How Spilling Ice Tea Taught Me To Live My Values

The other day I was bringing lunch to a customer of mine.  Usually I have it delivered, but on this day, they requested a local burger place that wasn’t set up for delivery.  As I loaded the lunch in my car, I realized the 6 fountain drinks were going to cause me trouble.  Top heavy and flimsy, the drinks looked almost “eager” to tip.  Corner after corner, I drove timidly and very deliberate.  I was already running late, but didn’t care.  My objective wasn’t customer focus, make the sale, or go above and beyond. My objective was to NOT spill the drinks.  As I was nearing their office, the driver of the car in front of me was spooked by a yellow light and slammed on his brakes.  Normally, it’s not a big deal to come to a quick stop, but today was different.  I was out of sorts and balancing something new.  The drinks went sliding

English: An artist's depiction of the rat race...

English: An artist’s depiction of the rat race in reference to the work and life balance. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_race Made with following images: http://www.openclipart.org/detail/75385 http://www.openclipart.org/detail/74137 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

across the floor of my car soaking my floor with Ice Tea.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what living a  balanced life looks like.  Not the “business book” balanced life of “work-life balance” where you somehow are happy because you don’t work too much, but the appropriate balancing of the stuff that matters.

I discovered, for me, that living intentionally also means living for purpose and doing the things that matter.

This means having a clear vision on what my values mean to me.  My values are clear and aligned to my living, rather than my living aligned to my values.  As part of “faith” we go to church, but we would have done that anyway.  Every week on our way to church, I have had  a gnawing sense that we could be doing more to incorporate faith into our lives.  Until recently, most of the time my values were “touched” in the way I lived my week, but that was mostly by chance.  Mediocrity, however, is the only result we can expect from living by chance.  Awesomeness comes from intentional living. Without clear direction, I was unbalanced in living my values, taking the “bumps” of life timidly and defensively trying not to stray too far.  While I’ve been busy living the ins and outs of life, checking a lot of boxes, I was not clear on how to LIVE my values.   I have discovered that to do this, I need clear specifics defining what those values look like in action.  Faith goes beyond “living a Catholic life”, and drills down to “praying nightly, prayer before meals, mass every Sunday” and much more.  With this I am able to intentionally pull specifics and plug into my weekly planning and measure my accomplishments against.  Instead of the careful balancing act of chance, I am able to aggressively incorporate the stuff that makes my values real and a part of the life i’m living intentionally.

How do you stay balanced and live an awesome value centered life?

 

Rocco De Leo

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It’s About Time: Live your values not your work

I don’t watch a lot of TV, and watch movies even less.  I have this crazy tendency to want to do way too many things, and the idea of sitting for two full hours on one task that is not in my “project” Notebook in Evernote seems like a waste of time. The other day, however, watching a movie was more of “spending time with my wife” than actually watching a movie.  As we kicked off our shoes, shut down the iPad, and I even put down my current book, Jamie found “It’s About Time” on demand.  This is a romantic comedy about a twenty something named Tim who discovers he has the power to travel back in time as himself.  While the majority of the story was a build up toward his relationship with the love of his life, another, much more profound message snuck up on us as the movie ended.  Tim discovers that even the ability to travel through time can’t fix everything and guarantee a happy and fulfilling life.  He ultimately learns to live life of purpose, being intentional to notice the things that are easy to miss; like most of life.

Smelling the roses

Smelling the roses (Photo credit: Ed.ward)

Earlier in the day, I had been frustrated, even grumpy,  that I had been unable to run my typical long run for the week.  We slept in and had a packed day of birthday celebrating for our 6-year-old.  We brought the kids along with us for a slow-paced two-mile run/walk.  In my infinite crankiness, I even murmured to myself a narrative that blamed the kids for my potential future fatness by undoing my years of running routines.  The message I discovered from “Its about Time”, reminded me of my single dad “surviving days” when a scene of a mom and dad pushing a jogging stroller along side two boys on scooters with oversized helmets, and a little girl riding a beautiful purple bike was the envious picture of perfection. Here I was, painted into the picture of everything I ever wanted, and I wanted to be somewhere else.

The downside of clarity and the intentional life can be seen in our inability to handle the vast power it gives us.
Like the nearsighted man who discovers  prescription glasses for the first time, the scene of clarity is overwhelming at first. Our perspective needs some time to adjust.  I currently have 34 live “projects” in action in Evernote.  I know, without a doubt, that I will complete everything in those folders within the time frames allotted.  The tendency is to feel “driven”, to put our heads down and be happy, even fulfilled with the ability to complete stuff.  From remembering to back up my Mac, to writing my book, I will get my stuff done. What about my values and my purpose?  If my Evernote Notebook “Values” had a note that said writing my book and back up my computer are my “values”, or even if it said “stuff”, then I would be spot on.  This, however, is not the case. My values, embraced in my Family Mission Statement center on Faith, Family Togetherness, Education, and Healthy Living.  All is not lost.  As I recently wrote, awareness is such a great gift.  Seeing our path twisting and winding is an opportunity to right the curves and even learn as we grow through the recovery.

While projects, stuff, and even people come and go, your values remain relatively constant (especially after having kids).
Be intentional about defining values and writing them down.  Anchor yourself to your values. You’ll have the confidence to find your way back to your purpose if and when you go astray.  It’s About Time, shook me  from my “life hypnosis”.  It certainly was “about time” I realized that picture perfect painting of family was only perfect because it was commissioned by my values and had me colored into the heart of it.
How will you intentionally “stop to smell the roses”?  Do something intentionally today and tomorrow.
Rocco
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How the Book “Divergent” Taught Me Success Skills

I recently took my periodic “fiction” break.  I usually pick up a book to completely escape the crowded thoughts in my head and simply relax. As a fan of The Hunger Games, I was excited, albeit late to the game, to read Divergent.  I also was unable to shut down the create engine that can sometimes be exhausting.  Without giving away too much of the book for the 3 people left who haven’t read the book, the main character, Beatrice, has a special gift that classifies her has divergent.  The teens, who make up the characters, are put through a series of fear simulations to test how they react in a stressful environment.  In order to truly measure someones reaction to their greatest fears, they need to actually feel fear.  Written into the story, the majority of the characters are unaware that the simulations are actually “simulations”, thus feeling the full force of their fears.

Stray dog - asleep

Stray dog – asleep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For some, however, they are aware of the “simulation” and are able to manipulate the outcomes based on this “awareness”.  These characters, Beatrice included, are “divergent”.

How does this relate to the us on our journey toward success or “awesomeness”? Most people are simply going through life one day at a time.  The days “happen” to them.  Unfortunately, they are unaware of the clock and the calendar speeding up.  They are unaware that they have the control to change their destination, to “manipulate” the outcome through intentional living. Fortunately, you are here, and you realize this.  Intentional living is the awareness that we control what we do.

There are no guarantees that we do the right things and get the perfect outcome, but without awareness, you have no chance.

You will be a puppet being manipulated by time.  We read stories of older people gaining this awareness and sharing regrets of things left undone.  Get intentional, stay intentional, and live with an awareness of your purpose.

Rocco
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Intentional is the New Cool

The 1990’s were an interesting time.  From Parachute pants to Al Bundy, it was a decade of personality.  Bill Clinton made smoking cigars cool again, although I heard Bush relegated them back to the status of “cancer causing”. This was a decade of mullets and grunge. Sad was the new happy.  I must have had the entire collection of the Bart Simpson “Aye Carumba” T-shirts. The 2012 comedy 21 Jump Street asked the ever nagging question of which is cooler, “back-pack on one shoulder or on two shoulders”.  I think the answer is two…two shoulders. What’s it mean to be cool.? Cool is trendy and fleeting. Cool 10 years ago is just stupid today! Cool is what people who haven’t defined their own “awesome” seek to become.  In essence, cool is someone else’s “awesome”.

The problem is that “awesome” is not a one size fits all…

pondering life

pondering life (Photo credit: Chimpr)

“I recently wrote about being influential rather than known.  While many people are known and influential,  too many are simply known (usually by chance) and do nothing with it.  Starting with your “why”, your actions must remain constant with your purpose.  It’s human to fall away from your purpose and your “why” in the heat of battle. Your purpose is clear and doesn’t change.  Trends and procedures change, but the ultimate goal does not.

When you live your life trying to be cool, you are living on someone else’s agenda.

If you like Guess jeans and a tight shirt, wear them.  Be yourself.  Don’t wear them because it’s what’s “cool”.  Nowhere is this more important than in your art.  Whether it be your writing, singing, crafting, or teaching, your art has value because it is YOUR art. You have a talent that should stand on its own.  Stay true to your purpose.  My purpose is to become Awesome by helping as many people themselves become awesome.  When I feel like my actions are being motivated by a need for validation, or anything other than my purpose, I stop. This is a dream killer. Living intentionally gives you the opportunity to filter these moments and get back on track.  Falling from your purpose and being so blinded by busy-ness to notice…that is not an excuse.  Living intentionally involves time for honest review and reflection.  Be on the look out for your motivations.  Inevitably they WILL get out of control.

What have you done in the last week that you did because it was cool?
Rocco De Leo

Intentions Are Everything on the Road to Purpose

Recently I asked my boss for an opportunity to develop my leadership skills. I was given an assignment to teach a short workshop at an upcoming sales meeting. I began putting together some thoughts. Immediately I went into “impress” the boss mode. This is a ridiculous self aggrandizing exercise of compiling how much I know and finding a way to look good. The “what’s in it for them” is getting schooled by me. This misses the point. My purpose is to provide value; to do good. I was focused on looking good. Zig Ziglar said You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. Unless the room is full of groopies rather than my co-workers, I have been working with the wrong intentions. This happens. You may have experienced a lapse in your purpose as I have. By our nature, we think of ourselves first. After all, no one cares more about you than you. You must leave it at that step away from your inherent nature if you live in any society that involves other human beings. You will create more influence. You need other people in order to function and succeed. You need other people on your own journey to find happiness and to live with purpose. Fortunately, I was able to discover my mistake before delivering disastrous results in front my peers. Here are a few take aways you can use to make sure you are “doing good” while “looking good”.

Bumpy Road

Bumpy Road (Photo credit: donrul)

1. Have Purpose: Back to basics. Is your success associated with influencing others to find success?
2. Stay Golden: Remember the Golden Rule? Are you leading in a way you would want to be led?
3. Find happiness in helping others succeed. Helping others bears such wonderful results. Often times, the person sharing learns as much if not more than the person being taught.
4. Be good at what you do. Intentions are nice, but if you don’t have anything to offer, you can’t help anyone.
5. Start with the end in mind. Ask WHY am I doing this. What do I hope to gain? The answer may be startle you to the core.
6. It’s never too late to refocus your intentions. A bumpy road to purpose is better than a straight road away.
How are you going to DO GOOD today?

Rocco De Leo

Choose the Heroic Life

Becoming a Navy Seal is perhaps, the most physically and mentally challenging experience a human can face. The training school BUDS is a rigorous 24 week challenge of underwater dive, land warfare, and parachute training. The 24 week journey begins with a 3 week orientation leading up to a “hell week” in which the candidates continuously train with minimal sleep. They live by their motto “the only easy day was yesterday”. What makes a person sign up for this? When they leave BUDS, they are strategically deployed to one dangerous crisis after another. Whether it’s rescuing kidnapd sailors from pirates in the Indian ocean or the daring mission to “eliminate” Osama Bin Laden , Seals, live a heroic life of adventure and danger.

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are able, as George Sheehan suggests in his 1978 classic Running and Being, to feed a desire within themselves to overcome a daily “element of present danger”, a threat to the status quo that threatens [their]everything. American poet James Agee writes “that in war, many men go well beyond anything that any sort of peace can make for them.” These men are heroes without a doubt. What, then, do they fear? Death? Pain? They fear, the same battle you and are fighting every day. This isn’t simply the struggle to find our purpose, its the epic fight to live out our purpose.You are built for adventure. We are all fighting internal battles. If you choose not to fight, you will decend into a dizzying world of mundane emptiness. The soldier fights an obvious battle for physical survival . He returns home to join our fight. He may or may not be comforted in knowing you that he is not the alone in fighting this battle. We all are soldiers. Some just choose not to fight. Your fight, however, is your fight alone. If you don’t lead yourself into battle, no one will. Your fight is less obvious and against a much more cunning and relentless enemy. Your fight is for a true adventure to discover what your soul desires and to draw arms against resistance. Your mortal enemy is’t a foreign army or a terrorist cell. Your enemy knows you better than any spy or undercover agent. Your enemy is you. The ultimate desire to live a life of holiness and purpose, a life moving forward toward greatness rather than mere survival lives within the heart of every man. Only the heroic person spirit stands up to the internal powers and proudly proclaims adventure and purpose over survival. This is a battle the hero fights every morning when he awakens before the sun and arms himself with the weapons of his own war. This may be the blank page for the writer, the shoes for the runner, or the books for the student. Somedays the battles are glorious invasions of Normandy achieving an overarching goal and driving toward purpose. Somedays are 9/11. The hero doesn’t just lick his wounds and wait to recover. He regroups and plans his next attack. If you are reading this post researching blogs on productivity or purpose, you are winning today’s battle. If you are reading this because you are stalling on your next project, you are loosing. You must recognize that you are made for adventure beyond mere survival. God gave us all free will, intelligence, and talent to do great things to glorify him. To live a purpose and discover it within, loving God, and never giving in to mere survival shall be our battle cry! Be your own hero and inspire others with your awesomeness.
Share today’s battle plan for living your purpose.

Rocco De Leo