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.

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

Painter's brushstroke

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.

 

The Shift From Arrogance to Humility

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The shift from arrogance to humility should not be a take it or leave it process. Far too often, the two opposing mindsets have been relegated to personality test outcomes or to individual behaviors. We all know the two have far reaching impact on multiple areas of life. Like the following:

  • Family
  • Customers
  • Co-workers
  • Performance (business and personal
  • Community

Most businesses (large and small) are afraid to tackle arrogance and humility. The pendulum either swings to enablement of the arrogant, or swings to not feeling comfortable with the “touchy, feely” of humility. When an organization refuses to deal, they run to distractions. Typically, meetings and over-thinking financial performance are du jour.

I am a man who has gone (still going) through the shift from arrogance to humility. I’ve grappled with regret, sadness, embarrassment, and more regarding this. It’s very hard work and the sooner you do it the better. I’ve even had the 3 AM visits, from above, reminding me of things I thought were buried and unknown to others. Maybe you have too.

I decided awhile ago to allow God to change me so that I can be like the sun, not gray and overcast. I couldn’t change myself. Arrogance, like humility, begins with a seed, moves to the roots, and then evidence in the form of a plant. Seeing a field of plants was too daunting and intimidating to change. Besides, even with the self-loathing, I also built a place of comfort, It was something I knew how to be. This quote from Jony Ive reveals how subtle this battle can be:

“I remember talking to Steve Jobs and asked why he was perceived as harsh. And I said couldn’t we be more moderate? And he said why? And I said, because I care about the team. And he said: “No Jony, you’re just really vain. You just want people to like you. I’m surprised at you, because I thought you really held the work up as the most important and not how you are perceived by people. People misunderstand Steve because he was so focused.”

Remember, there’s a lot on the line here. I’m choosing to shift. How about you?

The BS Culture and Me

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I’m thankful for my friends who’ve had the courage to call me on my BS. The was done out of love and a keen sense on their part that something wasn’t right. In the last 10 years I’ve been recovering from the habit. I’m sure my time in corporate America, insecurities and a fear of being the “real” me contributed to all the posing. I see it for what it is now. I hate it!

Two strong conclusions leap out. One, we live in a BS culture. Two, if we don’t do a gut check everyday (yes, everyday), we’ll become that BS culture.

Some people who know me on the surface, might be surprised by the above. They know my acting, not who I really am. Fortunately, BS rears its head less and less these days, so don’t worry, I’m the boy you see now.

So what’s so urgent about the problem? Time, and time is running out for all of us. Some of the most outwardly successful people personify the problem. They act as if tomorrow is an eternity away. Most would never dare call them on it either, let alone walk the other way. A sick form of enablement. Often we close our eyes and pretend to only hear and see certain things. Most are willing to look the other way if it means getting what they came for. In America, that usually means a title, an investment account or who they know. It’s a cold reality we live in.

I only woke up, and learned (still learning) how to live differently, when I lost all my stage props and the interest of the culture. Imagine going to an audition and thinking you had one more good line for the director. Only to find, God was the only in attendance. With me, He only wanted to talk about where the real Eric was. I used to walk out, but then my life unravelled to a point where I had nowhere else I could go.

It was the best place for me, I could breathe.

Why Men Don’t Value Women

Considering where we’re at in America (the world too) today, I felt moved to put this post from 2010 out again. I’m still learning…

Hospital sisters picnic beside the Katherine River, Northern Territory / Arthur Groom

I’ve been thinking lately about what we value and what we don’t.  This is important because our values do define our lives.

For example, if your career is what you value most, then everything (I mean everything) will be second to that.  I’m not writing to judge, just stating a reality.  It’s ironic how little values are considered in our current age.

The above brings me to why men (significant numbers) don’t value their women.  I know this post might generate some scathing comments, but I speak as a recovering jerk in the area of valuing my wife and her motherhood.

I worked, as many readers/subscribers know, in corporate America for many years.  The majority of that was at a senior level.  And yes, I drank the kool-aid, participated in the rah, rah sessions and terminated the employment of people who were deemed disposable.  I was paid well and thought (at times) my path was only going to get better.

During this time my wife gave up her career to raise our two children.  This decision was mutually agreed upon.  The idea of her being the primary care-giver seemed like the right thing to do.  To this day, I would say our children are the better for this decision.

But along the way I began to see our roles as separate and equal.  She took care of things at home and I took care of things career related.  There were times when we’d share the burdens, but I thought little about her struggles and work load.  After all, I saw it as her role/job.  The “taking things for granted” process settled in.

Many times she would call me at the office to vent or seek affirmation.  I gave her words, but not my heart.  Life went on, money was made and security (perceived) became the normal.  We lived this way for almost ten years, and then things changed.  My wife went back to work and corporate America said goodbye to me.   I became a man who did many different things (author, consultant and stay-at-home dad).  All of sudden the world looked strange.  For example, work on the book manuscript and make sure my son got to preschool.  Ironically, after about six months, I found myself longing for affirmation and encouragement from my wife for all of my hard work at home.  I felt like a man exposed by his ghosts.

I don’t claim that my experiences are unique or more important than other men.  But here are the reasons why many men don’t value their wives or motherhood:

  1. As men we are taught early on that money makes the world go round and you’d better work hard to get it.  Therefore, making money becomes part of our root system.  Like a tenacious weed.
  2. We assign roles without understanding or caring.  I made so many assumptions without taking the time to understand my wife’s greatest needs.
  3. We’re too busy (cop-out) to give the attention where it’s needed.  We decide that our wives are fine in our mind, and then we just move on.
  4. We don’t evaluate the magnitude of motherhood.  We don’t consider what our wives went through to carry and birth a child, let alone be the primary caregiver.
  5. Being a wife and mother doesn’t, in form, produce money.  Assigning value becomes tough and we just take it for granted.  If wives and mothers started being paid for what they deal with, we’d probably stand-up and take notice.  But it would be too late to applaud then.

The Eric that walked the halls of corporate America is dead.  The post-corporate America Eric is learning how to live and has been given a chance to be remade.  It’s very difficult to live differently.  But I have found a life worth living-Epic if I may so.

Dehumanizing the Employee

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In my last post, I rang the bell about the gap between human development and the advancements of technology. The disharmony is evident to many. Within the large and mid-market organizations, there is another disturbing trend afoot. We are witnessing the dehumanization of the employee.

Dehumanizing the employee occurs as many employers are looking to advance efficiency and innovation. It’s a false belief that those twins can move human development the way technology does with automation or research.

One area worth looking at is the process many organizations use to hire talent. Keep in mind that the talent is made up of flesh and blood. I realize this can also be a source of real frustration for those in talent recruitment. Technology has convinced many senior leaders that vast problems are solved in the hands of inventive software.

The idea of using screening software has a place. However, it’s proven, the folly of hiring based on keywords. The old saying, “we hired your resume, but what we got was you” is on mark here. More critical thinking in this spot is what we need. Seems like that would remedy the incongruent state of the talent recruitment processes.

So the dehumanizing continues. What do we do now that the horses are out of the gate?

  • Put on your big boy pants or big girl skirt, and be a leader with integrity and vigor
  • Change the culture. This is not for the faint of heart, but if you do the first bullet it will increase the odds in your favor
  • Stop listening to the marketing
  • Trust only those who’ve been hurt deeply. They will be honest and real
  • Close it down, quit, move on, if that’s what it takes. Better to live to fight another, than die while still breathing

Ed, You and Me

I watched the above short this past Sunday. It’s a story about Ed, you and me.

I recommend you take 10 minutes to absorb. Just watch and listen, you won’t regret it.

In the days ahead, I will explain why this story struck a powerful chord in my soul. I’ll also explain why we all have something(s) in common with Ed.

Blind Spots

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Arrogance produces blind spots. Think of the farmer here, he/she plants the seed, and in the not so distant future there is a crop. The only difference is blind spots are nearly invisible to the human being possessing arrogance.

This is one dangerous game.

Often those who are arrogant pride themselves in having much figured out. There’s no room for not being right. To be wrong is to be less than. Each interaction is fueled by this drive, not to mention the deep insecurities that plagues.

I am a former member of the above tribe. I endeavor everyday to see things as they really are, even if I can’t figure it all out. Some days are misses, and somedays I live out the truth. No matter the outcomes, I know I can’t allow the seed of arrogance to take root. If I don’t stay committed, the blind spots will look like this:

  • I will believe that I have a right to justice. Not the justice from a civic point of view, but from a human relationship perspective
  • I will believe that I am untouchable, even though rationally I know this can never be
  • I will believe my possessions, accomplishments and titles are validations of my point of view
  • I will believe people are a means to an end
  • I will awaken one day and find I am truly alone, and no remedy will be near.

What are your blind spots?