The Measuring Stick

So, what’s your measuring stick for people? Do they need to be a certain color? Do they need to drive a certain vehicle? Do they need to have a certain type of degree?

I suppose human bias is a fact of being human. It’s in us and there’s no way around it. But like emotions it’s not good or bad, just what we do with it. I’m biased toward positive people and I also know that it’s not always possible to be around them 100% of the time. The discipline I need is life management. Life management teaches me the art of dealing with each situation as it comes my way.

If the people you meet, or have known for some time, have to meet a vague mental checklist, you’re in trouble. Bigotry, arrogance and stunted mental growth are formed out of this approach. Insecurity is the culprit for those using a measuring stick that excludes certain types of people. When we deal with our insecurities, we begin to see people from a different set of lenses.

The best measuring stick is the unconditional one. Unconditional allows you to embrace real diversity and not lose your own identity in the process.

The choice is yours.

How To Embrace the 90/10 Rule

So many principles, so little time.  Today, I want to tackle the 90/10 principle (10% is the unexpected good or bad, 90% is what you choose) in relation to our life and career.

For many years I was told by mentors and colleagues that the 90/10 rule was important.  In the early years, I didn’t want to have the responsibility for 90% of my life.  It seemed so permanent to face the consequences of my choices.  And I certainly didn’t like the idea of the 10%.  Who wants to be at the mercy of the unexpected?

It was about 10 years ago that I really became conscious of the principle.  So much so that it now is a part of my culture.  I use the term conscious because unconscious living leads to incongruent values (I say exercise is important, but I never do it) or plain old hypocrisy.  No judgment here, but you need to be awake.

Here’s how to embrace the 90/10 rule:

  • You must embrace because the 90/10 rule embraces you.  Like it or not.
  • When you embrace, your emotional intelligence goes way up.  All of sudden you think before you act.
  • You must tame the beast inside.  Call it misplaced ambition, preoccupation with the opinions of others or greed.  When you realize that 90% of life is what you choose, you’ll think twice about walking all over people.
  • You’ll begin to think about your foundation.  Is it sand or stone?  When the unexpected comes what will keep you anchored?
  • Embracing the rule will simplify things.  It won’t make life easy, but it will make you decide what’s most important in career and life.
  • You’ll make the breakthrough to realizing that no one/organization can make you happy.  Happiness is a choice (there’s that 90% again) and only you can make this one.
  • You’ll stop being afraid of your destiny and get on with the mission.
  • The Oscar for best motion picture should be your life.

Reach out to me if you need help or more direction.

The List of Hope

Ever created a list of hope? I think everyone has at one time or another. Even if you didn’t write it down, you probably held it in your head. As with every list, there is the potential for losing it.

You don’t want to lose the list of hope.

The importance of hope is an obvious one. Hope is to the human being, what gas or electricity is to a car. You need it to get to where you’re going. Hope is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, a star in a dark night sky. I know you understand this.

Everyone has heard and read the stories of late. The ones of people who couldn’t fend off the despair. If you find yourself in that place reach out for help. My post is not my attempt to solve the issue of suicide or give insights into its roots. I want to start in a place where losing hope can be all too common. The place is where things are somewhat stable to good. Regardless of where you may find yourself, I want to give some encouragement around the list of hope.

I have a list that looks like this:

  • I have friends and family who value and love me, therefore I have hope
  • God has expressed his love for me multiple times (circumstances, conversations with loved ones, times of meditation), therefore I have hope
  • I have built business relationships that go deeper than a transaction, therefore I have hope
  • I’ve dealt with great difficulties and come out on the other side better, therefore I have hope
  • I look at nature and see its resilience and order, therefore I have hope

Your list can look like mine or something radically different. The key is creating the list. In the words of the writer:

“All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer by the stars.” – Neil Peart

My reasons for having the list of hope is having a document I can go to when I lose hope. The list is something tangible to remind me of what’s important. There are times (reoccurring) when I need to pull this list out to refresh, reframe and keep going.

I’m here if you need me, reach out if I can help in a bigger way.

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.