Blog Post # 9 – Crowdsourcing Accountability

In 2013, I joined the wonderful START training program at Big River Running.  The program included a training schedule, group runs twice a week and a little education about running each week.  

50 new runners (48 women, a guy named Art and me) joined together with a stated goal of running our first 5K on January 1, 2014.  

When we started, I really did not know whether I would be able to actually run the 3.1 miles on New Years Day.  Heck, I doubted that I could run even one mile.

But because of the team and the camaraderie that we developed, I was able to run the entire race.  I have run many additional 5Ks since, but nothing will replace the feeling of accomplishment that the START Team gave me.

For me, the real value came from not wanting to let our leaders and the rest of the group down.

Similarly, there is a trend in the podcasting and online marketing businesses for the creators to post their monthly revenue reports.  Each month, people like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas post their top-line revenue and their net profit – the good months and the bad ones.  These online venturers are accountable and transparent to the people that follow them.

There is tremendous value in transparency and openness when  working towards a goal.  Sharing the struggles and the victories helps to make the ride more enjoyable.  Increased accountability arises because people can call BS on you when they sense that you are straying off course.

This is the reason why I posted my stated goal of blogging once a day, every day for a year.  I wanted to put myself out there in order to really push myself.

So far, it’s working.  Thanks for holding me accountable.

I am kicking around a new transparent, athletic goal.  More to come.

Blog Post # 8 – The Dry Drunk

In the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, we come across a reformed alcoholic known as the dry drunk.

The dry drunk is someone who used to drink to excess and to the point where it was seriously affecting their ability to perform daily functions, but at this point in time, they were sober by the sheer force of their will.

The dry drunk uses “white-knuckle” abstinence where they refrain from drinking by holding on to their chair so tightly that their knuckles turn white.  This type of abstinence does not require actually holding onto a chair, but rather reflects the concept of sobriety based on trying to control the world around the alcoholic as opposed to surrendering to things as they actually are.

The dry drunk is not drinking and that is good.  But the dry drunk is walking a very fine line and one must ask, “what happens on that inevitable day when things don’t go the dry drunk’s way – when she loses control over a given situation?”

Unfortunately, many dry drunks turn back to their addiction in that situation.  The rigid self-control fails to carry them through and their days of sobriety fall away.

The sober alcoholic, on the other hand, takes life as it comes.  She surrenders to things as they truly are instead of trying to control every little outcome.  She stays centered and focused throughout the day, always remembering that she is not in control and that her Higher Power is.

When things do not go her way, she accepts that and carries on.  In this manner, she protects her sobriety and keeps an even keel.  The temptation is still there, of course, but because she has not tried to control her addiction through the sheer force of her will, she has other ways of coping.

This concept resonates with me.  When I try to bend the events of the day to my will, to try and control everything, I get tired.  “Willpower” then fails to carry me through a particular struggle.  

For today, let me surrender to life on life’s terms, thereby allowing me to be ready for anything.  It’s a much saner way to move through the day.

Blog Post # 7 – The First Hour

I am a morning person.  I get so much more done in a day when I start early.

It is amazing the difference getting to work early makes for me.  If I start at 6 am and work until 4 pm, I get almost twice as much done as if I would work from 9 am to 7 pm.

It is essential that we find the best time of the day to find our flow.  And, here’s the key – once you find your flow time, you need to protect it like a mother protects her newborn baby.

I am committing to holding back.  Keeping a bit for me.  We each deserve an hour of our day to focus on growth, expansion, learning, tapping into our intuition, discerning and enjoying life.

For me, that hour is 5 in the morning until 6.  Just before the kids wake up and the day explodes.  For me, it’s that first hour of the day.

When is your hour?  You need it and you deserve it.  Grab it before it is gone.

Blog Post # 6 – Adult Abuse

“Adult abuse.”  Not a phrase that you hear that often.  Certainly, we don’t hear it as often as the term “child abuse.”

I found myself in Division 37 of the St. Louis County Circuit Court recently, helping an immigration client legally change her name so that we could get her a new green card in the name that she wanted.

The adult abuse docket started at 8:30 am.  Our case was scheduled for a brief hearing at 9, after the orders of protection.

In case you don’t know, when someone petitions the Court for an order of protection against someone else, they find themselves on the “adult abuse” docket.  

When the case is first filed, a temporary restraining order is issued against the defendant.  The person seeking a long-term protective order has to have the sheriff serve a copy of the action on the defendant and then both sides have to show up to Court for a hearing.  All of these cases are placed on the adult abuse docket.

So while I waited for our case to be called, I listened to the Judge talk with some of the 39 litigants on the docket and it was pretty sad.  

It seemed as if most situations involved former lovers who now despised each other. In a number of cases, some sort of violence had occurred.  Sometimes, both sides were seeking restraining orders against each other.  The worst cases involved situations where not only had the people been lovers, and now despised each other, but children were in the middle of the dispute.

The Judge taught me as an adjunct when I was in law school.  He was extremely respectful of the litigants.  Kind, patient and helpful.  He treated everyone with dignity and respect.

I wish I could say the same of the litigants.  Not so nice.

St. Louis County provides a victims advocate coordinator.  I spoke with her for a bit.  She goes to Court every day and oversees volunteer advocates who help the victims of abuse navigate the court system.  She said the docket was large most days and that the volunteer advocates are very busy.  She pointed out that this was just one Judge out of many who handled these types of cases each week and that they all had similar dockets.

The whole experience made me sad.  People who used to have feelings (sometimes love) for each other who now hated each other so much that they couldn’t communicate, could behave well and had to go to Court for help.

Certainly, an eye-opening experience.  I know it is idealistic to think that it would be nice if we didn’t need the adult abuse docket.  I know it serves a very important purpose and that orders of protections are essential in protecting victims of abuse.  

It just wasn’t much fun hearing the tales of adult abuse.

 

Blog Post # 5 – Gatekeepers No More

In the 1980s, if you wanted to be a television star, you had to find an agent, beg someone for an audition, try out and get cast in a show that someone else probably wrote.  Executives at CBS, ABC and NBC had total control over what other Americans could choose to watch.

Today, if you want to be a television star, you pull out your iPhone and shoot a video which you can post online within minutes for anyone around the world to see.

In the 1980s, if you wanted to be a novelist, you had to submit your manuscript to literary agents and pray that they took you on as a client.  Then the agent had to shop your book around to the various publishing houses where editors had final say on whether or not your book ever reached the buying public.

Today, if you want to be a novelist, you can sit down at your computer writing whatever you want.  You can upload your manuscript to Amazon and publish a copy of your book, one at a time, whenever someone wishes to buy it.  

In the 1980s, if you wanted your own radio show, you had to work your way up through the ranks starting with the 2 am shift on a crappy AM station in Peoria, Illinois.  You had to pay your dues, spin those records or track down those guests and hope that you could move to a better market.

Today, if you want to broadcast a show, you simply need a microphone and some recording and editing software and you can create a podcast to discuss the issues of your choosing.

The point is this.  The gatekeepers have gone away.  Your platform awaits.

When will we hear your voice?  We need it – now, more than ever.

Blog Post # 4 – Face Forward

Too many of us head into the future facing the wrong direction.

We remember past failures.  Both our own failures and those of others.

We dwell on perceived slights, insults and grievances.

We rehash.  We obsess.  We refuse to forgive.

We spend our time looking in the rearview mirror.

We face backwards.

But the past, of course, is in the past.

Today, we have a choice.  A choice to face forward.

When we face forward, we see opportunity.

We spot chances to improve, to tweak, to tinker and create.

The whole world is out there waiting for us.  In all its beauty.

We can certainly acknowledge past failures, slights, insults and grievances.  These things may have harmed us deeply.

And so they did.

But if we want to move forward, we have to face forward.

Which way should we face today?

Blog Post # 3 – A Vote for You

Politicians love to make promises.  If you vote for me, I will do X, Y and Z for you.  Quid pro quo.

When I was a kid, I thought this was unethical.  I thought that elected officials should be above the fray.  Once I learned how politics really worked, I tuned out.

I understand that politics are important and that I should pay attention.  I get it.

And I always vote.  I voted today.

But I don’t vote because I expect something in return.  Usually, I vote against the candidate that I dislike the least.  In 2008, I thought that I was voting for someone who was above politics, but it turned out he was human too.  And a politician.

Since then, I have turned off the talking heads on CNN, the debates, the rage (real and manufactured) and all the negativity.

Politicians are not going to fix this country and they sure as hell aren’t going to fix you and me.

I am running my own campaign.  A campaign to be the best person that I can be.  A campaign to touch the lives of the people around me in a meaningful way.

So I will continue to vote in primaries and general elections on the days appointed.

But on a much larger scale, I vote for me.  I vote for you.

I vote for spreading my own message.  I vote for myself as a leader.  I vote for making the change that I want to see in this world.

I also vote for you.  I vote for the referendum that frees you to be the best person that you can possibly be.  I vote for an amendment to your constitution that lets you make the changes that you want to make.  I vote for you as a leader, a mentor, a guide and a teacher.

A vote for you.  A vote for me.  The unstoppable ticket.

 

Blog Post # 2 – Numbing the Pain

Numbing the pain works, temporarily.  Whether we use food, or alcohol, or gambling, the binge numbs the pain for a bit.

Of course, we feel awful about ourselves after the binge, which can set off a vicious cycle of more numbing, more remorse, more numbing, more remorse.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, they tell the story of a serial jaywalker – a man who repeatedly crosses the street where he isn’t supposed to.  At first, he just misses calamity by jumping out of the way of passing cars.  Later, he gets a little dinged up and then the collisions become more frequent and more serious. But the man just can’t stop with the jaywalking, even when his injuries become more serious.

This is what numbing does for/to us.  It befoggs our brain and keeps us from seeing the actual consequences of our behavior.  

Numbing does not have to be as serious as an actual addiction.  We may simply distract ourselves with television, texting, social media or any other mind-numbing activity.

Here’s to a day without numbing.  

We might not be able to go the rest of our life without compulsive drinking, eating, drugging or whatever our numbing agent may be, but what if we just skipped it for today?

Blog Post # 1 – Crossing the Crevasses

We are all afraid of something.  Some of us are afraid of a lot of things.  This fear can be logical or it might not make any sense at all.  We spend a lot of energy distracting ourselves from the fears that hound us.  We can obsess on work, drink too much, worry excessively or distract ourselves on the internet all day and night.

One person who regularly challenges us on our fears and on our inaction is Seth Godin.  I have been seeing and hearing Seth all over the place lately – on Tim Ferriss’s podcast, on Ask Gary Vee and just recently on the Ziglar podcast.  They are all worth a listen.

It is sort of interesting that he has been everywhere I look (and listen) because I don’t think he has a new book coming out.

If you aren’t familiar with Seth Godin, you should pick up a few of his books.  My favorites include Purple Cow, Tribes and Linchpin.  Tribes taught me that you can’t lead a group if you aren’t willing to step on some toes and stand for something.  In Linchpin, Seth wrote about making yourself indispensable.

I can honestly say that I don’t know that I ever would have ventured out and opened my own law firm if I had not read Tribes.  It was that impactful on me.

In each of his recent interviews, Seth told the host that he thinks that we should all be blogging and that we should blog every day.  He talked about making our writing and thoughts public as a way to get over the fear and to cross the crevasses that prevent us from doing our best work.  It builds in accountability and makes us take a stand on the things that are important to us.

This blog – jimhacking.com – is my attempt to follow Seth’s advice.  

I am publicly stating my willingness to write every day for one year.  Then we will re-examine the effort.  I have tried blogging before but have not really followed through very well.  This public statement is one way that I am trying to overcome that lack of completing a goal.

I have a lot to say and I hope you come along for the ride.  If you want to follow me on this journey, please consider subscribing to my emails in the box above.  Thanks.

One day, I will meet Seth Godin.  And I will tell him this story.  Then I will blog about it.

By the way, I bought five copies of Seth’s most recent book – What to Do When It’s Your Turn – and I will be happy to send a copy to the first person who signs up for email notices for this blog.  The book is fantastic – both visually and from a content perspective.  Maybe its your turn, too.