What’s In Your Head?

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What’s in your head may be totally wrong.

The above statement may make you shrug your shoulders, as you think I’ve grasped something so obvious.

I had a conversation with a client today who relayed multiple stories of leaders who continued to rely on the faulty data roaming around in their heads. It was clear to him that much was missing and much could go wrong on multiple projects. As I’m sure you can imagine, big plans and tight deadlines were the drivers.

I asked him whether these leaders lived inside their own heads. I proceeded to explain why our own thought processes can deceive us. I pointed out that our thought processes have a tendency to be reliant on self and past accomplishments. You’ve experienced this before. A smart person who has been told how smart they are, with success to show for it, typically is not accepting of contrary opinion or advice. Who needs it when you’ve pretty much figured out the riddle of life and work.

People from all walks of life are interesting in how they apply thoughtful analysis, or critical thinking. My coaching client saw an example at work of how very smart people can fall into the trap of leaning on their own mental capabilities. Much of it is a pick and choose proposition. What if you were told by their doctor to come back annually for a test, you’d say of course they will make the appointment without missing a beat. Isn’t it ironic how you can rationalize not doing it. Recognize these sentences:

  • “I have to complete this project, and then I will…”
  • “I feel great and I’m not in any pain.”
  • “I don’t think it’s as serious as he told me it was.”

It really is arrogance-covert or overt. Arrogant people often have the biggest blind sides. Once again, relying only on information that fits what’s in their head. It took me years to turn around on this front.

Why Fear Blocks You

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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.

5 Reasons to Stop and Look Around

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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?

The Trade

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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.

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.

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?

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 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.