10 Things I’ve Learned from Marriage

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It seemed like the right time (just my mood I guess) to right this post about the 10 things I've learned from marriage. This list is could be longer, but I recognize I only have you for so long.

Here we go:

  1. It goes by fast, so I value the now and the memories.
  2. Your not as smart and "together" as you think you are.
  3. When times get tough, there is no greater a friend to have.
  4. Marriage has kept me from drowning in my own blues.
  5. One person can make a difference like no one ever before.
  6. Marriage is not, nor will ever be, a 50/50 proposition. I have needed more than her 50 percent on more occasions than I care to admit.
  7. It's the hardest and most rewarding work I've ever been involved in.
  8. The art of commitment.
  9. Falling in Love can go on and on and on and…
  10. Marriage is the riskest venture I've ever undertaken. It's taught me about the reward and the loss that are inevitable in life.

The Problem with Busy

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I live in a community that has many families.  I think the last number I saw it was around 80-85% families.  Last night I took a step back and looked around a room of parents and wondered if anyone could look back on their day and find something meaningful (a mark left so that world would know you were alive and contributed) poured out?  Busyness is often a mask to hide our lack of purpose and happiness.  Despite that, I really believe most want purpose and meaningful pursuits.

One of the areas of opposition is living in an age where we've defined "leaving a mark" down and we've elevated busyness as our substitute.  In many ways we feel that a long list of activities produces substance.  It doesn't.  Enter stage left the mask of hypocrites.  We're great actors and actresses.  Giving the appearance that all is well and under control.  We even have calendars to prove it and make it so.  The problem with busy is it wears you down and out.  The scary part is found in our belief that the alternative (quality, focused priorities, meaningful work) is not an option.

Look around you, how has all this busyness benefited us?

I'm not here to define what should be meaningful in your life.  That's your job to tackle.  But here's an acid test to try at the end of your day today:

    The things i participated in today were meaningful because_________.

For some help, see my definitions of meaningful:

  •     Saying I love you consistently
  •     Time alone with God
  •     Laughter
  •     Helping my children answer the tough questions
  •     Being authentic
  •     Embacing nature
  •     Physical exercise
  •     Family dinners
  •     Encouraging people through Epic Living (the work within the org.)
  •     Managing and integrating what I value most into my daily existence

The Hard Choice

Daily, we all face a multitude of choices. Human nature drives us to the easy ones. Defining moments are found in the hard choice. You know, the one you'd rather not do or would rather ignore.

The problem is really on the front-side pain. The initial struggle and dislike associated. Many lose out on their dreams by giving into their fear and avoidance.

It would be great if there were a voice telling us "it's ok, the pain is worth it." The truth is we do-in one form or another.

The listening and doing part is the crux. 

Pulling Back the Curtain

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"When you pull back the curtain, you'll realize that you can only play someone else's role for so long."

    -Author Unknown

When I read the above quote it made me think of our institutionalized game of acting. Daniel Day-Lewis and George Clooney may have one an Oscar, but they have nothing on you and I. It's a daily prayer and daily fight for me, to be the role I've been given.

The world we live in today embraces the imitation.

I really believe it's an institutionalized epidemic, this "playing someone else's role" thing. We have all the illusions to show for it to. Consider the following:

  • We've turned Love into a game of chase and feelings. Few understand the cost of loving and how hard the work is. Most relationships (even the best ones) go by quickly. You have one shot, it will include heartache and it will cost you something. The cool part is when we're all in, it is a key to really being alive. Have you stopped to consider the commitment required in loving? 
  • We say we know that money can't make us happy, but we live like the addict who says they're gonna stop this time. Inevitably, the pull is too great and they go back to what is killing them. Do you realize that money has no emotion and no possible way to connect to your longings? Don't be fooled by the initial "hit" or "euphoria." Only you can make you happy.
  • We're wired to dream, but we kill, and allow others, to kill our dreams. This may be the saddest situation of all because our time is so limited and we don't get a do-over. No flip advice here and just know that every dream we kill shortens our time. Don't believe me? Look around your workplace, house of worship, neighborhood, and you'll see many who are alive, but walking dead.

So what's the answer?

I'll leave it with my experience:

    I made my life, and the One who gave it, central in all that I do. When life becomes central you become liberated to play the role only you can truly play. It will also protect you from the above bullet points. Every time I've allowed other things (career, money, relationships, etc.) to become central, trouble was never too far behind. An insidious type of trouble where even those you think care, will allow you to walk right into the traps.

You can also count on the most wonderful and confounding truth of difficulty and happiness intermingled to create a life worth living. I say this because I'm at a place now where I'm a bit confused about what's next. Ironic or not, this confounding truth is shaping and preparing me. So I accept and know that I am playing the role only I can play.

Output and Input

A post from 2008 that I got to thinking about this week. To this day, I'm struck by the silence on the input side of things.

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It's easy to get excited by the output of one's work.  In many ways, a leader can feel a sense of justification for what's flowing from their perspective tributary. 

If you connect with glowing about your output, then you could be missing something vital.  You could be missing the input.

Here's why you might not think, or like to think about, you input:

  • The input part is the hard work of your endeavor.
  • The input part is the pain of your endeavor.
  • The input part is the fears you've dealt with in the journey.
  • The input part is the hope within your heart.
  • The input part is the sense of destiny you feel deep inside.

There are times I still have to look away from my own "inputs."  But we must look and examine what has gone into what has been produced.   

There are some valuable benefits to embracing the input: 

  • It will keep you from thinking your management style is a 10.
  • It will humble you and bring a sense of thankfulness.
  • It will redefine how you define success.  You'll discover that the journey is where the gold is.  Think about a marvelous road trip and what you see along the way.  The destination can never compare.
  • It will help you know who really digs you.  People who are for you are the ones that have time for you when no one can see the tangible (fame, wealth, influence, etc.) benefits of the output.
  • The world will smile at the thought of you because embracing input implies an inside-out approach.

The input is the gold found in our lives.  Ironic how our age worships output instead.  Some longing for meaning I suppose.

Corporate Madness

Corporate madness is a malady that often goes untreated. We are paying a price for this.

I wrote last week about the dangers around the status quo. I have been struck over the last few weeks of the madness within the corporate world around this. It's as if hope has replaced the action of fixing what will eventually kill. Hope has turned into do-nothing.

By the way, the one with the best and biggest retirement package does not win. Never has, never will.

The erosion continues.

Does Your Corporate Team Look Like Urban Meyer’s?

Since the Buckeyes kicked-off their season last weekend, I wanted to re-post this again.

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I live on a planet where Urban Meyer is the head coach for the Ohio State University Buckeyes football team. To say that people around here are excited would be an understatement. They see him as a winner (2 national championships) and someone who will do many great things for the program. Reasonable thinking would say that's the right view. But this post isn't about collegiate football. It's about your company/organization.

Does your corporate team look like Urban's?

I'm amazed at how many senior leaders virtually worship coaches and sports teams like OSU, and yet structure their teams in way that is contrary to the winning principles of those people and organizations. And before you say the two are different, think of how many times a senior leader, marketing dept., HR uses the word "team." 

I know you can't duplicate exactly the model of a football team, but think about the following:

  • Every football team (pro included) has a coaching staff. They also have managers, but they're usually the ones responsible for making sure the Gatorade tanks are full.
  • Every football team practices. This doesn't happen at an event for two days or when a course shows up in their email inbox.
  • Every football team makes it a priority to be in game shape. This includes physical, mental and emotional.
  • Every football team makes it a priority to know their competition.
  • Every football team strives for a goal that is much bigger than the individuals who comprise the team.

Wouldn't it be cool to see an organization structure themselves like a real team? Where the fruit of a real team comes alive. Think of all the stakeholders who would benefit in this kind of structure. Think of how much more sense corporate life would make.

If there are any senior leaders or corporate boards out there who see this as complete nonsense, then how about getting rid of the the word team? A little honesty would go a long way here. 

Leadership and the Social Media Frenzy

Wrote this a few years ago, regarding leadership and the social media frenzy, and it still has relevance today.

I'm all-in on the trends created by social media.  This is natural because of my involvement (passion and revenue) in it.  Lois Kelly reminds us though, of how some elements are timeless-leadership and change.  You can read her post here.

If were a poor leader before the social media frenzy, then you're probably still a poor leader.  The way that changes is when you do something relating to your heart.  Anything less is a waste of time, and you don't have as much of that as you think.

I am encouraged by quality leaders who went into the social media arena strong, but are now stronger for the tools (Twitter, blogs, etc.) found there.

Which category do you fall into?  The answer will be an awakening-either way.