Blog Post # 121 – Accountability Partner

Who hold us accountable?

Who calls us out on our BS?

Who knows when we are fibbing?

We can tell ourselves lies. We can put things off to another day. We can get all twisted up in our head.

Having an accountability partner can really boost our effectiveness and our success in getting things done.

Since March of this year, I have met on Monday mornings with my friends Jim and Tyson on Google Hangouts.

We discuss our business successes, our goals and our fails for the week.

During our meeting, we keep track of these successes, goals and fails.

We find it rather difficult to wiggle out of our commitments when we have shared them with each other and written them down.

I missed the Monday Hangout the past few weeks and my productivity suffered.

Having accountability partners is especially important when you are your own boss.

All three of us report to no one else (except our spouses) so the temptation to “let things slide” can be tremendous.

I was so glad to get back into the Monday morning routine today.

Similarly, when I ran with a group with Big River, I was much more likely to show for a group run than when I go with the “oh, I run when I can” routine.

An accountability partner can work in many aspects of life.

So, who holds you accountable?

Blog Post # 120 – Laps

Laps.

Reps.

Push-ups.

Stretching.

What are the things that we can do every day to strengthen our body?

Back and forth, down the length of the pool.

Round and round the high school track.

Get our blood pumping and our mind clicking.

Such clarity from the gift of exercise.

Repetition builds upon itself.

The indoor track at the Mid-County YMCA is 1/18th of a mile.

Keeping count of the number of laps can get quite tedious there.

One morning, I was plodding along, trying to get my 3 miles in – 54 times around.

When I finished, an elderly lady who ran faster than I did and whom I had seen on the track many times told me that I was a “persistent” runner.

At first, I just thought she meant I was slow, a plodder. And I was a bit miffed.

But over time, I came to understand that while I am not particularly fast, I do get the job done.

One lap at a time.

Laps build to miles, miles build to races and races build us into runners.

Or swimmers. Or mountain bikers.

Laps are good.

Blog Post # 119 – Listen Some More

I cannot know what it is like to be you.

I can try. I can empathize. I can listen. I can relate.

But at the end of the day, I cannot know what it is like to be you.

I cannot know what it is like to put on a bulletproof vest, a helmet, a uniform and a gun and head out the door without knowing that I will come home at the end of shift.

I cannot know what it is like to be treated horribly and unfairly because my skin is brown instead of white, to know that I can comply with every request of a law enforcement officer and still get shot while sitting in my own car.

These are things that I cannot know because I was born with white skin and because I was never called to law enforcement.

There are enormous political, economic, social and racial components to the myriad of problems facing this country and they can seem insurmountable.

Issues that must be discussed, debated and decided.

These are matters of the mind and of listening to all voices. I honestly am not sure that we, as a people, can do this.

But for today, I want to focus on matters of the heart.

Loving the people sitting across the table from us. Truly striving to love our “enemies.”

Striving to find connection, common ground.

This only starts, I believe, by acknowledging that I will never know what it is like to be you.

I can open my ears and listen.

I can open my heart and empathize.

But I cannot project my experience on you and I have to accept that your truth is your truth, just as valid as anyone else’s.

A whole lot more listening and a whole lot less claiming the truth.

Just sit together. And listen. Then listen some more.

Go think and reflect. Then listen some more.

Blog Post # 118 – Life Over Everything

Life.

Life over everything.

I had planned to write a nice little blog post about a rainy Fourth of July picnic.

But we woke up to more death.

After two horrible, tragic deaths of black men from the guns of police officers, we awakened to find that 10 police officers had been shot and 5 killed in Dallas, Texas.

I am not a politician. I am not a sociologist. I am not a constitutional law expert.

But I am a dad. A brother. A son. A husband.

And my heart aches. It literally aches.

My intention with this blog is to always stay apolitical. To reflect on life as opposed to issuing political polemics. And today we will stay within those parameters.

For today, we will sit with this heartache.

God bless the black man from Baton Rouge.

God bless the black man from St. Paul.

God bless each of the officers killed and wounded in Dallas.

May the families of all of these human beings find some comfort.

Nothing is more important than the lives of these human beings – no politician, no Second Amendment, no rights, no power.

This country is broken, seriously broken.

We are so far from where we could be.

Right now, hate trumps love. Violence trumps peace. Death trumps life.

We are left to grieve more senseless deaths.

And to try and make the peace.

We may ask God to help us, but we are the ones who will have to act.

There is no one else.

What are we prepared to do?

Blog Post # 117 – Never Arriving

We are never finished.

We never cross the finish line.

We never get to sit back and tell ourselves job well done.

There are always other races to complete.

Other mountains to climb.

Other goals to achieve.

In this age of comfort and distraction, it is far too easy to believe our own hype.

To believe that we have arrived.

Fact is – we have so much more to do.

What we accomplished before today is gone, in the ether, the distant past.

We need you in the game today.

The game of your life.

Living and striving, yet never arriving.

For as soon as we start patting ourselves on the back, life hits us in the mouth.

Inaction = inertia = stagnation = falling back.

The mindset of improving, tweaking, pushing and reaching is what we are after.

What are we going to reach for today?

Blog Post # 116 – Hold On Loosely

How do we handle the aftermath?

Many years back, actor Dennis Franz portrayed a recovering alcoholic and NYC police detective named Andy Sipowicz.

SIpowicz had a fiery temper and struggled every day with his alcoholism.

Towards the end of the first season, Detective Sipowicz’s son, also a member of the police force, was shot and killed by some criminals.

The episode actually begins with the death of Andy, Jr.

Sipowicz swings into survival mode and takes care of everything. He notifies Andy, Jr.’s mother – Sipowicz’s estranged ex-wife. Sipowicz makes all of the funeral arrangements and he works with his fellow police to catch the guy that killed his son.

The last scene of the episode was harrowing.

We see Sipowicz sitting on the last stool of the bar. He has a stiff drink sitting in front of him.

The camera pans back and forth from the alcohol to Sipowicz’s pained face.

You can tell how much he wants to blot out his pain with the booze.

Finally, Sipowicz gulps down the drink and asks the bartender for another.

Over the next few episodes, Sipowicz is drunk and makes a complete ass of himself.

Of course, he just buried his son.

This episode strikes a little too close to home.

I often find myself holding things together – through the sheer force of will, but eventually that will breaks and I slide off into my own struggles.

Some people, like me, are great in a fight, a struggle or a challenge. But when the dust settles, that is when the “real” struggle begins.

Oftentimes, it seems that holding things together during conflict is easier than staying true to myself in times of peace.

This is probably because I “get through” by white knuckling it and trying so hard to control things.

When I surrender to the reality of the moment – whether the moment includes crisis or serenity – I am better able to stay centered and grounded.

For today, let us take things as they come. To hold on loosely. To let things go and to stay true to ourselves.

Blog Post # 115 – What’s Holding Us Back?

What is holding us back?

Are we even aware of what it is?

What is one concrete thing that we can do this morning to move on, to strive forward?

Perhaps we could probably develop a list of three or four things towards which we feel resistance.

But for today, we are only going to attack one thing.

We may choose to write it down.

We may meditate upon it.

We may ask ourselves – where is the resistance coming from?

Sometimes, when we succeed in getting in touch with our resistance, the idea of success may seem overwhelming.

Like something that we could never hope to overcome.

But becoming aware of it and writing it down helps to ease the resistance.

To give boundaries to the thing that is holding us back.

Defining the single biggest step that is holding us back today gives us a little power over it.

If we then take a whack at that resistance head on by taking one small action towards overcoming it today, we begin to get unstuck.

This is why centering is so important, why we need to reflect and keep asking ourselves what, exactly, is stopping us.

We need you. We need you at your best.

Your resistance is not doing anyone any good, especially you.

Set yourself free.

Blog Post # 114 – Unbroken

Louis Zamperini was born in 1917 to Italian immigrants.

He excelled in track, setting the high school record for the mile in 1934 with a time of 4 minutes, 21.4 seconds.

Louis ran the 5,000 meter event in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Although he did not receive a medal, he did stand within spitting distance of Adolf Hitler.

He trained for the 1940 Olympics, which were canceled due to World War II.

Louis enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier.

In May 1943, Louis and 11 airmen went out in their bomber to look for a plane that had been shot down.

Their own plane was shot down. Louis and 2 other airmen survived.

They had a life raft and a scant amount of food.

Louis survived 47 days out in the ocean. That’s a month and a half.

In Louis’s biography, Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand goes into harrowing detail of Louis’s life on the lifeboat. One of his boatmates ate all of the food.

Louis and the other survivor had to fend off sharks and kill birds with their own hands in order to have something to eat.

Their reward for surviving those six weeks out on the boat was to land on an island where they were quickly captured by Japanese soldiers.

Louis and his friend then spent more than two years in a Japanese internment camp.

They were finally rescued shortly before the end of the war.

Louis returned to the U.S. where he struggled with alcoholism.

The book details the extensive measures Louis took in order to forgive his captors.

On this Independence Day, let me say that you will never read a tale of heroism, sacrifice, love of country and dedication to his fellow Americans than Unbroken.

The accounts of his time on the boat and in the internment camp continue to haunt me.

When I think my own life is difficult, I just think of Louis.

God bless Louis Zamperini and all of his fellow American heroes – our U.S. military.

Blog Post # 113 – Accepting All Outcomes

How do we handle adversity?

Do we throw up our hands and cry “woe is me?”

Or do we quietly accept where we are at the moment and do what we can to improve?

Resilience is one of the greatest human capacities.

A muscle that can be developed through reflection, introspection and acceptance.

We can demonstrate resilience in ways large and small.

By fighting for our children when they need us.

Or by accepting an outcome that we weren’t expecting.

Things will not always go our way.

In fact, they often do not.

If we have the ability to step back and outside the moment to reflect and decide exactly how to respond, we will be so much happier than if we just respond in anger or sadness as a matter of course.

This ability to pause and to summon the strength of resilience is what allows us to succeed.

And resilience is definitely needed if we are going to try something new, to challenge ourselves.

When we undertake a new, difficult endeavor, we have to do so with the mindset that there will be setbacks AND that no matter what those setbacks are, we will be ready to persevere, to overcome.

This is how real change occurs and how we keep going when change is difficult.

Blog Post # 112 – Enough

Breath.

Roof.

Music.

Sustenance.

Connection.

Mobility.

Rain.

Mind.

Health.

Warmth.

Water.

Friends.

Memories.

Sounds.

Sunshine.

Art.

Wilderness.

Gratitude.

Today.

Presence.

Love.

Enough.