How the Road to Awesome Took a Detour to Jerk

As a busy dad of 5, including a newborn, I am pulled in multiple directions.  My time is no longer my own.  I am on the road driving from client to client during the day.  I read (audiobooks) and  keep up with my favorite podcasts in the car.  My purpose in life is to succeed at helping others succeed.  As Jon Acuff says,  my Awesome is to help others find their Awesome.  I do it at work as well as in writing. First things first however, I need to keep up with the latest articles and tweets on awesomeness.  Twitter is a great place to keep up to date on your favorite topics.  If you missed it, I wrote an article on how I use Twitter.  In my infinite wisdom, I recently found the 3 perfect opportunities to completely suck at being awesome while learning how to be awesome.

The Jerk

The Jerk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Elevators are not for twitter.  Seriously!  I was literally tripping over an old lady in a wheelchair the other day as we were both exiting the elevator at a doctor’s office. My excuse: I was reading an article on my iPhone about how to be nice.  You may have seen my Re-tweet.  Epic Fail!
2.  Feeding the baby is not twitter time:  If you have ever had a baby, you know when the biological stuff is happening.  My little girl makes quite the “splash” when her system is a-go.  Unfortunately, this usually happens as I’m deciding whether to RT a tweet or via@personwhotweeted regarding a great article about being a blogging dad or parenting advice.  Of course my 3 week old appreciates this so much that she’s willing to sit in her “splash zone” for 3 or 4 more tweets.
3. Red lights should be twitter-free zones.  I say red light to make it sound not so bad.  Actually, the red lights I am referring to are the red brake lights that startle me as I scroll through my twitter feed. I recently discovered Pocket, the “read later” app.  I’ve never been twitter-elite enough to read the articles while driving, but I can tell a perfect “pocket-able” article with re-tweet potential with the best of them. No bueno!
In my great effort to be awesome, I have become a jerk. All is not lost however.  Here is a list of  5 things to consider when recovering from an acute case of jerk-itis associated with hypocrisy.
1.  Remember that today is a new day.  Don’t be so hard yourself that you give up being awesome.  Besides God, no one loves you more than you.  Sometimes, that causes you to get caught up in yourself.  Recognize it, and push forward.
2.  Take a YOU holiday.  Spend one day hyper-focusing on others.  If this doesn’t come natural to you, give yourself notes as reminders.  Be interested in those you interact with on a normal basis, but step your game up a bit.  Ask the barista at Starbucks about her weekend.  Compliment the bank teller on his tie.  Thank the police officer pulling you over for texting and driving for keeping the streets safe.  Be intentional.
3.  Take a “self-help” break.  I may be mislabeling “self-help”.  Jon Acuffs book Start was phenomenal.  It’s more than simply self help.  Brene’ Brown’s Daring Greatly was life changing.  5-stars abound.  Maybe, as Jon Acuff shares, its time to go to your own Central Park.  A place to “chill-out”.  As a reader, a fun fiction book, can take me out of myself and the pressure to be Awesome.
4.  Pray and Trust in Lord: As a practicing Catholic, my relationship with Christ is key to my happiness.  It’s also key to my awesomeness.  I  find myself praying for guidance and grace on a Sunday morning, and trying to create it myself by Sunday night.  No can do! Pray and trust in the Lord.
5.  Find perspective:  It always amazes me to reflect upon where I’ve come from.  I recently went for a long 10-mile run with very disappointing results.  I felt sluggish and heavy.  I realized that I have gained 25 pounds in 6 months.  That’s how long I haven’t weighed myself.  It snuck up on me and I had no idea I had gained so much.  On the other hand, I look at positives in my life that sneak up on me.  My relationship with my kids since I became a full time full custody dad 5 years ago has grown. Reflecting upon the communication at bedtime or dinner from when I got custody to the normal and relative respect and efficiency I see now provides tremendous perspective on days I feel like screaming.

Awesomeness isn’t easy.  If it were, it wouldn’t be so awesome.  Try too hard or try too little, you will make mistakes.  Try just enough, well you’ll still make mistakes.  Keep on keeping on is the key.  Share some of your irony  on your own road to awesome.  I would love to hear from you.

Rocco De Leo

The Dangerous Space Between Pause and Procrastination

The international space station “sits” over 220 miles above the earth’s surface in what is essentially called “low earth orbit“.  Inside, the environment is pressurized for comfort as well as simple survival of its inhabitants.  Often, astronauts are called to exit the safety of the station and enter the vast vacuum of space for a “space walk”.  Before they are able to safely transfer from the pressurized environment inside the station, they must enter an “airlock“.  This is a small chamber with two doors, in which the pressure is regulated.  Without this chamber, exiting would be disastrous. While inside, the astronauts must wait out  the changes.  Imagine your  first trip into space as you prepare to make that first space walk; fear and doubt surface. As time goes by, you are caught between the relative safety of the space station and the vast unknown of space.
You  now find yourself in the space between the comfort of the status quo and the pressure of pursuing your ambitions. You have decided to pursue your dream of owning a boutique coffee shop (insert your dream here) and are researching next steps.  Hours upon hours of studying coffee beans, interning at local shops, learning the culture, and doing everything necessary to prepare yourself to fully commit to your dream.  While sitting in the “airlock” of life, you are reminded of the relative safety of your day job and the status quo.  The stable work hours, company car, health care, and the  weekly pay check. The quaint beauty  of the venetian Cafe’ from your honeymoon hits a spot on your heart and awakens your spirit to live beyond the 9-5. After several “false starts” in years past, you are equipped and focused to believe this is real and that you will flawlessly execute your plan of owning a boutique coffee shop.

How do you trust the voices in your head telling you to press the pause button?  You have family commitments, a day job, and a life beyond the coffee shop. You are forging ahead to prove to the voices of doubt, that you aren’t on another false start.  Pausing to evaluate where you are is like pulling to the side of the road read the map.  You must find where you are at a this moment on your journey to make necessary adjustments. Enable the “location services” on your journey. The voices of doubt tell you that you are failing again if you hit pause.  You are confusing the pause button with procrastination.  Here is a list of 5 things to consider as you navigate between pausing and procrastination.  Remember that pausing is necessary to stay on your course.  Procrastination is your internal fear stealing your dream of awesomeness.

Map of the World in 1922

Map of the World in 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Build adjustment time and flexibility into your plan:  Jon Acuff discusses, in Quitter , that we must practice our dream in a low stakes environment in order to become a master.  Planning too early leaves no room for flexibility and will focus us on the plan rather than the ultimate goal.
2. Milestones: Build manageable, accountable, and measurable milestones into your plan: Mike Vardy of Productivityist.com, recently wrote about doing the right things rather than just doing things (activity vs right activity).  Milestones should have rough timeliness, but don’t back yourself in a corner with your calendar.  Leave room for soccer practice and date night with your wife.  A looming “due date” rather than relative milestone will awaken the voices of doubt.
3. Stand on the shoulders of giants: Read, listen, and watch others who have come before you. Others most likely blazed a similar path to the one you are on.  They will likely embrace the idea of sharing their journey with a fellow traveler.  Seeing that “life happens” to others, and success can and usually follows deliberate pauses will be encouraging and provide valuable instruction to you on your travel to awesomeness.
4.  Seasons change:  Life has different seasons.  You must recognize your responsibilities are different with 3 school age children at home than with college age kids out of the house.  Its imperative that you are intentional and deliberate during your busy season.  Intentionality will provide you focus and direction to appropriately work  your dream as well as “permission” to “work” on other things, without loosing.   As with seasons of the year, things will change.  If you are not careful and intentional important moments will pass you by.
5.  Have fun:  It’s your dream!  If you are not enjoying the journey, maybe you are on the wrong flight!
Share with me the craziest season of your life, and how you got through it.
Rocco De Leo

Stop Killing Your Dream: It never did anything to hurt you

Do you ever find yourself wondering if this is as good as it gets? You may be successful based on today’s standards. Yet you still feel like there is so much more to be had. You had a dream at one point in your life. Your dreams have now been replaced with responsiblities and excuses. I, like most little boys, wanted to be a professional baseball player growing up. I think, at one point, I wanted to be God or Santa Clause as well. The God and Santa Clause dreams may have been a bit far fetched, but a little boy dreaming of making the Major Leagues, or the little girl making it with a major dance production is as American as Apple Pie and the Fourth of July. These are real. And these are big.

20130502-233927.jpgMost kids give up on those dreams early on, and for most of them, me included, their talent level crushes their dreams. With the last day of Pay-to-Play Little League or Pay to Dance Studios, the dream, and the ability to dream seem to disapear. Why is it, as anadult professional, with college degrees, professional titles, two cars and a mortgage, you can’t give yourself a break even in your dreams? I’ve done it. I still do it. “CEO…can’t do it, I don’t have a Harvard degree”. “Publish a book…naw, not me, I don’t own any sport coats with elbow patches, that’s for professional authors”. You give yourself excuse after excuse to accept mediocrity, even in your dreams. Author Jon Acuff, in his book Quitter, discusses achieving a dream as a three step process. Start with a Passion. What are you passionate about? Practice this passion in a low risk environment for a while to get good. I am currently in the practice phase of my own dream. I have a 4 day old baby sleeping in the room with me. I should be sleeping. Instead I’m writing to an audience of maybe 10 people. 5 of whom, I’m sure are trying to sell me something. And finaly, after getting good at your dream, Plan your dream. Passion, practice, plan. You don’t even get past Passion, you tell yourself that its impossible. Many of you don’t have a dream because you haven’t discovered your passion yet. I’ll address discovering passion in an upcoming post. Here’s a list of the who’s who of dream killers, what Brene’ Brown refers to as Gremilins in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead:
1. I don’t have time
2. I’ll focus on my dream after the kids graduate
3. Who do I think I am?
4. I’m not as good as those other guys
5. I’ll start after I get a new (computer, car, tool box, etc)
6. We are moving, I can’t start my dream now
7. There’s already too many people doing my dream
8. My spouse isn’t supportive
9. I don’t know how to do/get started (insert dream)
10. My dream doesn’t pay enough

This is only a short list of excuses. There’s a hundred for every dream out there. The bottom line is you can achieve your dream if you want it bad enough. There’s a hundred succesful people living out thier dreams for each one of the above excuses. Start today with your passion. What do you enjoy and why do you enjoy it? I want to dig deeper into this in future posts. For now, share with me what your dream is? Dare to dream big with courage and determination. You have one life to live, live it to the fullest.

Rocco De Leo