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November 10, 2013 / Dale Melchin


The title is intended to be a lol.

But seriously.  Incisive Observations is being moved to!  Yes, I just set up my self-hosted wordpress blog and I’m going to be making additional changes to things over there!

Some recent events have caused this to come up.  And you’ll hear more about them going forward. I’m going to have this page redirect to my new website or at a minimum I’m going to post and hopefully get things back into the same routine like I did before!

Here’s to an upcoming new year!



November 9, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Abundant Happiness

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

November 8, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Three Things you Can Do if You Can’t Find a Mastermind Group

One of the most frustrating experiences I have had living in the part of the country that I live in has been trying to find a mastermind group that I can fit into and work with.  Earlier this year, I was part of a mastermind group but it didn’t work out because of scheduling conflicts.  I loved the people in the group and I hope to be able to collaborate with them again in the future.  In fact, I’m trying to meet up with the leader of that group to try and reconnect at a later date.  So if you are reading this Dave, nothing but love man.


The reason why the problem exists is twofold.  The first is the part of the country I live in there are so few people who are committed to self-improvement.  Upon deeper thought, this is a global problem.  High achievers are few and far between.  That leads to the other problem.  The high achievers are so busy out there achieving that they only have time to meet with people who are helping them achieve more.  Now the response from Seven Habits arises from my mind even as I’m writing this.  Use your R and I.  That’s Resourcefulness and Initiative.  So here is what I’ve come up with.


Listen to Podcasts


Podcasts are a great way to connect with high achievers without imposing on their time beyond what they’ve done to create the podcast.  I can legitimately say that I go for a walk with Michael Hyatt.  Or that I go the gym with Pat Flynn.  Or that I’m writing something with Dan Miller.  Or Dave Ramsey is at my desk with me helping me put together my budget.  The beautiful thing about these podcasts is that there is so much quality content and it is free.  And yes, I realize the podcasts are the new marketing, but it doesn’t matter because they do provide so much value without being behind the pay wall.


Read Inspirational Books


(Insert Picture here)


This is a stack of inspirational books that I keep handy on my desk.  You may know some of the titles, some of them you may not.  Needless to say, I view these books as conversations to be had or that I have had with these authors.  If you don’t like analog, you can also download a nearly infinite number of books from Amazon.  I have the Kindle App on my phone and on my computer.  I also have other books in my stacks in and around my desk.  Needless to say changing your thinking is absolutely vital to personal improvement and books are the other method to do it.  Also, if you don’t like to read, get the audio version of the book in question.  You can take it with you on a walk, to the gym, or even in the car.  Just use a Bluetooth ear piece or if your car can do Bluetooth audio from the phone, do it that way.  Earpieces are bad for driving and can get you a ticket!


Keep Searching, but not as much


On your journey to success you will run into people who will help you along the way, just by virtue of being on the journey.  The reality is many of us will have to walk alone.  So don’t make it your central focus, but more of a passive one.  That way you can put your energy into the important task of building your success.


What would doing these three things make possible for you?


November 7, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Suffering Leads to Championship

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’
Muhammad Ali

November 6, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The One thing you need to get what you want

Do you ever find yourself looking for a shortcut to achieve your goals?  Have you ever been frustrated in that endeavor?  What if there was a silver bullet, but it wasn’t what you are thinking?


The First Silver Bullet is Effort


There it is the unvarnished truth the only way you are going to get where you are going is to put forth the effort and do it.  


The barrier to achievement is always in our minds.  In fact looking for a shortcut is often a barrier to achievement.  Folks spend tremendous amounts of energy looking for shortcuts.  I know of folks who spend enormous amounts of energy avoiding work or procrastinating, when really it would be easier just to knuckle down and do it.  


Looking for a better way to do something isn’t a barrier, but thats often only found after we’ve started on our goal.  Effort is still being expended in the right direction.  If we can find a way to automate or systematize something, great, do it.  But be wary of the silver bullet mentality.


The silver bullet mentality is often found in the main areas that appeal to folks


Physical fitness


A pill is often marketed to be the thing needed to lose weight without proper nutrition and exercise.  Its ridiculous.  Supplements can be helpful in achieving our goals or for filling nutrient gaps in our diet.  But it only works if we are running the main task, which is eating right.


It is also often the case that you’ll find people marketing a particular food that facilitates weight loss.  There are a plethora of diets out there that claim to be the fastest way to weight loss.  Most of them are useless, however, some of them are useful.


Paleo is one of the diets.  I’m not going to get into a debate about how this works or doesn’t work.  The reason why it works is because it reduces the amount of carbs we consume to optimal levels, and maximizes the stuff we should be eating.  Those things are plants and animals.  The Slow-carb Diet is another one, but it allows more flexibility in terms allowing for beans and legumes.  The reason why these two are useful is because they remove the junk from a persons diet and focus on what the body needs.  And frankly, both contain many recipes that are frankly delicious, and sate the appetite very well.  They are also highly efficient in that they emphasize foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories so the body learns to run efficiently.


There are also exercise programs that are touted as silver bullets.  This frankly is a frustration of mine because I’ll see ads for latest system getting people to buy… while I’m at the gym.  The truth of the matter is that exercise programs don’t work unless they match up with where a person is in their growth or if they are not enjoyable.  You cannot be excessively overweight and do p90x effectively.  That person needs to overhaul their diet and build momentum by walking… alot.


I realize not everyone likes exercise at first.  However, you have to find something that you enjoy at first so you can build momentum.  I personally walk a lot and with winter coming, I’m going to be a gym rat again.  In the past I’ve also done martial arts.  Whatever battery of exercises you are involved with just make sure they balance, inner strength, outer strength, cardiovascular and flexibility.  There is not one thing that you need to do, but it can be multiple things.  The one thing that must be happening is effort.



I’m not going to speak much to this one, but I am going to share a few key points.  If you want to build financial discipline follow Dave Ramsey.  He combines intensity with old-fashioned common sense from your grandma.  If you want to get rich, read the Millionaire Fastlane by M.J. Demarco.  To summarize the book: Find an area you are passionate about, find the problems in them, and market the living daylights out of yourself doing it.  Another good resource is The Foundation.  Dane Maxwell teaches you how to build a software company even if you aren’t a programmer.  Finance is more difficult than physical fitness because you have to put yourself in control and be cocky enough to believe that you can control outcomes.  85% of it is a mental game that you have to make sure you are playing or else you’ll bomb.  And I can speak from experience.




Good relationships at all levels don’t happen because you are applying techniques.  You have to have character first and then proper social skills to be able to resonate with people.  Seven Habits of Highly Effective People speaks to this.  It is a timeless book.  It’s a bit heady, but once you understand it, things fall in to place at least mentally.  The challenge is again, expending the effort.


The Second Silver Bullet is realizing that process and result are one and you cannot separate them.


You want to look like Gerard Butler?  You are going to have to go through some pain to get there.


You want to be rich? You are going to have to develop something that solves painful problems and push it around in the market.  That requires courage.


You want great relationships?  You are going to have make some changes to your character.


I’m not saying this to discourage you.  I’m saying this so you’ll be efficient.  Instead of wasting your time looking for shortcuts, spend your time focusing your effort and expending it in the right areas.  I’m saying this to tell you that if you endure the challenges that will inevitably follow, you will be rewarded.  And it will be everything you wanted and more!  No one is going to do this for you, but you can do it!


What would using the Silver Bullet of Effort and the Process and Result are One make possible for you?

November 5, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Burn the Pain with Joy

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

Joseph Campbell

November 4, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Six Things you Need to Overcome the Resistance



Credit goes to U.S. Army Korea (Historical Image Archive) for this image


Recently I was reading through Stephen Pressfield’s book Do the Work.  There was one section in particular that resonated with me.  Enemies and Allies.  The fortunate thing for us is that our allies in this case out number our enemies.

Enemies* Allies
Resistance Stupidity
Rational Thought Stubbornness
Friends and Family Blind Faith
Friends and Family
*Notice the would be creative would have a 3:1 advantage if he would just move into action


The unfortunate thing for us is that at least one ally doesn’t show up until we “enter the war” and the last ally can also be an enemy.

Pressfield lists out our allies as follows:

1. Stupidity

This is the most important one.  Pressfield cites the three stupidest people in history.  He names them as Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs. and Winston Churchill.  Why these three?  They are considered heroes in Western and American culture!  Because they ignored naysayers and were so narrow focused in the tasks that they set out to do.  One of them sailed solo across the Atlantic, the other founded, was fired from and then retook Apple, the other one spent most of his time motivating the British to keep punching the Hunnic (Nazi) Monster in the face, when it was the last standing Allied Force in Europe.

We need to be like these men in our approach to whatever work we are setting out to do.  Whether it is becoming our own person, getting a business off the ground, losing weight, stopping smoking, or whatever noble work we are setting out to do.  We need to be cocky and arrogant enough to not listen to the experts in our lives and go for it.  People may call it stupid, but in the end when we succeed, they are the ones left feeling stupid.

Pressfield says that we stay stupid by acting and “not allowing ourselves to think” about what it is we are doing.

2. Stubbornness

This quality is gritter than tenacity, or perseverance.  It is the idea of a junkyard dog biting down on the behind of the would be intruder to a junkyard.  It is like a group of Marines who are in the worst conditions, picking off enemies until the reinforcements arrive.  This is the idea of there being no quit inside of of us, we are mean, ornery, and mulish when it comes to our goals.  In this case we are “set in our ways” and its a good thing.

3. Blind faith

Whether you are a person of faith or not, you have spirituality.  You believe in something even if someone offers you evidence contrary to it.  That is the key in our creative work.  If you believe in nothing believe in your ability to create something valuable for others, and that it can eventually bring you value.  Believe it and do not doubt.  Give up your need to control the results and focus on the process of creation.  Even if it sucks at first, keep creating.  Again, this applies to anything.  For fitness if you are a man, imagine how you’ll feel after you get that chiseled body.  If you are a woman, imagine how you’ll feel when you get that toned physique.  Think of all the benefits of going through that process and staying on that process.  Your quality of life will be improved, you’ll feel great because you’ll have that endorphin rush, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll probably live longer.  I’m writing to myself as a I write this, but again, this applies any noble endeavor where we have to sacrifice short term gratification for long term fulfillment.

4. Passion

Hayden composed with it, Van Gogh painted with it and children play with it all day long.  They get into it with their toys and their imaginary friends.  Passion for the work is the engine that drives you.  It is cultivated into a roaring flame that cannot be quenched.  It is your love for what you are doing and the results you are trying to get.  It is the “romantic activity” that conceives and forms the child which is your work.  The beautiful thing is that even if your work sucks, you can cultivate a passion for improving it.

5.  Assistance (the opposite of Resistance)

Stephen doesn’t go into this right away when he’s first describing the allies.  But I will.  To put it in Christian terms, it is God showing up when you need Him most.  For the Taoist, it may be the success achieved after you decide not to give up.  Most importantly, it is unexpected help from Above, usually in the form of human help.  For the Entrepreneur it could be that string of customers that make his business viable, or that angel investor, that unexpected check in the mail, the friend coming over with groceries or whatever.  It is Providence moving the pieces that you don’t control after you’ve started to control the things that you can control in your work.  The key to getting assistance from the Universe is to get yourself into action.  Do all that you can do, and then Providence will do all that is necessary to help get you to the goal.  But even then, keep going.

6. Friends and family

As I stated earlier, these are a wild card, depending upon their attitude.  They are either fellow travelers on the creative road, or sympathizers.  They may not believe in themselves enough to do the work you are doing, but they love you so much they want you to succeed.  So they give you encouragement, they fall in line with Divine Assistance.  They may even be the first folks to comment on your blog.  Regardless of what they do, they are cheering for you and they are doing whatever they can for you.  Put yourself around these people whenever you can.  They are the relationships you’ll need to get through the creative journeys you are embarking upon.

So there they are.  The first four are cultivated through action and mind practice.  The last two are done simply by taking action in your creative endeavor, and by putting yourself around them.

Question:  What do these six things look like for you?  Have you seen them yet?  If so tell us.

October 21, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Buffer Burn

Ugh.  I first want to apologize again for letting the buffer get this low.  I wasn’t going to allow this to happen, but it did.  I am sorry.

I realize its just one day, but that’s one day that I haven’t posted content to you and I’m sorry.

I do have a few ideas queued up in my head for a blog.  I’m going to get a few posts in the can and get one up by Wednesday.  Thank you so much for your understanding.


October 18, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Weekly Review: 5 Reasons Why You Should do It at the Very Beginning of the Week, At 5 AM On Sunday Morning

Michael Hyatt offers a terrific method for planning and organizing your week called The Importance of the Weekly Review.

Now this assumes that you are already being intentional about your life.  If not, it is a great way to keep things organized while you are getting that figured out.  Here is a brief rundown of his process (I keep a check list with these items in my Evernote, feel free to steal it and put it in yours)

i.      Gather all loose papers and process.

ii.      Clear Computer Desktop and sort into folders (I added this one)

iii.      Process my notes.

iv.      Review previous calendar data.

v.      Review upcoming calendar

vi.      Review my action lists

vii.      Review my @WaitingFor list.

viii.      Review project lists.

ix.      Review Someday/Maybe lists

He recommends doing the weekly review late on Sunday, and really anytime at the beginning of the week or the very end of the week is good, but I offer a different tack.

Five Reasons why you should do your weekly review at 5 AM on Sunday Morning

Literally no one is up at that hour.  Even if you are blessed with children, most likely they aren’t going to be up that early on Sunday.  Your spouse is probably going to stay asleep as well unless they are a productivity nerd like you and I are.

That time of the morning is absolutely distraction free and calming.  You are able to hear yourself think.  The distractions aren’t around so you can focus more readily.

Jesus got up that early, so should we.  Mark 1:35 Gives us the proof of it.  I won’t recite it here, but it gives us a moral imperative to do the same.  In case you can’t tell, this reason is tongue in cheek.

Your energy is the most untapped that it will be for the entire day.  I realize that Sunday is a day for recharging.  But why not recharge before you recharge?

You will make the most use of all seven days this week if you get up as early as possible on the first day.  You can get Sunday figured out, and you can get the rest of the week figured out!  That way you create a system where everything is accounted for and aligned with your goals.

Real reason number five you are able to get a more objective perspective when evaluating how well your week last week aligned with your goals and how you are going to adjust to make this week work.

What would doing your weekly review at 5 AM on Sunday make possible for you?  When do you do your weekly review?

October 17, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Three Reasons Why It is Important to Go down Swinging When Faced with Failure

So many times we look at a failure or a setback as final, at least I know I have had that tendency.  You need to be able to look at setbacks and failures as a fluid part of reality and not something static.  The only thing that makes you a failure is if you resign yourself to that state and never get back on the horse.

The September 29th 2013 Bears Game is a great example of this.  The Bears and the Lions were tied up in the First Quarter 3-3.  In the 2nd Quarter, the Bears Defense failed and so did the offense, putting the score at 30-13 Lions, creating a wide margin against the Bears.  The 3rd the Bears kicked back in and the Offense was able to score some points putting them at 16-37 Lions.  In case you were wondering I was starting to get worried at this point.

In the 4th quarter the Bears Offense kicked back in, narrowing the gap to 32 40 for a final score.  Although the Bears did fight valiantly in the end, it wasn’t enough.  In my opinion it was a more respectable loss than the alternative.  And they ended the game graciously as well.

Now, that was a long introduction, here are the three reasons why it is important to go down swinging when face with failure.


It builds character turning failure into an immediate success

This is often difficult to see especially if the failure has do with business or economic concerns.  When I was a painter if I didn’t get a client I was often frustrated because I was bootstrapping the business and every appointment had to count.  My tendency as the time was to mourn the loss and it was difficult for me to pick apart why it happened, and it would create spill over into my other interactions.

Now the appropriate course of action is to look at the situation and to ask where did it go off the rails?  Often times, the offering wasn’t compelling enough, they were just fishing for prices, or they wanted it done cheap because they felt they could do the same job for less cost.  Also, learning to handle no leads you to be able handle rejection across the board.


You might end up winning in a way you didn’t expect. 

This is aside from the character building element.  Had the Bears had more time or ran their offense more efficiently they may have been able to force overtime.  In business, if you demonstrate the value of your product persuasively and you demonstrate that you are not taking it personally, that person may end up calling you back to actually do the project.  Or they may even giving you a referral.

You gain wisdom from the experience of loss

Often times, this is unexpected win.  You understand what it is you need to adjust to get better.  This applies not just in business but it also applies in life change.  If you do end up getting into the cookie jar when you are trying to lose weight, you may figure out what the trigger event was and empower yourself to avoid that trigger or change the event that the trigger caused, setting the stage for forming a new habit.

The reality is there is no setback or failure that is final or could be overcome.  The only two setbacks that are final are if you chose to make it final or in extreme cases death. So keep going!  If you are still breathing and moving you can make changes to your life and get to where you know you need to go!


Question: What would going down swinging make possible for you?