Becoming courageous in a world full of fear

Who is Sandy MacKay?

I help Canadians build wealth through real estate and expand their freedom. I am obsessed with finding ways to live a life by design, rather than by default.

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It took me 23 years to realize that I had the ultimate power to change my life.

My upbringing didn’t matter.

My skills didn’t matter.

My looks didn’t matter.

My current environment didn’t matter.

All of those things certainly can make a difference. But they don’t make THE difference. THE difference maker. THE deciding factor. Well, this will

always will be the same for you as it is for me.

It’s the answer to every challenging situation you find yourself in.

Even the really big, bad and ugly situations. The things that haunt you for years, that keep you up all night, that make you hide in bed for days on end. They can all be resolved eventually by tapping into something that we all have power over.

It’s something most of don’t like to acknowledge, or give responsibility to.

The difference maker is….Our Thoughts.

Improving Your Thoughts

In 2009 I had an epiphany on this topic as I was sitting on a bus somewhere near Robina, Queensland, Australia.

I would take this 30-40 minute bus ride every day to the golf course from my apartment in Surfer’s Paradise.

I was 23 years old, golfing everyday, and living in one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to. I was extremely lucky to get this experience.

I spent nearly 3 years of my life there learning how to be a professional golfer. Not a playing professional (although that was my dream), but a teaching professional. Australia has one of the best golf professional programs in the world. Canada at the time, was not so great for golf. Canadian golf has improved since, although I have never worked in the golf industry since returning.

This epiphany came as I was reading a book called Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, by Bob Rotella. I was actually re-reading this book for the 4th or 5th time.

Back then I cared about one thing. Improving my golf game. So my first few times I read this book, I took all the advice and applied it to the golf course. The lessons in that book have very little to do with the golf swing. They have everything to with having a great mindset on, and off the golf course.

Some of the great (life) lessons I recall from that book includes:

– Confidence is crucial to playing good golf. Confidence is the aggregate of the thoughts you have about yourself

– Don’t say don’t. The mind cannot understand this word. When you say, “Don’t hit the ball near the water”, your mind hears “water” and subconsciously directs your actions towards the water.

– Golfers with great dreams are capable of great things.

– Great golfers are always playing well, even when they aren’t. They tell themselves they’re playing great until their mind buys in and believes it.

– Routines win. Pre-shot routines get you out of your head and give you something to focus on in nervous situations.

– Golfers must learn to love the challenge when they hit the ball into the rough, trees or sand. The alternative thinking like anger, fear, cheating, simply do no good.

And my personal favourite take away…

– On the first tee, a golfer must expect only two things of himself; to have fun, and to focus his mind properly on every shot.

That last point hit me like a ton of bricks that morning.

After 20 years of golf, this was the best lesson I ever learned in my golf career.

It was the best because it was no longer a golf lesson for me. It was a life lesson.

What my mind heard that morning went a little more like this…

A man can only expect two things of himself in life, to have fun, and to focus his mind properly in every moment.

I later realized that having fun, and having a focussed mind in every moment, was a terrible expectation to put on myself. Its nowhere near possible and will lead to major let downs.

You can control your thoughts more than you can control anything else in life. You also need to have a lot of forgiveness for yourself because like me, you are not perfect.

From that day on, I have been very curious about the psychology of everything. Why we think the way we think. How we can adjust the way we think to achieve what we want. Why we wake up feeling different day to day, and much more.

Learning about our thinking is an endless journey with constant adaptations and changes. We can have full control over our thoughts, but we can’t have full control over the things that impact our thoughts.

We can’t control things like the weather, our relationships, the economy or technology. We can definitely improve those areas, but we can’t ever have full control.

There are many ways to improve our thinking though. And thats where the fun lies.

The most fun and rewarding form of exercise available to us, is mental exercise.

Purposeful mental exercise is the most undervalued and under-utilized form of exercise. We are so attracted to general mental stimulation, that we forget to be purposeful about it in any way.

There is plenty of discussion about physical exercise and the value of that activity. Yes it is important too. But look at the effort we put into physical trainers, workout programs, recovery programs and health products.

There should be 100x the focus on mental exercise than physical. There should also be 100x the focus on the mental side of golf, rather than the physical. Every pro golfer will tell you that success in golf is at least 80% mental, and only 10-20% physical.

Life is no different.

When life brings you challenges like economic, job or health uncertainty. Look inward first, and focus on improving your thoughts. How you think about these challenges will have the biggest impact on how you respond to them, and subsequently how the world responds to you.

Creating Confidence & Courage

Confidence is also crucial in having a great life. And courage requires confidence.

Confidence in life comes from the aggregate of the thoughts you have about yourself.

To expand your thinking to new levels and build more confidence in 2023, you must become better at one thing…

Critical Thinking.

Critical thinking will help build confidence and courage in yourself no matter what the world throws at you. It will make it so your mind is always valued, and desirable.

When your mind is valued and desirable, you’ll always find work despite the economy and despite AI taking over most other human tasks. Yes AI is scaring the crap out of people and it will replace plenty of high skilled jobs in the next few years. Get ready for lots of fear based media hype around this topic.

AI will not replace your critical thinking. It will only supercharge it, while it replaces all the other basic thinkers.

Critical thinking = The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

Improving your critical thinking comes from many hours spent proactive learning.

The Confidence & Courage Code

Proactive learning is step 1 to becoming a more critical thinker. To be great critical thinker, we must have useful knowledge. And useful knowledge doesn’t show up in us by accident.

Being a critical thinker, or being smart. These are not fixed statuses. Everyone can become a better critical thinker, and everyone can become smarter.

When you proactively learn, you are strengthening your thinking muscles. Its exactly the same as strengthening your physical muscles.

When you have poor physical habits, you actually lose muscle. It’s hard to see this day to day but eventually you wake up and realize your poor habits have made you fat, weak or sick. Poor learning habits will lead your brain to the same results. Your mind will not develop anymore, and instead you will become dumber.

7 ways to become a more proactive learner & critical thinker:

1. Create a growth plan.

My growth plan is in the form of a calender and it gives me 2-4 things to do each month to grow myself. There sometimes is overlap with business growth in this, but mostly it’s about personal growth. I know that my business grows to the extent that I do, and making a plan for personal growth is the #1 thing that is going to grow my businesses. This is more important than your yearly business plan.

2. Read books with intention.

When I first started reading a lot of personal development books, I would read almost anything that got put in front of me. If someone I respected recommended it, I’d read it. Now there are so many great books, and I’m not going to make enough time to read them all. So I take note of their recommendations and then decide if that topic is crucial for me to learn about right now, or if I can stash it away for later. I listen to a lot of books so buying the book on Audible and saving it for later is simple. Lately, I’ve gotten a lot more into autobiographies and biographies. These style of books provide great perspectives on the basic topics and provide more real world examples of them in practise. I find this helps me become a more critical thinker. Reading for the sake of reading, is never as valuable as reading for the sake of learning something specific. So be more purposeful with your reading.

3. Study topics in greater depth rather than surface level.

If an article, book or video trigger some good thoughts then dive deeper into that. Read a few books on the same topic. The more in depth knowledge you gain, the better your understanding will be on the subject, and the more ready you will be to utilize that knowledge.

4. Re-read and study the best books.

Often when you re-read a great book, you will pull out new knowledge that didn’t quite click the first time around. I am usually re-reading 3-5 books each year to ensure that knowledge sticks with me. If I read 50 books in a year, only 15-20 of those will be new books, and the rest will be re-reads.

5. Consume all forms of media with intention.

Do you know that 71% of North Americans sleep within arms reach of their smartphones? Thats only their phones. It doesn’t include other media consumption devices like TVs or laptops. 70% also use their smartphone while on the toilet! In 2021 North Americans spent 252 minutes per day on average, on their phones. There’s certainly a place in our lives for mindless consumption of media. We all need that at times. We don’t need it for 252 minutes a day though. If you’re going to indulge in some mindless content, then do it with intention also. Social media is the biggest culprit here. Mindless scrolling is rarely adding any value to you. Here’s what you can do instead… Favourite people on your social media lists so that you can scroll through with intention. Only favourite the people who add value to your life. People who make posts to show off and make themselves feel good, are useless to you. They may even be cancerous to you and your mind. There is so much science around this and how it affects your thoughts. Be very careful with your consumption of social media. As great as it is for keeping us connected, its also poisonous if overused or used with the wrong mindset going in.

6. Teach others about what you’ve learned.

Teach others in your workplace, in your community or in your peer group. Sharing knowledge that you’ve learned is a vital part of making that knowledge stick. It will help you formulate your opinions around the topic.

7. Mastermind with others about topics you’ve learned.

Like teaching, masterminding will help you form your opinions on a given topic. Stay open minded and curious, rather than judgemental about their perspectives.

There are many books that I have re-read because I decided that I agree with their perspectives and want to fully understand them.

“The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.”

– Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of those foundational books that I usually read every year. It’s a great book to study and dive deep on.

My current top 11 most re-read books in my library (in no particular order):

1. The Millionaire Real Estate Agent

2. Think and Grow Rich

3. How to Win Friends and Influence People

4. Delivering Happiness

5. A Guide to the Good Life

6. Trillion Dollar Coach

7. Who Not How

8. The Road Less Stupid

9. Leadership Strategy and Tactics

10. The Psychology of Money

11. The Ideal Team Player

If you want to know what I’m reading right now, its a book from Mark Messier called No One Wins Alone. It’s been quite good so far. Lots of leadership lessons. It won’t likely make my re-read list though.

Now more than ever, the world needs critical thinkers. The world needs people with courage and confidence to make decisions in the face of fear.

Increasing your courage and confidence in 2023 will get you paid big. While most people are in fear mode. You can be the one making moves and building wealth.

And I don’t just mean financial wealth.

I hope you sense my enthusiasm around this topic. Thanks for having the courage to block out the rest of the crap coming at you and spending 10 mins with me here.

Be courageous this week.

– Sandy Mackay