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.

My Parenting Goal

My parenting goal is pretty simple:

Inspire my children to be who they were created to be and go live accordingly.

Of course, there are other goals, but this one seems to rise to the top. In a season of graduations and college planning one needs to get pretty singular.

The irony of my stated goal is found in the opposition each of my children face every day. For example:

  • The school system where I live is fixated on testing. It runs from state testing to the ACT. Heaven forbid, they don’t do well on these. The stress and anxiety can be downright sad. Especially since very little meaning in life has ever come from a pass, fail or score
  • Our culture has thrown out meaningful self-care (nutrition, stress management, physical exercise, and on) as an important habit to practice
  • Distraction is blocking the ability to embrace our 5 senses and the power found within

I could list other things, but I think you feel me here.

In my family, inspiration is the keyword. My children have been watching me for a long time. That reality is daunting. The conclusion is a parent’s influence is greater than the “system,” for the good in this case.

An Update on Me

Much has happened since my last post. Here’s an update on me:

  1. I’ve been seeing a counselor/psychologist since March. Finding and working with him, has helped me immensely. The work we’re doing together is producing clarity, crossroads and breakthrough. I will reveal more in the coming weeks
  2. I found out, personally, how dangerous stress can be. In my case, it was about carrying too much of it. Working with a counselor has helped. I also have had to be more “on-purpose” with self-care (exercise, time with God, mindfulness, etc.). One of the negative impacts coming out for me was my blood sugar levels (diabetes related). In my last check-up, my levels were the highest they’d been in 20 years. My doctor pointed to stress. She also expressed her confidence in my turn around as well. The idea that I would do something about my state. It was sobering to find out that many of her patients stay in the “tangles” and don’t come out.
  3. The new book is going through cover-design and formatting. It should be available for pre-order soon. This period of my life has made me more grateful for the gift of writing.
  4. I’ve learned, and learning, that not everyone can be allowed to continue on the journey. This includes those you love. For me, maybe it’s temporary, or it could be permanent. This is tough work. You want the person to stay, but they won’t let go of things that will only lead to heartbreak. My Rubicon.

I’m sure there is more to tell, but I’ll stop here. Stay well.

Getting Help

Getting help is a term we all are familiar with. The words inspire empathy, care and concern. Those sentiments can turn to surprise and fear, when the help is related to mental wellbeing. The subject has so many connotations.

I’m currently looking into therapy-for me.

The Strong One

Throughout my life, I’ve been perceived as the “strong one.” I could withstand what many would crumble under. Part of the perception is true. I have seen a lot and endured most of it. My relationship with God has helped. Until 2017, I would have thought I had a sound game plan.

By way of suggestion, here are some of the tools in my game plan:

  • Relationship with God
  • Yoga
  • Laughter
  • Music
  • Good Nutrition
  • Mindfulness

It’s not that any of my tools for managing my mental health have failed me. My shift is rooted in needing another tool. Strength is revealed in our weakness.

The Circumstances

As I noted in my last post, I’m fighting on multiple fronts. What I’m fighting is not out of the ordinary. Many of you probably have or are feeling me right now. The point is it’s a fight, and if you want to win/survive, you have to do something. I’m choosing to get help in a way I could have used almost forty-years ago. Better late than never seems like a fitting statement here.

The Stigma

I’m pleasantly surprised that getting help with mental wellbeing isn’t causing “stigma.” One key for me is knowing who really cares about me. If you’re walking, or thinking about walking, in my shoes. I would really get this one locked down. The people who love you will encourage and support. It’s that simple. Those who associate getting help, with stigma, don’t matter. In the big picture of your soul.

The Next Page

Stay tuned…

Looking Back

My absence here is an obvious and I hope my return is a welcomed fragrance for you. I wanted to give you an update, by way of this post, on looking back on 2016.

Things in my life unraveled a bit, mid-to-late 2016. It really produced silence in me. My life has been marked with extended times of silence. Sorry for this, but the majority of my time is spent listening. Writing in this blog is usually the recipient of the blow. One resounding positive in my chaos was the completion of my second book (manuscript). I’m am thankful about its forming. More to come on the book’s release. Promise.

So what’s gone on? Why the looking back? Well, it seems like the following made an impromptu appearance:

  • Crohn’s disease in my son
  • Alzheimer’s in my mother-in-law
  • Multiple job changes for my wife
  • Moving my mother and nephew into our home
  • Teen challenges (if you have teens, you feel me)
  • Me becoming the managing partner of our household

The above issues, sorrows, challenges have shown me a few things:

Preparation is Everything, Even When You Don’t Know It

In many ways, life is a laboratory. A place of experiments and discoveries. It also a place of deep pain with all that comes after. I can’t imagine if my mind was only focused on me and my interests (happiness, pleasure, acclaim, and more). The exercise analogy is so applicable here. If you don’t work on building strength, you won’t have any when you need it most. This reality sticks with me. I have to note as well, life can also sucker punch you. Sometimes the preparation is what helps you when you’re picking yourself off the ground.

God is a Constant

If you’ve read, or know me personally, this blog for a while you know my faith. When I look back, I see the constant of my relationship with him. No religion, no theatrics and no judgement. He’s just there. I need the “there.”

Giving is Key

A wise mentor told me in 2016 to give myself away. I took his advice, in the beginning, as a business move. Doing it in business would be fine, but I had no idea how it would apply to life and to those I love. I’ve been giving myself away, even when my energy was ebbing. The only reason I can find is; I have to. A good place.

 

What I’ve Really Learned Most From Worry

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Worry In Life’s Classroom:

In my last post, there was only a title and a blank page. In a clever (so I thought) way I wanted to communicate that worry has taught me nothing. This is not entirely true.

In the end, worry has truly been a horrible teacher. If worry were a class, seminar or talk, I would go the other way. Alas, worry has been the cause of so much of my mental stress. I don’t like to think about how much of my lifetime has been sucked away by it.

In many ways worry is like fear, it must be managed. The discipline is a daily activity. Life happens and the elements are what they are. In the age of the Monkey Mind, so much comes at us. Here are some examples from my yesterday:

  • My son’s physical condition is unstable again
  • Did the audience get what I was writing
  • Why is that issue such a big deal to them, when it’s not me
  • Will the report reveal something I don’t want to know
  • I feel like I’m being manipulated

I could go on, but I think you get it. So, how did I manage those animals. It’s a blend of preparation and in-the-moment actions. The preparation comes in slowing down, practicing mindfulness daily, seeking God’s face, and knowing that life is not supposed to be easy. The “in-the-moment” actions are born out of emotional intelligence. The understanding that not every emotion and thought is to be held on to. An active letting go is key here. Absent of these, I would be a wreck.

Everyone has difficulties at work, tensions at home, disappointing health news, are all going to happen. You should expect the what comes your way because it will. America is ripe of people trying to numb and medicate their way around. The numb and medicate approach only makes it worse, for you and those around you. We were designed to go through, not around our potential worries. If you mange your worries, you will lead to a contented life.

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.

A New Approach to HIIT

In the last month I suffered an injury to my left Achilles and it’s compromised my ability to run and do some other types of exercise I normally do. A few years ago I started doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) and it has made a measurable difference in my exercise habits. Much of the inspiration has come from the work of Dr. Doug McGuff. I found him by way of Peak Fitness. He was the catalyst for taking a new approach to HIIT.

I had tried Dr. Mcguff’s process with weights before, but I never tried it with full commitment. Funny how an injury can get your attention. Dr. McGuff calls his approach with weights, Super Slow. You can click here to review the transcript of an interview with Dr. McGuff where he discusses in detail his methodology and the science behind it. I just started this program about two weeks ago and I’m noticing that many of the indications he gives in his interview are true.

Dr. McGuff’s  approach is that you’re going to do high intensity interval training not more than two times per week, at 15 minutes a session. When I first read about this it made me scratch my head.  However, I’ve never had more of an intense workout than using this type of HIIT. Dr. McGuff has also written a book on the subject, titled Body by Science. As noted above, I’m early on, but at this point it’s kind of undeniable to me. Tim Ferriss’ book, The Four Hour Body is another source to look at on the subject. Dr. McGuff consulted on the content with Tim as well.

I will keep you updated on my progress and certainly I hope to it some point recover from this Achilles issue. I do want to continue my running at some level. This current frame has taught me that variety is best in exercise because things change, as they always do. HIIT is a great process to meet the changes head on.

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.