Blog Post # 296 – Working Towards Failure

Everybody enjoys succeeding.

Success is a noble aim.

A goal to be achieved.

But let’s give a shout out to working towards failure.

Failure is a powerful teacher.

It teaches us what we did wrong.

Failure instructs that we are unbreakable.

That we can get up again and try for success once more.

Failure may be upsetting, embarrassing and/or disheartening.

But success can only teach us so much.

When we try something new or aim for a new plateau, we have to be willing to fail.

We must.

Otherwise, the successes won’t be as sweet.

When we work on strengthening our muscles, we have to allow for failure.

We push ourselves as hard as possible, but understand that sometimes the weights fight back.

On the topic of failure, Thomas Edison said “I have not failed 10,000 times—I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

This must be our mindset.

This must be our teacher.

For today, let us seek for improvement.

And to honestly let go of the result.

Go for it.

Blog Post # 295 – A Lifetime of Goodbyes

After a child is born, it is hard to leave them with a babysitter.

Even if it is a grandparent or trusted friend.

We say goodbye and hope for the best.

But the brief separation almost always goes fine and our child survives.

Later, when we drop them off at daycare or school for the first time, we feel guilt, sadness and a bit of trepidation.

Totally natural.

Although we may not want to, we say goodbye and hope for the best.

Children generally survive daycare and grade school without a problem.

Still later, our children go off to high school and those same feelings kick in.

Future goodbyes include when they go off to college, move out permanently and eventually get married.

Today, I dropped our eldest son off at the Metro bus for him to take to his high school downtown.

That familiar sadness of a quick goodbye kicked in once again.

Life is a series of goodbyes.

We say goodbye to children, to friends and to parents.

Saying goodbye is never easy.

The sadness and worry never goes away.

All we can do is send them on their way and hope and pray for the best.

Still not easy.

Blog Post # 294 – You Can Get What You Want or You Can Just Get Old

When I was 12 or 13, our neighbor across the street, Mr. Foster, hired me to scrape paint off his back stucco wall and to then paint that wall.

He paid me by the hour.

Sad to say, I did not work particularly fast.

But he was very patient and paid me for all of the time that I spent scraping paint.

For my prior birthday, my parents had given me a boom box.

Each morning, I went across the street with my thermos, my boom box and my Billy Joel tapes.

My Uncle Chris had keyed me in on Billy Joel years ago.

I once called Jackie McCoy on KADI radio and asked her to play Piano Man, Billy’s most popular hit.

I taped it when the song aired and listened to it over and over and over.

But I did have actual Columbia tapes of some of his best albums – Glass Houses and the Stranger.

My personal favorite was a song called Vienna.

My favorite line – “but you know that when the truth is told, you can get what you want or you can just get old.”

Man, Billy really knew how to put down the aging process.

It was a binary choice – getting what you want or getting old.

And getting old sounded so lame.

But BIlly was right.

We can get what we want.

If we put in the work.

A lot of work.

Much more work and hustle than I did scraping and painting that wall.

But I have come to believe that human beings are amazing creatures.

And that we can decide to make things happen.

And work towards that goal.

Big goals.

Billy was also right in that this is a choice.

We can sit around getting older each day.

Or we can get what we want.

What will we decide today?

What will we decide this year?

This life?

As this new year begins, I hope and pray that you get everything you want out of life.

Peace.

Blog Post # 293 – Broken Resolutions

EDITOR’S NOTE: For some reason, WordPress didn’t push out yesterday’s blog post. Sorry about that. (Ironic given the topic, but the post was written on time).

January 1.

So many past broken resolutions.

Grand, delusional resolutions.

“I am going to lose 40 pounds this year.”

“I am going to budget and save a lot more this year.”

“I am going to spend more time with my family this year.”

The vast majority of these resolutions are forgotten by about January 10th.

The gyms thin out.

The restaurants and bars fill back up.

The budget gets ignored.

How about this year we try something a bit different?

The un-resolution.

To simply acknowledge that we lack 100% resolve.

That we have moments of weaknesses.

That we do not have to bring about change in a perfect manner.

It is the striving that is important.

The perseverance.

The refusal to give up.

And instead of promising ourselves to make the change at some later today, we could choose to bring about change in the present moment.

To live our change in the present, not the future.

To realize that now is the only time we have control over.

What we put in our mouth, what we spend, what we choose to focus upon.

Perhaps resolve to live in the moment.

And to be gentle with ourselves.

To know we won’t be perfect.

To know that our resolve is finite.

And to just do our best in the here and now.

Day by day.

Until actual change has occurred.

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.