Shalom

Shalom

Shalom – is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility

During this season it’s appropriate to desire peace. Everyone has their own idea of what it is and most everyone lives to find it. I think that’s what makes the holidays so special. We’re actually given room for the pursuit and the experience.

My wife gave me the definition of shalom a few weeks back. It struck me how appropriate and profound, regardless of the season. It describes peace beyond what the word conjures in your head. Shalom moves you to a state of being.

In my journey, the reality of the brevity of life, causes me to value what’s in front and not regret what’s behind. Shalom has made this realistic and true.

I hope this for you, now, and in 2016.

The 5 Levels of Arrogance

photo-1433838552652-f9a46b332c40

This post is about arrogance. Arrogance can be very ugly, but it also can be attractive. I see it as a shape shifter in many ways.

In looking at the 5 Levels of Arrogance (professional, personal, etc.), one thing is clear:

Arrogance is rooted in deep insecurities.

My views are experiential. Your experiences may differ and could come from angle more vast. Regardless, arrogance is a killer. Anyone living in America would have to agree that arrogance is doing just that.

Here’s my experience with the 5 Levels of Arrogance:

  • Childhood-In the earliest level of arrogance, it literally is a childlike thing. A boy or girl is full of energy and opinions. In many ways it’s a calling out to the world. It’s a demand, a protest, a fight to get what is wanted. There is no other way. I guess that’s why we need parents to cool us down, help us realize that regardless of how we feel, the world does not set a course based on our whims.
  • Adolescence-I consider this the age of overreach. The time where things are coming to together mentally, such that you feel no one can tell you anything. You haven’t experienced much, but you’ve read about it or seen it on the screen. You have little patience and admitting your lack of understanding is out of the question. I found this to be a time of proving and openness to what would lie ahead. Funny, how dangerous this time was. The cement begins to be applied.
  • Youth-I define this period as the time you move into adulthood. There can be no doubt that adulthood is where arrogance settles in. The dye is not cast at this point, but roots are certainly formed. Adulthood reveals much about a person. The audience has seen you long enough to form an opinion, create opposition or applaud loudly for what you accomplish. In my case, I had something to prove (perfect son who could do anything). For others, it could be a defining defeat back in adolescence or a bad relationship with a parent in childhood. As I mentioned before, insecurities drive arrogance. Youth is the stage for bringing that out.
  • Mid-Life-This is the level where I was saved/had my uprooting. One of the most defining times, and one of the most painful. As it should be. I got humbled by circumstances and my relationships. Some were expected, some were not. Mid-life is full of crossroads. The crossroads found here range all areas of life. The decision to let the dye cast (I am who I am), willingness to change, choices for the time remaining, all confront in mid-life. No surprise to you, that the term mid-life crisis originates here. I believe this stage is where arrogance becomes fully displayed and rooted.
  • Legacy-Coming to an end always stirs something in us. Whether it’s saying goodbye (even though that happens throughout life) or wrestling with regret, typically there is pause for everyone. At the legacy stage, if arrogance has never been dealt with, regret and ugliness will reign. I’m not a person who believes that it’s impossible to change, I am a realist who knows danger. If arrogance is allowed to remain unaltered, it will be very difficult to turn around.

I was 40 when God uprooted my arrogance. It was one of the best things to ever happen to me. My hope for you is that you find the exit ramp-by force or thoughtful decision.

 

Telling Lies

A re-post from 2010.

tumblr_n9mlpkkAQo1tbxd4lo1_1280

I read once that if you want to get comfortable with telling lies to others, you need to get comfortable with telling lies to yourself.  Kind of chilling when you think about it. I agree with the analogy.

Now what are these self-lies we tell ourselves?  In my case, during my days in the corporate world, it was performance.  For example, if I hit this number I will get an applause at the weekly staff meeting.  I would sit and find myself perspiring and feeling so much adrenaline at the thought of telling my peers how well my group was doing.  The lie I embraced was that age old dysfunction of; “if I do this or that, I will be liked/loved.”  Did my peers like/love me because of my great feats?  No, and if some were of the flattering variety, it never lasted very long.

Telling, and believing, self-lies is a dangerous habit.  Like an awful addiction to any opiate.  You can never find the strength to stop. It can cripple you from finding and leading an Epic Life.  One scary part is found in how many people/messages are out there to fuel the habit. It ends when the habit births regret.

In the end, lies are lies, no way around it.

Lying to oneself is not only confined to the individual.  But creeps into the organizational world too.  Take the large corporation that proclaims, via marketing, that it values the client.  Ironically, though, its client service department can’t even return phone calls in a reasonable fashion.  The organization continues to print materials, hold town hall meetings, format focus groups, but the truth is still the same; valuing a client is more of a fantasy.  And by the way, most loyal clients know this.

So what happens if we start embracing the truth versus the lie?  Here are some outcomes to consider:

  1. We can get down to the business of change-for the better.
  2. We’ll stop blaming the competition, our dads, the economy or some other phantasm for our poor results.
  3. Focus and happiness.
  4. A legacy colored in the brush strokes of love and action.
  5. Freedom!

I’m sure there are more outcomes to list, but the point remains for un to stop the lies.  Our Epic Life/Venture depends on it.

The Fears

nomad

Many of us walk through life posing as brave. This form of brave is not found in daring acts, but in silence and distraction. Think of it as the guy or gal sitting next to you who always seems busy and doesn’t say much, even when they use many words.

America has made it easy to be controlled by our fears. We’re always in a hurry and very rarely go beyond the surface.

The fears are those foreboding events that are highly unlikely to come to pass, but in your head you’re convinced they will.

Maybe you’re fighting, or surrendering to the following:

  • Insecurities have you convinced that you are not worth the success that is rightfully yours
  • You’ve made career an idol and the prospect of failure cripples you from taking risk
  • You’re addicted to something or someone. This is not love or true need. It’s a poor substitute causes fools you into believing a lie
  • You believe every thought and emotion is worthy of your deep attention
  • Like everyone else, you’ve been hurt, so you given up

I throw out the above to let you know that fears are rooted in untruth and in many ways you lose your freedom when you give into them. I also get why we have so many fears; there is a true absence of authentic love and we know it. As I am trekking through my journey, I am focused on God’s love and truth for me. This is essential because I can’t figure out this mad world and my fears are always knocking at the door.

I also fight, and I fight hard. That’s the only proven strategy, after getting the God-part in place.Life is not designed for the timid and the victim. If you haven’t noticed lately, life is tough.

The End of Hurry

norwaytunnel

I spent a lot of years being in a hurry. As I look back, I wonder what for. Learning is about the only thing.

I’ve found the end of hurry.

In my twenties, it felt like being a dog where your master is immaturity. I ran from, and to, thing after thing. I was full of anger, energy and arrogance. There was some tenderness and compassion. My wife was the one who brought those two things out. I honestly think she felt sorry for me in all of my storms.

In my thirties, I was still in a hurry. In this frame I saw things to be conquered and possessed. I had my eye on what was to be found over the horizon. I started to hear more friends and advisors say things like; “be here now” and “take time to reflect.” I wasn’t having any of it, at least in my behavior. I was at war, the tale of two Eric’s.

In my forties (now and coming to a close), I discovered how precious time is. Certainly, the reality of what’s left dawned on me. The more important awakening was:

  • About 20% of each day is where the gold is found. This is the stuff I put intense energy and effort into. The other 80% won’t be remembered or represent any true value in the end, and the end matters because you don’t know when it will be. Here’s the trick of it, God gives each of us something beautiful to discover (God, music, relationships, wine, a starlit night) every day. It’s not obvious to the person in a hurry and most of the time they miss it. When you find it (that 20%) the intensity of the moment lasts a lifetime. It is happiness, it is joy, it was what I was looking for. By the way, it really found me.
  • Yoga, yes yoga, grabbed me in an unexpected way. The movements and the wonderful breathes slowed me down and centered me. No exercise has meant more in my journey.
  • Wine taught me to linger. I don’t know anyone who gulps wine. As I started drinking wine for the health benefits, I found an added benefit of slowing down and enjoying my dinners and the accompanying wines. I didn’t realize what a life lesson it would bring me. Wine whispers to me to linger and slow down.

So, are you in a hurry?

Elephants in the Room

https://

I had the pleasure and honor to shoot a part in Elephants in the Room a few months back. The trailer is above.

I’ll let you check out the trailer to learn more, but the subject matter is so timely and relevant. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to check out the full length when it hits full release.

Your Moments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Got this from a friend. It was a response to a note I sent him regarding staying in your moments.

Thanks Eric. Great timing.

Last Sunday, my wife and I were resting after a long day of splitting wood and stacking. We were sitting in our garage just talking when we heard a loud ‘pop’ and then a sliding sound.

We walked to the entrance of our garage to look out toward the road (our front yard is 100 meters long and spotted with mature trees) to see if we could see what made the sound.

We saw a truck stopping with two people getting out and hurrying toward our driveway entrance. We also saw something else on the ground, but couldn’t make it out.

We ran up to the entrance to find that an elderly couple had a motorcycle wreck on our road. Their rear tire had blown and they were thrown from the bike, hit pavement, and then slid into our yard. The bike was still in the road, and the husband was holding his wife in our ditch, propped up on her side to prevent her from drowning in the massive amount of blood that was pouring from her nose and mouth. She was unconscious and non-responsive, but breathing (difficultly).

I called 911 and ran to the house for towels and water. My wife was with the other people that had witnessed the wreck and they were calling all of the family members of the two as the driver of the bike told them where their phones were.

Once the two ambulances, two fire trucks, four state troopers arrived, they moved the husband away from his wife and proceeded to work on her. Life flight was then called and moments later, a helicopter was landing in my neighbor’s yard to fly both of them to a nearby trauma center.

This lasted for several hours. They worked on the woman for a while before flying her to Dayton and the man suffered a broken hip and broken shoulder.

I couldn’t help but think when it was all done how the day must have started for those two. They woke to a beautifully sunny day with perfect temperatures and no clouds in the sky. They must have said to one another “let’s go ride around and enjoy this picture perfect day and feel the wind on our faces and be together.” They were 5 miles from home and were headed there to end the evening…..only to have it end in tragedy.

I watched family members rush to the scene and express a variety of emotions; anger, sadness, fear, calm. I felt emotional as I thought of my wife and how I would react if I were holding her knowing it may be the last time I am allowed. The emptiness that it would create.

The woman died on Tuesday evening. She was in a coma, and they cut away her skull to help with the swelling of the brain, but it was too much for her system and she passed.

I will be taking some time to hug my family more and to pray to God and thank him for the ‘now’, because we don’t know what the future, short or long, will hold.

The Fractured Man

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Teddy Roosevelt

I am a fractured man. I have multiple scars and limps from battles lost, and won. All of these are forming every day. The forming of:

  • Empathy
  • Love
  • Humility
  • Focus
  • Contentment

The fractured men and women I’ve known are full of clarity. They see no point in pretense and posing. They understand that life is a limited time offer. This is only known when a human comes in touch with the brink (death, business failure, relationship loss, and more). Each time I’ve been in the position of looking at the brink, I’m reminded of the futility of thinking I have control. The story will never cede its authority.

I used to see the process of fracturing as unwelcome visitors. I discovered some time ago that these visitors are friends designed to bring me to a form of completeness.

In the age we live in, my words are contrarian and not talked about. Everything is about winning, typically at all costs. You would think life is just a big contest with all the glory at the end. I wish we paid more attention to the input, the blood, the sweat. It could make a big difference.

 

Comfort

“I don’t know who I am because I’m too busy living what I’m expected to be.”

The quote above came to me not so long ago. It was born out of a conversation.

If you walk long enough you might see a trend. In your work, your church, your family there is an unspoken system at work. I don’t mean to be observant, but comfort is a fashionable drug.

Here’s where I’m going:

  • Race through life to get to somewhere. A somewhere someone has already been
  • See work as all-important and surrender identity
  • Have faith in a tomorrow that you’re not able to guarantee
  • Succeed at the unimportant, while failing at what matters
  • Lie to yourself, over and over until it has an appearance of truth

Comfort is a funny thing. It allows you to hide, defend and fold. Your ability to displace comfort for the sake of your epic life, is a daunting task. It is especially daunting if you’ve made friends or peace with it.

If today is your “aha moment,” then move in such a way to turn around.

Courage

Courage is following Your path, even though the odds favor failure. It is unwavering, even when a decision seems to make no sense.

Careful consideration is needed when living in an age of surrender and compromise.