Blog Post # 341 – Top of Your Game

 

 

All-star.

Professional.

Top of our game.

What does it take to be the best?

Do we really want to put in the work to be the best?

Or do we settle for “close enough?”

The amount of work it takes to be pretty good is about half of what it takes to reach the summit.

To be the # 1 in our field.

The last few steps to the top of the mountain are the hardest.

Yes, we know our stuff.

Yes, we do a good job.

But to claim the mantle of the best takes a whole lot more.

The best baker.

The best mother.

The best mathematician.

To reach this highest ground, we have to grind.

We have to work.

We must perfect our craft.

It also takes a tremendous amount of incredible focus.

Eschewing things that do not help us get to where we want to be.

Saying no a whole lot more often.

So that we can say yes to success.

The ultimate success.

For today, let us envision being the best.

Visualize what is going to take to get there.

And get started.

Blog Post # 340 – Clank

I grew up on the best street ever.

Arch Terrace.

One day, I will write a novel about it.

The street was filled with some of the greatest characters.

Our Catholic grade school and parish church were at one end of the Terrace, our house towards the other end.

We would walk down Arch Terrace a couple of times a day – to school, to church, to the school parking lot where all of our fun took place.

The neighbors on Arch Terrace were as close as people can be.

Nobody had a big yard and everyone’s house was very close to the house beside it.

To say that everyone was up in everyone else’s business would be quite an understatement.

It was an idyllic, special, special place.

One of the houses that we would pass on the way to school and church was the Wagners.

My friend and classmate Chris Wagner lived there.

Chris’s mom and dad were dear friends of my parents and we were over there all the time.

Nina was the mom. Clarence was the dad. But no one called him Clarence.

He was Clank.

Clank and my dad were good friends.

They traded tools back and forth often and helped each other out on their crazy projects.

My dad would be building a deck for someone on the street and he would need a special tool.

He would send me over to the Wagners and Clank would tell me to just go ahead and take whatever my dad needed.

I remember that Clank and Nina hosted my dad’s surprise 40th birthday party.

That would have been 36 years ago.

A lifetime ago.

A different life. A different time.

One Christmas, the Hackings and the Wagners were the last ones to take their Christmas tree lights down.

Either my dad or Clank suggested that we have a contest to see whose lights would last the longest.

No replacement of any bulbs was allowed.

If all your lights burned out, you lost.

If you forgot to turn the lights on, you lost.

Chris and I were usually in charge of turning the lights on each night.

Clank and dad made sure that we did.

The Post-Dispatch put Chris and I on the front page of the newspaper.

Voice of America radio carried the story and the Wagners’ relatives in Germany heard about it.

My dad and Clank eventually stopped the contest after a year and a half because President Carter asked Americans to conserve energy.

Clank Wagner would give you the shirt off his back and ask if you needed another one.

We all loved Clank and Nina.

Dear, dear friends to my parents.

Mr. Wagner passed away suddenly this week.

He went to bed and did not wake up.

Clank and Nina raised 2 wonderful sons and 2 amazing daughters – Annie, Joe, Chris and Nina.

Special people, one and all.

Godspeed, Clank. You were truly loved.

Blog Post # 339 – Power Time

Some folks that I know are morning people.

Others get their work done late at night.

I, for one, seem to accomplish more in my first 4 hours of the day than I do in the evening.

I’m not one of those people that can drive overnight for a vacation.

In the morning, I am rested.

My mind is clear.

I can focus and pay attention a whole lot better.

When I was young, my father woke us up every morning at 5:45.

“Jimmy! Kerry! Molly! Rise and shine. Another beautiful day for the Corps.”

(He had been in the Marine Corps).

So, I suppose that I had the early morning schedule drilled into me at a young age.

This year, I have been driving my eldest son downtown to school most mornings.

I have not been able to tap into my early morning reserves since September.

But my wise wife recommended that I start going in early on Saturdays.

And it really worked. Yet again.

I was able to finish a significant amount of work in just a few short hours last Saturday.

For today, let us find our body’s rhythm.

Figure out what our best time of day is.

And do what we can to not be interrupted during this time slot.

Best of luck.

Blog Post # 338 – Work that Matters

(This one didn’t post yesterday.  Sorry for the error).

Yes, we are busy.

We are all so busy.

Love to tell each other how unbelievably busy we are.

But what are we doing?

How are we really spending our time?

We must focus on work that matters.

Work that changes the dynamic.

Work that helps us leap forward instead of just puttering along.

So easy to spin our wheels in the triviality.

Much harder to turn off the phone, close the browser, dig in and do real work.

For today, let us be less busy.

Maybe get a few less things on our to do list checked off.

And instead, focus on the one or two things that really matter.

That really help us move forward.

Leave the rest alone.

It will surely be there tomorrow too.

Blog Post # 337 – Borrowed Time

Today is a gift.

Let us not waste it.

Tomorrow may never come.

Be present – right here – in the moment.

The fact that we are alive right now is a miracle.

Over the years, friends from high school have died.

One crushed by a car.

One by an apparent suicide.

One died on a hike.

A dear friend from law school died on my birthday a few years back after being struck by a car while she was pumping gas.

Live today as if it is your last.

See if that helps focus you.

Let’s you see what is truly important.

And what is not.

Not offering this from a place of fear.

But rather one of strength and love.

For today, let us ground ourselves in the moment.

And savor the sunrise, the sunset and every instance in between.

We are all truly living on borrowed time.

Let’s make the most of it.

Blog Post # 336 – A Space Certain

Compass

What’s important?

Important to you.

Money?

Success?

Love?

Spirituality?

Family?

Its funny that the most important aspects of a life well-lived can usually be summed up in a single word.

Interesting too is the fact that when we focus on one of these (or some other) aspects of life, they tend to grow.

If we devote time and energy to our most important thing, that thing will grow.

Like a muscle.

Conversely, if we simply say these things are important to us, but put little to no effort in achieving them, they will never come to pass.

So our job is to discern what is important – most important – to us and then work towards achieving it.

And then working some more.

Focus and hustle.

Focus and hustle.

Throw in some perseverance and tenacity and we are on our way.

Simplistic, perhaps.

But without a firm commitment to a space certain, we will spin our wheels and never get there.

Never get anywhere.

Godspeed to you.
I hope that you identify what is most important for you.

And that you take a few steps towards that destination today.

Blog Post # 335 – Talk With, Not At

Last week, the producer for a local conservative television talk show host invited me onto the show to discuss the President’s executive order.

The show is called the Allman Report and is hosted by talking head, Jamie Allman.

I agreed to the in-studio interview.

A short time later, dread and worry started to creep in.

“Why did I agree to do this?” I asked myself.

The worry escalated when I spent some time on the Allman Report website.

When I say that Mr. Allman is conservative, it is a bit of an understatement.

His support of President Trump is strong to say the least.

I watched a few recent episodes where Jamie discussed immigration and other hot button issues.

Jamie is a forceful speaker with a megaphone for a voice box.

Great voice for radio and TV.

I spent a lot of time preparing.

I watched Jamie discuss immigration with former Missouri Speaker of the House, Tim Jones.

I listened to his radio show.

The concern for the interview increased significantly.

I arrived at the studio with some trepidation, but I felt like I had prepared.

I was expecting the worst.

Jamie’s first question to me was about something I had posted on social media – a Facebook post criticizing Tom Brady for the display of his Make America Great Again hat in his locker at Gillette Stadium.

“Oh, he’s been checking my social media?” I worried.

But then a funny thing happened, Jamie let me tell my side of the story.

I got the chance to share everything that I thought about the Executive Order.

He did not bite my head off.

He did not try and twist my words.

We had a very civil discussion.

Jamie acknowledged his “right wing” bent and I acknowledged my liberal views on immigration.

We had a very civil and fun discussion of an important complex topic.

I was not expecting that.

But this is what we need more of in America.

Less yelling, more dialoguing.

If two guys on opposite ends of the political spectrum can discuss immigration like this, we can certainly talk to our friends without going bonkers.

Fact is we are probably not going to convince each other of our position.

But we may open up some minds to alternative ways of thinking.

Not alternative facts, but alternative thought processes.

Good stuff.

Blog Post # 334 – Frank and Martha

When my parents first got married, they lived in a two-family flat owned by an older German couple.

The man was named Frank. The woman was named Martha.

They came to America from Germany after World War II.

I can still remember Frank’s scent – a combination of cigarettes and strength.

Martha helped my mom during my first two years of life and beyond.

The couple both had heavy accents.

Martha taught me how to sing Frere Jacques in German.

Frank worked at the brewery making beer.

Each month, the brewers got to take home 2 cases of beer each month.

To cut down on employee theft.

Frank often shared the beer with my dad.

So my life began in a house of immigrants.

This just dawned on me for the first time.

In his youth, Frank had seen Adolf Hitler in a parade.

I now have a client who is from Iraq.

He saw Saddam Hussein once too.

One day, when I was older, my dad told me that Frank had finally saved up enough to buy a Mercedes-Benz.

He paid for it in cash.

With the money he made at the brewery.

Do people really save like that anymore?

I loved Frank and Martha.

My first immigrants.

In a lifetime blessed by immigrants.

I love this country.

Blog Post # 333 – I Forgot

O.

M.

G.

I forgot to write a blog post yesterday.

Lots of excuses.

I could say it got caught up in WordPress.

Or I forgot to hit send.

But what really happened is that I got out of my routine a bit.

Didn’t write it first thing.

And then my day was off to the races.

O.

M.

G.

This is a test.

Big part of me wants to say the streak is dead.

Let’s quit.

But I think not.

The blog is dead.

Long live the blog.

This is to help me discern whether I want to keep going after blog post # 365.

Signs point to yes.

And this just made it easier.

Blog Post # 332 – Life of Service

Service.

How do we serve others?

Do we help build people up?

Or tear them down?

Working in a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly, helping a neighbor.

These are all examples of service.

But what if we viewed every human interaction as a gift of service?

To be less self-consumed and focused more upon helping another.

We can choose to incorporate service into our workplace, our home life, anywhere we go.

Putting others first as much as we can.

Not to the point of denying ourselves the things we need.

But when we adopt an approach of service, things become clear.

When confronted with a decision, we ask ourselves how does this best serve another?

Working as an immigration lawyer allows me to serve my clients in important ways.

To help them move up the immigration ladder.

I could view my job as busy work – filling out forms and attending interviews.

But, for me, my occupation is infused with numerous opportunities to serve.

Some of this is perspective.

Some of it is worldview.

But for the most part, finding the way to serve the most people in the most effective way has always served me well.

For today, try and find the opportunities for service.

I think you will feel better about your day.