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.

What Time Hasn’t Taken

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“Love is stronger than death.”

Solomon

I’ve lived long enough to have lost some things. The list includes people, careers, health, and more. Probably true for you as well. The reality of loss is not an age-related thing, though our culture still sells the BS of loss is for the older crowd.

I value what I’ve lost.

I hear Joni Mitchell in my head singing “well somethings lost and somethings gained in living everyday.” Our best remedy is the art of reflection and being. The consequence of reflecting and being, is you can’t be so distracted and doing in life. You better get this one down, your life, and its quality, might depend on it.

Hear’s what time hasn’t taken from me:

Love

In all of life’s losses and heartbreaks, love remains. Whether I’ve fallen, chosen or awakened to, love has remained. That poem at the beginning is true, not even death. How can that be? I’ve had my moments of wondering, but the truth remains. When love enters you it never leaves. The colors and brush strokes may vary and change, but love never leaves.

It’s mysterious and beautiful.

I Don’t Know

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It’s clear we like to know where we’re going. The idea of mystery, question marks and pure unknowns disturbs us.

The statement of “I don’t know” can be liberating.

Many won’t go there. We’ve been duped into believing that we have control, can master anything we set our minds to, or there is a solution for every problem. Terry Walling once wrote that the best leaders know how to live with the questions. As tough as that is to swallow and live, I agree, from my own experience. There’s something about moving forward without an answer. There’s something inspiring about moving forward without knowing (exactly) where you’re going. I’ve had so many twists and turns over the last ten years, I’ve come to a peace about the dance. It is life.

In America and other parts of the world, we’re trying to keep the status quo and be innovative at the same time. It doesn’t work. We want to find talent, but we don’t want to get too close to our gut instincts. We want to give advice on employee wellbeing, but don’t want change the structure. Many organizations turn to data and technology to replace what only a human can do. It’s almost like a throwing up the hands approach. When the robots take over, then I’ll bow down to the alter of data. It’s really just a mask anyway, for those who can’t look into your soul, or their own. Data and technology is mostly a spice or flavoring. The human is the main ingredient. Always has, always will be. 

Am I advocating dumping research into the cures for cancer or diabetes? Am I saying data won’t help the talent recruiter make better decisions? In no way do I believe that. However, anything used to make up for our intellectual laziness and discipline will only be a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I think we need more of doing what we know we need to do, instead of analyzing endless data/excuses.

Here’s how to start embracing your “I don’t know:”

  • Understand that being in a place where you don’t have an answer is not an indictment of your intelligence. Anyone who condemns you for your I don’t know is an insecure…you know the right words
  • Understand we live in the age of titles, certifications, etc., the truth is found in the pursuit and not an outcome with a label
  • I don’t know leads to knowing. It’s a sad irony how we miss the boat here. By the way, companies like Google are looking for this in the people they hire
  • A full and vibrant life is found in those able to embrace the unknown.
  • Surround yourself with people who are on a similar journey. It will keep you strong in a faux world

 

Acceptance and Will

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“The hardest thing about really seeing and really hearing is when you have to do something about what you have seen and heard.” – Frederick Buechner

 

There are times, crucial times, in our lives when we have to stand strong in acceptance and allow our will to take over. The trick is found in how prepared we are. As you know, preparation is found in the sun and in the rain.

Do you know anyone who lives their life not to see the rain? Their endless pursuit is to avoid difficulties. I, like you, wouldn’t sign up for rain. However, it is inevitable to experience what hurts.

I see the sun and rain as equal, but different. Both are designed to shape who you are and who you will be. That’s why it’s so important to prepare in both situations. If we see the sun as good, and rain as bad, then we’ll become addicted to one and avoid the other like a plague. I know from experience this is true. Enter acceptance and will. The acceptance is found in seeing things, people, situations, etc., as real. The will is found in going through it to find the beauty on the other side. My father’s passing, marital struggles, walking away from corporate America, raising kids, all are examples for me. Notice the sun and rain in my list?

As we navigate the different conditions of life, I want you to understand the world we live in is shallow (no depth) and deceptive. Years can unfurl on us and we wonder what just happened. Prepare your art of acceptance and will.

 

My Top Ten Finds in 2015

The following are my top ten finds in 2015, so far:

  1. Personality differences between entrepreneurs and employees –http://read.bi/1vOZdQ6
  2. The stability trap – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stability-trap-carmen-medina
  3. Why telemedicine’s time has finally come – http://onforb.es/17EawVP
  4. World’s most romantic cities – http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/worlds-most-romantic-cities/25
  5. Building the chest through exercise – http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/anarchy-chest-workout
  6. Risks leading to reward – http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243061
  7. Jazz vs. Symphony – http://on.bcg.com/1hi5LVj
  8. Will Uber make your job obsolete – http://cnn.it/1FumHQf
  9. Academic economics, strengths and weaknesses – http://bit.ly/1HOwfGS
  10. Lack of sleep and Alzheimer’s – http://bit.ly/1CVmdUh

 

ARS DUCENDI

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I can’t think of a more abused/overused word than “leadership.”  So few practice well the ARS DUCENDI (latin for the art of leadership).  Seems like we should shy away from using it.  But, alas, this post isn’t about how to remove a word from our modern lexicon.

I’ve come to a point in my life where I believe that the “art” of leadership is found in integration and balance.  Show me a man or woman who integrates and applies balance to their lives, and I’ll show you someone who understands what true leadership is.  They may not have a title, may not have a corner office, may not rake in tons of dough, but they know and live the art of leadership.

The integration part is when the leader sees all areas of life (eight in my view) as important and therefore worth the time and work needed.  It would be easy here to anoint then as a superhero/heroine.  In a culture like ours (America in my case) we see these folks as superhuman and worthy of worship.  This is a fatal mistake.  We should never allow any human to live out our destiny for us.  As rhetorical as that statement sounds, many people are on the sidelines, content to let someone else play their role.  As you have heard before, only you can be you.

The balance part is a thing of beauty.  I consider it the knowing when to and when not to.  Miles Davis was brilliant at this from a musical standpoint.  He seemed to know that the music was inside him and he needed to get out of the way so that it could flow out.  Balance is found when you know the context and you live accordingly.  For example, you know you’ve hit the point of diminishing return in the workday and your daughter is nudging you to communicate.  You want to tackle one more email, but there she is.  At this point, those who practice balance know it’s time to shut the work down and inject themselves into the life of their daughter.  Like Miles, you get out of the way.

It’s time for you to start your version of ARS DUCENDI.  You can’t ignore it and expect to have a life you want.  Fools have tried and find themselves in the sad state of regret.