Fictional case study #2 (Good guy Gary)

‘the path to success is to take massive, determined actions’ – Tony Robbins

 

It is interesting that we often look outside of ourselves for direction and advice.  We ask others what they would do. We actually value that advice more than we consider our very own.  Most people are just built that way. And with today’s social media world, it’s all on display. We’re constantly evaluating our choices, actions, posts…by the amount of likes or type of comments we get.  It’s harder to go truly insular these days, and stay discipline with your own feelings and opinions. But for the select few that can go there…and that can keep returning there…the payoff will be insane!

Take this fictional story as an example of that:  Gary is a 41 year old good guy. He works for an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) company.  He has a 5 year old daughter named Madison. Gary is divorced and has his own place.

He’s recently noticed that he’s about 30 pounds overweight.  He feels strong from the work he does, but he hasn’t seen his own muscle definition since two years out of high school.  He has that trendy new shape that’s now a popular hashtag on instagram…#dadbod. And even though that trend has made it seem more acceptable to wear the extra layer of blubber, he knows how much more attractive he’d be…how healthier he’d feel…if he lost the weight, or better yet…turned most if that weight into muscle!

Another thought that Gary has been having lately, is that he recognizes that he is modeling behavior for his daughter Madison.  She soaks up everything at this young age, and is watching his every move. As she’s growing up, he’s having more and more conversations with her about healthy eating and exercise…but when Madison is at Mom’s house, Gary is eating chips on the couch.  He isn’t practicing what he’s preaching. And deep down, he knows that he’s influencing his daughter. In some way, she’s going to inherently take on some of his practices. We are all ‘products of our environment’. Sure, there is the nature vs. nurture debate.  But either way, we are shaped by what we come from. The apple still falls from the tree, regardless of how far it rolls away.

Gary hasn’t done much research on exercise.  Like most of us, he hasn’t majored in exercise science…but he understands that some cardio, some strength training, and a lot of eating healthy is what will transform his body.  And he wants to get to the gym…he just doesn’t know which one to go to.  There’s Planet Fitness over here, Bikram Yoga over there, a power-lifting gym, a place that coaches olympic lifting…not to mention the 3 new crossfit gyms in town! bHe told himself (and his daughter) that one of his New Year’s resolutions was to get into better shape.  But it’s mid March now, and he figures it’s too late to have a beach body ready for the summer. He might as well wait until Fall to start really making a push for the next summer.

As Gary starts thinking about it too much, you can see how he starts getting into trouble.

He’s also feeling a little insecure…not that he would come out and say that to anyone! When he was a kid, his dad taught him that men don’t show emotions or feelings like that. Most of Gary’s buddies though, belong to one of these local gyms, or at least play men’s league basketball once a week.  Gary runs out of breath just going up a flight of stairs. He doesn’t want to have to start at square one at the gym, when everyone else is killing it. He’d be ‘that guy’…the one that can’t bench-press the big 45 pound weight plates…the one that’s sweating all over the elliptical machine after 5 minutes of use.  He doesn’t want to be that guy. Actually, he doesn’t want others to see him as that guy. This is again, an example of how some of us let others control how we live (or don’t live) our lives.

And even though this isn’t something Gary would discuss with Madison, it’s somehow passed down to her anyway.  Gary thinks he puts off an ‘I live on my terms’ vibe to his daughter…but the subconscious nuance to that is out of his control.  The subtleties of his actions, of his reactions, of his initial responses to everyday occurrences…are unfortunately telling Madison, ‘our family doesn’t crush it.  We worry some…about how we come across to others. We think and talk, more than we actually do.’  Gary could tell Madison how important it is to not worry about what others think, but his actions are creating 10x the results in the opposite direction.  It isn’t even a contest.

/nuᐧance/ – a subtle difference in;  shade of meaning, expression, or sound.

Another thought Gary has been having is about his gear.  His running shoes are so old and dirty. He only has 2 or 3 pair of athletic shorts.  His ipod is big and clunky and old and doesn’t hold a charge. He sees that everyone else has cool stuff!  New compression shorts and pants, bright sneakers and socks, and that cool armband thing that conveniently holds a new ipod out of the way.  And everyone pretty much only wears dryfit materials now, which Gary has none of. He thinks he’s going to look stupid…no matter what he does.  He thinks he should probably stock up on some of this gear over time…then he’ll be ready for the gym.  

On top of that, he knows the potato chips and chillaxing on the couch needs to change. He actually has some good ideas about eating healthy, but he thinks that he should finish up eating all of the junk in the house, as not to waste, then start getting healthier with his diet.  Once he gets his diet right, then he’ll feel more ready to approach the gym.

Boy…some of us can see that Gary is soft…physically and mentally.  He should just go! Who cares about all that stuff he’s worrying about?  

On the other hand, some of us can truly identify with Gary.  Sometimes it feels that we need to first take care of A, in order to feel comfortable trying B.  And sometimes it seems that other people have all the right stuff. And we don’t. But that’s just a losing mentality.  

By thinking too much…by wondering what ‘most others’ are doing…by giving energy to what other people might feel…Gary has already lost.  

If he focused on doing, and just starting somehow…he’d be well on his way to ‘healthy Gary’, who would be (by the way), the absolute best role model for Madison.  

At the first hint of a feeling that Gary had about being out of shape (that very day!), he should have laced up the old running shoes and gone out for a 5k run…no ipod necessary.  Leaving from his house, taking it nice and slow, he could easily complete the 3.1 miles. Imagine the pride and sense of accomplishment after that! Then, he could have made stir fry vegetables and rice for dinner…with some yogurt (instead of ice-cream) for dessert.  

Now picture Gary’s mindset the following morning…as opposed to all of that negative thinking he was doing in the other model.  Imagine the effect and influence on Madison that next morning as they approach the day together. I wonder what different experiences they’d have.  I wonder how much more she’d be exposed to in her childhood, going this route. And I wonder how much further Madison would reach into her own potential, living with a dad who creates action, instead of one who sits and worries.  

I don’t think we understand this effect as well as we should.  I know that I don’t myself. And I’m trying to be more aware of it every single day.  It is very obvious that the far majority of us have wonderful intentions. We all, of course, want the best for our children.  Gary wants Madison to be healthy…and wants her to know how to achieve and maintain that lifestyle.  And deep down, we all believe that we’re teaching our children all about what is right and wrong.  It’s worth considering though, that within that teaching, it’s much more effective to focus on doing…not on lecturing or thinking.  

 

Thank you for reading!

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Fictional Case Study (julie’s jelly)

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When we do more than we think (more actions with less pondering), we create the paths that we choose to walk down.  We make our own life happen, the way we want it to…the way that is most tailored for who we are deep down to the core.  We live, and die on our own sword.  

Take this fictional story as an example:  33 year old mom of two boys, Julie…wants to start her own jelly business.  She’s passionate about the strawberry jelly she makes at home. Her family loves it. She wants to start selling it online, to get it to as many folks as possible, and to create another stream of income for the family.  Her job as an elementary school teacher doesn’t provide her with the income that she really desires.

Julie tells her coworker (John) about her business idea at lunch break.  John says, ‘yeah that sounds fun, but I don’t think I’d ever buy jelly over the internet.’  

Julie then tells her boss Stacey (the principal at her school), who she is really friendly with. Stacey says, ‘It’s a good idea, but I tried selling candles online….and it didn’t really amount to much.  It’s harder than it looks.’

I hope you can identify with Julie.  She is really passionate and interested in her idea, but the two people that she thought would encourage her the most to go do it…actually shot her idea down.  Now, if Julie is thick-skinned, and loves a ‘chip on her shoulder’ attitude, she can use it to motivate her even more so. But most of us would start second guessing our idea, thinking, ‘maybe it is too hard to sell online…I’m not sure people will buy my jelly after all’.  Before you know it, Julie has put the recipe, canning jars, and label maker in the back of the cabinet.  

John and Stacey aren’t to blame for this.  If we went back and told them how Julie felt after speaking to them, they’d probably say that they didn’t mean to deter her at all…she probably caught them at a tough time during the day…and they actually really believe in Julie’s business idea…of course she should do it!  They were telling stories that they thought would be valuable to Julie, knowing what to expect when she does do it.  

This story illustrates the fact that we often put our hopes and dreams in the hands of others.  And we often choose people who aren’t necessarily ready to accept, and then motivate us in a way that’s tailor made for us.  We’re actually expecting too much from others when we do that. We look to others (who aren’t even aware by the way) to inspire and motivate us…to encourage our ideas.  That’s just a losing mentality.

I understand wanting to tell people what your up to.  It’s realistic that we’re going to socialize and share what’s top of mind.  But we need to be totally cognizant of what’s going on, in order to not get discouraged about our own ideas.  We need to be the one in control.

If Julie is like most people, when her husband asks her about that business she wanted to start, she’ll now have excuses and blame to be placed…both of which have nothing to do with her own self.  She may even start complaining more about her co-workers, and the fact that she doesn’t have enough money, and that the government makes it too hard to start businesses where she lives, and that learning to be tech savvy, and to figure out social media branding takes way too long and isn’t worth it.  

Because of what someone else said, and how they seemed to feel about it, she now isn’t going to follow up on her idea.  So sad! Do you see how Julie isn’t truly in control of her own life? She’s now dying on John and Stacey’s sword!

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What Julie could have done, had she considered doing more than thinking, is create an Etsy and Pinterest account and start tinkering with the sites, realizing which would be best for her.  After a couple of hours, she’d be savvy enough to post simple pictures and text.

She could have brainstormed a simple and catchy business name, and created an interesting logo for her brand.

She might have researched prices and locations for strawberries and sugar, and jars and labels, in order to find the most affordable way of getting a jar totally ready for the market.  

She could have created a Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat account for her jelly, so that she’d be able to get the attention of others with her brand.  

She may have called 15 local food, garden, and furniture stores, asking if her jelly could be sold there.  

She even could have started her own podcast…recording episodes mostly focused on everything jelly!

By the way, with today’s technology and opportunity, she could have done all of this on her laptop or phone while lying in bed wearing pajamas!  

And I have a funny feeling that if she had done all of this, and then went and told her co-workers, it would be a totally different conversation and outcome.  And even if the conversation was similar, the confidence and self-esteem Julie built up through her work, would allow her to smirk at the otherwise discouraging words said by John and Stacey.  

This Julie isn’t complaining or blaming.  She’s using all of her time and energy to do more.  She’s putting it all into her jelly business.  And guess who’s sword she’s living and dying on now?  Her own sword.

As much as I don’t want her to die, let’s look at how that actually is a possibility:

If we have to guts to live a life on our own terms, we must consider the fact that we will die that way too.  I respect and believe in that meritocracy all the way. We can’t have it one way, and not the other.

Look, Julie’s jelly might actually suck.  Maybe her family is spitting it out, or passing it to the dog under the table, and they’re too nice to be honest with her about it.  Julie could do all of this doing on the back of a crap product…and after the first round of sales, she’d die.  

Or, maybe Julie isn’t kind.  She doesn’t bring any value to the store owners that are carrying her product, she’s very hard to communicate with, and she doesn’t engage with any of her audience on the social media platforms.  She’s going to die.

While the doing should be the baseline…the norm…other variables like quality, consistency, kindness, value, etc. will certainly play their part.   

But remember, it feels so much better to die on your own sword than someone else’s.  As you can see, all of the blaming and responsibility come back to you when you put this into practice.  If your product didn’t work out how you anticipated that it would, it’s because of your own actions, or lack thereof.  This shouldering of all of the responsibility is actually liberating, though it seems more like pressure. Again, along with the control or autonomy you desire to have your own business or live your own life…you must accept the meritocracy…and the fact that it all comes back to you, good or bad.  Ultimate responsibility…ultimate freedom.

Now, if Julie’s jelly really does suck…all of that doing, experimenting, executing that she did, provided her with a foundation of data to sit on. All of the confidence and self-esteem and pride she has built up through the work, allows her a framework to adjust from.  Look, businesses mostly don’t get it right the first time. Great businesses listen to the market, and adjust accordingly. Julie may need to change the recipe, the label, the jar. She may need to adjust her attitude, her kindness level, her methods of communication. This is where we either fail and we’re done (we die on our own sword)…or we fail, learn, adjust, try (wield our sword again), and then win!   

To Do more than you think, means that you’re the one in control of your own destiny. You’re wielding your own sword. Your life isn’t happening to you…YOU are making your own life happen!

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Now, sharpen up that sword…and get out there!

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dear dad

originally published on father’s day, 2017

 


fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do’  – john mayer

fäT͟Hər:  a man in relation to his natural child or children

Dear dad,


today is a celebration of you…of all the characteristics and actions you take on in your parental role.  There is probably no greater responsibility in this world, so I hope you’ve taken the entire journey seriously.  And even considering that I’m now 37 years old, your job isn’t done.  You can’t retire from this one.  I need more from you.  I’m going to ask for more help and advice in the future…and your related position as a grandfather is just beginning.  

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Concord monitor photo – White Park – circa 1982 – fundamentals



Thinking of when you began the dad journey, I often wonder what you were thinking then…if you planned it out…how you anticipated the experience.  Did you put money aside…try to work extra hours?  Did you want a boy?  Were you nervous as hell?


I know that when I found out I was going to become a dad, a sway of emotions overtook me. And I immediately came to, ‘ok, how the heck am I going to do this?’  I read some books, inquired with other parents, and planned out many ideas…like my daughter will only eat fully organic foods, mixed up in this trendy new blender, and…I will only put reusable diapers on my daughters bum, and…I need to open a bank account for Matilda’s college fund asap! However, I found that some of these efforts were unrealistic.  Some too lofty.  And some came from advice from parents who made a ton of mistakes themselves.  In the end, we’re all ‘winging it’ as parents…doing the best we can…and practicing a lot of on-the-job training. No one knows all of the answers.  And many of the answers work only for specific children, or at specific times. Therefore, we can all judge a little less harshly.  

 

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presence


So dad, whatever you did during that time?  It’s great.  You probably made some tough decisions and came through with some great execution.  I thank you so much for that!  You probably made a ton of mistakes too…and you know what?  I forgive you for all of them.  I mean, look how I turned out!

I believe it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the details of what they must do in order for their kids to be the best on the block.  I find myself wrapped up in that all too often.  But if we step back and take a more general perspective, understanding that parents are more than the sum of all of their parts, we can cherish dearly the fact that our simple ‘presence’ within our children’s lives is what can contribute to a successful cultivation, an overall healthier society, and a fulfilled ‘next’ generation.

 

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Mom, Dad, and the Tilly Monster – this makes me happy



After all dad, I don’t remember you teaching me how to shave.  I don’t think it was you who showed me how to tie a neck tie.  And I’m not sure if you showed me how to tie my shoes with the one loop method or if that was someone else.  But I can’t remember a time when you weren’t present in my life.  You were always either there, or one simple thought away from being there.  I’ve always known where you were…or at least thought I did.  I can always think in my mind where you most likely are.  That must be so significant!  37 years of that presence.  That takes effort, and unconditional love, and careful attention.  That describes effective communication, and respect, and integrity, and strong morals and values. 

 

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Matilda’s 2nd Easter…with her Grampa
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the next phase…grandparenting

 

Sometimes I wonder how I became a certain way, or came to understand something, or why I believe in particular ideas, or practice parenting how I do.  I have to conclude that your presence has greatly contributed to that.  And again, many of these things seem to have been passed down with no direct speaking of, no detailed lesson taught (even though there were those too).  No, this feels more like a security that I was afforded and a comfort that I was allowed…in which I was able to grow and learn and start holding things as my own.  Thank you.  




I honestly do hope to be as good of a dad to Matilda as you’ve been to me.  There will be so many things I do differently though, and I know that’s ok.  I am trying to use that ‘presence’ though…and will continue.  Time will tell!



                                                                                  your son,

                                                                                  emailsig

 

Music:  I love this song…and it does have some ‘Dad’ connections within it.  Enjoy!

yes no, maybe so

your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision’ 

-Tony Robbins

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when the details on the surface are wiped away…what is left?

There are times in our life when we have to make a decision.  We find ourselves standing at a crossroads with options in front of us.  A typical crossroads would determine that we would have three options or choices. Picture driving up to an actual intersection of roads. It’s best to think of west.  The desert, tumbleweed, cacti, cactuses?  Both are accepted.  This setting just feels more serene and secluded.  And it’s just cool. No one is there to witness your decision.  It is just you and this place and the road you choose.  You can take a left, go straight, or take a right…3 choices.  Maybe a good way to use this analogy would be to match up each choice of road with an answer to the question, ‘should I do this?’  Of course ‘this’ can fit whatever situation you may have in your life.  With 3 choices of roads, road 1 is YES!  Road 2 is NO!  Road 3 is OTHER or MAYBE SO.


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she could make a new road with this!

 

Road 1

I think whenever we are asking ourselves ‘should I do this’, it’s usually because we already have a hunch that we want to do it.  ‘Go with your gut’, ‘follow your instincts’, ‘lead with your heart’, are all phrases that tell us we already know the answer.  Yes is the answer.  We know what we’d like to do, and deep down we know what we desire.  However, before we commit ourselves to road 1, we are faced with obstacles like fear and insecurity that will ostensibly reveal that this decision was a bad choice.  That’s terrible and very sad.  I think everyone needs more of road 1 in their life.  Be more of a ‘yes man’, and stop turning everything down. Embrace change and moving forward.  Covet growth and the learning process, especially when you find yourself on the edge of comfort.  Many of us talk about our passions and what we truly want to be doing.  We describe it to others.  We visualize it in vivid detail.  We think about how it will all play out in the future.  But then we don’t act.  This is why some psychologists have found that we shouldn’t actually talk about our goals.  By speaking about them, and receiving feedback from others, we actually feel a sense of accomplishment and we lose the passion, the edge, the motivation we once had.  This has happened to me many times.  It’s hard because we want to share our passion with others.  We want to bounce ideas. Maybe we should just share the tip of the iceberg…or bounce one small ball to someone. Don’t spill it before acting on it.  When is the best time to start acting on your passions?  Right now.  Immediately.  The clock is ticking.  

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‘Do what you want’ sounds negative and detached but if I teach and use effective language, I can help Matilda hold onto ‘acting on her desires’.  It’s really the same thing.  When we’re young, it’s natural for us.  But much like creativity, we tend to lose it along the road


 

Road 2

Being a ‘yes man’ and taking road 1 on your decisions can bring you places you never dreamed of.  However, there are often times when we have to say ‘no’.  Maybe you’re just done spending time with a certain person…maybe your schedule is full…maybe you’re just wiped out from being the challenges of parenting.  All these are totally justifiable.  I’ve learned that ‘no’ doesn’t have to be negative.  If we communicate to others our feelings and/or reasons along with our ‘no’, we should be comfortable and content in our position to turn something down.  Withing my business, I now notice myself saying ‘no’ more often.  I always try to say ‘yes’ and take road 1 when people have requests.  But for a variety of reasons, sometimes I turn things down.  In the past, I felt guilty or insecure about this.  But that doesn’t hold any weight.  I tell myself that if I can’t commit wholeheartedly to this decision, it won’t work out for either party.  Therefore, taking Road 2 can be understood as the best decision for all involved.  Road 2 shouldn’t be as worn and trodden as road 1, but don’t be afraid to lay new tracks when warranted.    


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‘I’m not ready to be done Dad.  I don’t want to leave yet’ is a phrase that I cherish and honor when I can. 
She’s taking Road 2, and saying ‘no’ to being done with something.

 

Road 3


Sometimes we can’t commit to a yes or no right now.  We aren’t ready to.  I actually use road 3 often.  I’m not so great at deciding on things right away.  I like to ruminate on the idea for a while…sleep on it in a sense.  I have come to realize that spontaneity is powerful and rewarding, and have started implementing that more in my day to day.  However, on some big decisions, I still hold value in deliberate consideration, weighing pros and cons over time and as I think of them, and documenting thoughts in a journal, before making a final choice. While mulling over an idea for a couple of days, an important variable will often arise that easily determines the outcome for me.  It’s like a subtle, ‘did you consider this?’  And I will know right then and there whether it’s road 1 or 2 that I’m taking.  Road 3 seems to be a loop around that brings you back to the same intersection later on.  It allows some soul searching, some road tripping, and a few pit stops to get your bearings and reassess your current location/situation.  

Maybe you have to let some time pass before you become close with that special someone. Perhaps you’re waiting for them to work something out on their end.  

You may need to save some money up, or line up your budget differently first.  

Maybe you feel overwhelmed and need to put a decision on the back burner until you feel more centered.  

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Decision making at the Scoop Deck

 

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What would you choose?  I go with something different every visit

 

Whatever it may be, we all have reasons to take road 3 at certain crossroads.  As I spoke of in the Road 2 section…be confident and content with your choice to wait on the decision.  It’s not a ‘non-decision’…it’s a decision to wait, and lock in to something when you are totally ready to do so.  With the quick pace of our lives, I’m often telling Matilda, ‘let’s go, make a decision quickly!’  But I try to catch myself…thinking, ‘wait…she can have all the time she wants to make a decision’ (within reason!).  I believe it will strengthen the ground she stands on, and empower her ability to make wise and timely decisions for the rest of her life.  

Be aware of your surroundings when you come to a crossroads.  Simply pay attention to your emotions and the physical changes taking place.  Take a breath before accelerating down the next road.  Remember, each and every even small decision will set your life onto a different path…possibly a different plane.  So choose wisely!  I wish you the best in your decision making!

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The sun is on me…and it feels good.

 

Music:  Kaleo is a band that started in Iceland.  That might contribute to their unique sound. I often forget about them for a while, and then hear them on the radio.  The sound is always intriguing…and since I don’t own any of their music, I always go home and put on some of their live stuff.  Matilda and I caught them live at the Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival last year.  They rock!  Give this song a listen!





always be closing

‘thoughts are great…but action leads to closing’         emailsig


A.B.C.


I must admit it…my house is a mess!  And…I just cleaned up that area.  How does it already look like a storm hit it?  


I have to confess…I’ve started a thousand projects around here, and about 999 of them still seem ‘under construction’.  


I should accept it.  I have a problem.  Actually many, but I’ll start with this one and see if I can find closure with it.

I peg myself as really good at coming up with ideas.  I have journals and sheets and post it notes collected with a bunch of random ideas.  These can be related to business, the house, relationships, professional development, investments, blah blah blah.  Most of my ideas are bad.  However, I believe that while coming up with many poor ideas…and documenting them…I’m bound to come up with a good one here and there.  It’s almost like I come up with 99 bad ideas for every one diamond in the rough.  It’s a low shooting percentage but hey, if you don’t shoot you can’t score.  

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Matilda comes up with the best ideas!


I do feel strongly about documenting by the way.  If you don’t put your thoughts and ideas and goals down on paper, or somewhere digitally, they’ll just float around in your head, and possible float out of your head for good.  Once you put them somewhere, you can make space in your head for developing that idea or adding interest to it…or coming up with another one.  Find yourself a cool journal, even a good expensive one.  It’s investing in your own brain/goals/ideas.  And it will encourage you to put good use to it, and hold value in your own beliefs.  

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Closing the deal


So I’m good with all that stuff.  My interests are many.  I’m quick to jump into things and just try something.  I love learning anything new.  However…I’m not good with following the practice of the phrase, ‘Always Be Closing’.  This phrase is from the 1992 drama film called Glengarry Glen Ross, in which the character played by Alec Baldwin encourages some of the other characters to close deals within their sales work.  Watch out for bad language, but here is a great clip from the movie.  Look…it’s a very shallow message in regards to simply making more money above all else, and disregarding things like being a good dad, or being kind. However, it struck a chord with me in how it can relate to the idea of completing something. And this is what I have trouble with.  As I said, I can start a bunch of projects.  But I never seem to finish many of them.  

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Finishing touches


This weekend, I had a task that I wanted to complete.  The ramps in my landscape trailer have to be lifted in and mounted to the inside walls for transportation.  Well, I’ve always had this crap system of a cheap eye-hook and bungee chords to hold them in place.  Boring I know…bear with me.  This system has bothered me for about 5 years.  I can’t believe that! I’ve spoken about it, wrote down ideas, sworn at it many times…but never really done anything about it.  Well on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I came up with a plan, went to the hardware store for materials, and put in a new ramp mounting system.  It was actually pretty easy!  On Sunday, I found myself putting all of my tools back in their proper place, sweeping up the garage floor of all debris, and wiping down my workbench with a cleaner and paper towels.  I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my…I’ve actually completed something, and I’m in the very final stage of cleaning up the mess associated with it.  I never do this!’  I’m telling you…it felt so good.   I immediately thought about ‘Always Be Closing’, and the benefits related to that.  I thought about Casey Neistat, and how he has those words tattooed on his arm.  He actually dedicated an entire Vlog to this idea.  Watch it here! 

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harvesting is closing

Neistat says that if you start a bunch of things and don’t finish them, you’re a loser.  That’s me…how sad.  Someone who starts something and always finishes it is a closer.  That’s not me.  My new focus is to become more of a closer.  I must bring my ideas to fruition…see them through to their fullest potential.  I’m on it.  By closing, and completing something, we are able to reap the rewards related to our project.  After dealing with annoyance of the ramp system in my trailer for 5 years, and halfheartedly poking at it here and there with temporary repairs, no wonder I felt so good about putting smart and hard work to it and having it completed.  

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Finished a dance season…proud Dad!



Closing leads to you feeling much more productive.  

Closing frees up space in your head for other, more important ideas. 

Closing encourages intellect and hard work over complaining and hoping.

Closing leads to more appreciation instead of expectation.  

Don’t be a loser…be a closer!

 



Organization


A.B.C. totally relates to keeping our lives organized too.  This is an area that I struggle with, and one that I’ll be putting some more focus into.  When you come home…with a bunch of things in your hands…maybe a bag or two…and pockets full of receipts and change and hair clips (for some reason, I always find myself here)…do you put everything away in it’s designated spot?  What I usually do is pile it onto my dining room table.  It’s flat, easy to access, and I won’t need the table until about 5:30pm.  That’s not closing.  That’s losing!  The worst is when I’ve put together a nice dinner and I go to bring plates to the table for Matilda and I, to find my loser pile in the way.  Worst!


I do have all of the designated places for things.  I have a file cabinet with nicely labeled folders, a piggy bank in the living room, a cup in the bathroom for Matilda’s hair clips.  I just don’t follow that step of putting things directly into their proper place.  And this is key.  If you hired someone to come ‘organize your house’ or your life, a main thread would be to immediately place things into their position.  Put them in their home.  Look at your computer desk, your kitchen counters, the desktop on your computer…even your email inbox.  Are you organized?  I’ve started trying to get to a totally empty email inbox as often as possible.  This entails creating simple folders, unsubscribing from all of the crap, deleting as soon as possible, and once a day, taking care of pertinent messages.  It relieves so much stress for me to have a clean slate.  But I need to work on the more ‘physical’ areas of my life…and organize those.  I want to finish more projects on my to do list…not just start them.  I don’t want to be a loser anymore…I want to be a closer!  Please comment if you’ve found effective ways of ‘closing’ in your own life.   

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thoughts are great…but action leads to closing!


Music:  Blind Pilot is an Oregon based band.  They use interesting instruments like a mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and a harmonium.  Here’s a great one called New York.




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r.o.i.

‘rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth’ – Thoreau




Return on Investment:  A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.  


I am always focusing on this word ‘efficiency’.  Always considering methods that will streamline, or make things most economical.  And while these thoughts are on my mind while sitting in the Edward Jones office, preparing to discuss my financial investment portfolio (saying that you have an investment portfolio sounds so pretentious!), I’m writing today and thinking about how this philosophy applies to other aspects of our daily lives.  

We have a finite amount of time to be alive.  There are so many things I want to do!  I feel if I don’t somehow multiply or compound my interest and interests, I simply won’t be living to my potential…won’t be able to reach all of my goals…and won’t be able to have a complete, fulfilling, and successful day.

Considering all of the chaos and stress and fast pace of our lives, this sounds messy, and cramming, and overwhelming.  You may be thinking, ‘Right…there aren’t enough hours within a day!’  And you may be ‘burning the wick at both ends’ as they say, and feeling like there’s no catching up.  How could you even consider adding new items to your plate, or reaching for new heights on your success ladder.  Well, it’s always wise to consider your r.o.i. first.  And practicing mindfulness throughout will keep you balanced.  



speak the truth

As I age, I find myself searching for the absolute honest truth within things…good or bad…just let me see what’s real.  My skin is thicker now.  The insecurities mitigated.  I really don’t care about a lot of nonsense that once consumed me…and that frees up a lot of space to accept truth.  


One great truth always being spoken to us is our health.  At Thanksgiving, when we would go around the table and say what we were thankful for, some aunt or cousin, or niece’s boyfriend would always say they’re thankful for good health.  That not even a thing!  It doesn’t mean anything.  It’s an arbitrary, general statement used to quickly get on to the next relative. That is what I thought anyway.  When you, or someone close to you becomes unhealthy, injured, or simply older and aware of new limitations…you quickly understand the fortune of good health.  Turns out, it is a thing.  


That is why things like exercise and diet have such great returns on investments!  They are honest and effective formulas leading to good health.  If you jump into an intense training program and very strict diet tomorrow, the benefits and rewards of doing so will be amazing! It’s a very simple formula.  Aha!  But it’s very hard work to implement and maintain. Otherwise, we’d all be doing it.  


I absolutely love the sport of basketball.  It has given me returns that I never expected…introduced me to so many people that I cherish…allowed me to experience passion and fun and competition and challenge…and time and time again, it has been so very honest with me.  I think this is what I now appreciate most about it.  ‘You get out what you put in’, is a phrase that comes to mind.  I had ‘practiced’ and ‘played’ the sport from time to006 time, but it wasn’t until I completely focused and dedicated myself to hours of tailored training, that I came to understand what came from hard work, and how to truly invest in something for myself.  At one point, during the start of my college basketball career (you can read some more about this time here…on my ‘my story’ page), I decided to, on top of a bunch of strenuous training sessions, shoot 300 three pointers a day.  Along with that, the coach asked each player to shoot 100 free throws a day.  I think one other player and I were the only two that did this no excuses…7 days a week.  This training…the consistent repetition of movements…the culture that came with always being near a basketball and a hoop…the camaraderie gained grinding out work with others…and the grit earned by winning hard fought physical battles on my own…instilled something in me that I hold dearly to this day. The actual shooting itself became somewhat automatic for me.  Three pointers felt like free throws.  Free throws felt like layups.  I could feel a difference.  And I was proud of my investment.

Basketball is where found this.  But you can find this honest earning of truth within a lot of activities.   Learning how to play guitar is where I’ve found it most recently.  


shopping cart 🛒

I don’t buy as many things as I used to.  I scrutinize purchases now to no end.  I sit and ruminate on whether or not I really need this item…really want it.  I totally consider the r.o.i. that this item will bring me over time.  Is this going to be trendy to me?  Will I love it in 5 years?  Can I use it for 2 years, and sell it for what I buy it for?  I highly recommend doing this for any big ticket items you’re considering.  Also remember, buying an ‘experience’ over a tangible item is more likely to be fulfilling.  In this way, money can buy happiness.  I still like buying ‘things’ here and there though.  Here are some things I put in my shopping cart over the last couple of years:

  • road bicycle
  • electric guitar
  • trip to Disney
  • log splitter (for firewood)
  • brick and stone walkway
  • drone
  • motorcycle

 

proximity

Who are the people around you most?  Are you investing in those that you appreciate and love?  One of the most effective ways to find long term happiness is through your relationships with friends and family.  It starts with you though.  I’ve mentioned this before…’turn your expectations into appreciation’ is what Tony Robbins says, and it totally applies to all relationships.  How do you keep yourself around the people you want to be around?  One simple way to start is to get rid of the folks you don’t want to be around.  We often have some people in our lives that empty our bucket.  They are depleting.  They take and don’t give back.  And they are unhealthy for us.  Life is too short.  Value your time more, and stop spending it on folks like this.  Once your standard is set, you’ll start noticing more bucket filling folks in your proximity.

Music:  Ryan Adams continues to be very inspiring for me.  Here’s a great song with just him and his piano.

I’d so appreciate it if you liked, subscribed, shared…really showed love in any way.  
All love!
emailsig

      

go be it

‘The chains of  habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken’ – Warren Buffett

Music:  Click here to listen to one of my favorite all around bands…Dawes.  They’re from California, and have been described as having a Laurel Canyon sound.  The singer/guitar player has an awesome 1960’s telecaster…for all you guitar buffs out there.  His brother plays drums in the band…and they have a special harmony when they sing together.  Griffin, the drummer, takes hipster to a whole new level.  I secretly want to be this guy for a week.  Enjoy!   

Image result for griffin dawes

What inspires you?  What get’s your juices flowing?  Is it sports, politics, family, education, music?  We all have certain experiences when we feel engaged and intrigued.  And we are all so different as to what flicks that switch for us.  


More and more, I’ve been trying to live closer to those things that are inspirational for me.  I wonder if all of us do this enough.  I know for me, for a long time…I didn’t.  Whether out of fear, insecurities, self-doubt, or many other reasons, we often don’t try new things or pursue avenues we are unsure of.  And that is surely something to regret.  I remember reading something a while back (can’t remember the source) in which older people that were near the end of their lives…basically gave advice on how to live.  Most of the regrets had to do with things they hadn’t done or tried.  And the best advice was to live with passion, don’t care what others think, take more risks, and worry less.  Living this way enriches our lives and creates happiness for ourselves and those around us.  


Last summer, the band Dawes that I introduced above, was playing in Portsmouth, NH at Prescott Park.  I found out about it last minute and asked a couple friends to go.  But it was the morning of the show and no one was able to.  I had really just started listening to them.  I was inspired and had to see them.  But I wasn’t too psyched about going alone, parking would be tough, the place would probably be packed, wouldn’t be able to find a good seat, might be too cold.  These are the negative thoughts that immediately ran through my head.  Something I’ve done a lot of in the past, and something I’m always working on reversing.  Anyway, I showed up to a beautiful setting on the water.  The place wasn’t packed at all, and I was able to sit on the grass on the right side of the stage.  I was right next to that hipster drummer, and had an incredible view of everything.  I felt like I had a backstage pass or something.  As they played, the sun set, creating a golden glow over the park, and I knew…this was one of those inspirational moments for me.  Families were dancing. The decades old guitar…ancient and full of scratches, rust, and wear, was still somehow sending out smooth and well-tuned notes.  And I noticed how much effort the band was putting in to creating each song, staying in time with one another, reading cues, and making this feel like their only show…not one of many on their tour. 


That experience, along with many others, has inspired me to be more ‘musical’.  And I’ve created some habits to make sure that happens…because for me, it creates happiness, and it brings me closer to that passionate way of living.  It’s actually really simple.  Why not try to do more of the things we like doing?


Having Matilda around has totally brought light to this.  The kid is always living in the moment, and as the innocence and naivety of childhood provides, simply doing the things she really wants to be doing.  It’s of course a balance for us parents to allow as much of that as possible, while also showing boundaries and limitations.  This seems to be a conversation I’m having everyday now.   And I absolutely love it!


I feel strongly though that in order to harness your passion…to secure it and hold it for future access…you must act immediately, or soon after your inspirational experience.  We have so many thoughts.  So many distractions.  You need to make sure to somehow follow through on your experience.  This could be as simple as going home and writing a journal entry about your thoughts and feelings, and tying that in to your goals.  It could be setting up another date with that person.  Maybe it’s buying your first guitar.  Starting to exercise more.  Or starting a business!  Whatever it is, use your passion as a catalyst.  It will help propel you to happiness and an inspirational life that is actually tailor fit for you!  It’s like being your own life coach.  


Do you ever say, ‘that would be fun’, or ‘I should do that’, but then find that you have reasons or excuses or distractions that get in the way?  Just the simple awareness of your thoughts surrounding this will prove to be very helpful.  And I’ve said this before…mindfulness and meditation are amazing tools…especially when it comes to self-awareness.  Once you are aware, you can start creating everyday habits that are directly linked to what you truly want.  I believe in using routines and habits to instill these values…especially if you’re an old dog learning new tricks.  I’ll share some of the routines that help me in another post.  


The next time you feel emotional, passionate, truly inspired…go be it!


What does inspire you…and how do you find it in your every day?  Don’t let it slip away!