Blog Post # 110 – A Tough Conversation

Are we putting off a tough conversation?

Skirting the issue so as to avoid any conflict.

Or maybe we already had harsh words with someone else and now avoid them as much as we can.

Either way, something needs to be said.

Will we be the bigger person and initiate the tough conversation?

Certainly, it is not easy to take that first step towards reconciliation.

Easier to stay angry, think about why we are so undeniably right and the other flatly wrong.

We can choose to walk around with our righteous indignation.

Or, we can realize that being so angry takes a lot of energy and focus.

Energy and focus that could be used to a much greater means.

In my own life, I have had times where I initiated the peace.  But oftentimes, I avoid this because I am generally averse to conflict.

When the other took the first measure towards bridging the peace, I usually ended up extremely grateful.

Glad to clear the air, to move on and to grow as a person in the world.

When I have taken the first measure, it has made me feel good about myself – like I have learned something and helped bring the peace.

No matter which side takes that first step, in most instances, when we talk about the issues that divide us, good things tend to happen.

Situations that seem bleak and beyond repair get mended by an amends and a conversation.

Life is too short to be maintaining an enemy’s list.  Even if it feels good to be angry.

For today, let’s reflect on those we may need to have a tough conversation with.  Be brave.  Try and make the peace.  For our own good.

 

Blog Post # 109 – The “Good” People

“God save us from the good people,” was one of crusty talk show host Jim White’s favorite sayings back in the day on KMOX.

So many horrible acts have been perpetrated on humanity in the name of religion or by people claiming to be religious.

The Holocaust.

The Crusades.

Men with collars who molest little boys and girls.

Fanatics who walk into airports and blow themselves and others up.

The prophets and philosophers who came before us had many good things to teach us.

But humans love to twist messages of love to hate, tolerance to domination, righteous living to self-righteousness.

Frankly, I am usually uncomfortable and a bit suspicious of those who profess to have all of the answers, especially if they believe said answers are undeniably divinely inspired.

Please check your religiosity at the door.

Let’s instead talk about whether you helped your neighbor, whether you fed someone who was hungry, whether you empowered your children or tore them down.

I want to know about your heart. And whether your heart translated to positive action.

For there have been far too many charlatans, hate-mongers and destroyers who cloaked their evil in the shroud of faith.

Be gone. The lot of you.

I will take the quiet spiritual person who strives to love his fellow man and woman, works to improve his or her community and does the right thing when given the opportunity.

This is what I try to be and I have no time for hate.

Peace, my friends.

Blog Post # 108 – Enough

Enough.

We are tired of waiting on you.

Tired of the excuses.

Tired of the rationalizations.

Tired of the long delays.

Today is the day that you start towards your unspoken goal.

No more will you let another day go by without taking some action, no matter how small, towards what you really want to be doing.

You have wasted too much time already.

Too many minutes, hours, days …

We need your art.

We need you to ship.

Not tomorrow, not next week, but today.

This internal debate that you have been having with yourself has to come to an end.

Today has to be that day.

If you don’t grab this energy, this spark, today will just be one more day that you weren’t true to yourself.

It has been long enough.

Let’s go.

Blog Post # 107 – Outside, Looking In

When I looked around the dinner table, I realized that I was the only native-English speaker there.

My wife and I had been invited to an Egyptian friend’s house for dinner to break our fast with others.

St. Louis has a small, yet vibrant Egyptian-American community that gets together at least once a month during the year and more frequently during Ramadan.

Feeding people who have been fasting is a good deed in our religion.

Anyway, last weekend, I found myself sitting around a table with 6 or 7 other Egyptians.

We broke our fast with cool water and dates. We prayed and then we headed to the dinner table.

Between bites of roasted turkey, meat pies, salad and stuffed grape leaves, everyone discussed the election, their families and how work was going.

These discussions were in English.

As I went to get more food, the conversation turned from English to Arabic.

I don’t speak Arabic, but after these many years, I can pick up a few phrases and get the general gist of what the topic is.

Sometimes people will look right at me and speak to me in Arabic, before remembering that my native tongue is English.

The conversation continued in Arabic as we had Arabic desserts including baklava, kunefa and basboosa.

As I listened to the conversation, it occurred to me that the feeling that I had of understanding some of the talk, but certainly not all, must be what it’s like to be a foreigner in a strange land.

Thanks to my wife’s love of travel, I have been outside the U.S. and know what it’s like to be a foreigner overseas.

But when we get together with Egyptian friends, I get reminded of the feeling of “other-ness” that comes from being with people who are not like you.

And being with Egyptians in particular is truly great due to their wonderful sense of humor and their intelligent thoughts on important issues.

Stretching ourselves by communing with people that differ from us is one of the great benefits of living in a diverse society.

We learn about the others and we learn about ourselves.
So if you ever have the chance to break bread with people who are not like you, I think you should take it.

At the very least, you may have a delicious meal. You may also learn some things along the way.

Now please pass the basboosa.

Blog Post # 106 – Rebound

Wayne Gretzky famously said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Readers of this blog know that I am a huge proponent of taking your shot and letting go of the result.

An upbeat, positive attitude and all that.

But what about that moment immediately following a missed shot?

What do you do? You go get the rebound.

Taking the initial shot is sometimes easy. Everything lines up correctly and things fall into place.

If the shot succeeds, there is nothing to do except prepare for the next shot.

But the art of rebounding is truly that, an art.

In basketball, in order to get the rebound, we have to muscle in and we have to want the basketball more than any of the other players.

So too in life. When we take a shot, we are going to miss.

How we handle that miss may ultimately impact our overall success 10 times more than our ability to line things up for the initial shot.

For today, let’s take our shot. But let’s also be mindful of the possibility of the rebound.

Missed shot? So what? Grab that ball and shoot it again.

Blog Post # 105 – Friction-Less

Here’s to a friction-less life.

Today’s technology offers many benefits.

Chiefly, by making our lives easier.

Click on your Uber app and a car shows up within minutes to take you where you want to go.

Need a book for your daughter’s biology class?  Go to Amazon and the textbook can be in your hands in 24 hours.

Have a client in Pakistan who needs to send you a copy of their birth certificate?  No problem – just ask them to email it to you and you will have it in seconds as opposed to weeks.

Amazing times that we live in.

So very different than the way things were just ten years ago.

Makes the future look very exciting.

The question, of course, is how do we leverage these new technologies and advances to actually make our lives better?

With less friction (day-to-day slowdowns) in our life, are we using these advantages to improve our situation?

Or, instead, do we use this extra time to play Candy Crush Saga for hours on end or to binge-watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones?

We can have all of the technological advances in the world, but if we don’t use our extra time wisely, what is the point?

Really, how are things better in such a scenario?

For today, let’s look at the world with wonder and amazement in our eyes and then let’s make the most of every extra minute we are given today.

Blog Post # 104 – Silence

Silence.

The opposite of noise.

No radio, no chattering, no podcasts, no music.

Quiet, quiet silence.

Do we fear silence?

Afraid to see where our racing mind may take us?

I once went on a two-day silent retreat.

Now that was a whole lot of quiet.

One of the byproducts of this connected world is that we surround ourselves with noise.

And while music has the tremendous ability to motivate us, calm us and reach us, silence offers its own benefits.

The ability to center.

The ability to relax.

To find that inner voice that is far too often drowned out by the din of the day.

Some of my best decisions in life have been made after serious silence.

I decided to leave Denver and come back to St. Louis after silence.

I decided to marry my wife while swimming laps in silence.

Silence, of course, is not just for big decisions, but small ones too.

For today, let’s commit to find ten minutes of silence to get to that place where we can hear ourselves think.

Blog Post # 103 – Gut Over Mind

They say to put mind over matter.

But perhaps we should put gut over mind.

Our internal intuition is a powerful tool.

Less brain, more instinct.

If we are in a proper state, our intuition can usually help us sort things out.

Now this if is a pretty big if.

It is rather difficult to get in touch with our intuition.

To get to that spot in ourselves that knows the right answer.

Knows what we should do today and where we should be this time next year.

Getting to that spot where we can tap into that internal, inherent place of balance is very hard to do.

We might only tap into that spot for a few minutes a day.

Meditation, reflection, journaling help us dig through the muck of the day and get to that spot.

Cell phones, the internet, constant noise – these are the things that take us away from that spot.

So much of what we do is on auto-pilot. Or, mind only.

For today, let’s dig deep. To that spot just below our rib cages.

Where the truth lies. Where the answers are at.

Where our hearts, not our minds, help us discern our best next step.

Blog Post # 102 – No Regrets

We don’t want to dip our toe in the ocean.

We want to dive right in.

Given the choice between dabbling versus full immersion, we want to choose the latter every time.

We only have one shot at life.

One chance do this the right way.

At the end of our days, we want no regrets.

No missed opportunities.

No misplaced priorities.

If we have the chance to make the peace, we make the peace.

If we have the chance to be remarkable, we go for it.

If we have the chance to connect in a meaningful way, we take that chance.

Every. Single. Time.

Each of us knows someone who died too early.

Who missed out on a full life.

We owe it to ourselves to do everything that we can to be in this moment.

Fully invested in our life.

So that whenever our own last breath comes, we know that we did everything possible to make our lives the way that we always wanted to live them.

Free.

Blog Post # 101 – A Lack of Empathy

When did we lose it?

Compassion for our fellow human beings.

Empathy for the suffering of another.

Sharing some of ours so others can survive.

Anger is the emotion that seems to drive our collective engine these days.

So many angry people running around.

Us versus them has reached new heights.

Let me have mine, but don’t give him or her any.

A hardness of the heart.

A lack of sympathy for our brothers and sisters.

Is there another way?

What if we viewed the suffering of those we know and those we don’t know as our problem too?

What if instead of us versus them, our mindset was “we” and “all of us”?

Idealistic, perhaps.

But the hate and the venom and the anger is eating us from the inside out.

We have so much to be grateful for, if only we can see it.

If only we can turn off our devices, breathe deeply and center ourselves.

Centered around the notion that we have abundance.

We have what we need.

We are safe. And tomorrow will be okay.