ask for a little feedback. Ask them how they see you. Ask them what you can work on. Find out what you possibly don’t know.

I sent a mass-text to many of my friends a few years ago. I asked, “Name my greatest strength and my biggest weakness.” What I found was that many of my friends gave me the same feedback – both in strengths and weaknesses. The feedback “impatient” came back the most. Boy is that true! I am so impatient with my family, friends, in almost anything I do! I cut people off mid-sentence. I get angry and aggravated very quickly. I sure need patience. That feedback has helped me in my life. Did it hurt to hear it? Sure! Was it helpful to hear it? YOU BET!

Don’t fret when people give you feedback. Tell them you’ll weigh it carefully, and that you acknowledge their experience of you. Then weigh it and deal with it. Hearing those areas in which we are weak can help us strengthen them and get exactly what we want! And we might not play a gig with our fly open.

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