Blog Post # 292 – Our Second Act

There is always a second act.

A second chance.

A second go-round.

We do not have to be perfect today.

We just need to not give up.

To try again.

To do our best when confronted with the next opportunity.

We cannot quit.

We cannot concede.

We cannot give in to the defeat.

We use it.

Channel it.

Harness it.

Make it drive us.

Push us towards success.

It may feel like the fates are conspiring us against us.

Keep going.

Keep pushing.

Create something better.

Something bigger.

Something 10x better than you thought you would have.

And never, ever give up.

Blog Post # 291 – Whack A Mole

When I attended college, my friend Mark had a theory about self-improvement.

He posited that we all have character defects, things about ourselves that we wanted to change or areas for improvement.

However you wanted to phrase it.

Spending, eating, drinking, no exercise, sex, etc.

Pick your vice.

Mark thought that the issue with working on an area for improvement was that when you focused on one area, the other areas magnified.

Got stronger.

Became more problematic.

That you could not fix everything at once.

He likened it to the carnival game of whack a mole.

You try to whack one mole and another mole pops up quickly.

I recall this theory often.

Especially when I start working on one area to improve myself.

Perhaps the trick is not living in extremes.

Where we are fighting a flaw or completely ignoring it.

Ruling it or being ruled by it.

Balance is what we are after.

Checking in on each of our coping mechanisms.

Acknowledging their power, doing what we can to overcome without going off the deep end.

For today, let us sit with our issues.

Give them their due.

Refuse to concede to them.

But to not let our new behavior take us off in some extreme direction.

Where everything else falls apart.

Blog Post # 290 – Another Year Ends

Another year draws to a close.

How did we spend it?

Did we live our life fully?

Were we fully engaged?

What did we hide from?

2017 offers us another 365 days.

What will we do with it?

Where will our focus be?

Who will we connect with?

There’s no guarantee that we will be here next year.

How does that impact us?

Might we reframe things?

Does that help us distil what is truly important?

This life is a blessing.

Do we know that in our brain?

Do we believe that in our heart?

Do we instill that into the fiber of everything we do?

We cannot sell ourselves short.

Can we go all in?

Can we strive for incremental improvement each day?

What is our ultimate goal?

The answer is up to us.

Blog Post # 289 – Going Through the Motions

Going through the motions.

Cruising and coasting.

When our heart is not truly into it.

The motions.

When we notice ourselves proceeding in this way, we need to recommit.

Refocus.

To find our why.

Or we need to get out of the way and let someone else do it.

Half-hearted enthusiasm doesn’t help anyone.

When we interact with another and only put forth 30% effort, they can sense it.

They know that they aren’t getting our maximum.

Mediocrity is the result.

And it is what we don’t want.

Going through the motions is selfish.

It represents a lack of sharing.

And of not being fully present.

For today, let us bring our full selves to everything that we do.

To pour ourselves into the moment.

Awake. Alive. Aware. Engaged.

More emotions, less motions.

Today and everyday.

Even if our heart isn’t into it.

Blog Post # 288 – Effect on the Hearer

When I attended law school, one of my favorite classes was Evidence.

In Evidence, you learned about all of the rules of evidence. The rules of evidence govern what gets presented to the jury and what gets excluded.

About 25 percent of the class focuses on hearsay, which is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

Think of a witness in the witness box discussing a conversation that she had with the defendant.

Fun stuff, huh?

Anyway, one important concept in hearsay is actually an exception to the hearsay rule which is when you offer the statement not for the truth contained in the statement, but rather for the “effect on the hearer.”

Effect on the hearer.

Twenty years out of law school, I still think about the effect on the hearer.

But not in the context of trial work.

I often ask myself when I say something unkind or harsh – I wonder what the effect on the hearer is following my statement.

The phrase stuck with me because “hearer” is such a strange word that we don’t use in normal conversation.

We have hearers all around us – clients, lovers, parents, children, strangers.

And our words have “effect.” Effect on the hearer.

The effect of building the hearer up or beating them down.

Words and effects.

Words are very powerful. Just think of harsh things that people said to you years ago that you still remember.

They had an effect on you.

For today, let us picture our words. Let us envision our words traveling from our lips into the ears of those around us. Let us think before we speak.

And instead of hate or anger or frustration, to express love and respect.

Peace.

Blog Post # 287 – Maximum Me

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how much effort did it take to perform that leg press?” asked Annabel.

“I would say an 8,” I replied.

Amany, my wife, giggled.

Annabel, the trainer, looked at me and said gently, “I would give that a 4.”

Ouch.

Last week, Amany and I learned about the different pieces of exercise equipment at the Lodge.

Our new friend Annabel showed us around.

Now, when I was pushing on that leg press, I thought that I was putting forth close to maximum effort.

Apparently not.

This is why it is good to not do everything by ourselves.

Too easy to tell ourselves that our BS is true.

It also shows the importance of having a guide when we are uncharted territory.

(The gym is pretty much uncharted territory for me.)

But I have been pondering over this little exchange.

And I ask myself, if I could have been so wrong about the amount of effort that I put forth in pushing on that machine, what other areas of my life might I be wrong about when it comes to maximum effort.

Because, you see, there is this other Jim out there.

A Jim that I call Maximum Jim.

He’s where I am headed. My big audacious goal.

I see glimpses of him from time to time.

But it is starting to dawn on me that it is going to take a lot more effort to even begin to approach Maximum Jim.

Effort at a level 8 or 9.

Stated differently, a 4 ain’t gonna cut it.

Let’s roll.

Blog Post # 286 – Empty Chair(s) at the Holiday Table

Holidays can bring joy.

But they can also be very hard.

Today, I’m thinking about friends who lost loved ones this year.

Friends who lost a father or mother.

A friend whose five-year-old and three-year-old nephews were murdered by their father.

Real loss. Tragic loss. Extreme grief.

For those of us lucky enough to not have suffered such sadness this year, we must celebrate this life.

To be 100% present in these moments of celebration.

To be in connection with those we love.

No matter who they voted for.

Life is precious, short.

This holiday season gives us the chance to spend time with our families.

Those of us lucky to have our families whole.

To those with empty chairs at the dinner table, we want you to know that you are loved.

You are special.

You are strong.

For today, let us reach out to someone who is hurting this day.

And connect.

Blog Post # 285 – When Lightning Strikes

Sometimes lightning does strike.

The bad guy wins.

A tragedy unfolds.

Life shifts in a single moment.

What do we do … then?

How do we react … then?

What is our response … then?

Option A would be to dive into a deep despair and worry about all the other horrible things that could happen.

Option B would be to ignore what just happened and try to bury it far away from us to the extent that we can.

The best option, perhaps, would be to acknowledge the event, think about it, reflect on it and try to work through it.

But to not let it control us.

Not define us.

Not own us.

The truth is our reality changes from moment to moment.

Time marches on and all of that.

We have to be ready for anything.

We keep toiling, striving and improving.

Because we never know what is waiting for us around the bend.

A lightning strike is neither inherently nor 100% bad.

We can learn from any situation.

And focused on the things that we ourselves actually have control over.

First and foremost, our response to the bad news.

And then we fight.

Blog Post # 284 – Revealing Our Vulnerabilities

Some folks keep things close to the vest.

 

Reluctant to reveal.

 

The approach is certainly understandable.

 

Not taking away from that mindset at all.

 

For me, being open about where I am at and what I am struggling with has really helped.

 

This blog is basically me transcribing the ideas that bounce around in my head.

 

Some of them resonate with some people.

 

Some of them don’t.

 

But I enjoy writing about what I’m thinking about, what I’m feeling and what is bothering me.

 

Writing about my fears regarding the President-elect has certainly been cathartic.

 

We have friends, family or lovers in our lives with whom we can discuss anything at all.

 

It is so important to maintain this outlet.

 

When we are struggling, we may isolate.

 

This hyper-connected world can actually be quite lonely.

 

And when we are alone, the silly ideas get louder in our brain.

 

Talking about our vulnerability, being open to it, exploring it and examining it helps us to make sense of what is going on.

 

It is a tricky time to be alive.  

 

Things seem upside down.

 

For today, let us take a few minutes to check in with our vulnerabilities.  

 

And see where that takes us.

Blog Post # 283 – Well, Duh

Sometimes, we think too much.

So as to excuse our choices.

Maybe we are fat because we eat too much and exercise too little.

Maybe we are depressed because we drink too much alcohol, a depressant.

Maybe we perform poorly at school or at work because we don’t work hard enough.

Well, duh.

Sometimes, the easiest answer is the correct one.

Not to say we should omit nuance and clarification from our playbook.

Rather, sometimes our weight is just math (calories in, calories out), our mental state is based on our consumption and our performance is a natural result of our effort.

Maybe we should think less.

Keep it simple.

And focus on the things that we can control.

The choices that we actually have.

And latch on to the things that will set us free.