I don’t care what you think, but I care what you think

I was driving my kids to school and going through the usual “pre-flight” checklist (lunch money, karate clothes, teeth brushed, trumpet, etc), I discovered and opportunity for personal growth and a great blog topic. I always, always, yes, 3 always, forget what days Rocco Jr. has band, soccer, karate, and minimum days. I had an inclination that it was a band day (although as I write this on a Monday, I couldn’t tell you if today is band). He, in his 9 year old, coming of age wisdom, feared being laughed for carrying his trumpet to school if the teacher was out. He wasn’t sure if the teacher, Mr Boyer, was going to be on campus. There was a 99% chance, Mr Boyer would be at work. But the 1% had Rocco Jr. concerned. Rocco Jr. feared that he would be the only band student carrying his instrument to class and being ridiculed. As his wise old father, I told him not to care what other people think. My 8 year old Angelina questioned my insitence on her clothes matching, or at least coming close to matching, if we don’t care about what other people think.
How do you find the balance between being self concious and simply not caring and being out of tune? This is a challenge. The objective is to be successful, authentic, and a good person. Simple enough? Many people find success in one or two of these areas, but finding people checking all 3 boxes (and deserving so) is not always easy. Here is a list of 4 must haves in order to consider yourself for the trifecta of personal growth achievement.
1. Self awareness: Daniel Goleman‘s landmark Emotional Intelligence turned the world upside down on the idea that how you know is at least if not more important than what you know when it comes to finding success. Finding self awareness may not be all that easy. There are thousands of Self-Help books, counselors, and You-Tube videos addressing this. Perhaps the bigget step has already been taken if you are asking how to become more self aware.
2. Intentions: What are your motives behind why you care what others think? Caring about impressing a potenital client, or a job interview is healthy. This is a means to an end. It says “care about my work” not “care about me”. If you are hoping to gain acceptance for a acceptance as an end, the “care about me”, in the wrong situations, this can spell trouble. There’s a time and a place for each. Knowing how to tell the difference is key.
3. Surround yourself with couragous and trustworthy coaches: As with many aspects in personal growth, the people you are around will lead you down a certain path. Which path depends upon the people you allow into your inner cirlce. Friends and family who challenge you in reasonable and realistic ways do you well. If they are well balanced, a quick check in every once in a while about your style and approach is appropriate. ” Does this present as professional?” or ” Am I comming on too strong”, are great examples of easy check in questions. The questions isn’t so much the issue as is asking the right person. Approaching someone with no social norms to advize you is not a good idea.
4. Prepare and be Confident: You are more likely to find balance when you are prepared and confident. This means that you have to put in the effort. If you are concerned about what your kids are wearing; learn. What are your objectives with what they wear? Trend? Modesty? Cultural? Whatever it is, make sure to do your homework. Put a “product” out there and be proud to know you put effort in.As you begin to grow, you’ll find you are confident in certain areas where you are not in others. This is o.k. . Learn from the positives and grow. The key here is that you are ahead of the curve by the mere fact that you are trying to get better.

Work on these a little at a time. Check in with yourself and those around you.

Share with me an area where you care too much? How about when you may not care enough (but still don’t want to change).

Rocco De Leo


A 5 year old’s Dating Wisdom

So what do you say to a five year old who openly discusses his interest in dating with you, specifically, the acceptance of his potential partners bad habit? Today, I realized that my son’s journey toward embracing a healthy and loving relationship could be mapped out at an early age, given the tools to understand his self-worth and self-empowerment.

As I sat next to him in the movie theaters today watching OZ the great and powerful, I started to write. The wizard in this film had just revealed his dashing style and playboy type mannerisms. We, the audience can assume he’s capable of landing love with any fair maiden, even with a witch. He appears to have it all, charm and power, a keen ability to lie, and he’s in tune with the effectiveness of gift giving.

Earlier today, my son and I had a discussion about a nasty habit, smoking. As we left an appointment, we stepped out of the elevator with the trail of cigarette smoke from someone that had been smoking still lingering. He could smell the odor and asked me why people smoke? I informed him that smoking is an addiction, it’s bad for your health, and it’s a good idea that he never smokes. I also added that he shouldn’t associate himself with anyone who smokes as these people may tempt this habit upon him. He said, “what if I like a girl who smokes?” Great question. I replied, “I probably would not date anyone that smokes because why would you want to date someone that doesn’t take care of herself?” His reply was, “would it be wrong to date her if I smoke too?” I replied, “you can do what you want once you are 18, once you become an adult, but I suggest you don’t smoke and don’t date any girls that smoke or do drugs.”

It’s not too early to ask these things of him. We concluded this conversation with me asking him to promise me that he’ll stop and think about what we have discussed before he try’s smoking for the first time and that he will try not to date anyone that smokes. However, I did include that if both him and his girlfriend smoke, the next best thing is to help each other quit. As his parent, it’s my goal to teach my son about taking care of himself. Teach him good eating habits, teach him manners and teach him the importance of surrounding himself with polite and health conscious people.

I finish writing this blog while watching the final scenes from the film OZ. I continue to observe the character of the wizard; he felt he was not capable of saving the people of Oz from the wicked witch until he realized that he was capable of creating a plan to overcome the witch’s power with the help from the people. Witches have nasty habits but they can be defeated. My son will be equipped with knowledge of all that’s wicked and will know how to follow the yellow brick road to get to where he wants because he will have a plan.

In the final few minutes of this film OZ, the good witch and bad witch battle it out. The bad witch looses her emerald necklace also loosing her fake beauty. She turns into an old maid looking like your typical Halloween styled witch riding a broom in the sky. In the final scene, my son says, “oh she has turned ugly.” I said “that’s what happens to your skin when you smoke.” Ok, yes, I know a little too aggressive on my end. Anyway, he says, “the wicked witch smokes?” I replied, “most likely.”

A parent will be their child’s most important critic in life. It’s important to review your children constantly and rate their life progress as we do with films. It’s important to assume that your child is experimenting with sex, drugs and other destructive and enticing elements of life. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. In my next blog, I will discuss equipping your child with knowledge and confidence, a plan to have every base covered even if there’s no home run.

Jamie Volbrecht

I’m a Man: What does that Mean?

I am a man.  I have different body parts than my female counterparts.  I have some extra hair, a deeper voice and I can watch an entire baseball game without moving.  Men and women are different.  This concept is so profoud that Time Magazine put it on a 1992 cover.  What does it mean to be a man?  Jamie asked me a few months ago what I thought it meant to “be a man”.  I kept struggling with things like what I would do if something bad happened: ” I will defend my family…I will support my family…” Does this mean that women don’t do those things?  That’s ridiculous!  Women do these things and do them well.  So what does it mean to “be a man”.  I recently read John Eldgrege’s book Wild at Heart¨. Ironically, I picked up this book on audio about a week after I began pondering this question.  I am 37 years old and am challenged to answer a simple question of what it means to be a man.  John’s book did an excellent job openning up the conversation within my heart.  Here are a few things all men have burning within them that make them different than the ladies.  These are things they must engage in and their women must embrace.  Without them, men are doomed to mediocrity and unhappiness. Embrace them, and men will be proufoundly successful in living a fullfilling life.

1.  An Adventure.  Men are built to live adventure.  A sedentary life has never been in the mantra for man.  From the cave man days, to the revolutionary war, to today.  Man goes forth to find challenges to overcome.  Man is desgned to actively pursue.  This is as true in courting our women as it is in pursuing career aspirations.  The hunt is the fullfilling joy.

2. A battle to fight.  As men, we need a cause.  In fact, we need many causes.  This doesn’t mean that men must  be chaining themselves to trees at Green Peace rallies or doing PSAs for Darfur (although many do).  As men, we  have a much more personal battle to fight.  The greatest challenge in life is not fighting this battle, but discovering it.  Men like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Pope John Paul II, had profound, world impacting battles to fight.  Civil rights, Civil War, and the evil communism are huge battles.  They are also obvious at this point.  What battles to we fight?  This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately and will discuss this much further in future posts.  For now, challenge yourself to discover your battles.  This must go beyond the “given” battles of protecting your teen age daughters from boys.  Every one does that.  Think BIG and Think DIFFERENT!

3.  Spiritual Leader of the family.  A recent study from Touchstone in Europe discusses fathers and church attendance.  If the father attends church with the mother, the children become regular church goers 33% of the time.  Without dad, that number is 3%. Dad leads the family to salvation.  This means dad must wake up early on Sunday and push the family to get ready on time.  Developing a fervent prayer life as a single man or starting now as a married father, this is a key component to being a man.  Daily prayer isn’t just for old ladies at daily Mass.  Remember the apostles with Christ were all men.

4. Strong and Confident.  Man must be of strong spirit.  Not all men are particularly strong physically, nor was that ever nature’s only intention.  A fulfilled man must, however have a strong spirit.  This starts with confidence, ability, and drive.  The era of feminism has emasculated many of our men.  Watch any TV commercial during the daytime and you’ll see images of weak, stupid men who can”t even back the car out of the garage without running over the sprinklers.  This distorted view of men, created by angry women who misunderstand men, shows man as wandering aimlessly without the heroic virtues of his woman who must do everything to protect the world from her stupid man.  This is a perfect image of a man without strength.  Man must be strong and couragous enough to balance his leadership within the home with his wife’s need to be valued and heard.  A strong man knows when to push and when to concede.  If he doesn’t know this, he will strive to learn.

5.  Creative and Creators:  As men, we have a creative spirit.  From the natural urge to create families to the urge to build things, we are creators.  As a little boy, I built a model of the classic cutter the “Cutty Sark”.  This was a beautiful and giant model of a grand sail boat.  I built forts, model airplanes, and go-carts.  Men must create and have “ownership”.  Without this sense of ownership, we are selling out on our manhood and fulfilling the feminist vision of “stupid man”.

A Watershed Moment: Integrity Matters

The other day we took a trip to the local Babies R Us to purchase a BOB stroller.   All told, we spent 2 plus hours and nearly 400$.  Thoroughly exhausting.  As a I was unloading the cart, I noticed a bottle of water.  The water, unpurchased, was screaming “ethical test, ethical test”.  It felt like one of those interview scenarios where we are tested for character.  The little voice in my head told me that “no good deed goes un punished”.  “Go in there and something bad is going to happen.  You’re going to trip and get hurt, or the store clerk is going to have you arrested for shoplifting.”  I made the choice to go in and pay the 2$ for the water.  Funny enough, we had to make another trip the next day and they were giving away dozens of free bottles of water.  Of course, it was never about the water.  Here  are 3 reasons why I returned the water, and why you should t0o:

1.  Integrity.  Integrity is all about how you act when no one is looking.  No doubt, I could’ve left without paying.  I was tired and ready to go home.  No one would have blamed me for not walking back in, waiting in line and paying for the water.  I spent well over 300$ and the water was over priced.  That’s not the point.  When we expect to be dealt with as a professional, with honesty and integrity, the buck stops with “I”! Act the way you want others to act.  Practice makes perfect.  The more we practice social integrity, the better we will be when faced more complex ethical situations. Remember Enron?

2. I am a recovering hypocrite.  As a practicing Catholic, I pray for guidance and the grace to be Christlike.  Since God isn’t planning on having me walk on water and raise people from the dead anytime soon (although, how awesome would that be), this means I need to act Christlike in more earthly ways.  God gives us these little opportunities to remind us that he is listening.  He answers our prayers in his own, humorous ways.  My heart grows a little stronger knowing that I did the right thing.  I did not fall back on hypocrisy by failing to act.  I  am better knowing that I will act with integrity and maybe won’t falter when faced with opportunities much larger and with much higher implications than a 2$ bottle of water.  Remember to be careful what you ask God for.

3.  I am Dad, hear me roar. How can we expect others to do the right thing when we choose to the wrong thing.  These moments are great opportunities to teach our kids what “good” looks like.  We talk the talk, we must also walk the walk.  As the man of the house, Dad is the leader.  For most of you out there, life is very busy.  I am no exception.  I have great plans to teach my kids how to be good little Christians.  We pray, we do sacraments, and we go to church on Sundays.  Of course, what’s the point of those things?  Check a box? No! The point is to act like Christ when we are not in the safe and sterile environment of the church or a Bible bed time story.  Me taking back the water is the first step.  The next victory is watching my kids take back the water. Remember the “teachable moments”.

Share with me your “watershed moment”.  Did you act with integrity?  I think the statute of limitations on shoplifting is 7 years and you do have the right to remain silent…

Rocco De Leo

Turn your Anxiety into Ambition

A stack of books on my nightstand, twenty five blog ideas, ten podcast ideas, miles to run, and many more to-dos. Success starts first from an idea where you want to go and a plan on how to get there. The little voice in my head “the resistance” as Steven Pressfield coined, tells me that it’s just too much. I’m cranky, frustrated and finding it hard to focus on getting one thing done, let alone getting all these things done. This is my inner self sore from several weeks of a new driven ambition. Much like taking on a new physical routine, my body, or my inner voice is sore. Anxiety, in this sense is ambition in disguise. Anxiety, left alone, will ruin my plans and turn up the volume on my resistance. Anxiety re focused into ambition will be one of the best natural drivers to success and a “mute” button to the inner voice of resistance.Here is a step by step guide to ensure anxiety morphs into ambition.

1. Organize and write down my goals. Include time lines to let me know what I must do and what I can be comfortable NOT doing until later. If it is planned to be on hold, it is not procrastination, it is strategy.

2. Align a strategic plan with my goals. Once I know my target, now I am ready to aim. Starting with the end in mind, I work backward on how to achieve my goals. I will be publishing my goals on this blog soon using this methodology.

3. Align daily tactics with reality. What is it going to take on a daily basis to chip away toward my strategic plan? Planning time to work towards these goals with daily tactics (simply stated: tasks) is key to achieving my plan. This is where the rubber meets the road. Knowing that I have done the proverbial math and discovered that reading blogs 1 hour per day from 6-7 am will ultimately work toward achieving my goal tells my inner voice that enough is enough; no need to read 2 hours per day. Even if I hear Guy Kawasaki reads blogs 3 hours per day, my plan tells me I am not Guy Kawasaki and never plan on being him.

4. Take multiple second looks at the plan. First and foremost, having a plan makes me feel better and makes me actually work better. This is nothing new or profound. It is common sense. Re evaluating my plan periodically (the time frame will depend on the user) will help correct for un forseable situations and over-under ambitious planning.

5. Trust my plan. Be confident in my plan. I am smart and know what I am doing. I trust my plan to get me there. Re routing mid flight without careful analysis will assure failure to reach my ultimate destination. Turbulence in flight as well as in life is expected. Hunkering down and pushing through takes trust in the plan.

What is your voice of resistance telling you today?

Rocco De Leo

Act Courageous and offend people

20130418-074835.jpgThere is so much to say and so much to share in today’s hyper connected world. Those of you who utliize some or all of the tools for consuming (and ultimately sharing) information are part of an ever growing intelligence the world has never seen.

Reflecting on an article about Guy Kawasaki auto tweeting during the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing made me think of the wisdoms of Greg Gutfeld’s book The Joy of Hate. He basically states that too many people are whiners and walk around spouting phony outrage. This phony outrage has us discussing the “discussion” rather than what we should be discussing. Make sense? The unintended consequence of over thinking is that we loose our focus on what really matters. What really matters is what you and I have to say. We must walk through our days mindful of our fellow man, yet understanding that he needs (not just wants) to hear what you have to say.

I want to hear from you. Share with me a time where you had something profound to say but feared offending someone and said nothing.
Rocco De Leo

Guard your Heart

Français : Logo de Connecting Emotional Intell...

Français : Logo de Connecting Emotional Intelligence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the heart is the forked highway to heaven and hell. Proverbs 4: 23 says “with the closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life”.  As human beings with dynamic and sometimes unpredictable emotions, we are drawn into many damaging “relationships”.  These relationships are sometimes with people, sometimes with things, and more often than not, they are ideas.  Guarding your heart means avoiding unnatural attachment to these things.  Attachment defined here is any feeling or sense of being drawn toward something that does not serve your purpose.  Some things may vary depending on your purpose in life.

The first thing you need to do is have a purpose.  This is the premise of Rick Warren‘s best  selling book: The Purpose Driven Life.  At least start with a goal. You can look at my post on goals for a quick guide on developing and writing down your goals.  Without a purpose, it’s hard to line up your behavior.

The second thing is to be hyper aware of your emotions.  Daniel Goleman’s land mark book on Emotional Intelligence discusses the importance of self awareness.  I am suggested that we must not only be aware of how we are affectING the world around us, but how we are affectED but the world around us.  You act different around different people.  You have social norms with one group of friends than others.  Why is it that you may drink and/or act contrary to who you really are (or who you want or think you are).  This is because your are affected by those around you.  Be aware of the people you are around.  Guarding your heart by avoiding these environments or  to the danger will provide value and offer you a level of integrity to your purpose you haven’t had in the past.  Since complete avoidance is usually not the case for those of us in the real world, a state a hyper-vigilance is important.  You can achieve this by knowing what your purpose and goals are and checking in on them regularly.

The third thing is to seek others who have the same purpose.  If you emulate those around you in a negative way, then you are bound to do the same for those in a positive way.  Find people  who have achieved or are seeking to achieve similar success in personal development.  Guard your heart of course from idealizing people and ideas.  Take your time and understand that this is a slow process. The difference between the new you and the old you is that you are aware and are working toward being better rather than simply wandering in the wilderness.

The fourth thing is to know your weaknesses.  This is similar to number two, but drills down to specific weaknesses and not necessarily just behaviors.  Do you have a lustful heart toward people other than your spouse?  Do you drink too much alcohol or take drugs?  Are you suffering from depression and seeking validation through your actions?  Do you wander off topic and find it hard to focus? Know your weaknesses and avoid occasions that can exploit those weakness.

Finally, know your strengths.  Books such as the Toms Rath’s Strengthsfinder teach you how to find your strengths.  The fact you are looking in the mirror and seeking your strengths puts you light years ahead of your peers.  Know what makes your great and focus much more on those things.

What are you guarding your heart from?


Why I’m Proud to be a Runner

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In light of the tragic attacks on the Boston Marathon, I would be remise if I didn’t share my thoughts about running and the fraternity that is “runners”.  The runner spirit transcends the sport of running, and makes us “growth oriented” human beings.  The best part of our fraternity is that its open to anyone who wants to join.


1. It’s hard and nothing worth having is easy.  Anyone running has faced challenges both physical and mental and have over come them.  Waking up early, staying up late, and running through crazy weather toughens the spirit a drives the person toward a once untenable goal.


2.  An extended hand.  Look around at about 15 miles into a marathon.  People are hurting, tired and wanting to give up.  But something remarkable happens.  They don’t.  Stronger runners reach out their helping hands to encourage thier  fellow runners.  No one complains about slow runners.  A runner is a runner, regardless of speed.


3.  Runners are giving.  From “Race for the Cure“, “Run for her” or “10K for (insert cause)”, running has long been a way to raise money for special causes.  It gives every day people an opportunity to experience sacrificial giving.  This builds great character and helps people who need it.  It was reported that runners ran from the bombing straight to a local hospital to donate blood.


4. Everyone wants to be a runner.  Everyone wants to and can be a runner.  It gives runners a chance to help people get what they want.  Most runners are regular people who are not elite athletes training full time.  Runners are cops, teachers, bankers, construction workers, and many other professions.  Being a runner means that we do what we do and people see us accomplishing something they too can accomplish.


Share with me why you run or want to run.


Facebook Comparison Syndrome

Facebook has provided millions (or is it billions?) of people an opportunity to connect with friends and relatives in a way once only dreamed of. With this great technology comes great responsibility. What is this responsibility? Are you supposed to be honest with your life on Facebook? The answer is yes and no. Here is a list of the immutable laws of Facebook. Live by these and your life will be much happier.

1. Everyone is lying on Facebook. At least those who know how to use it are lying. Most posts are either “look at me” or “listen to me complain”. How many posts have you seen of a sink full of dishes with the caption “I am lazy”?

2. Don’t care about the Lies! Who cares if people are lying! Enjoy the connection for what it is. Don’t you dare compare other your life as it really is to the lives of people on Facebook. Comparing in this sense is comparing within your heart and mind. You might play the Facebook game and push the limits of truth on your post, and that is fine. Just don’t convince yourself that you need to be “really” like your Facebook friends. You’ll drive yourself crazy.

3. Don’t seek validation Facebook: You’ve done it before. So have I. You post something fun or neat in your life and wait for the little red number to start popping in the upper corner. After 16 hours you only have 1 “like” and that’s from your mother. At this point, you need to understand that even 1 moment of negative energy is a wasted moment.

4. Call the people who really matter: You don’t have a lot of time to manage 367 friendships. If you do, you’re not working hard enough at work. Facebook is a “touch point” but not a primary place to develop true friendships. Facebook only friends will not be there when your Dad is in the hospital, or you have surgery and can’t cook for yourself. Remember this.

5. Have fun! I will say it again and again. Have fun please. If it’s not fun, then don’t do it!

I forget sometimes and compare my friends running tallies to mine. I forget that he’s an iron man, runs a gym, and his life is fitness. That’s not me and i’ll go crazy trying to keep up with him.

What are some of the most ridiculous things you’ve compared yourself to on Facebook?


Technology is for fun too: my engagement video

Remember that technology is here for our enjoyment.  Have fun and express yourself.  How great is it that we get to learn how to do things that 20 years ago only a professional with years of training could do?  I taught myself iMovie 3 weeks ago.  One of the best ways to learn a new skill is picking up the tools and doing.  Teach yourself something new every once in a while.  You will be better for it.  Rocco