PARDON YE

This is a passion piece. No links. No sources. No pics. Just you, me, and what I believe.

I believe in speaking truth to power. I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in the innate goodness of the universe and human beings. I believe that everyone alive is pro-life for that very fact and that life itself is sacred. I believe that whatever the question, more freedom is the answer.

I believe that the greatest men and women in history have bled and died in service to these principles and that rescuing our future from its dark trajectory now rests on our ability to follow suit.

I believe that Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) is both a mirror and a looking glass, reflecting and projecting our darkest tendencies and greatest potential as a single race of living beings.

Historically, such visionaries have been crucified by the masses at the behest of the ruling classes in service to the status quo – Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. And, although 3000 years of recorded tradition is yet to teach us this lesson, beauty, truth, and love cannot be killed by murdering the messenger.

But enough abstractions, let’s get specific.

Despite what you choose to believe, Ye is not a racist. He is not trying to start a second Holocaust. He is not crazy, off his meds, or dumb.

Ye is a 45-year-old black man born in Atlanta, raised by a single mom on the south side of Chicago who rose to the top of the creative world in several industries. Under Ye’s belt lies 22 Grammys, 10 consecutive #1 albums, a presidential run, Yeezy brand apparel which has rescued two companies from financial and cultural obscurity, the accomplishments of becoming the wealthiest black man-wealthiest recording artist-wealthiest designer-in history, his own academy with sports teams, and on and on. All this without selling out or compromising his vision. Not once.

No one in the music industry believed in his vision to be the best-dressed rapper in the game, that his beats and lyrical ability could wrestle the culture from the death grip of gangsta rap. Ye did that.

No one believed that he could survive putting on the red hat, that his vision of freeing African Americans from the democratic plantation of block-voting which has delivered decade after decade of diminishing returns would alienate him from his base. It didn’t. Rather he gained a new one, empowering the likes of Candace Owens and others to elevate their voices in the fight for family. Ye did that.

No one believed that a prominent rapper could sell a gospel album. Jesus is King hit #1 on the Billboard top 200, and in over 100 countries worldwide, creating an entire Sunday Service church choir in the process. Ye did that.

No one believes that his current commentary on the evil embedded within the entertainment industry will lift a finger in the direction of freedom. We would rather nitpick his language, his approach, his tone, and his timing in order to cheer on the ruling class as they collude to crucify him and everyone he loves. We say he deserves it. He says he can take it. Ye does that.

We are witnessing a Dark Knight moment in history where we get the hero we need, not the one we deserve. The hero we need, of course, is the one willing to address the pain of the present, rather than hide behind the pain of the past.

Even if we choose to believe that Ye is an anti-semite, that his comments were inspired by hate and not love, and that he should be punished for saying them in order to protect the collective from another Holocaust, even from this perspective, we still have to ask ourselves, what cultural conditions caused the Holocaust? Slavery?

For if, in order to preserve the present, we have to employ the worst tactics of the past, what future do we deserve?

Teetering on a Precipice: Soar into the Golden Age or Slip into Darkness?

In their book, ‘The Fourth Turning,’ William Strauss and Neil Howe outline a predictive framework for the United States which is well summarized by the Michael Hopf quote:

‘Strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create bad times, bad times create strong men’

G. Michael Hopf
Vote on the poll to see where you stand relative to the rest of the OSM community

Unpacking the idea we learn that every 20 – 25 years, as a new generation comes of age (referred to as a ‘Turning’ by the authors), there is a predictable shift in the national zeitgeist. Each Turning has identifiable characteristics rendering the theory ripe for extrapolation. The book, written in the mid-’90s, estimated that we would enter our next Fourth Turning (bad times) around 2008, the previous Fourth Turning kicking off with WWI, roughly 100 years ago. Strauss & Howe go on to describe, in general terms, a large-scale disaster that sets off a dramatic series of events, effectively pushing our society into a generation-long era of significant, irreversible change. To see us through, a ‘grey champion’ emerges as an unlikely and largely unsung hero.

Was the 2008 mortgage crisis and resulting Great Recession the event that kicked off a 25-year national rebuilding phase? Are we behind schedule and perhaps it is the COVID19 global pandemic? Will history recount Donald Trump or Joe Biden as the grey champion of our time much as Woodrow Wilson was in his? We can’t know for sure at present, but it would certainly be hard to argue that, as a people, we are experiencing anything other than a significant and rapidly changing cultural-political moment.

Tensions flare in the wake of 2020 US Elections amidst allegations of voter fraud

But let’s walk through the argument together to make sure we are on the same page, starting with the understanding that civilized society is held together by its shared culture, defined as:

The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought considered as a unit, especially with regard to a particular time or social group.

American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, 5th Edition

Borrowing a biblical allegory, if culture is the language we use to describe and navigate in the direction of our shared future, we are at the Tower of Babel, confused and dispersing. The more fractious the culture, the more prime the society for decay, revolt, and/or takeover. Or as historian Luke Kemp puts it in his 2019 BBC article:

Collapse can be defined as a rapid and enduring loss of population, identity, and socio-economic complexity. Public services crumble and disorder ensues as government loses control of its monopoly on violence.

Luke Kemp

And if scrolling thru twitter comments or tuning into any political commentary isn’t enough to convince you of the eroding culture, take a look at the current state of two of the most influential cultural players in the US, Government and News Media.

Image Credit: https://medium.com/trust-media-and-democracy/10-reasons-why-americans-dont-trust-the-media-d0630c125b9e

And while this moment of cultural decay isn’t entirely unique in history, the wealth, technology, sheer population density, and diversity sure are. Translation: the spectrum of possible outcomes, both constructive and destructive, is measurably wider than in the past. Therefore, we have both more to gain and more to lose than ever before; one might say we are teetering on a precipice of epic proportions.

Image Credit: http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/fulcrum-810×420.jpg

Staring over the edge and down into the abyss, we can imagine a darkening future where the worst elements of the current moment, enhanced by the greatest weapons, communications, and transportations technologies mankind has ever known, erupt on the scene and swallow us up, ushering in a modern-day dark age. I really don’t like delving into these types of doomsday scenarios as so many other outlets do, but do want to point out that it would not be the situation itself, rather our inability to communicate, compromise, and come together that would ultimately doom us to destruction.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We could step back from the precipice, turn, and open the gates to the greatest Golden Age that mankind has ever known, fueled by all the same drivers. But what is a Golden Age?

The idea of a Golden Age first appeared in the Five Ages of Man, an 8th-century BCE creation myth composed by the Greek Hesiod, an epic poet the likes of Homer. Hesiod’s vision of the Golden Age – supposedly imparted to him by the Nine Muses while he tended sheep – describes a time when Man was indistinguishable from the Gods. In this age of peace and plenty, there was no suffering, no toil, no death.

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I’m not talking about immortality, omnipotence, or any other supernatural phenomenon, but I did grow up hearing that I could achieve anything I put my mind to and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if enough people did that collectively.

So how do we get there from the mess we are in now? Stay tuned for the next article but I’ll leave you with a hint: as you likely have figured out by now, I’m a strong advocate for the Jordan Peterson school of thought, ‘fix yourself, fix the world.’ Put another way, we can’t sit back and expect broken people to fix us, or blind people to lead the way.

Time to lace up our shoes, open our eyes, and get to work on our own Golden Age.

Addicted: The Long, Hard Road That Led Me to the Gates of the Golden Age

After weathering the first six months of COVID19 as a boots-on-the-ground, eye of the storm, essential worker, I now, like 12.6MM other Americans, find myself unemployed (this figure is down from the peak of 20MM back at the pandemic’s onset in March). So, although I know I am not alone, no longer having a source of income, a familiar routine, and a clear, prescribed sense of purpose hits different. Perhaps you can relate.

In this article, I will share the story of how I came to be unemployed for the first time since age twelve. As we dive in, I’ll use the lens of addiction to color what I’ve learned in the first three weeks, including a sneak peek at an exciting project on the horizon. So keep reading if you’re curious to learn how to tunnel thru addiction, heartache, and loss towards your very own Golden Age.

Let’s get started.

If you know me at all, you know I pour myself into my work, always have. It was no different when I started with Kimberly-Clark in January 2012 as a senior mechanical project engineer bringing with me eight years of prior engineering experience split across two separate industries. Over the subsequent nine years, I earned six separate promotions, each with increased scope and compensation, the third catapulting me from the technical world as an individual contributor, and into leadership, with my largest team comprised of over 300 members.

Behind the scenes, however, life took some pretty dark turns. In late 2013 I lost my baby sister. Twelve months after that, my eight-year marriage dissolved, quickly consuming every penny of my savings and estranging me from my three young children for over a year as I worked thru the grief. If that wasn’t enough, I cut ties with my parents and even landed on the news for DUI. Legal and medical bills pushed me far into debt. By Thanksgiving 2015, I had arrived at what the recovery community calls, rock bottom.

Work was literally the only thing that worked for me, I clung to it like a shipwrecked captain to driftwood on a dark and stormy sea

Image credit: https://mustbethistalltoride.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/stormy_seas_by_bkhook.jpg

It was as if everything I lost at home, compelled me to dive deeper at the office. 60, 70, even 80 hour weeks were not uncommon. I was all in, whatever it took. The results and accolades started piling up, people were noticing, and who was I to say no – what else did I have to do? The question I wasn’t asking – much less answering – was, ‘Is this healthy? Sustainable?’

Let’s pause here for a definition and some additional context. I warned you early on this article would center around addiction, which, according to Dr. Donna Marks, is defined as anything a person keeps doing in spite of negative consequences. Notice the word anything broadens a more traditional definition confined to, say drugs and alcohol, to include everything from food to work, religion, sex, social media, status, exercise, and even recovery itself. The key to understanding addiction is that, fundamentally, it is not about the substance or behavior, but rather one’s relationship to the substance or behavior.

In her book, ‘Exit the Maze,’ Dr. Marks goes on to describe the underlying nature of addiction to be one of trying to fill an emotional void caused by prior trauma and/or dysfunction, most often occurring in early childhood. For the addict, of which Dr. Marks estimates there are over 100MM in the US alone, the substance or behavior starts as the solution, a much-needed, but only momentary, relief from the underlying pain. Over time, as the negative consequences of the addiction take root, a desperate wrestling match between relief and recovery ensues, in which sobriety is only the first step as the addiction will often morph into the next ‘drug’ of choice. This game of ‘whack-an-addiction-mole’ will continue until the emotional void is accurately named and eliminated.

Podcast with Dr. Donna Marks & Stefan Molyneux on, ‘Exit the Maze’

For a condensed overview on the nature of addiction, see the podcast above. For now, however, let us get back to the story at hand.

As 2016 kicked off, I committed to rebuilding but knew I had my work cut out for me. I decided to leverage the area of my life with the most success, my career, to right the ship and start making my way back to shore. This approach was effective in several areas as I paid down debt, built a support system of caring co-workers, and focused on consistent routines. With this momentum, I was able to reunite with my children and broaden my efforts into other areas of well-being, including a genuine commitment to cognitive behavioral therapy, diet, exercise, and creative outlets such as this blog.

Even so, as 2018 was coming to a close, more storm clouds were forming on the horizon. See, even though, on the surface, my life appeared to be improving, I was yet to truly name and eliminate my emotional void and, in turn, failed to notice the unhealthy relationship I had developed with several of my new behaviors and the turbulent emotional undercurrent gaining hold.

In short order, I arrived at an impasse with a new manager over differing visions for the team. Having errantly attached my identity to my vision during my rebuilding process, I struggled to compromise. In fact, I flat refused, telling myself to do so would be to, quite literally, die. Unsurprisingly, the situation escalated to the brink of separation. Desperately trying to avert disaster, I called in a favor and secured a transfer to a sister facility before I could be managed out of the organization. From a career perspective, this felt positive. However, it came at the cost of putting 180 miles between myself and my children, who remained with their mom in Tulsa, leaving me to commute.

It’s March of 2019 and the stormy sea of my still largely unconscious emotional void had washed me ashore in Paris, TX.

Not having fully learned my lesson from my recent bump up with management, I charged into my new work environment, eager to play hero and rescue a struggling operation (see link for a more in-depth account written in early 2020).

My vision was simple: One Roof. Essentially, no matter what uniform, crew, function, gender, ethnicity, title, etc., we were all going to come together under the same one roof to achieve our shared goals. What I liked most about this goal were the concepts of home and family embedded in the Roof mnemonic. One Roof was a clear reference, easily recalled, with nearly infinite depth of meaning to mine as appropriate. Simple to say yet hard to achieve, as anyone who’s ever worked in large, high paced groups will attest.

Two things escaped me which ultimately led to my downfall:

wrong moment

wrong family

Wrong moment because the established leadership team was too buried in existing cultural turmoil to seriously consider any additional risk. It was ‘batten down the hatches’ mode due to ongoing litigation and precipitous safety issues. The resultant leadership focus lying almost exclusively on policy adherence and structure. Cultivating interpersonal relationships was hard to measure and therefore low priority.

Wrong family because my subconscious was using my new team as a surrogate to repair broken relationships from my childhood. News flash: if you want to repair a relationship, you have to do it with the actual person, no substitute will do. Nonetheless, I forged ahead in search of the connection and validation I never got from my parents and still hungered for unknowingly.

Blinded by my vision, it was only a matter of time until the scenario imploded, and implode it did. Short of divulging all the gory details, my unchecked expectations, lack of awareness of the moment, failure to recalibrate my approach, and insistence on continually doubling down, lead to increasing frustration on both sides. Eighteen months into the assignment, I got the call that I was no longer employed. And that was that. Nine years boxed up and discharged in an instant.

But here’s the thing: I would have worked myself to death before ever considering walking away. And at what cost along the way? I had stopped writing, struggled to complete my MBA program postponing graduation several times due to needing extensions to complete my capstone project, even my relationships with my dogs were suffering. Not to mention the emotional poison – frustration & resentment – that were accumulating at work due to misdirected emotional energy. Long and short of it is:

Recreating dysfunctional childhood relationships in adulthood can feed an emotional addiction but not nourish a soul

So, in peeling back this layer of the addiction onion, two gifts have emerged for me: 1) clarity on where my next area of emotional healing needs to be focused and 2) clarity on where the next leg of my career journey needs to take me.

Which brings me to the Gates of the Golden Age, assuming I don’t starve to death first. What I mean is, without all the stress associated with solving the problems fed to me by my former corporate masters, I have an opportunity to funnel all my energy into solving the problems I decide are most important, most rewarding, most value added. I believe I have a long enough run way to launch my writing into profitability and maybe, with your help, turn a pastime into the life of my dreams, thereby entering what I call my very own Golden Age.

Image Credit: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-sLVqc7DfR4/maxresdefault.jpg

Interested to learn more about my upcoming launch? Please enter your email and a comment or two into the form below and I’ll be sure to keep you up to speed. Cheers!

Teams at Work

http://mysportsmentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MSM-815x380-sprintStart.jpg
image credit: http://mysportsmentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MSM-815×380-sprintStart.jpg

2020 bolted out of the starting block and has not looked back. At the office, after nearly two months of productivity-killing but life-enriching vacation leave at 2019 year-end; the first six weeks of 2020 have included heavy ramp up for two separate multi-million dollar project launches, a site visit from senior leadership and a customer audit. 75% of our team has less than 12 months’ experience, not to mention our day to day workload is up 5% y.o.y. and getting more complex all the time.

The setting is a rurally located 24/7/365 Distribution Center for a Fortune 500 CPG company – blue-collar America at it’s finest. The operation is kept alive by 200 employees who work shoulder to shoulder, day in and day out to ensure high-quality paper products are delivered on time and in full to your favorite retailer’s rain, snow or shine. The work is demanding and the market highly competitive requiring continuous cost-saving, value-adding innovation to stay afloat.

I entered the scene at this location roughly a year ago taking a lateral move as a team leader in order to gain new experience and prove to myself prior success was something more than dumb luck. My philosophy was simple: business results are a bi-product of human relations. High functioning human relations are measured in units of trust, which act as a lubricant, reducing relational friction as it increases.

My approach was even simpler:

increase trust wherever and whenever possible

leadership 101

But it’s more personal for me than business. Rather, this business is personal for at least two reasons: my team lost a good man, friend, and grandfather, to a fatal workplace injury in late 2018 and I lost my younger sister in 2013. The lesson in both tragedies being that life is both too precious and short to be taken for granted. Plus, life is better enjoyed and more fun with others, even at work, and fun is only possible where trust lives.

Thankfully Daniel Coyle had, by that time, published a landmark study on workplace culture, what works, what doesn’t and why. In Culture Code, Mr. Coyle outlines the blueprint for successful groups in terms I could understand. Over the last 12 months I’ve worked to employ the principles in the book, measuring success according to the following characteristics outlined therein:

  • Everyone in the group talks and listens in roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short
  • Members maintain high levels of eye contact, and their conversations and gestures are energetic
  • Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader
  • Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
  • Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with the others

The healthier the group, the more its members exude the traits above and the more individuals in the group feel safe to take risks, safe to make mistakes and safe to not get hurt. It is then we relax around one another enough to have fun, the paradox being that is the exact moment we are most productive.

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image credit: https://i2-prod.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6447328.ece/ALTERNATES/s1200/MAIN-children-playing-outside.jpg

I call it focused fun, think children on the playground improvising a new game, simultaneously and spontaneously negotiating the terms, enforcing equality, competing fiercely, creating relentlessly. If you never had this experience in youth, it’s not too late to start.

Take one last nugget from Mr. Coyle before I wrap this up:

β€˜Individuals aren’t really individuals. They’re more like musicians in a jazz quartet, forming a web of unconscious actions and reactions to complement the others in the group. You don’t look at the informational content of the messages; you look at patterns that show how the message is being sent. Those patterns contain many signals that tell us about the relationship and what’s really going on beneath the surface.’

Daniel Coyle, Culture Code

It is with this perspective I embrace the many challenges that 2020 has in store. I look at them as opportunities to have fun with people I trust and respect. I look forward to celebrating both the successes and failures along the way, knowing that we are building greatness as measured in friendships and memories that will, doubtless, last a lifetime, if not longer.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think in the comments below.

How I Got to Wherever I Am – A Tribute to Anarae

I never know how I am going to get somewhere until I actually get there. For me, life’s an experiment and the fun is in the discovery. In order for the discovery to be worth sharing, the experiment must follow a consistent approach, this post is about mine.

But first a little background info.

In Enneagram language, I am a gut-centered person who instinctively feels his way through life – see Reformer below. Whether its in my personal or professional life, I rarely need more than a hunch that things are on the up and up before committing to at least try.

Image credit: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/enneagram-personality-types-diagram-testing-map-multiple-colors-mandala-46795112.jpg

At work these traits can be great assets, for example, when decisive action is needed to lead a group out of a slump. They can also pose challenges when, say, trying to sell a project to senior leadership on instinct and energy alone.

In romantic relations I have been told I am a passionate lover but impossible partner. Reference my failed marriage: I proposed at age 24, only five months into a long distance relationship. I was confident we could build the airplane on the fly and spent almost no time pondering what could go wrong. Problem being, not everyone is up for that kind of challenge, no matter how good the ‘turbulence’ feels πŸ”₯.

Did I mention that Reformers can be a bit grandiose? n-e-wayze…

As I move into the second half of my life, I have curated a four step approach to channel my instinct and keep me moving in a positive, consistent direction. As you read more about my four step approach to personal development, notice how it can help you regardless of whether you’re erratically over-zealous, irrationally timid, or anywhere in between.

Aaaaaaand, here’s the cliff notes version, drum roll please πŸ₯:

  1. Bag a Big Idea (know where you are going)
  2. Ground Your Gut (connect your where to your deepest why)
  3. Get Going (do the next right thing, repeat indefinitely)
  4. Reflect Religiously (checkin, adapt to what is)

Now let’s go deeper, one step at a time.

1. Bag a Big Idea

– know where you are going –

I am referring to priority one, the mission that everything else in your life orients itself around. It should stretch you well out of your comfort zone without being complicated – simple enough to share in three seconds to a stranger. The idea of it might scare you at first. Your fight/flight/freeze impulses may be triggered. This is part of the process, keep going. You will know you’re there when you are oscillating between shortness of breath and a quiet, confident smile.

This exercise is an essential first step in avoiding the common traps of chasing inherited task lists, building the busybody resume, or being stretched thin by historical programming only to find yourself exhausted and empty at the end of the day. A famous quote from the 20th century comes to mind:

“stand for something or fall for everything”

– read this interesting article to learn more about the origins of this quote –

Here’s the big idea I bagged recently:

to live with my children in a home they can be proud of

chow time

Simple but not easy, this vision encompasses foundational changes in my lifestyle, finances, career, custody arrangement, relationships, and geography. Simply put, I can’t think of any aspect of my life that isn’t impacted, nor can I think of anything that would make me more happy.

Even so, the most essential quality of my big idea is that sets a direction but not a course, making failure only possible if I quit. This is an example of a system, not a goal. Scott Adams illuminates the difference in his 2014 book entitled, ‘How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.’ Generally speaking, a goal would be to loose 20 lbs. where a system would be to live a healthy life. With a goal you are constantly failing until you achieve it and then, just like that, it’s over. A system allows continuous successes and limitless improvement as long as you keep moving.

Quick Summary: your big idea needs to be directional (not dictatorial), stretchy (not safe), and easily articulated (not easily achieved).

Now that your head is high in the clouds, it’s time to:

2. Ground Your Gut

– connect your where to your deepest why –

Most of us have had a big idea, maybe a New Years resolution or new business venture, that never quite materialized. Perhaps an initial burst of energy and inspiration ran out, bad luck got the best of you, life took a new direction; a list of road blocks to a new path could circle the equator in 8 pt font. But obstacles are not unique to failed missions, success stories are rife with them as well. So, what separates achievement from failure?

It is the quality of your ‘why’.

Let me put it this way, if I had to bet my life savings on the success or failure of a big idea and had only one question to ask, it would be, “what is your why?” In my view, launching a big idea without a connected why is like taking off on a transatlantic flight with only one engine and no aileron.

Image credit: http://im.rediff.com/news/2009/jun/08sld5.jpg

The two parts of a good ‘why’ are Passion and Principle.

Passion is your engine, the more you have, the further you’ll go and the more likely you’ll keep going. Principals are your aileron, keeping you from entering a full roll when the jet stream of life gusts unexpectedly. Let me color this by elaborating a bit on my ‘why.’

‘To live with my children in a home they can be proud of,’ probably sounds like an obvious aspiration of any single parent with every-other-weekend visitation; but my ‘why’ runs deeper than desire for biological proximity.

As you might remember from a previous post, my younger sister was murdered on this day in 2013 at age 20 near our childhood home in Burnsville, MN. Without replicating the post here, I’ll summarize by saying that Anarae and I left a lot on the table in terms of what our relationship could have been. I learned, in retrospect, how a stronger, more intimate bond could have insulated her from the human predator that took her life. Six years ago today, as my sister passed away, my passion and principles were born anew.

Anarae’s death hard wired my passion for seeing people for who they are over how they make me feel or what they can do for me. Her death also permanently ingrained the NAP (non-aggression principle). Simply stated, it’s immoral to initiate force, coercion or threats. Inclined in these directions since birth, but not fully enacted, I could no longer accept anything less than my best effort in these directions.

So now, when I get a big idea that requires extensive foundational change, I put it to the 2P test: does it fuel my passion for people and can I achieve it without violating the non–aggression principle? The second part of the 2P test leading into step three in my system.

3. Get Going

– do the next right thing, repeat indefinitely –

Now that you’ve got a where and a why, it’s time to take off. Easier said than done. How many great ideas have you had that never got off the ground? If you can empathize, chances are you’ve experienced something like paralysis of analysis.

Breathe, the fact you’re nervous means you care and that you are invested in the outcome. This is healthy and natural, but not enough as inaction will lead to regret.

Call me an idealist but I think, deep down, we all know the next right thing to do. It’s just that, occasionally, we can get bogged down by the details and turn to consequentialism as a rationalization for not trying.

You ever met a consequentialist? Someone who, no matter how clear a decision, they find a way to interject doubt in the form of the insatiable, ‘yeah but, what if?’ Great chess players look several moves ahead, calculating dozens of possible outcomes, but they still make their move.

My Sister Anarae is a legend of the Metcalf Masters Chess Club, info: http://www.metcalfchess.com

Be the grandmaster of your life. Remember, even grandmasters miscalculate. Again, the key is to keep moving. Let me give you an example.

As I start out on my mission, I live 180 miles from my kids, have burned bridges with my company which would otherwise facilitate a transfer back home, have massive debt, no savings, average credit, and emotional baggage that, to date, over $15,000 in therapy has far from resolved. And guess what? Imma go forward anyways.

The secret is not what you do, but how you frame it. For me, cold showers are about mental toughness, something I’m gonna need to overcome inevitable hardships along the way. Diet and exercise are about stamina for the long road ahead. Meaningful relationships are about building a robust support system. New responsibilities at work and pursuing my MBA are about building my skill stack. Ongoing therapy is about getting out of my own way. This blog is about creating future financial possibilities. You get the idea, I frame everything I do, every small step, in terms of getting home to my kids.

I give myself permission to climb the mountain one step at a time and to misstep every so often, even to take a rest, but never to stop climbing all together. In fact, at this point, I don’t think it is even possible for me to quit.

The way I see it, each aspect of your life that you connect to your big idea and support with your core passion and principles, acts as a lifeline in tough times. Loose your job? Supportive friends and family step in. Relationship woes? Therapy to process and refocus. Work stress getting the best of you? Exercise to clear your mind. Etc, etc.

Healthy, connected outlets keep the course, but not without awareness, bringing us to the fourth and final step.

4. Reflect Religiously

– checkin, adapt to what is –

In case I didn’t make it clear, step three is about automating the process of progress. But what happens when auto-pilot malfunctions and you find yourself unprepared and in unfamiliar territory? Or, perhaps, it’s all too familiar, but unwanted ground.

Image credit: https://stevevernonstoryteller.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/lost-in-the-woods.jpg

Time to turn steps 1 – 3 into questions: ‘where am I going?’ ‘why am I going there?’ ‘what is the next right thing to do?’

Easy right? Not exactly. IRL, the stickiest traps are the ones we can’t see and, by definition, are unaware of. What I am going to say next is going to sound like circular logic, and it kind of is, but bear with me: automating progress is the best insurance against sleep walking into a dead end.

You’re probably thinking, ‘first he tells me to reflect my way out of an automated dead-end and then he tells me automation will prevent getting stuck in the first place, I can’t believe I read this far!’

Fair, but hang tight, I’m almost finished. Life tends to work in circular patterns, what I’m recommending is more of a helix. Let’s get back to my story to explain and wrap up.

Recently I put my heart out there in the dating game again (you can read about my first date here). Short story, my heart ran away with me, undermining my attempts to reflect while checking most boxes in my automated progress process. I was in deep.

Initially, when I reflected about where I was going, why, and what next, I could easily answer something like, ‘dating a girl close to home with great energy would help pull me towards my kids and further stabilize my base.’ When I checked in with my support structure, I noticed it easier to eat healthy, work hard at the office and on my blog, be more social, etc.

What I couldn’t see was that I was angling after someone who was ultimately unavailable, an old pattern of mine designed to keep me both hungry for love and far from it. This awareness came from a well timed therapy session, but not directly.

The wisdom was, in my words, the right person will appreciate things about you that surprise you, they will be fascinated by parts of your personality you don’t even notice. I had a new angle which helped me understand, and get first hand confirmation, that I was over extended without the possibility of reciprocation.

In this case therapy, part of my automated system, triggered a new reflection which, ultimately, illuminated the path out of a historical trap and allowed me to get back to business.

A misstep – even an incredibly enjoyable one – should not be lingered on nor provide an excuse to quit. But as far as this post goes, I am gonna quit.

Anarae – I love you, thank you for the clarity, rest in peace.

OSM in Living Color
Living the Journey