What Shapes You

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Recently my wife and I discussed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks. I was reminded of how surprised I was by the story and the film itself. It really got me to thinking about what shapes you as a person, over a lifetime. If you are not familiar with the story behind P.L. Travers and her character Mary Poppins, you can read this article for more.

Much of who I am was shaped by my childhood.

During my childhood, I had a father who drank to excess, suffered the neglect that goes with substance abuse, saw things that today are still difficult to write about, and witnessed an event that left a permanent mark. I know many of you have your own stories as well.

What’s most important here, though, is how Ms. Travers was shaped and how it produced such great work. It’s ironic how her great pain produced such great work. I found myself, as I watched the film, feeling like I was watching my own movie.

Much of what I have created, has been born from my pain and wounds.

In my one-on-one work with people, I use a process designed to help them look over their lives to find the pain and the wounds. This can be difficult work. Many are the walking wounded, and they’ve taken the path of “medicating” or just looking to escape. My great mission is to help people deal with what often they would prefer to ignore. I understand this and carry empathy for the great struggle many are facing. American culture has not helped. Our ever-increasing desire for entertainment, medication, and status are fierce animals.

Much of what I do is motivated by mission.

PL Travers found an outlet for some of what hurt. Her work has made a lot of children and adults happy. In the end, that counts for much. I don’t know if she was truly whole before the race was over, but maybe that happens on the eternity side.

Do you know what shapes you?

 

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.

Subtlety and Innocence

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.

Giving In

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.

Truth-Telling

In many ways, truth-telling has gotten me in trouble. In the end, as I look back, it ended up for the good of the person across from me. Truth-telling is not always easy. In many situations, it has the potential of hurting the hearer or creating separation.

In the age we live in we’ve made three major mistakes:

  1. We have made truth a matter of interpretation. In other words, the truth is in the eyes of the beholder
  2. We have allowed our emotions to overrun reason. It seems that reason has been permanently exiled
  3. We are motivated by our fears

I’m making a case for truth-telling because I know the benefits. If the people closest to me had shied away from it, I would be lost in my own delusions. Often we’re very good at deluding ourselves.

I want to be very clear that truth-telling is an art. It involves love, timing and a strong grasp of the situation underpinning the conversation. If the person delivering the truth is ill-equipped or oblivious to this, the truth will be a source of harm. As you can imagine, it’s vital to seek truth from those you trust.

The following are some truths I’ve had to communicate recently:

  • “You’re smart and have a good heart. The mistake you made was allowing him to take advantage of your kindness.”
  • “He won’t give up the drugs because he doesn’t want to. When he wants to be whole, he will make the decision to own his problems.”
  • “I appreciate the desire to make things better. However, having more meetings to discuss what has been discussed to the point of nausea is a waste of everyone’s time.”
  • “I’m so sorry. I know that had to hurt you deeply. What can I do to help you?”
  • “No one owes you anything. You have been given the responsibility for your life. If you don’t like where you’re at, then begin the process of making a change.”

I haven’t perfected the art of truth-telling. I’m better at it than I was ten years ago, and I have a long way to go. It’s clear to me what happens if I fail to attempt truth-telling; I will fail myself and those who count on me.

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.

What Martin Taught Me

Seemed right to re-post this today, for the obvious and the not-so obvious truth that we need courage even more today.

It seems annually, I watch this You Tube clip from 1965 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was taken from a segment of Meet the Press. Dr. King was being interviewed by journalists about events that had occurred in Selma, Alabama. The questions were tough and circumstances of the time even tougher.

So what did Martin teach me?

I don’t know what was going through Dr. King’s mind as he spoke on that Sunday morning news program, but it seemed like he was being carried by something greater than himself. Remember, there were more than a few people who wanted him dead.

Courage is manifested by something greater than ourselves.

Sadly, we live in a time where real courage is often refused. We now manufacture events and circumstances to show our faux-courage. We’ve found a way to manage authentic courage out of our daily lives. Our careers, our parenting, our relationships are often managed to avoid the difficult and daunting.

I find myself thankful for what Martin taught me. The reality that every human being will one day face a crossroads of courageous. It may be small or it may be large. But regardless, no one gets a pass.

The question remains, are we listening to that voice?

Your Moments

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Got this from a friend. It was a response to a note I sent him regarding staying in your moments.

Thanks Eric. Great timing.

Last Sunday, my wife and I were resting after a long day of splitting wood and stacking. We were sitting in our garage just talking when we heard a loud ‘pop’ and then a sliding sound.

We walked to the entrance of our garage to look out toward the road (our front yard is 100 meters long and spotted with mature trees) to see if we could see what made the sound.

We saw a truck stopping with two people getting out and hurrying toward our driveway entrance. We also saw something else on the ground, but couldn’t make it out.

We ran up to the entrance to find that an elderly couple had a motorcycle wreck on our road. Their rear tire had blown and they were thrown from the bike, hit pavement, and then slid into our yard. The bike was still in the road, and the husband was holding his wife in our ditch, propped up on her side to prevent her from drowning in the massive amount of blood that was pouring from her nose and mouth. She was unconscious and non-responsive, but breathing (difficultly).

I called 911 and ran to the house for towels and water. My wife was with the other people that had witnessed the wreck and they were calling all of the family members of the two as the driver of the bike told them where their phones were.

Once the two ambulances, two fire trucks, four state troopers arrived, they moved the husband away from his wife and proceeded to work on her. Life flight was then called and moments later, a helicopter was landing in my neighbor’s yard to fly both of them to a nearby trauma center.

This lasted for several hours. They worked on the woman for a while before flying her to Dayton and the man suffered a broken hip and broken shoulder.

I couldn’t help but think when it was all done how the day must have started for those two. They woke to a beautifully sunny day with perfect temperatures and no clouds in the sky. They must have said to one another “let’s go ride around and enjoy this picture perfect day and feel the wind on our faces and be together.” They were 5 miles from home and were headed there to end the evening…..only to have it end in tragedy.

I watched family members rush to the scene and express a variety of emotions; anger, sadness, fear, calm. I felt emotional as I thought of my wife and how I would react if I were holding her knowing it may be the last time I am allowed. The emptiness that it would create.

The woman died on Tuesday evening. She was in a coma, and they cut away her skull to help with the swelling of the brain, but it was too much for her system and she passed.

I will be taking some time to hug my family more and to pray to God and thank him for the ‘now’, because we don’t know what the future, short or long, will hold.

Making Relationships Last

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In the personal and business realm, we all seek to make our relationships last. It makes perfect sense. The good relationships we protect, the bad relationships we seek to discard. Reality is found in how challenging it is to manage the in-between.

This past week I was referred to an individual who I hadn’t seen or talked to in over ten years. When I was given his name I didn’t fully remember him. When we finally spoke on the phone it came rushing back. The first and only meeting was brief, and hadn’t shown anything that appeared to be lasting. Fast forward to now, he went out of his way to help me on a number of fronts. He really helped me.

So what’s the point?

Some relationships, like marriage or a client, can be in your daily/weekly. Other relationships come and go. The key to remember is you and I have been given a powerful cement. This cement is given to build and solidify our relationships. Sadly, many don’t realize they have it and many don’t see it as important. The cost of ignorance and stupidity is high. The cement requires action on our part to be effective. It is an on purpose pattern.

I don’t if the gentleman I mentioned above did what he did because I applied the right amount of cement to our brief time together so long ago. One thing is certain, I made the attempt. My gut tells me it made a difference.

The moral of the story is never take any relationship for granted.

Working Through the Insecurities

This is a re-post from earlier this year. It was timely for me, maybe for you too.

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If you’re a man or woman who sees vulnerability as a weakness, this post might not be for you. I still hope you’ll stick around as we work through the insecurities.

Insecurities are like demons or monsters that play the role of human disrupters. These creatures are always lurking in the shadows waiting for just the right moment to remind you and I of:

  • How we failed
  • How our work is not that great
  • How much smarter the guy or gal next to us is
  • How we’ll never be picked to play a major role
  • How we are not worth the love we long for

Now remember, this is a You and I post. We’re traveling together on this war-torn road. Scars and such are a given here.

In the arena of life, insecurities have most in an iron grip. They cast you in iron and demand you become a slave. Some are by design, some by accident. You don’t need to look any further than how medicated western culture is, and the eastern culture is heading there as well. Our relationships suffer and we can’t seem to sustain connection.We use what is found under the sun to distract us from looking at ourselves soberly. It’s an evil thing, our insecurities. I hate to admit it, you hate to admit it, but we are our own worst enemy.

I’m someone who has identified and dealt with most of my insecurities. I didn’t do this alone. I’ve had multiple advisors over the years to help. I’m blessed by their willingness to stick with me through my insecurities. Whether it was my bravado hiding my fear of what people thought of me, or my doubts regarding the quality of my work. They stayed beside me, despite the ugliness. This is love. My friends, most don’t stay. It can be messy, it can be hard work, and it can be embarrassing. Do you have people who will stick with you?

I figure I owe you the ugly side now. We’re a mess, and all of the pop-humanist thought isn’t going to change that. Billions on education, health, leadership, technology, and we’re still slipping away. So many hiding places, so little time. These places provide an escape from our insecurities. Take the man or woman who thinks a promotion or a relationship will fix what is haunting inside. There’s always another rung to climb, a person to possess. Eventually, we only have so many escapes before we get caught. Living under the sun is a rather subtle addiction. You just kind of do it.

So who’s going to clean up the mess?

I’m in this for the few (however many that may be) who decided not to ignore. If you count yourself in that group today, listen in and reach out to me.