Being Real

Being Real

In many ways being social is an open door to being real. Ever wonder why many don’t go that route? More and more, being social is an open door to being a fake.

The most prominent way of being social in 2014 is found online. We have portals like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn that are rooted in the idea of social networking. These tools give people the ability to tell their story. As you know, the motivations vary from job-hunting, PR, to show boating. Everyone has a voice.

So why aren’t we more real?

In time past (pre-social media), most of us were known by a limited audience. Usually, the span was friends, family and the people we went to school or worked with. This network usually found out about your stuff via phone or getting together in the flesh. In those situations you had a pretty small universe to shine. This probably kept us, for the most part, humble. And humility is what’s missing now.

“Marketing is a lie, so we can tell ourselves a lie, that we desperately want to believe.” – Author Unknown

Fast forward to the now and we have a completely different ball game. Now we’re obsessed by how many likes we get, how many followers we have or who’s in our network. All this for the sake of a lie. Many don’t even know it’s a lie. We’ve watered down truth so much, that we can’t tell the difference. Our endless pursuit of validation and success (defined by a culture in decline) rips apart truth, and the identity it reveals. I equate true identity to being real, no matter the cost. There is no bigger a lie than a life wearing a mask.

If you’re longing for more, then the crossroads is near to your view.

I find it amazing that the world is starving for the real and we stay fixated on the proposition. I’ve made this mistake:

  • Presenting my story the way I thought I should
  • Taking engagements because I thought it would make me more viable
  • Partnering with rock stars because I thought we stood for the same things
  • Being scared of what people might think
  • Trusting snakes disguised as angels

Being real is a risk-filled offer. After years of getting this down in my head and my heart, there is no other alternative. Risk is a very reasonable price to pay for such a pay-off as becoming the real thing. The most important part is you’ll start to venture into what lies over the sun. The activities of manipulating just to make a short-term gain, posing as someone you’re not and using people to move your needle will be exposed as a waste of time you don’t have.

Being real is the start of epic living.

 

What Big Data is Missing

What big data is missing is behavior change. Yep, good old fashioned behavior change.

I’m struck by the amount of data that companies like Google and SAP kind churn out. Even our friends at Facebook do a good job at this, though I question if it’s worth $19 billion. All of these entities, and more, are producing and analyzing data that can lead to disruptive innovation. A good thing all in all. Our world is changing rapidly because of this.

So why are we such a mess, when we have all of the data for just about anything under the sun?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. There’s tons of data confirming the dangers of distracted driving. Has there been a shift away from this type of behavior? According to the CDC, we have a problem. Do you find it ironic that we enough data to make an educated decision to not text (as one example) while driving, yet continue to do it? How about the amount of sleep we get, and don’t get. Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a sleep disorder specialist, at Winthrop University Sleep Disorders Center in New York City, suggests that Americans suffer from “sleep machismo.” Wall Street’s calling and we have to answer, be damn our mind and bodies.

So what do you do with this?

  • Make a decision and then manage it. John Maxwell is famous for advocating. A heart attack crystalized his understanding here
  • Be humble. Don’t think bad stuff only happens to the other guy or gal. It can and will happen to you. Arrogance is such an ugly thing
  • Have a healthy suspicion of data, research, etc. Do your homework and be fearless
  • Understand what’s important to you. My wife is second in my life, so if big data says communicating my feelings will strengthen our relationship, I’m going to do it
  • Life over the sun is where you need to be. People living there rarely take things for granted and are in the moment

I hope we don’t come to a crossroads where history stands laughing because we were not able to connect the dots between understanding and action. In some ways it appears we’ve already started down that road.

You’re Crazy, Eric

Steps

Many times over the last ten years I’ve been called crazy. What exactly does that mean? I mean, “you’re crazy, Eric.” I believe it was code for “what if you fail?”

I’ve made it a point to learn how to read communication of the non-verbal variety. It has helped me cut through the fog and certainly the BS. By the way, you can apply this to yourself personally. I’ve created a lot of fog and BS in my own head before. Whenever I’ve been called crazy, it often has spurred me on. Almost like treasure map with clues. Imagine, “when you hear this, do that.”

Not every bet pays off. We all would do well to remember that the “house” is called the house for a reason. Even so, a little craziness, a little chaos is essential to moving to a life worth living. In my experience, I would never have taken the risks I’ve taken without those twins. I would have hidden behind my citadel and played it safe. Craziness and chaos forced me into a path that hurt, and created in me an Epic Life. A strange dichotomy, I know.

On those nights when I’d awaken at 2 AM, and wonder if I really had lost my mind, there was always his voice saying keep going…just keep going. This is important. You are going to encounter a dismantling during your steps, it is inevitable. Don’t believe the crowd or your own doubts when you wonder if you have lost your mind. Finding life over the sun might be the most challenging pursuit you’ll ever undertake.

Here are some reasons why I advocate the beauty of crazy:

  1. Those who are not ” target=”_blank”>crazy are typically medicated and just wanting relief from a life that has no meaning at all
  2. If you walk away from your craziness, you’ll find no one willing to follow
  3. Maybe you’ve seen this ” target=”_blank”>clip? It strikes a good chord here
  4. If you haven’t gotten into the habit of taking risks, time will rob you of that desire, and time doesn’t give refunds. Start small and start now
  5. No one has truly lost by being crazy. People who live their lives to hide are the losers

I am thankful for the craziness.

What a Father Leaves Behind

Legacy is defined by what I leave behind. For the purposes of this post, what I leave behind as a father. A friend told a few weeks back that he could see my legacy through my work (writing, engagements, etc.). Funny how you sometimes don’t think about those types of things when you’re in the midst. It’s still vitally important, regardless.

My friend also recognized that all people have a legacy. He even believes more world problems would be solved if more understood the implications of their legacy. I agree and way too many don’t even consider it.

I want to leave the following behind for my kids:

  1. A sense that I understand the “fierce urgency of now.” The idea that now matters, problems matter, the fight matters.
  2. Love until it hurts. Much of life will be measured by this.
  3. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake or failing. Go ahead and risk being laughed at.
  4. Find out what God made you to do. This is destiny and it’s worth the pursuit.
  5. People matter and they deserve your respect.
  6. Position yourself for good luck.
  7. Never let the child in you die.
  8. I love their mother, in my words and my actions.
  9. You must always speak up when evil seeks to silence.
  10. Mindfulness opens the door to loving God.

I’m sure there are more things I want them catch, and not catch. The list represents the lens I see through today.

Waiting For the End to Begin

IMG_1068

Saw a young lady yesterday who has multiple myeloma. She is young. I found out about her condition a few months ago, but hadn’t talked to her since the diagnosis. I listened a lot. She spoke much about the importance of prayers, doing things to get through chemo, and doing things that always seemed ok to put off. No time to take for granted now. I was happy to sense that from her.

In my interaction I thought about how we modern men and women often wait until the end, before we start a beginning. It seems like the word late has vanished from our vocabulary. I won’t even go to the words too late. I guess when you feel invincible, time is always on your side.

You do realize we’re all terminal.

I don’t dance with any partner other than life. It feels right and natural to do this. So much of what we do should be about holding on loosely and letting go. We don’t own anything anyway. Sure it feels strange in the beginning and many will think you’ve lost your mind, but it’s what fits. No career, no amount money, no relationship, and no amount of notoriety will be able to substitute. No use in settling for the substitute.

I hope that young lady will be counted as a survivor one day. I also hope that her new beginnings will stick. This is a choice after all, to live over the sun.

That 10% Part

From six years gone by, worth another look.

In my last post I outlined the importance of embracing the 90/10 rule.  Today I have something to share from my own experience relating to the 10% part of the rule.  You can definitely apply this to your career and many other areas of life.

My wife and I moved our 8 year-old daughter to a new school back in December.  I won't elaborate on our reasons, but in the end we thought it better for her to be at a different school.  We prayed, we researched and we took action.

It was my thought that my daughter would transition well.  My main reason for thinking this way was her personality (social animal who has never met a stranger) wiring.  I felt she would make friends, rise to the occasion and the rest would be history.

Now here's what I didn't expect: a little girl that desperately wants everyone to like her.  I know those of you out there who are counselors would remind me that I didn't prepare her for the inevitable rejection she would encounter.  Fair enough. 

My main point here is that-smart or dumb-I really didn't expect this challenge.  And I am discovering things about my daughter that I didn't know before.  Fortunately, I have a wife who carries much wisdom and I am being sensitive to my daughter's movement through a big change.

So what if I denied that my daughter was experiencing this?  What if I ignored it?  You know what the results would be.

Here are some specific insights for dealing with the 10%:

  • You don't have to like what happens, you just have to tackle it head on (delicately in the case of my daughter).
  • Don't expect things to be easy (change is a process, not an event).
  • You will make mistakes in your dealing with the 10%.  Just ask my daughter on this one:).
  • Sometimes you're gonna be powerless to do anything.  That's OK, you don't have control over everything in life.
  • There's a reason the 10% could be considered the land of the crucible.  Fire makes impurities rise to the surface.  We need to get rid of those, and that can be painful.

The Choices We Make

The choices we make, make us. Ah, we've heard that before.

Seems to me, there is a great gap between what we understand about choices and what they result in. We should be more reflective. Think it through and weigh the options. I'm sure wise men and scholars from long ago would be laughing at me writing that, but alas here we are.

Let's face it, we live in a very arrogant age, while many long for humility. I don't know if there's a way back. Well, I do, but I'm not sure if the vast are willing to make the trip. They're like the gambler who says to himself the next wager is worth losing it all.

Do you need to turn around?

The choices we make do matter.

The Hard Choice

Daily, we all face a multitude of choices. Human nature drives us to the easy ones. Defining moments are found in the hard choice. You know, the one you'd rather not do or would rather ignore.

The problem is really on the front-side pain. The initial struggle and dislike associated. Many lose out on their dreams by giving into their fear and avoidance.

It would be great if there were a voice telling us "it's ok, the pain is worth it." The truth is we do-in one form or another.

The listening and doing part is the crux. 

Life in Motion

Life is in motion and in a constant state of flow-forward.

I told someone last week that time flys. They agreed in aknowledgement and understanding. It dawned on me right after the exchange that time has not increased or decreased its pace. Kind of sets one in a place of grappling with daily choices.

I am in awe of each day now. The realization that a significant part of my life has been lived. And before you think I live in a mystical world, where all is spinning in perfect balance, you should know that each day is a fight for what I believe. I make decisions that carry risk-some small and some great. I face fear and watch courage appear. I know I don't have as much time as I once did. I am driven.

There is a war going on.

Ever notice that not many will stop you and inquire about whether your living out your destiny? At some point life became way too complicated and many surrendered to the insanity. Almost like slaves that have resigned themselves to a life without freedom. Freedom to live, love and dream.

I realize my voice is somewhat faint in an overcrowded world full of gadgets, entertainment and medication. But I also realize I can't be silent. Kind of like the air in a deep breath. I'm in and out.

Five Questions with Amy Shea, Author of Defending Happiness

Defending happiness
Had the pleasure of conducting this interview with Amy Shea, author of Defending Happiness. Love her insights and the experiences that forged them.

Why do we need to defend happiness?

We need to defend our happiness from the idea that it's dispensable. We not only put it last, but we eliminate it from our daily life. We save it up for vacation. And we blame and complain that we have all these responsibilities, these things that have to be done first. Yet, if we examine those things we are putting in its place, so often they are tied to an ideal of what life is supposed to look like, what we are supposed to be doing. Remember in Star Trek, when an episode would open up with the team in the transporter room, ready to beam down to the supposedly-docile planet? Whenever you saw a new guy you didn't recognize on the team you knew two things: a) there was going to be trouble, and b) he was going to be the first to go. That new guy is happiness. It's the first to go when there's trouble. Yet when we have trouble, that's when we need it most.

Is happiness a choice?

Yes. And it's sometimes a hard choice. No one is happy when hard and difficult things happen. And the last thing I am suggesting is positive thinking–I don't believe in that. It's denial of what is.  I believe in seeing what is, and seeing the value in what is. When I got breast cancer, my world, as I knew it, stopped. And that experience was not one sided. Was it a gun to my chest? You bet. But it also stamped an expiration date on my consciousness, and I was more present, laughed harder, and stopped making unimportant things so important. And THAT'S the choice: not what happens, but how to show up in what happens, how to live with a full consciousness instead of one that is but a limited perception of what happiness is supposed to look like. Breast cancer taught me that, though as a strategy I would not recommend it. 

You’re very transparent in your book, Defending Happiness. Was it difficult to be so open?

Not at all. I'm not ashamed of being human, and I think being human is hilarious. And I love to laugh, especially with others. I think pretending we are perfect is toxic–to us, our relationships, and our world. It is the most isolating thing we do as humans.  

What advice would you give to the person waiting for happiness to pay them a visit?

Hit the road. Go find it. Happiness is not a furry puppy that's going to climb up into your lap. Going after what makes you happy is going to mean disturbance. At the very least, it's going to disturb the habitual life. It may disturb those who are accustomed to you doing what they want, what makes them happy. It may mean you make less money, have fewer things. But whatever disturbance you encounter, you will be here, you will have shown up in your own life.  

Do you think there is a connection between contentment and happiness? 

Yes, if you can find contentment in being yourself and contributing from that place. To me, happiness is the peace found in being completely present in one's life, even as one faces all that life is–that amazing feeling of being awake. It is to have lived. I wouldn't trade it for anything of this world.