The Fears

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Untangling the Identity

Considering my post from yesterday, I thought it appropriate to put this one out again.

 

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Identity is one of the best barometers of who a person really is. It defines us even if we deny or look the other way. When the world in which we live starts defining us, the tangles begin.

Key in my story is the untangling of my identity.

Much of the tangles in my identity came from performance and a craving for affirmation. I’ll spare you and this page of all of what and where it came from. I want to use this time to talk about untangling identity and its next door neighbor, the real you/me.

In many ways we, grow tangles. They’re very much like weeds. The seed germinates, the stalk appears and the leaves sprout. Instead of wrapping around a big tree, it goes to our heart. It seduces and flatters. Before you know it you have a problem.

What if the world you run in celebrates the tangles?

It’s such a subtle play. The most dangerous situations are often this way. The decisions seem right, no one questions (or you stay away from anyone who would question) and you find yourself a co-conspirator in your own demise. You’re successful by some measures. You don’t disrupt much of anything. You are a model for many.

I began getting untangled when I was crushed underneath many of my decisions from years ago. Decisions I made with no one holding a gun to my head. Just me and my stuff. When the untangling began, I felt horrible and ashamed. However, over time I could see glimpses of what an untangled life could be. In many ways, something needed to be pruned in and out of me. It was a process of throwing stuff into the fire, engaging in serious self-discipline, recognizing the difference between what I can control versus what I can’t, and allowing God to have full access to my heart. Thankfully, I never lost my soul in the process.

The following ideas are key:

  • I have to be me in all areas of life, not versions of myself in different arenas
  • Don’t be so hard on myself
  • Recognize that it’s not ok for me to get my breakthroughs, and watch others struggle. Offer help
  • Think about legacy every day
  • Stay away from anyone or anything that desires to own me

Today my identity is pretty clean. Many years have gone into the process. Certainly, there will always be a need to be on guard and always recognize, and do something about, my areas of weakness. It is an ongoing battleIt’s a little difficult sometimes for me to see how beauty can come out of my past tangles. Fortunately, I don’t need to see in full right now. Think of the Polaroid snapshot here, it develops over time.

Succeeding in What Matters

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”Francis Chan

The above quote came from a friend of mine. It is sobering and provoking.

Here’s what I did with it:

  • I looked back and reflected on my pursuits
  • I made a list of my successes and lined them up in two different categories (what matters and what doesn’t). I have changed a lot
  • I was impacted by the second chances given
  • When I considered the quote, I could make sense of my journey over a good ten years of living
  • Life is a story, I’m leaning into it. Happy or sad, I’m leaning in

You should make discovering what maters your greatest priority. Please know too, many will not encourage you to succeed in what matters. It’s a crazy irony that often we’re encouraged to pursue what ends in the meaningless.

Work and Employee Happiness

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Most organizations, these days, are speaking the language of happiness. For some entities it’s just talk, for others a striving everyday.

Employee happiness and engagement are connected. Maybe it’s obvious for you. I come from a view that says your company is not responsible for your happiness. Only you can own that. Whether it’s changing roles, transferring geographically or firing your boss with your feet, it still comes back to you.

Why are so many employees unhappy?

My answers:

Employees make choices that lead to unhappiness. On the whole, we live unbalanced and incongruent lives. The unbalance is found in our willingness to pour mind, body and soul into one area of life, while ignoring another. See the work versus family civil war, many are fighting right now. As someone who used to value my work over my family, it is a civil war. The incongruent part is the BS we tell the world. For example, “family is number one for me.” Nobody is perfect, but if you know you haven’t lived this out in over two years, you’re living incongruently. These are the recipes for unhappiness.

Employers foster unhappiness by the conditions their employees work under. Here’s the deal, if you are a CEO and you expect an employee to get excited about the stock price or last quarter’s earnings, you need a straight-jacket. Happiness and engagement happen when there is a great mission to achieve, something beautiful to create or a dangerous problem to solve. Without those, most will leave, or worse, die and stay.

Employees have defined happiness incorrectly. For me, happiness is fluid. It’s not a genie to be captured in a bottle. If you would have looked at my life yesterday, I would have been 90% happy and 10% unhappy. Those numbers don’t make me special, I just chose to be happy 90% of the day. I chose to be unhappy too. I think many are too fixated on happiness. Like life, happiness is not an arrival point. If we look at happiness as fluid, we’ll be better able to handle the stuff of life. Maybe we’ll find that moments of unhappiness are not the end of the world.

Employers are living in the past. Organizing your company like the industrial revolution happened last year is a disaster. Most employees live life in and around the 21st century. It frustrates the hell out of them when they’re treated like an assembly line worker or treated as if they’re a 4th grader.

In the end, every employer has an agenda. It may be a fit for you, or not. Either way happiness is your animal to wrestle with.