Worry In Life’s Classroom:
In my last post, there was only a title and a blank page. In a clever (so I thought) way I wanted to communicate that worry has taught me nothing. This is not entirely true.
In the end, worry has truly been a horrible teacher. If worry were a class, seminar or talk, I would go the other way. Alas, worry has been the cause of so much of my mental stress. I don’t like to think about how much of my lifetime has been sucked away by it.
In many ways worry is like fear, it must be managed. The discipline is a daily activity. Life happens and the elements are what they are. In the age of the Monkey Mind, so much comes at us. Here are some examples from my yesterday:
- My son’s physical condition is unstable again
- Did the audience get what I was writing
- Why is that issue such a big deal to them, when it’s not me
- Will the report reveal something I don’t want to know
- I feel like I’m being manipulated
I could go on, but I think you get it. So, how did I manage those animals. It’s a blend of preparation and in-the-moment actions. The preparation comes in slowing down, practicing mindfulness daily, seeking God’s face, and knowing that life is not supposed to be easy. The “in-the-moment” actions are born out of emotional intelligence. The understanding that not every emotion and thought is to be held on to. An active letting go is key here. Absent of these, I would be a wreck.
Everyone has difficulties at work, tensions at home, disappointing health news, are all going to happen. You should expect the what comes your way because it will. America is ripe of people trying to numb and medicate their way around. The numb and medicate approach only makes it worse, for you and those around you. We were designed to go through, not around our potential worries. If you mange your worries, you will lead to a contented life.
The Age of Fear
In many ways we live in an age where fear is the driving motivator for so many. It’s crippling, it’s debilitating, and I can fill in the blank with many other descriptors. I really believe that fear is the force that blocks us from coming to what is truly our destiny.
I met with the client yesterday whom I described the idea of why fear blocks.
Imagine if you’re brought to a place where there are five doors. And each of those five doors has your name written on it maybe even your destiny. The only thing is each of the five doors have a wild animal in the very front of it this wild animal appears to be there to protect that door and keep you away from it. In this case, the animal represents your fear. It is a block. However, the wild animal continues to rage and it seems like as every second goes by the raging becomes louder and louder. You then begin to take in all that surrounds you and you begin the self conversation that so many of us have. The conversation of; “can I trust that this is real. What if I make this decision to go forward and this animal tears me apart. I don’t think I want to do this.”
In each of these situations you’re confronted with a crossroads. Many people at this point move themselves to the other side and go on about their life. They go on with the drone economy. And the drone economy is truly a place where people just put their heads down. The name of the game is to do something over and over until the game is over. See the idea of retirement here. There will be two types of responses. You either go through and fight through that wild beast your fear, or you’ll turn around and travel the road that leads to regret. The reality is those five doors, and those wild animals, represent the essence of living. Mark Twain was right when he wrote; “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”
Destiny and Fear
Often times we are sold the idea that destiny can be grasped and kept in a neat little box. The reality is far from that. Destiny can be found, but it can’t be captured for our personal drives. Thankfully, it pulls and directs. In the end, this is something that every person will face.
In my own life right now I am facing the door that has a wild animal, and maybe the wildest animal I’ve ever encountered. I have decided that I’m going to go ahead and move forward and fight my fear. Fortunately for me, I’ve had the other five doors before. I understand the dynamic. The interesting thing is every fear is different. Every theory requires a different set of perseverance. So there’s no easy answer and there is no silver bullet. There is only the answer of going forward and moving to what you’re supposed to be, what you’re supposed to be doing.
I’ve spent a lot of time communicating the importance of stopping and looking around. The path to finding the moments, and moments are gifts, if we stop and look around.
How many gifts do you think you’re given every day?
The truth is, we miss many of the gifts because we’re overlooking them to get to the next thing. It’s a mad world when our sole focus is on the next promotion, the next love affair the next great feat that’ll make us loved. I know the power of mindfulness intimately, the power of stopping and being in a moment, goes beyond worn-out marketing slogans and worn-out company initiatives to solve problems that can’t be solved corporately. What I’m speaking to is remembering that we only have a certain amount of time in a lifetime. It’s up to us as to what we embrace and what we ignore.
Before I go into writing about the five reasons to stop and look around, I want to remind you that there’s repetition in the way I approach the subject the way I do. I believe we’re in a war for our gifts because it’s almost as if we have forces that seek to destroy what moments we have. The fight is vitally important and what comes within it.
Let’s look at the five reasons to stop and look around:
- Slow down and breathe. Great things occur when we slow down and find our breath meter. Taking time to do this will give room for reflection. The maddening rush of the world around us the continually messages us to grab more, take more and conquer more. Slowing down is a key, instead.
- Determine what’s really most important to you. I stress really because many of us are professional in lying to ourselves. We’re connecting back to slowing down here. The idea that we’ve got to establish what is most important and be courageous to commit. Are you willing to be allegiant to what’s most important, in a way that my actions can be measured?
- Get some people around you that can keep you accountable. These people don’t buy your self-BS. They are not willing to just take your word for it. These folks deal in the real, with love.
- Stop the maddening pursuit of retirement income, work/career and whatever else that preoccupies. I’m not indicting the aforementioned, just the maddening pursuit. The truth is, at least in America, it’s delusional now. We’ve given working/ career and retirement way too much of our attention. For example, how do you know what 65 is gonna look like? Many have lost what they love because they killed themselves pursuing wind.
- Get over yourself. That’s right, stop making you the center of the universe. You do realize that the focus on getting you balanced is so there can be light behind you. A brilliant light is the aim. A wise mentor told me not too long ago, “Eric, you have to give yourself away, like Jesus did.” By the way, you’ll get more in return by doing it. It’s counterintuitive (the reason many refuse) and it’s beautiful.
Positioning to stop and look around is key to finding true meaning. Why not let yourself be found?
In the last month I suffered an injury to my left Achilles and it’s compromised my ability to run and do some other types of exercise I normally do. A few years ago I started doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) and it has made a measurable difference in my exercise habits. Much of the inspiration has come from the work of Dr. Doug McGuff. I found him by way of Peak Fitness. He was the catalyst for taking a new approach to HIIT.
I had tried Dr. Mcguff’s process with weights before, but I never tried it with full commitment. Funny how an injury can get your attention. Dr. McGuff calls his approach with weights, Super Slow. You can click here to review the transcript of an interview with Dr. McGuff where he discusses in detail his methodology and the science behind it. I just started this program about two weeks ago and I’m noticing that many of the indications he gives in his interview are true.
Dr. McGuff’s approach is that you’re going to do high intensity interval training not more than two times per week, at 15 minutes a session. When I first read about this it made me scratch my head. However, I’ve never had more of an intense workout than using this type of HIIT. Dr. McGuff has also written a book on the subject, titled Body by Science. As noted above, I’m early on, but at this point it’s kind of undeniable to me. Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour Body is another source to look at on the subject. Dr. McGuff consulted on the content with Tim as well.
I will keep you updated on my progress and certainly I hope to it some point recover from this Achilles issue. I do want to continue my running at some level. This current frame has taught me that variety is best in exercise because things change, as they always do. HIIT is a great process to meet the changes head on.
As I progress through life, I am more aware of the trade-offs each day brings. When I look at my calendar, when I reflect on my thoughts or when I consider a business opportunity. Regardless of the situation, a trade is made in everything. Like you, I want to be pleased by what I trade. I apply this to today and tomorrow.
In my younger days I thought I was made of steel. I still feel really strong. I now pause and consider my choices more carefully. My margin for error has changed. I’ve found an interesting correlation between feeling like a man of steel and ignoring life’s trade offs; comfort.
Comfort is worshipped in many parts of the world. America is a leader in this type of worship. I’m not against comfort, I just see it as something to be careful with. Change never comes through comfort, no matter how much we delude ourselves.I even introduce discomfort for the purpose of keeping myself on a healthy razor’s edge. For example, I practice muscle confusion in my exercise plans. This is not revolutionary, but it helps my mind stay focused on growth and not on what feels “familiar.”
It’s a daily battle and it doesn’t happen naturally.
I highly recommend you give careful consideration to the trade-offs in the following areas of life:
- Relationships-Is what you’re pursuing more important than your relationships?
- Business and Career-Is the move into something bigger, more important than the space you operate in now?
- Physical and Mental Wellbeing-Is trading the quality of your physical and mental wellbeing worth compromising, in the end?
- Spirituality-Is your spirituality only a passing thought?
- Learning-Is what you’re doing supported by something that will last, like learning?
Each of the above will require something from you, make sure you can live with the transaction.
Are you living in the incongruent?
Some years ago, my life was full of incongruent statements and values. I could quickly tell you how important God was to me, and then find myself obsessing over a business meeting yet to come. The irony was not many could call me out on it. The credit for that was found in my “Oscar-worthy” performances. Before you give me credit for my acting skills, you’re probably the same. Americans are especially good at self-deception.
Eventually, if you want something better, you’ll need to hang up your thespian ways and the incongruent values attached. The threat is we don’t have as much time as we think we do. Floating from thing to thing doesn’t grant you more time. Nor will the deceptions of our age. The marketing messages won’t support your highest aspirations here either. As a matter of fact, those messages may tell you to keep at it, or worse, convince you of the great loss in turning around. I speak from experience.
I have found great value in the following:
- Embrace failure like success. By no means do I think you should seek failure, but when it comes (it will) give it full embrace. Learning and grit follows this
- Slow down and find your breath. A nod here to mindfulness and prayer. The only way you can be who you want to be is to slow down and find it, or be found in my case
- Find someone who isn’t afraid to call you out. Typically, this person is not impressed by you, doesn’t want or need your money and is a truth teller with love motivating
- Be very suspicious of the marketing. Someone once told me that marketing is a lie, that reinforces the lie I tell myself
- Get exposure to things, ideas, that are outside of your comfort. You won’t change in your comfort. No reason to…
My eyes are wide open and the road ahead is shorter than the road behind me. I’d like you to join me, wherever you may be found, and live true, not incongruent.
Are you fully present?
The above question could be the most exposing question of our time. Let’s be real; we live in the age of distractions. It’s no surprise that we even rationalize the distractions. Ever told someone you love to wait a minute, all the while, you’re busy scanning a social media site. Being fully present is a rarity amongst rarities.
What does it mean to be fully present?
To be fully present is to have faith. This kind of faith stands and says the moment in front is the most important moment ever. You might be questioning with some skepticism. Maybe you’re thinking what my son told me this week; “I don’t have time.” As it is for him, so it is for you. You have plenty of time. The question is what are you doing with it.
In my times of reflection, I can see and feel what it means to be so distracted as to not remember that feeling. The feeling like this morning when I could hear the rain and the birds singing in harmony. So many pursuits can get in the way of being present. We jump from experience to experience hoping that something will last. We hope something will hold up under the raging storm inside.
We miss the beauty right before our eyes. If only we would slow down and hold the look.
Here are a some tips on becoming fully present:
- Decide today what’s most important to you. Stop kidding yourself and start living what you say
- Stop and just be. Start with 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening
- Start seeing the insignificant as significant.
- Stop allowing the 80% of life trick you into allegiance. This post from a few months back might move you
- Stop listening to the marketing. You know what you need to do.
Call on me if you need some help here.
As I get closer to finishing my second book, I wanted to share an excerpt. I’ll save the details around the concept/premise of the book. The working title is;; Stop for a Moment: 60 Seconds to Look Around and Find What Matters Most.
Look for a late summer, early fall release. Enjoy!
Eileen and I had been married for over 7 years before we had our first child. As is it is with life, some of that was planned, and some was not. We weren’t entirely sold on being parents in the beginning, so we decided to wait a few years. As the years passed, we began to feel the longing. We both figured it would be an immediate thing. It was not an immediate thing. We waited 3 ½ years before Lauren arrived. The process of waiting, medical testing and feelings of doubt was tough.
I stopped giving advice on parenting after our first. Especially, since I felt so ill-equipped to be a father. Later on you realize most parents feel this way. It was tough for me. My dad was the only model for human fatherhood and he never said much to me, so I felt alone to figure it out. Fortunately, my relationship with God helped immensely. One thing was clear then, and now, there is no such thing as a perfect parent.
After my son was born in late 2001, I started realizing the power of influence. I came to understand that often your kid’s behavior and view of the world is heavily based on what they see in you. That’s one of the biggest reasons I value forgiveness. You never know how important forgiveness is until you do something that you deeply regret. I’ve had many lessons in this area.
As my kids are now in their teens, I’ve discovered the need to let them know I’m listening. I make sure to verbalize my feelings for them, and to let them know that I pray for them everyday. I may miss the boat on college planning or a homework assignment, but they will know how important they are to me in the areas that matter most.
Questions to Think About:
- Do your children know they are loved? Does your home echo the sound of “I love you?”
- Do you spend too much time trying to teach, versus listen, to discover and encourage?
- Are you modeling behaviors that would produce light or darkness?
“Depth of soul can never be measured by the eyes.”
– Author Unknown
Is the depth of soul important as you seek to grow a life and career? Does fame poison the journey? Yes, on both fronts.
Depth of soul is non-negotiable, unless you prefer to hang with the shallow crowd. Besides, who wakes up in the morning looking forward to a day of engaging with the shallow. Fame can be poisonous if not handled well, and keep in-mind that fame is relative. If you work in a 3 story building, fame is attainable amongst the group.
In the media (new and old) age we live in we’ve been seduced into believing that fame is something to grasp. Even those who won’t admit it long for the attention. Maybe it’s the feeling of false validation that comes when people know “who you are.” Which, by the way, is such a contradictory idea.
We forget that fame is a cost of doing business and not a barometer of how good we are in the game we play. Not to mention the trade that occurs in the pursuit. You can’t have it all.
Here some ways fame has ruined the game of growth:
- In the old media days you needed to know what you were good at. Fame in the new media world says; “everyone’s invited”
- We bought the lie that the famous are as wonderful as an airbrush can create. We connect without knowing anything about personhood
- Fame made us long for comfort, which is a mortal blow to a life of growth
- We didn’t learn from the teacher named rejection
- Fame convinced us to seek validation from the applause
- Fame, like money, caused us to become slaves, not masters