I know my worth. I’ve paid dearly for every ounce of it.


Some days, life feels like all that you have struggled for, all that you have put your energy into, has ignored you. It may arise out of moments in which you are working harder than ever before for diminishing returns.

Or a specific key conversation with someone goes wrong. You find yourself overlooked for something you have counted on. Or you have an expectation of someone or some organization that does not go as expected. 

Those are the days that today’s aphorism must be stored in your metaphorical hip pocket. Those are the days that you have to seek your own validation because there is nothing in your hemisphere that is going to empower you. All of your empowerment has to come from within.

I picked this aphorism for today because it is Friday the 13th. A day that was put into my mind at an early age as being the unlucky day. Eight years ago, I was scheduled on a Friday the 13th to retake my black belt test. I had failed my first test for black belt because I broke my focus when some kid’s kindly grandmother smiled at me during my forms. I do not know why it happened, but I missed a beat and all that hard work had been lost. It was a fail. And failure is not an option in my life. So it was a hard pill to swallow. My instructor made me work an additional 4 months before he would let me take the test again. So I worked ever harder, turning my 3rd degree red belt into almost pink because of all the sweat I poured into making sure I was black belt material. Finally, Mr. Gyro told me I could retest on Friday the 13th. 

I would be lying if I said that the weird date did not spook me a bit. And, as fate would have it, it was not a positive day at the office either, we had some setbacks and my mind was reconciling them, while working to stay in the focus to get ready to test. I sat in the parking lot eating a black licorice and listening to Stairway to Heaven live from the Song Remains the Same concert (a ritual for my black belt exam) and I had one last thought before I went in to take this most important of exams.

“Maybe Friday the 13th is the luckiest day of the year for me! I have worked my ass off to get here. I know everything there is to know. So the only thing that is going to keep me from getting there is me.” I got focused, went in and tested. I got to the end of the test, and knew I had passed and once again, amnesia kept me from remembering I would need to break a 1” piece of pine at the end. We got to that moment and I was wasted. Drenched in sweat, exhaustion, set off by the joy in knowing I had finally gotten there. When he called me up and told me I was going to break this board with an elbow strike, I did not even think twice about it. He held the board, instructed how this strike would work (I had never tried this before) and when he nodded his head, my forearm smashed right through that pine and knocked both halves out of his hands.

Life tries to beat the crap out of you. Know your worth. You have paid dearly for every ounce of it.

Go out and make things happen.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!