Living In the Incongruent

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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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Be very suspicious of the marketing. Someone once told me that marketing is a lie, that reinforces the lie I tell myself
  5. 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.

Fully Present

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:

  1. Decide today what’s most important to you. Stop kidding yourself and start living what you say
  2. Stop and just be. Start with 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening
  3. Start seeing the insignificant as significant.
  4. Stop allowing the 80% of life trick you into allegiance. This post from a few months back might move you
  5. Stop listening to the marketing. You know what you need to do.

Call on me if you need some help here.

 

Excerpt From the New Book

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!

Children

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:

  1. Do your children know they are loved? Does your home echo the sound of “I love you?”
  2. Do you spend too much time trying to teach, versus listen, to discover and encourage?
  3. Are you modeling behaviors that would produce light or darkness?

 

How Fame Has Ruined the Game of Growth

“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

What Martin Taught Me

Seemed right to re-post this today, for the obvious and the not-so obvious truth that we need courage even more today.

It seems annually, I watch this You Tube clip from 1965 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was taken from a segment of Meet the Press. Dr. King was being interviewed by journalists about events that had occurred in Selma, Alabama. The questions were tough and circumstances of the time even tougher.

So what did Martin teach me?

I don’t know what was going through Dr. King’s mind as he spoke on that Sunday morning news program, but it seemed like he was being carried by something greater than himself. Remember, there were more than a few people who wanted him dead.

Courage is manifested by something greater than ourselves.

Sadly, we live in a time where real courage is often refused. We now manufacture events and circumstances to show our faux-courage. We’ve found a way to manage authentic courage out of our daily lives. Our careers, our parenting, our relationships are often managed to avoid the difficult and daunting.

I find myself thankful for what Martin taught me. The reality that every human being will one day face a crossroads of courageous. It may be small or it may be large. But regardless, no one gets a pass.

The question remains, are we listening to that voice?

What John and Paul Taught Me

I Love You

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

John Lennon

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

St. Paul 

Funny isn’t it? John and St. Paul were right, all those years ago.

So here we live. We are a world of startups, fame, fortune, sex, drugs, and so much more. All of them used to find love and fill up the vacuum left for love alone. I think God intended it to be this way. It’s our endless pursuit for the eternal. Love, nothing else can stand the test of time.

Nothing.

 

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

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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.

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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.