5 Short Questions

So today in our Operation October Challenge Group, these questions were thrown out there:

This week I want us to focus on ourselves, our happiness and our confidence! Starting off I want you to answer the questions below on a 1-10 scale (1 is bad and 10 is AMAZING):
1. How happy are you on a scale of 1-10?
2. What would make you happier?
3. Is this something you have control of?
4. What makes you happy?
5. Share a photo in the group of something that makes YOU happy! This something is a treat for you, something you take time out or would like to take time out for yourself.

I really had to think about this. And here is what I posted in response to those questions:

1. My happiness level is about a 6/10.
2. Weight loss is at the top of my list of things that would make me happy in life.
3. Much of my weight gain was brought on by medication side effects and over the 2 years I spent in recovery after my car accident. For a long time, outside factors held all the control because what was happening to my body during my recovery years was out of my hands. Now that I am back on my feet and in better health, the state of my body is now my responsibility. Although it feels like I have no control over my weight, technically I do. And it is my responsibility to do something about it.
4. My pets and my husband are the loves of my life. They fill my heart with real, true happiness.
5. 2016-05-22-16-02-21

High Functioning Depression


She smiles a big bright smile for the entire world to see—

Contagious with her small teeth, goofy laugh and bright eyes.

On the outside her life looks so put together,

Experiencing things that she has spoken of for years,

Manifested the “perfect” life for her soul.

But when she’s alone, she cries—

She cries for the strength to keep going.

She cries for the aching muscles and bones

that never let her rest.

She cries for the money she isn’t making.

She cries for the emptiness in her heart,

For the emptiness in her womb.

She smiles for the love her family gives her.

She smiles for the beautiful sunrises,

outside her window every morning.

She smiles when Momma Moon’s rays beam into her bedroom,

as she lays bathing in the moonlight.

She smiles for manifesting beautiful dreams into reality.

She smiles because at the end of the day

Because she knows it will get better.

She is your neighbor, your sister, your mother, your wife… She strives to be perfect. She makes sure everyone else is taken care of, before she takes care of herself. She puts her needs to the side to make sure yours are met. She hides behind that big bright smile, But she is dealing, every day, with depression. High-functioning depression— the debilitating mood disorder of depression that is suppressed just enough for one to carry out their daily responsibilities and duties.

My heart goes out to anyone with high functioning depression. While being eaten alive on the inside you are able to function enough to do the daily tasks that need to get done. But when its all done and you are alone, you break.

I break.

My Demons Beckon Me

This is beyond terrifying.

And I cannot let down this guard in my mind, the one that is keeping the demons busy, protecting myself from the onslaught of emotion that might be unleashed if I was to let myself fully feel, fully be. But sometimes the breakdown is inevitable. 

 is a lonely, frustrating place. A place that feels like failure, and disappointment, and betrayal. Not only has my mind turned against me, but my body proves to be very unreliable as well.

Please don’t discount my experience or feelings in any way. You cannot speak for me because you know nothing about the world inside my brains. 

It’s lonely. And I hurt. Oh how I hurt. Sometimes I ache for others. For the connection of my soul to another soul. I dream of engaging in sacred devotion with another human being. I want to look into their eyes, really really deep into their eyes, and become moved by the things that move them. And then I could smile.

No barriers. No walls. As vulnerable and exposed to each other as possible. Real people. None of these ugly fake facades that you use to keep yourself from coming too close to me. I long for something real for a change. 

Sometimes the absence of real communication in my life is so profound it feels like my heart will break. Quite often I feel rejected. I must be doing something wrong, be unappealing to this society, for this kind of ignorance to occur. 

Why do they keep giving me these empty promises? I know you really aren’t going to call. I know that you will never show up at my door wearing that ugly, fake smile of yours. I know that here will be no new notifications telling me I have a message from you. From anyone. 

I know: you say it’s not me, it’s you, it’s your life, but I wasn’t always as cut off like this. 

Is it because I’m getting older? Am I not sexy? Do I make you feel uncomfortable? Why is it that people just refuse to even TRY to connect with me?

My heart is breaking. 

And now my demons beckon me. Unfortunately they don’t always play nicely. Sometimes they reduce me to ashes and I’m left shaking, wide-eyed, stripped bare with my soul torn and bleeding. 

But I always learn from my demons. I can’t outrun them. I don’t want to because they have something to teach me. 

I won’t run away from this breakdown. And I am too weak to fight against the meltdown. 

But how can I fix it?

Neither me nor my demons have an answer.

Results Of My Personal Development Assessment


Score: 73

You have achieved a title of CANDLE.

You are a person of great potential! There is a power inside of you that is waiting to come alive! It may not yet have been fully expressed in the world but do not despair because your best days are yet to come!

One thing that would likely serve you very well is to spend time clarifying all that you want in life. Often time people in this category have said things to us like “I’ve struggled at times with self-discipline” or “Some days I’m just not all that motivated.” If you’ve caught yourself saying things like that to yourself then one thing to know for sure is that there is nothing at all “wrong with you.” You were created for greatness and there is a great plan ahead of you.

A great next step for you would be to spend some good time thinking about what it is you really want in your life. We find that most people who think they struggle from a lack of self-discipline aren’t really struggling with that as much as they are struggling with a lack of vision. When we figure out the why we will find the how.

Here is an exercise I created called “The 20 What’s To Find Your Why”.

Another thing for you to be aware of is your surroundings. Without getting to know you personally there is no way to tell for sure, but there is a chance that there are some negative influences close by. If so, it will of course be up to you to determine what action to take but it’s important for you to know that you truly do become who you hang out with. There may be opportunity for you to get plugged in with things like Toastmasters, the local Chamber of Commerce, BNI networking meetings, a great Church, or other groups of people who have positive things to share and teach you.

There was a time in my 20s where I really was struggling. I was about 45 pounds heavier than I am today. I had about $65,000 in personal debt and I felt like I was floundering in my direction in life. One thing that changed it all was making a “decision” about who I was going to become. I sat down one afternoon and wrote out all of the things I wanted to become and what I was going to do. I decided that I was going to make some positive changes in my life and then I started working towards them.

I found that my inner thoughts started to chime in with things like “you’re not good enough to do that”, “what makes you think you could ever do that?”, “you’ve always been like this”, “only other people can do those types of things”, and “you’re not being realistic”. Overcoming those negative thoughts with positive self-talk became a first key focus in my life. I read a book called “What to Say When You Talk To Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter and it taught me how to reverse all those lies.

Then as I got past that and got focused on the big dreams and goals I had just laid out for myself I found that I struggled with procrastination. My fear of failing kept me from starting because the things on my page meant so much to me that I didn’t want to start them until I knew I wouldn’t fail. But that’s not how it works and that’s not what is important.

What matters way more is to focus on The Pendulum Principle of Action from chapter 7 of Take the Stairs, which says “Be relentless about making progress, and at the same time completely free yourself from the demand for perfection.”

Reading other books like Take the Stairs might really bring encouragement to your life. All of the secrets to health, wealth, happiness and success are available in books that cost next to nothing. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews is a great one if you are looking for encouragement. And if you are wanting to get out of debt and learn about money then you absolutely must read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Those books and several othershave made a huge difference in my life.

For you, I believe there is massive greatness available for you to achieve with your life. Know that who you were in the past has nothing to do with who you have to be today. The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your wildest dreams is a decision to do it and then putting in the work to back it up. There is a plan and a hope and future that is waiting for you. Now is the time. You are the person. And the best is yet to come. Time to go to work.

Thank you so, so, so very much for taking the time to fill out The Focused 40 online assessment!! Hopefully you find the information here encouraging. Most of all I hope that we stay connected because as I mentioned in Take the Stairs “success is never owned, it is rented; and the rent is due everyday.” To assist you in that mission I have begun writing a “Daily Discipline Blog Post” just about everyday. It is 2 short paragraphs of insight and inspiration for movers and shakers in the world of business. It includes links to my free weekly podcast as well as to all of my social media profiles. Hope we can stay connected! Find all of that here: www.roryvaden.com/blog
How we score the survey

Score % Grade Title
Over 125 90% A Wildfire
103 to 125 80% B Campfire
85 to 102 70% C Flame
Below 85 60% D Candle

Disclaimer: These are “generalizations” and do not fit everyone to a “T”. They are based on tens of thousands of interviews, surveys and a collective set of personal experiences. They do not determine a person’s ultimate success in life. They are only meant to bring hope and inspiration and clarity to where someone is at for the time being. Most of the ultra-performers of the world have gone through all of these stages at times and bounced back and forth between them at different “seasons” of their life as described in The Harvest Principle of Schedule in Take the Stairs.

Since light focused enough starts a fire then your score on the test represents your ability to start “fires”. In other words the description of your flame represents the intensity (speed and power) of which a person can change their life and the lives of those around them for the better. It represents their own power to spread and influence others in the world.

A highly disciplined person is on fire with passion and energy and naturally extends their reach to cause change in all the world around them. They do things quickly and their actions (not their words) are very loud. There is no containing this person from getting whatever they want and it is difficult to stop them and their team from making a huge mark in the world. They can solve life’s biggest challenges. They can touch the lives of lots of people. They are a Wildfire.

A disciplined person is healthy and happy. They provide heat to those around them and can be big when they want to be although they may have never fully maximized their potential. Typically these folks have the self-awareness to know that they could be bigger then they sometimes are right now. They are often growing and hopefully advancing as they create heightened self-awareness. They could quickly become a Wildfire if they catch a hold of the 1 or 2 right things in their life that will be the pivot point idea allowing them to spread. Oftentimes the only missing element of reaching their true maximum potential is the realization that other people around them are no smarter or more capable than they are. Once they have the realization that they really are capable of achieving anything they put their mind and their discipline too they will spread quickly. Right now they are a Campfire.

A fairly disciplined person has the power inside of them to cause big changes and big results but their own self-criticism, skepticism, or passive nature often keeps them from ever growing to the level they could. They have had signs of brilliance in their life and undoubtedly have massive potential. With a little self-education, maybe a coach, and some more positive influence around them they will become more intense. But for now they are a Flame.

An inconsistently disciplined person may be someone who has had a tough run at things. All of us tend to have “broken hearts” at some point in our lives and it just so happens that right now may be one of those times for this person. A big life change, a traumatic experience ,or the loss of a loved one can sometimes be the underlying root. Chances are that this person is struggling from a lack of vision. They can be supported by developing a clear picture of some inspiring future to work towards. It’s not that they don’t “have” discipline; they do. But their discipline is likely dormant. They don’t’ have to spend more time building discipline though; they have to work harder at clarifying a vision so their discipline will activate and engage and come alive. This person could probably benefit and be developed by being around other people with more energy, focus and self-discipline. They are often influenceable and would probably catch on quickly from being around others to show them the right path but may have never even been exposed to an environment that would help them thrive. There is much hope but for the time being, they are a Candle.


Sometimes all it takes is admitting something to yourself…

An Upturned Soul

drowning by staying there


If no one invites you to dance…

and you would like to dance…

perhaps it’s time you just admitted to yourself that you want to dance and…

either invite someone else (who is probably waiting to be asked just as you were) to dance or just dance and dance alone if needs must.

What’s wrong with dancing alone!?!

Frankly, it’s easier to dance alone (don’t have to worry about stepping on someone’s toes or being in sync with them) and sometimes it’s more fun (you can flail your arms… no one to hit… unless you wanted to hit someone passive-aggressively).

No one ever asks me what my favourite quotes are…

mind you, they probably have and I’ve forgotten that they have.

So, why haven’t they asked me again?

They probably have and…

my memory is sometimes as sharp as something you wish wasn’t that sharp, but at other times…

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