A.D.D. au Naturale

Found this article the other day in the NY Times.   Mandatory reading for those of you with a  kid who possesses an A.D.D. brain.  Very good insight into the A.D.D. mind and more evidence that our issues as humans comes not from character, attitude and hard work but from brain chemistry and environment.

http://nyti.ms/1u2QVaW

 

 

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Now You See Me Now you Don’t

I got a great opportunity for a little field research during Earthquake Awareness Day last week. I was working with a company in the bay area and during our morning session we heard the alarm sound for the pretend Earthquake evacuation drill (which seems silly since we are all doomed to die of Ebola but whatever.)

We filed out of the 5th floor conference room and down the stairs with 8 or 9 dozen other people in the building. We milled around outside for twenty minutes or so until the pretend all clear signal was given and back we went, into the building.

As we approached the elevator I saw a group of 7 construction workers all decked out in their hard hats and dickey overalls covered in construction dust from the room they must have been renovating before having to pretend evacuate like the rest of us.

Here is where it got interesting.  The construction workers were obviously waiting for the elevator but standing a little off to the side of the elevator as proper elevator decorum dictates (to provide room for any exiting passengers).  The elevator arrived just as my group was walking up.  The elevator bell chimed, the doors opened and my group, all business men and women deeply engrossed in their conversations and/or iPhones, walked right in front of the construction workers and into the elevator as if the construction workers were invisible. The business group never even broke stride as they quickly filled the elevator to capacity faster than you can say, “excuse me.”

The construction workers weren’t mad (at least by my estimation) but more amused by the transgression. Their looks, smirks and nods indicated that this was behavior they absolutely expected to see and had seen countless times. They saw this type of behavior every day.

I was, of course, the last in my group to approach the elevator and I had watched all this as it was happening. As the last of my group got in the elevator they held the door for me to get in. To which I replied, “I am going to take the stairs, I need the exercise,” and the elevator door closed.

I turned to the construction workers and said, “I know everybody in that elevator will wind up in the bay with cement flippers,” which drew a big laugh and a few pats on the back as I rounded the corner and header for the stairs.

It was quite a study in human awareness which had me curious so when I got to our conference room on the 5th floor (breathing heavily) I threw out a couple of one-liners regarding the 5 floors I had just traversed and the overall shape of my body (hint – not good.). Then I said, “Did any one see those construction workers down there?” and not a single person did. I let it go right there but had I proceeded to try and convince them that they had walked right in front of 7 of them while blocking them from the elevator I am positive no one would have believed me.

Consider the punchline. After all this, we settled back down to our meeting to discuss a crucial business issue, the morale of their employees.   It was not an easy meeting. There was quite a disagreement over the morale of the company; some felt it was good while others were convinced it was dangerously low. We made some progress but it was clear some people in the room were not seeing the issue clearly. Furthermore, for the ones that had it wrong, what are the chances the rest of us can convince them they are missing key pieces of information? It’s going to be hard. How hard you ask? You know, it’s going to be like trying to convince a group of people that they had just walked past 7 construction workers covered in dust waiting for an elevator!

 

 

 

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Baseball Imitates Life

I always enjoy a little post season baseball (especially watching the Dodger’s lose in agonizing fashion) and also appreciate philosophies about life.  This morning while reading about the Dodger’s elimination from the play-offs (ha) I came across this nugget on Grantland.com

Enjoy.

“The truth is that baseball, like life, is both unpredictable and unforgiving. We like to draw bright, simple lines of causality, if only to break down events into units we can understand. It makes us feel like we determine our own fates, when in fact we’re applying the feeble force of what we can control against the implacable weight of what we can’t.”

“Call it God, or physics, or luck, or the cosmic steamroller of the predetermined: The great human drama of Game 4 is that we watched a man grapple with all of that, and then get squished by the cosmic steamroller over the course of three hours on basic cable.

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A Shot in the Arm

It has been said that the single biggest human trait that correlates with a successful life is the ability to delay gratification (Damn, why couldn’t it have been eating pop tarts?) but only slightly less well known is this – the second biggest factor  that correlates to a successful life is medication!  No wait, that’s not it.  It’s resiliency.

So today’s blurb is brief and to the point.  Hang in there.   If you have royally screwed it up or made a few decisions that have set you back  (Gee, Enron seemed like a safe bet at the time) no worries.  Look on the bright side, you will probably screw it up worse down the road.  If you think today is the worse day of your life let me quote one of my favorite motivational speakers of all time, Mr. Homer Simpson.  “Today is only the worse day of your life so far.”

Here is your take away.  Don’t stress.  Take a breath and know whatever crisis you are facing you can deal with it and it will get better.

Pop Quiz

When does life get easier?

Answer

Never (Are you feeling better yet?)

Make up quiz in case you failed the first one

When do your issues in life go away?

Answer

Never (How about now? Are you feeling hopeful now?)

We will make mistakes.  We will make bad decisions.  We will hurt the ones we love.  We will repeat our bad behaviors a million times.  That’s ok, it is what it is.  That’s life.  We get the test first and answers second.  The answers, however, are within ourselves.

What is killing our motivation is our expectations of ourselves and of life!

Pop quiz which will count for triple  points in case you failed the last 2.

Which one of the following two expectations about life will help you live a more full and engaged life and which expectation will lead to alcoholism, depression and an early death.

1. Life is about achieving success and happiness and if I do it the right way I can have that too.

2. No one knows what life is about and there will never come a time when you feel secure.  Know thyself, love the people you are with, tackle your issues head on, learn from your mistakes and move on.

WELL?  The first one certainly feels better in theory but in practice it sets you up for being let down again and again because I DONT KNOW ANYONE WHO IS LIKE THAT (except Linus once he swapped his blanket for a lifetime supply of Prozac).

We are beating ourselves up for no reason.  90% of our actions and motivations are driven by DNA, Genetics, subconscious processes  and directives from your spouse.   Your personality is neither good nor bad.  If you are human, it works well in some cases and not so much in others.   Our challenges in life come from the fact that life is HARD and we know VERY LITTLE still about how humans work.  Get busy learning to properly use the personality you have because odds are, its not going to change very much,

This much we do know; humans are incredibly  resilient and innovative and the best survivors on the planet (except for maybe the cock roach and certain species of ants).  If you are still breathing you are winning; just don’t expect to always be living the perfect life.

There are only two ways to lose at life.

1. Die

2.  Stop trying to make it better.

We must always be striving to improve our lives, that is where we will feel most engaged and ALIVE!!!!!   But remember, we are wired to pursue happiness, not enjoy it.

Yes, I realize that means life is a paradox.  We must chase happiness to feel completely fulfilled and alive but we will never obtain permanent happiness.   That’s the fact, jack.

Take it from you bi-polar motivational speaker, life is never as good or as bad as it feels.  If you are down, take a breath, eat a pop tart, kick the dog then  get back on your horse and RIIIIIIDDDDDDE.    This is the remedy and elixir for what ails you.

You can do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Motivation, Perspective | 2 Comments

Random Thoughts

In an attempt to get my apathetic overmatched personality focused on something society might deem productive I am attempting to jump start my motivation this morning by writing a Random Thoughts article.  Note to my reading audience, if you are extremely religious then turn away now. Here we go.

Reading an interesting book, The Philosophical Baby, and it breaks down how babies learn about love and life.  Some interesting points to ponder over your cheerios this morning:

  1. You can have a happy well adapted child even if you had a miserable childhood.  One way to do this is teach your child about your history and the factors that led to you unhappiness. “Parents that tell a coherent story about how their early experiences led to their present state allows children to be better able to entertain counterfactuals about life.  These parents understood how their own parents had behaved and could imagine ways they could act differently.  These people were more likely to have secure relationships with their children.”
  2. Adolescence is when the shit hits the fan.  The baby brain learns and absorbs and is malleable but once adolescence hits the teenage brain wires up to ignore outside information and launch their own life strategies.  They are wired to place a greater emphasis on their own thinking than those of their parents for better or worse.  They will head out into the word to test their survival strategies.  Some will do well…others will end up as toll takers.
  3. Babies are considered citizens of the world.  At birth they have the ability to learn any language rapidly.  However, by six months of age the brain is already pairing down options and consolidating.  For example, a baby born to Japanese speaking parents, by the age of 6 months, will no longer ever be able to hear the letter “r” pronounced the way English babies will hear it.  Imagine that same concept applied to things like empathy, conscientiousness, sensitivity and so forth.

My neighbor rang my bell and invited me to a prayer meeting to pray for world peace.  I held my tongue as best I could but thought it was extremely shortsighted of them to assume I was a religious man. We are specks on a bigger speck when compared to the entire universe.  I think we all would do well to drop the notion that we are somehow chosen by (insert any deity here) to do anything.  It seems to lead to more violence and killing that just about anything else.

I was facilitating a meeting in Mill Valley the other day (a very wealthy community full of elite liberals) and noticed lots and lots of beautiful green lawns (we are experiencing a drought in California and have been asked to let our lawns go brown.) During the meeting one local chided me for using a plastic bottle of water because “plastic is bad for the environment”. I told her I was saving the water to spread on all the nice green lawns in Mill Valley. She did not think this was nearly as funny as I did.

I also noticed not a single homeless person in downtown Mill Valley yet if you go to the next town over they are on every street corner. Hmmm..I am sure that’s just a coincidence.

I was asked to speak at a graduation recently. I was to follow the Mayor. The mayor gave a speech where he mostly just plugged his own greatness and tried to disguise it as a message for graduates. He started the speech with the following line. “I was recently asked to go to Harvard……” and then he went on to tell some incredibly egotistical story about his greatness. Later when I got up I opened with the following line, “What a coincidence Mr. Mayor, I was also asked to go to Harvard but I was driving a cab at the time.” This drew great laughs while simultaneously causing the Mayor’s face to turn beat red. I’m guessing the Mayor will not be soliciting my vote down the road..

Would really like to see our politicians be from the middle and lower class; we might then get some real change going.

And finally, I will leave you with this funny story. I was recently asked to speak to the widows and widowers of Silicon Valley, an amazing group of people to be sure. However the average age of the audience was 90!!! I tried to keep it light and opened with a joke that paralyzed their brains and they might still sitting there thinking about it if I hadn’t explained it to them. Here is the joke I opened with:

“What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?”

Posted in Random Thoughts | 7 Comments

The Music of Life

A brief commentary on the nature of human relationships.  

In my day job I spend most of my time trying to convince humans that the majority of our troubles with other humans stems from the fact that we see the world differently. Due to our genetics, our innate personality traits, our upbringing and our culture we experience the world differently at a visceral level.  On top of that, we also are predisposed to assume our way of seeing the world is THE way the world works.  The challenge I face on the job is trying to find examples to illustrate this point.   Here is one such example I came across the other day that might help.

Last week I was meeting someone at a local hospital (it’s ok, no one is sick).   I arrived early for my meeting and promptly sat down in a chair in the lobby to wait. In this particular hospital they have a piano in the lobby that is often being played by an employee. The idea is that sick people waiting in the lobby might be relaxed by some live music. As I waited and listened, I glanced around the lobby looking for my friend who I was to meet.. In the chair next to me was an older gentlemen who looked either homeless or crazy.  He was dressed in sweatpants most likely purchased during the Reagan administration and a t-shirt that was fraying at the collar and both sleeves.  His hair was wild looking; gray and sprouting out from his head in all directions.  His coke bottle glasses had tape in the middle and were bent and crooked.

I glanced over at him and since I am always trying to decipher people’s personality and had a few minutes to kill, I decided to chat him up.  I sat for a minute or two listening to the lovely piano music (I think it was Beethoven being played) deciding the best approach to engage him.  Finally I said, ” The music is beautiful and so relaxing. What a nice gesture by the hospital.”

He snorted and shot back, “Really?  I am a classically trained musician and that music sounds like nails on a chalkboard.  He is butchering that piece so badly I am not sure I can sit here for much longer.”   It turns out he was trained on the oboe and played in Europe for years in an orchestra.  He was not crazy but more like an eccentric genius. 

Our quick interaction  neatly captures the inherent challenges two humans face when they attempt to communicate with each other.   Based on our history (me as a juvenile delinquent and him as a musician) and our DNA (he was a naturally gifted  musician and I was not) we were experiencing a situation in completely different ways.  I only heard beautiful  music and appreciated the intention of the person playing the piano.  My eccentric friend heard incompetence and noise that bordered on offensive to him. 

This goes deeper than simply seeing it differently.  We were experiencing it differently.  I will NEVER hear the mistakes being made by the person playing the piano.  I will always hear nice music and appreciate the effort.  My musical friend will ALWAYS hear a piece being butchered by an incompetent musician.  We can argue till our last breath and will never resolve the argument at that level.  This  is an example of  the most deadly of human arguments, a guaranteed relationship killer -   the dreaded right vs. right argument.   It is an argument where both parties are 100% right based on how they see the world. You can spend years in a right vs. right argument and will never resolve it.

In my piano example, which one of us saw the situation correctly?    What if the underlying criteria  had not been so easy to observe?

Instead of two strangers debating the musical styling’s of a hack in a lobby it had been a married couple discussing the right way to raise children?  Or spend money? 

What if we had been a parent and child discussing how to demonstrate respect to each other?  Or dress appropriately?

Or two coworkers discussing rude behaviors at work? Or what hard work looks like?

The list is endless and the possibilities infinite.   

Watch for the right vs. right argument in your life  It is typically an argument you have had many times with a loved one but you have yet to win the argument.  But you are SURE you are right and they are wrong. After all, surely any idiot can tell when Beethoven is being butchered by a lazy incompetent pianist.  No?

 

Posted in Communication, Perspective | 2 Comments

Nature vs Nurture

Greetings from the land of fits and starts, where three steps forward and two steps back is considered good productivity.  Do people change?   Maybe.  But lately I’ve begun to think that life is more a series of workarounds than wholesale change.    I wonder if that would make a good self-help book.  Here are a few working titles:

Stop Trying and Start Bailing

The Last Self Help Book You Will Ever Read

The Road Never Taken

Maybe it won’t crack the top ten on the NY Times best seller list but then again, honesty doesn’t always work in sales.   It’s been an interesting year to say the least.  As the New Year rolled in I had LOTS of free time and not much income.  Here we are in August and I am VERY busy with lots of work but my pesky personality has about as much endurance as a Zip Car on its last (only?) cylinder.

The more I learn about human personalities and work with others the more I am convinced our day-to-day behaviors can be broken down into a predictable formula.  It’s simply a matter of being able to map all the variables of your personality accurately and apply it to your environment.

Let’s go to the film…

Environment  = low stress

In January I was recovering from a series of kidney stones procedures and a work transition (court orders prevent me from discussing these details further).  I had almost two months off with hardly any client contact.  I needed to get healthy and reinvent my business.

Variables = Lots of Free Time

Results: during this stretch the liabilities of my personality gradually became shored up.

Examples:

I am easily overwhelmed by the physical world with very little ability to organize and navigate the challenges of putting clothes away, finding my keys and keeping track of all my crazy ideas.  As January and February unfolded  in a relatively stress free environment and I found myself with reserve energy and more focus.  I actually got in touch with a desire to organize my life.  I cleaned my office, my closets and even organized my computer files.   I consolidated my 1,000,000 sticky notes into a single “Idea Notebook” and began attacking extremely neglected areas of my surroundings like the garage and my bathroom (recently declared a bio hazard by the government).  I did not have to force my behavior, it happened naturally.

I began writing more.

I started dieting and eating better and was exercising regularly.

I was nicer to Lynn, more attentive, relaxed and no matter the situation I was calm and understanding (It’s True!)

Before you get too excited, I hadn’t changed one bit from the nutty, inconsistent, overly creative, self-centered person I had always been but the environment was such that the cracks in my personality were not being exposed or pressed upon.

Fast forward to today.  As I said, I am very busy.  Lots of work, speaking engagements and so forth but my stress level has increased dramatically.

( Side Note -  I have an extremely low tolerance for stress.   I once went on a golf trip with my so called friends in Bend Oregon which can be found at the very edge of the world.  Its 9 hours by car and to make a long story short our car broke down while we were there.  I had to get back the next day to start work with a new client which was going to be a big account.  I was so stressed about not making it back that I couldn’t golf the last day.  I simply sat in the hotel room smoking cigarettes waiting for the tow truck to come and try and fix it.  My friends thought this was hilarious.  I heard about it for the next year every time we got together until I simply stopped golfing with them.)

So with stress high and recovery time stretched thin here is where we stand now.

My room is a series of piles; clothes, files, scraps of paper, empty plates and coffee mugs.  Really, anything that has been taken out in the last 3 weeks is sitting where I left it.  And if you set foot in my garage or bathroom there is a good chance you will never be heard from again.

I am smoking cigarettes again after  18 months of being smoke free.

My diet consist of pop tarts, Doritos and chewing gum.

The only exercise I get is jumping to conclusions.

I am cranky and snappish at home.

I am writing less, whining more and generally a real pain in the a**.

Oh joy.  But there is one big difference from the early years, I am no longer judging myself as good or bad.  I simply acknowledge that my personality has some built-in inefficiencies, and this has allowed  me to conserve the mental and emotional energy I was wasting by beating myself or by trying to defend myself to others who often feel compelled to remind me that I am less than perfect.  You think?

It allows me to recover much faster when down, too.  I am no longer trying to “Change” myself.  I am simply trying to manage the lows more effectively.   And I know I will only get better at it.  I will be able to go longer and recover faster simply by understanding the real working mechanics of a personality under stress.

And you can too.   Next time you have regressed in some area of your life, think about the amount of stress you are under.  Go back in time and compare it to other times when you were excited, full of purpose, stress free or TWENTY YEARS YOUNGER.

If you have an issue or habit you are trying to change you might find some extra motivation by switching your mindset.  You are not bad or damaged, you might simply be reacting to stress and when you falloff the metaphoric wagon, don’t waste time mentally bashing yourself.   First off it doesn’t work and secondly, it’s not accurate.

So there you go.

For the next post we will start some case studies because I think we are all tired of my life…

 

Posted in Parenting, Perspective, Philosophy | Leave a comment

The Birds and the Bees

Well now, it’s been awhile since I wrote a blog post but life often offers up little pleasures when one least expects it.   I woke up this morning to find the following article on our local news website.

http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Health-textbook-too-explicit-for-some-East-Bay-5670660.php

The article is about a group of parents outraged…OUTRAGED…because the health text book  Freemont high school is using for 9th graders is too explicit.  The text book covers things like oral sex, sex toys and orgasms (sounds like a good class to me).

I think the parents of Freemont need to get with the program.   Kids in ninth grade are in HEAT and have access to the internet.  My 14 year old has probably watched more porn than a  traveling salesman.   When I need sexual advice these days I go to him.

Here are a few quotes from the article which had me laughing out loud.

“I want to let everyone know, if you think sex isn’t happening with your freshmen, you need to take your blinders off,” she said in public comment before the board’s June vote. “It’s happening, and it’s happening in the corners, in the bathrooms, in the cars, in the parks and even on the 50-yard line in front of everyone.”

LOL. Yes it is. IT is the SINGLE STRONGEST MOTIVATION WE POSESS.   You can’t possibly stop it. Didn’t Twilight teach you anything?

Here is another great quote from the article:

“Still, many parents complained that the book did not adhere to the family and cultural values of the community.’

WHAT? What community are they referring to? Freemont is a thriving city near the heart of Silicon Valley with a population of over 200,000. I assure you the sexual mores of the community include farm animals, ben wa balls and 50 shades of adultery.

And if that doesn’t convince you to sit down TODAY with your teenager and talk about sex instead of leaving it to a bureaucracy that still teaches CREATIONISM, keep in mind that your kids can and will find it all on the internet…in 3D.  Trust me on this one, I have done extensive field research.

The job of a parent is not easy because it is not what you say that will have the greatest impact on your children but who you ARE. One of my all time favorite quotes about parenting came from a Jungian psychologist writing about the psychic bonds between parents and their offspring, “Children will spend the first half of their adult lives unconsciously carrying their parent’s unresolved baggage.”

Woa.   The author (James Hollis) went on to say that this was the root cause of midlife crisis – kids taking on the unfinished business of their parents. According to Hollis, we spend first half of our lives trying to unconsciously fix our parents issues and when we get to middle age we gradually begin to realize it is not who we really are.

So remember, if you have sexual hang-ups and are feverishly trying to repress some deep dark desire, I got even money that says there’s a good chance one of your kids will take it on. Or perhaps I should say “get it on.”

sex ed

Posted in Not for the easily offended, Parenting, Teenagers | 1 Comment

Stuff Happens

So the other day I got a little feedback on my blog from a close friend who said, “Gee Tim (this is how they talk), your blog is a little dour”, and if that wasn’t enough he felt compelled to add, “And you seem to feel sorry for yourself a lot” (these were  my good qualities). This got me thinking and motivated me to put a few things into perspective (or what we humans like to refer to as “rationalization”).

We now know that we are born with a “happiness set point” and research indicates that our mood will not change much over the course of our lifetime.  Life’s wins and losses will toss your moods around like the S.S. Minnow on a three hour tour but overall, we humans tend to settle back into that same happiness set point.

What this means is that some of us are born with a sunny disposition that fixates on the positive and makes lemonade out of bankruptcy and jury duty while others will sink slowly into despair weeks after hitting the lottery.  Furthermore, there’s not much we can do about changing our happiness set point short of medication or a frontal lobotomy.

It is no secret that my happiness set point hovers just above “What’s the point?” and consequently, my overall mood tends to guide my attention to the darker shadows of life.   But I believe that any fixed mood brings with it a set of advantages and challenges.    Fat, drunk and stupid is clearly no way to go through life but regardless of your mood one must learn to recognize and manage your mood or else you may find yourself  meandering down a dead end road wondering how you got there.

One of those dead end roads is the societal belief that life is always about being a winner.  Our society is fixated on the image of success and “feeling good” and this relentless pursuit of achievement has got us all pretending to be someone we are not.  This can cause problems.  The belief that everyone out there is living the dream only further isolates us as people and traps us into believing our failures are indications that we alone are somehow defective.  Furthermore, this can cause us to bury feelings of shame and failure because we view them as defective emotions.  This buried baggage piles up and before you can say “middle –age” we can find ourselves diverting a good deal of our physic energy to keeping those demons at bay.

Let me share a story that can perhaps illustrate this for you.  A few weeks ago I was asked to give a motivational talk to a group of unemployed professionals.  This was a group of people just like me and you only by fate, bad luck or poor choices they suddenly found themselves unemployed during one of the worst job markets in history while simultaneously living in a part of the country where affordable housing means houses priced at $300,000.

I got to the gig early and mingled with the audience for about 45 minutes and their stories were heart breaking.  Some were 50 and 60 years old with kids in college while others had been canned after more than 25 years on the job.  Many believed their prospects looked grim and most carried with them a sense of shame and embarrassment.

At 9 AM the talk began and the host stepped up and introduced me.  I took the stage and for reasons still unclear to me, I decided to scrap my original talk and began speaking about failure to the audience.  Fifteen minutes into the talk I had them laughing and feeling better and I knew I was connecting with them.

I have many issue of my own and am far from perfect but one thing I do very well is speak.  I knew, as the talk progressed, that I was appearing to the audience to be a man of great talent and accomplishment.  It was at this moment of my presentation, when I was feeling the love and admiration of the crowd that I decided to do something I had never done before.  Having built myself up in their eyes as an expert in my field and a man of considerable talent and success I disclosed the following.

“I want you all to know that I am the king of failure.  I am 48 years old and the only picture of me in my high school year book is me sitting in detention. I flunked out of college earning a 0.0 GPA my last semester. I have been fired more times than George Constanza and was dumped by my wife on 3 separate occasion while stalking…errrr…I mean dating her.  And now I want to share something I have never shared before with anyone except with my closest family members.  In 2010 I filed for bankruptcy.”

I went on to explain the risks of owning your own business and being bad at math while running headlong into an economy that imploded in 2008. I then conclude the story with the following:

“I felt so ashamed of myself.   I felt like such a failure and didn’t want anyone to know.  I was certain that I was the biggest fool and failure walking the planet.  And it was these same feelings that caused me to sit in my basement playing Barbara Streisand records instead of doing what I needed to do to get back out there.  Eventually, life forced me get moving again because in the end I had no choice.  And here is what I learned from all that.  Don’t waste time beating yourself up. I assure each and every one of you here today that you are no different than anybody else out there, rich or poor, successful or homeless and you have no idea of the strength you possess inside yourself.”

As I was saying these words I could feel the emotion in the room.  It was pouring off people.  Heads were nodding, people were getting misty eyed (ok, some were asleep) and the room felt, for those few precious minutes, as if we were all in this crazy game of life together.

After the talk an amazing thing happened; people starting coming up to me and sharing stories of their failures.  Like Catholics in confession they unburdened their perceived sins to me. (note to Catholics – I don’t believe in sin)They approached me, thanked me and said things like:

“That happened to me last year”

“I lost my house and business”

‘I went through a bad divorce”

And

“I like to wear women’s’ underwear” …ok, maybe this last one didn’t happen.

I don’t know what compelled me to bare my soul like that in front of those people.  I frequently don’t know why I do these things.  But the effect was transformative for the audience.  It took their private failures and dragged those bad feelings into the light of day where they could be acknowledged, discussed and consciously processed.  You must feel it to heal it folks.

Talking about my failures created the space for people to look at their own failures differently.  It allowed the audience to shift their perspective from “I am a failure” to “Shit happens.”   It had a cathartic effect for them (and me) allowing them to release their feelings of shame and worthlessness that had been buried alive and dragging them down. It drove home the point that we are all the same.  We all win and lose, laugh and cry, live and die.

It was an awesome moment and one that I will not soon forget.  This blog, from the very beginning, has always been a vehicle for me to tell the truth about life as I see it.  I do consider myself to be challenged mentally and emotionally by this world often times, more than I wish.  However, I believe I am not alone and I assume we all harbor secret thoughts of our own inadequacies.  It is my hope that my honesty and humor and sometimes depressive view on life can offer, in its own zany way, comfort and hope for others and help ease their burden.

As I always say to all my clients, I get a lot of ideas, some will be really good and others you should never attempt.  Take what works and ignore the rest.

Posted in Motivation, Perspective | 13 Comments

Status is a Fickle Friend

Hello out there, a short but important post today to remind everyone that status and image are fleeting objectives that will ultimately leave you feeling lost and forlorn.  First let’s define status and image a bit more.

Image and status are important tools humans use to attract a mate and  gain influence over the community.   Look around your circle of friends and neighbors to determine what is valued and what is considered bad behavior; cars, clothes, jobs, weight, looks, your kids achievements, the amount of guns you own and your income are all forms of status symbols in our culture.

The community also spends considerable time policing and talking about the fluctuating status of member families or what we like to call gossip.  Gossip is a key function of keeping community members in line.

All well and good, but even though chasing and building status is wired into our DNA, it is also a recipe for unhappiness if we don’t’ learn to recognize that the endless pursuit of status will ultimately leave us feeling hungry for more.  This is one of the reasons why people who become financially ruined sometimes jump out of tall buildings.

Status can help us find a suitable mate and create opportunities for advancement but status, by its definition, is dependent on outside factors beyond our control. Any pursuit of status not tempered by wisdom and some semblance of intrinsic self-esteem is destined to leave you with an existential crisis.

Consider the article I read today about bad neighbors in Northern California because they continue to have lush green lawns in the middle of a drought.    The weather in Northern California has tunred the green lawn from a status symbol of wealth, success and community conscientiousness into a symbol of low character and selfishness.

And there in lies the risk of hitching your self-esteem entirely to the outside world’s approval and admiration. If you look throughput history you will see that fads and status symbols vanish faster than an Iraqi security force.

So be careful out there.   Its ok to pursue status and image if it helps you establish yourself or score a hot chick (or dude) but learning to feel good about yourself regardless of your lush green lawn and perfect teeth will help you sutain your happiness into later life.

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