Perspective

I gave a talk recently to a group of students at Tech Elevator. Soon I’ll have some footage for you, but this post is about perspective. The kind of perspective found in pouring out into those students in a way that left me in awe. When you look back on what you’ve learned, and what makes you thankful, it leaves you humble. Here’s a conclusion I came to today:

If I achieve nothing else from this point forward, I have learned and been blessed in a way that is beyond what I could have expected.

During the talk with those students, I helped them with a process of looking back for perspective. It was designed to give them reference points for a tough journey ahead. Often, we go into storms with no account of what we can handle. It’s as if we just react to whatever comes our way. Sometimes this works out, sometimes we’re left exposed. Please understand:

Storms are as normal, and frequent, as sun and good times.

Here are some key opportunities you can take away from looking back for perspective:

  • Looking back for perspective shows you’ve learned some things. This, of course, is dependent on you giving yourself a break and claiming the learning
  • Looking back for perspective is a strength-building exercise. It builds in you a sense of what you can handle and what you can persevere through. You’ll need this when it’s dark
  • Looking back for perspective allows you to see other people as they truly are. You might find they’re not as bad or as great as you once thought
  • Looking back for perspective, if done regularly, helps you take responsibility for your choices.
  • Looking back for perspective creates a spirit of gratitude, and gratitude will take you to good places

Reach out to me directly if you would like more.

What Life Delivers

The post in italics below was originally written in 2009. I recall that year as being a tough one. As of late, I’ve been recalling the words from 2009. Some of the areas from that time have resolved and some are ongoing. I know the importance of my preparation and response. Both of those are key when faced with the good and bad of life.

In my current frame, I am faced with:

My alignment with God’s call and my growth in EQ have added to my sustainment and happiness. Again, this is about preparation and responding as life delivers what it delivers.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

– Shakespeare

As I wrote some time ago, I have been doing more thinking than writing lately.  One of the things I’ve been pondering is the idea of what one wants from life-specifically what I’ve wanted.

I’ve also been thinking about what I’ve gotten, and what I did in response to the result.

The following are some specifics:

  1. I wanted my dad to be around longer for me to fully appreciate our relationship.  Regardless, he passed on unexpectedly and a large comma was placed in my life.  I am relying on the vision God gave me to work through this time.  A type of vision that says: “I don’t know how this all will work out, but I trust, even in my deepest blues, that it will.”
  2. I wanted a linear path in my entrepreneur pursuits.  It has been anything but linear.  I have rolled with it and learned to embrace my disappointments as I do my successes.  Most importantly, things don’t need to look like I thought they would in order to be the “right thing.”
  3. I wanted certain people to stick with me.  Those that took off were only with me for the ride.  As a result, I redefined what friendship really means.
  4. I wanted a great career.  I lost my career and found my life.  I am most grateful for this…I can breathe.
  5. I wanted to get everything right with my family.  In the last three years, I’ve gotten much wrong. I learned  that needing forgiveness creates the art of forgiving.

What Temptation Looks Like

All of us have, and will, come face to face with temptation. If all of your cylinders are firing, you’re facing temptation daily. My post is not a sermon on good and evil, though the two have a part to play. I really want the focus to be on what temptation looks like and how it plays out to our harm.

The idea of temptation is found in moving in a direction that will ultimately cause harm-great or small. Temptation is also subtle and unique in the beginning. Which is why so many fail the test come exam time.

The following are some areas that temptation shows up in:

  • Career
  • Physical Health
  • Marriage
  • Emotions
  • Learning

Think for a moment. Do any of the areas connect for you? Are you in the midst of giving in now?

I’m not going to give a topic-by-topic breakdown, just a general process to understand and resist what may be tempting you.

Every temptation begins with subtlety and seeming innocence. The subtlety usually appears in a quiet and calm persona. It could be a person or situation. In my case, there was a time where I encountered both. I was rising at a heady (at least it felt that way) clip in my career. On one occasion I had a conversation over lunch with someone I admired and trusted. He told me I was a part of the group of young executives that would be asked to take the helm at the next level, when the current leadership retired. I remember stopping (in my head) and reviewing his opinion. It sounded great and he was in a position to know, so why not take what he said as fact? At the same moment the reason side of me kicked in. Questions like; “do I even want to be the next thing” and “are you giving in to flattery?” ran through my mind. In the end, I allowed my reason to win the day and deflected the conversation into the wind.

I’ve also had situations where I gave into temptation. This is a tough one to write. I had been given advice over the years to listen to my wife. Not as an obedience thing, but as a good source of wisdom and intuition. I remember vividly a time where my wife warned me about a venture I was pursuing. The venture seemed sound, and ripe for success. She didn’t feel good about it and wanted me to pass on the opportunity. I faced a crossroads. Would I listen to her sound advice or push forward with my plans (one thing you should be aware of is the power ego plays in these scenarios)? In this case, I gave into the temptation my ego laid out. It cost me dearly.

Notice the subtlety and innocence in my two situations? I look back and can understand the subtlety of my thoughts and the innocence of seemingly good things/opportunities.

The end goal of temptation is to lull you and give you a false sense of reality. Voices like the following come next:

  • “Try it once and see”
  • “Everyone tells you how talented you are”
  • “You may never get this chance again”
  • “You can’t say no, they need you”
  • “I should be as successful as he/she is”

Again, maybe you’re in the midst of deciding whether you will pay heed to temptation or resist. I wrote this post for you and for me because there’s so much evidence of how better life is when you don’t give in.

If you would like more help with this topic, reach out to me directly.

 

What Are You Counting On?

What are you counting on? A simple and straightforward question. It reveals more about you and I than meets the mind.

The things we’re counting on reveal our identity.

Maybe you’re counting on someone to make you happy. Maybe your counting on that quarterly bonus. Regardless, these things shape our identity without notice. A subtle defining that happens slowly over time. Identity should be formed by the immovable or at a minimum something we’re willing to stake the risk on.

Here’s a brief list of what I’m counting on:

  1. God’s understanding
  2. My wife’s commitment
  3. My children’s love
  4. Friendship of a few
  5. Solitude

As you can see from my list, there are some things that could fail me. I don’t mind because I’m willing to take the risk. And oh, the heart-break that could ensue just the same. This is living.

Don’t count on what is fleeting and temporal. Marketing often bugs us to the contrary, but that’s just selling something we really don’t need.

Some New Year Advice

By now, you’ve probably seen a thousand articles on new year resolutions. This post is not one of them. I just want to give you some new year advice.

I’ve always believed that you know how to live your life, so my help is designed to come alongside of your journey and inspire.

Here’s my new year advice:

  1. Before you start with all of your resolutions, decide what’s most important to you, then decide what you want
  2. Be very skeptical of the voices who try to tell you that there’s a fast path to getting to where you want to go. Typically, these voices are dressed in celebrity/rock star clothing. Don’t be discouraged, though, the journey is worth the struggle
  3. Focus on being who you really are. For many, this is the toughest nut to crack. Sometimes we all feel the pull to be someone that our boss or potential client wants. We rationalize in our heads that it’s ok to “act” or “stretch.” The truth is you’ll never be able to sustain the show and eventually you will be recognized as a fake
  4. Surround yourself with people who love you and are not afraid of calling you on your BS
  5. Create space for your mind and soul to speak. By the way, everything above is supported by creating space for your mind and soul

If you need any help with the points in my post, reach out through the comments section or by email.

Are You Present for December?

Out in front of you is a window of time. For the sake of my post, December. The most important question, if the Lord allows, is whether you’ll be present.

Are you present for December?

All of your life in 31 days will be found in December. No exceptions, the happy, the sad, the fears, the events, and more. The question remains, are you present for December?

Many of us sprint through the days that create the months. Busy schedules, busy activities and our lives are wrapped in the doing. Tragically, the being part of life is left in the dust. One of my greatest challenges, and opportunities is reminding and teaching my family the art of being. My family is not unlike most when it comes to the struggle of being. In many ways, I play the resounding gong. A bell designed to remind and encourage the behavior of being.

What is being mean, anyway?

I practice being in the following ways:

  1. Doing absolutely nothing in silence. Many refer to this as mindfulness. I often practice this to hear from God
  2. Stopping to look around me and let my 5 senses take over
  3. Listening
  4. Practicing my art
  5. Romancing my memories. “>Central Park comes to my mind right now

If you live in a place where “being” is a strange concept, you should take the risk and try it. Don’t worry, this is not something you do for hours. Think of it as adding salt to flavor. It’s something small that is really big.

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.

The Space Between the Notes

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the space between the notes, in music and in life. Quite frankly, the blending of the two. As a musician, I was taught about the discipline of waiting and going forward. The discipline has served me well. Its been a cruel teacher when I’ve failed to take it seriously. It has been a two-sided friend.

I read a quote once credited to Bill Evans. He was asked in an interview why he seemed to linger after striking certain notes. His response was simply his desire to wait and see what the next note would bring. Jazz musicians have always been credited with strong improvisation skills. Obviously, or not , Bill Evans was a master at it. He believed that music was conversational.

Life is conversational.

In your race to grab a hold of something or someone, are you missing the space in between? Could it be that what you’re looking for is found there? The impact is always felt once a note is played. The best artists know true impact is felt in an echo or the lingering tone. It’s instinctive in so many respects, yet ignored in the same frame.

Is your life just a flurry of notes, full of hurry, clutter, fear, and doubt? Why won’t you slow down? Why won’t you let go?

I know many who fear what’s in between the notes. Between the notes we find the wounds. People often fear those same wounds will be exposed. Who will listen? Who will give empathy? The world has become shallow, and safe places to open up are becoming more rare. Social media has made it worse. I sometimes think about what it would be like to wave a magic wand and change it all, but of course I don’t possess that power. Life is tough and it can be daunting.

Take comfort, there is safety here.