What Life Delivers

The post in italics below was originally written in 2009. I recall that year as being a tough one. As of late, I’ve been recalling the words from 2009. Some of the areas from that time have resolved and some are ongoing. I know the importance of my preparation and response. Both of those are key when faced with the good and bad of life.

In my current frame, I am faced with:

My alignment with God’s call and my growth in EQ have added to my sustainment and happiness. Again, this is about preparation and responding as life delivers what it delivers.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– Shakespeare

As I wrote some time ago, I have been doing more thinking than writing lately.  One of the things I’ve been pondering is the idea of what one wants from life-specifically what I’ve wanted.

I’ve also been thinking about what I’ve gotten, and what I did in response to the result.

The following are some specifics:

  1. I wanted my dad to be around longer for me to fully appreciate our relationship.  Regardless, he passed on unexpectedly and a large comma was placed in my life.  I am relying on the vision God gave me to work through this time.  A type of vision that says: “I don’t know how this all will work out, but I trust, even in my deepest blues, that it will.”
  2. I wanted a linear path in my entrepreneur pursuits.  It has been anything but linear.  I have rolled with it and learned to embrace my disappointments as I do my successes.  Most importantly, things don’t need to look like I thought they would in order to be the “right thing.”
  3. I wanted certain people to stick with me.  Those that took off were only with me for the ride.  As a result, I redefined what friendship really means.
  4. I wanted a great career.  I lost my career and found my life.  I am most grateful for this…I can breathe.
  5. I wanted to get everything right with my family.  In the last three years, I’ve gotten much wrong. I learned  that needing forgiveness creates the art of forgiving.

How Much Do You Invest?

How much do you invest in your life? How much time and money do you spend on life?

It has been said that Lebron James spends over seven figures on his physical health. Not astounding, considering the shape he’s in and the amount of money he makes. In the end, it’s a lot of money. His physical life must be important to him.

How about you?

First, don’t make the mistake of thinking that only the rich and famous can invest in their lives. Everything, is relative, for the rich and the poor. What matters is your commitment to life. This really is about mindset and what you choose to do. Every successful person knows this. What is ironic, at least in America, is we put little value on life. This is further compounded by our over-valuing of money, celebrity, physical appearance, career, and more. Don’t get me wrong, most talk a good game, but the numbers don’t lie. We’re advancing in areas that are, on the face, good. But we’re retreating in the areas of life that are vital.

Considering that life is a limited-time offer, you would think we’d “get after it.” Maybe we really have bought the ocean-front property in Wyoming. I hope you will consider investing more of your resources in your life. Maybe like:

If you need more clarity on the above examples, reach out to me.

 

Identity and Career

Rare is the man or woman who can walk with graceful indifference to their career. I once had a music teacher advise me to learn all the theory I could, and then forget it.

Be the best you can be in your craft and then let it go. Really.

Identity and career are two parts of life that should never meet. If they do, it can be lethal, and very difficult to separate. A career can take over and leave true identity on life support. I speak from experience. It takes a long time to regain, or replace, what you lose.

I’ve found these dangers in the mixing of identity and career:

  • Quiet resignation. This occurs when we get older or have been at something for a while. The lie we tell ourselves is “we’re in too deep, and it could be worse.”
  • The high. It feels good in the moment, so we desire the thrill. We enjoy being seduced by flattery and accomplishment. Nothing quite like being the one to watch.
  • The ghost of our father. This one is so subtle. We watched a man, or a woman, toss away life for not much in the end. That script then becomes our own.
  • The payback. Somewhere we got wounded and the chip appeared. This is the closet sociopath coming out to wreck the place.
  • The false obligation. We pull out all the noble reasons for staying. “I have a mortgage, I have my kid’s college education.” It’s as if we think we’ll be excused for our fear in the end.

The choice is mine, the choice is yours. We have to remember that career is a great dance when the identity is kept separate. The challenge is found in living in a culture that values the opposite.

The Passage

I wrote this almost 4 years ago. My passage has changed, but this is still a relevant topic for many.

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“Eric, as a friend and colleague I have witnessed the roller coaster ride you have had over the past number of years —a ride that has provided you with great information on many levels.  Your life’s work has been more clearly defined for you as you experienced the passages that accompany authenticity, clarity and openness to the world.  Purpose, Passion and Paycheck are a great combo if you can make it happen.  For me the road, passage to this desire has been filled with the “moving ahead sideways” effect.  I think I have finally found the combo in perfect combination. What I can tell you is that for me—it was my friends, mentors, coaches and a spiritual advisor who helped me the most.  I moved from intellectually actualizing to a deeper and more satisfying place of authenticity about who I really am —this led to life being easier—and with that the choices became clear. I wish you the best in your continual pursuit—and hope you can find peace with all of this.”

The above note came my way a couple of weeks ago. I’ve held onto it tightly. It is informing my passage to the new.

Where we’re at now, at least in the American culture, most things are measured by winning and losing. I guess it’s no surprise that we worship competitive sports. The winning and losing I’m referring to is related to material and visual success. I, like many, fell for the deception of how many likes, how many followers, how many page views, and the biggest of them all, how’s your business doing.

The crazy part for me is found in the initial motivation for doing what I do. I didn’t start Epic Living as a vehicle for a great business venture. I was motivated to reach people and introduce them to their Epic life. That’s it, still is.

Somewhere along the way, I got off track.

In this world we have the realities of bills, family needs, and work in general. It’s just the way it is. I started to demanding Epic Living to be what it couldn’t be. I started being the old corporate sales guy who knew how to create major ROI. Some may say, why not? Well, GM sales a lot of cars, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. Understand me clearly, making money on your art is not wrong or bad. The problem arises when it needs marketing to breathe and survive. I speak from my experience only here.

So what to do? I’ve slowly been moving toward a different mindset and model. The one from the beginning. It may mean separating what I do for money from what I do as a mission. That will be hard. I’m finally at peace with going with the current, instead of fighting it. In the end, I know what I’ve been called to do. Didn’t always do a good job at embracing it, but I understand now.

The passage for me is found in 2 things:

  1. The thoughts I’ve been given flowing to you
  2. A fixed focus on tools (writing, video, speaking, etc.) that communicate #1
  3. Saying goodbye to everything else

 

What Shapes You

mary-poppins

Recently my wife and I discussed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks. I was reminded of how surprised I was by the story and the film itself. It really got me to thinking about what shapes you as a person, over a lifetime. If you are not familiar with the story behind P.L. Travers and her character Mary Poppins, you can read this article for more.

Much of who I am was shaped by my childhood.

During my childhood, I had a father who drank to excess, suffered the neglect that goes with substance abuse, saw things that today are still difficult to write about, and witnessed an event that left a permanent mark. I know many of you have your own stories as well.

What’s most important here, though, is how Ms. Travers was shaped and how it produced such great work. It’s ironic how her great pain produced such great work. I found myself, as I watched the film, feeling like I was watching my own movie.

Much of what I have created, has been born from my pain and wounds.

In my one-on-one work with people, I use a process designed to help them look over their lives to find the pain and the wounds. This can be difficult work. Many are the walking wounded, and they’ve taken the path of “medicating” or just looking to escape. My great mission is to help people deal with what often they would prefer to ignore. I understand this and carry empathy for the great struggle many are facing. American culture has not helped. Our ever-increasing desire for entertainment, medication, and status are fierce animals.

Much of what I do is motivated by mission.

PL Travers found an outlet for some of what hurt. Her work has made a lot of children and adults happy. In the end, that counts for much. I don’t know if she was truly whole before the race was over, but maybe that happens on the eternity side.

Do you know what shapes you?

 

What Temptation Looks Like

All of us have, and will, come face to face with temptation. If all of your cylinders are firing, you’re facing temptation daily. My post is not a sermon on good and evil, though the two have a part to play. I really want the focus to be on what temptation looks like and how it plays out to our harm.

The idea of temptation is found in moving in a direction that will ultimately cause harm-great or small. Temptation is also subtle and unique in the beginning. Which is why so many fail the test come exam time.

The following are some areas that temptation shows up in:

  • Career
  • Physical Health
  • Marriage
  • Emotions
  • Learning

Think for a moment. Do any of the areas connect for you? Are you in the midst of giving in now?

I’m not going to give a topic-by-topic breakdown, just a general process to understand and resist what may be tempting you.

Every temptation begins with subtlety and seeming innocence. The subtlety usually appears in a quiet and calm persona. It could be a person or situation. In my case, there was a time where I encountered both. I was rising at a heady (at least it felt that way) clip in my career. On one occasion I had a conversation over lunch with someone I admired and trusted. He told me I was a part of the group of young executives that would be asked to take the helm at the next level, when the current leadership retired. I remember stopping (in my head) and reviewing his opinion. It sounded great and he was in a position to know, so why not take what he said as fact? At the same moment the reason side of me kicked in. Questions like; “do I even want to be the next thing” and “are you giving in to flattery?” ran through my mind. In the end, I allowed my reason to win the day and deflected the conversation into the wind.

I’ve also had situations where I gave into temptation. This is a tough one to write. I had been given advice over the years to listen to my wife. Not as an obedience thing, but as a good source of wisdom and intuition. I remember vividly a time where my wife warned me about a venture I was pursuing. The venture seemed sound, and ripe for success. She didn’t feel good about it and wanted me to pass on the opportunity. I faced a crossroads. Would I listen to her sound advice or push forward with my plans (one thing you should be aware of is the power ego plays in these scenarios)? In this case, I gave into the temptation my ego laid out. It cost me dearly.

Notice the subtlety and innocence in my two situations? I look back and can understand the subtlety of my thoughts and the innocence of seemingly good things/opportunities.

The end goal of temptation is to lull you and give you a false sense of reality. Voices like the following come next:

  • “Try it once and see”
  • “Everyone tells you how talented you are”
  • “You may never get this chance again”
  • “You can’t say no, they need you”
  • “I should be as successful as he/she is”

Again, maybe you’re in the midst of deciding whether you will pay heed to temptation or resist. I wrote this post for you and for me because there’s so much evidence of how better life is when you don’t give in.

If you would like more help with this topic, reach out to me directly.

 

The Intact Soul

The intact soul is what most everyone says they want. For definition purposes, the soul I am referring to is best described as your essence/core person. When my dad passed away 9 years ago, it was his essence/core person I missed. It was him. I think you can feel me now.

The intact soul is under assault. The assault comes from multiple angles:

  • The employer who tells you, in varied ways, to check your soul at the door for the purposes of conforming and duplication
  • The church who tells you, God, is watching and out to get you
  • The educators who stifle your creativity
  • The body politic who corrupts and thinks you don’t know what’s going on
  • The culture that passes the fake for the authentic

To have an intact soul, you must be vigilant and protective. The vigilant part is made up of long-term thinking. Having a long-term view is the equivalent of understanding that we grow up over time-a lifetime. Like all development, it doesn’t happen immediately, it isn’t like a search on Google. It is a mosaic full of pain, joy, frustration, and satisfaction. The idea of protection is rooted around not letting those examples above to have sway in your life. I’ve had multiple times in my life where I had to tell an employer, loved one, or social media channel that enough was enough. It requires courage, maybe more than you think you have. In the end, your soul demands you stand up and fight.

Here are some strategies I’ve exercised to have an intact soul:

Practice contentment-my life has been a story of times of plenty and times of want. Like anyone else, I prefer plenty over want. The lessons of ebb and flow are powerful. I now appreciate all things because all things contribute to my intact soul. It wasn’t always this way. I can remember my corporate America days as a time of grasping for control and being motivated by fear. I naively thought I could control the stock option grants and the business cycle. I naively thought I would lose everything if I lost my grand role. Both control and fear appear to deceive.

Be fearless-this one is big, considering what I’ve written and the reality of fear in our time. Take any traumatic event and you’ll see what fear can do. I’ve advised clients and those close to me to identify their greatest fears and begin working on becoming fearless. Becoming fearless is the process of looking “that thing” in the eye, over and over. Just keep at it, and eventually you’ll see “that thing” for what it really is. By the way, no one is perfect here. Practice and attention strengthen our ability to stand up and fight. The funny thing about fighting is not the winning or losing, it’s about letting your fear know you won’t fold.

Pursue success in life-I don’t need to list all the ways we’re messaged to be successful. There’s the messaging around career success, the messaging around relationship success, the messaging around material (the stuff) success, and the list goes on. Ironically, there is some messaging around success in life, but it is often much softer in decibel than the others. The great tragedy is; we will need success in life when we realize we’re not invincible. If we don’t get this one right, regret and disappointment await.

If you’ve stayed with me long enough, you might think what I’m proposing is daunting. It’s not daunting, but it is hard work. When I look back over my life, I can feel the minor and major notes. The beauty is both led me to an intact soul.

Reach out to me to learn more about how I can help further.

 

 

Truth-Telling

In many ways, truth-telling has gotten me in trouble. In the end, as I look back, it ended up for the good of the person across from me. Truth-telling is not always easy. In many situations, it has the potential of hurting the hearer or creating separation.

In the age we live in we’ve made three major mistakes:

  1. We have made truth a matter of interpretation. In other words, the truth is in the eyes of the beholder
  2. We have allowed our emotions to overrun reason. It seems that reason has been permanently exiled
  3. We are motivated by our fears

I’m making a case for truth-telling because I know the benefits. If the people closest to me had shied away from it, I would be lost in my own delusions. Often we’re very good at deluding ourselves.

I want to be very clear that truth-telling is an art. It involves love, timing and a strong grasp of the situation underpinning the conversation. If the person delivering the truth is ill-equipped or oblivious to this, the truth will be a source of harm. As you can imagine, it’s vital to seek truth from those you trust.

The following are some truths I’ve had to communicate recently:

  • “You’re smart and have a good heart. The mistake you made was allowing him to take advantage of your kindness.”
  • “He won’t give up the drugs because he doesn’t want to. When he wants to be whole, he will make the decision to own his problems.”
  • “I appreciate the desire to make things better. However, having more meetings to discuss what has been discussed to the point of nausea is a waste of everyone’s time.”
  • “I’m so sorry. I know that had to hurt you deeply. What can I do to help you?”
  • “No one owes you anything. You have been given the responsibility for your life. If you don’t like where you’re at, then begin the process of making a change.”

I haven’t perfected the art of truth-telling. I’m better at it than I was ten years ago, and I have a long way to go. It’s clear to me what happens if I fail to attempt truth-telling; I will fail myself and those who count on me.