How Hating People Helped Me Change My Narrative

Recently my narrative, that little voice driving my view of the world, has had me thinking about people. Not in ways I’m proud of.  The narrative has become negative and aggressive.  Frankly, I’m starting to feel like I don’t like people.  This, of course is ridiculous, and completely detrimental to my mission.  This reminds me of  the resistance Steven Pressfield writes of.  In a nutshell, the resistance is the militant arm of mediocrity.  It is the distractions and self doubt that stop you and I from climbing out of the average. This is a new  and very affective attack from the resistance.

Attack on Hindenburg line

Attack on Hindenburg line (Photo credit: National Library of Scotland)

While out on a run yesterday, I decided to unplug and face this resistance head on.  Seth Godin writes that as the resistance gets more intense, we should celebrate.  I decided to leave the party hat behind and stick with my Brooks running cap.  I ran with a smile as I realized that my work and my art is getting better.  The resistance is threatened now more than ever.  This is evidenced by the hardened strike force of subtly (the slow increase of my negative narrative) rather than simple distractions is used to see.
The break in the armor of the resistance is found in facing it head on.  After all, the resistance uses elements of truth to strike at the core of our creative spirit.
 I realized it is not people who I hate. I hate what I see so many of them doing and not doing, and of course I see a reflection of this in myself. These “people” are fake, wasting time, and are bored and boring. They are awkward, uncomfortable in silence and never present.  They are all busy doing things, but busy doing the wrong things.  These are all things I see creeping up in myself.  If I am to succeed in my mission of helping people achieve awesomeness, I must be aware of my vulnerability to these attacks.  In fact, these “things” are all the things  this site is all about changing.
 Intentional living is not easy, but it is the way only way to succeed.  Success doe not happen by chance.
The resistance is much more savvy with me than simple Facebook pings or email interruptions.  I’ve built effective defenses to these and have created better work with the gained focus. This is a good thing.
I share this because we are all in this together.  I’m excited that my art is worth attacking.  My narrative is not that difficult to change.  The simple process of knowing my mission and being aware that I am in fact living and creating my own narrative on a daily basis gave me the wisdom to re write the current and dangerous direction it was going.
What is your narrative telling you that is pulling you toward mediocrity?  How are you fighting back?
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Seeking No Pain or Challenging Toward Success?

James Dean "Giant"

James Dean “Giant” (Photo credit: ElizaPeyton)

I used to get picked on quite a lot as a child and even more in my teen years.  I don’t reflect upon my high school years with happiness like many of my readers.  In all fairness, I had a big mouth and not so big muscle to back it up. I spent many of my high school days being escorted from one class to another.  The background on this is for another day, but it’s fair to assume I messed with the wrong dudes. I remember one particular incident because of the profound change it had, and still has on me.  My friend and I pulled into the high school parking lot to pick up his brother after a football game.  As I pulled into the my spot, I noticed some of the guys that had caused me trouble; and they noticed me.  With the sound of The Clash (Should I stay or should I go?) ringing in my ear, I decided to stay.  I got out of the car to a punch in my chest.  Something in me changed.  I didn’t snap and go crazy like on a cheesy movie.  I realized, although it wasn’t pleasant, I handled it.  I returned the punch to the side of his head.  I’m not sure I caused him much damage either, but he wasn’t expecting it.  Clearly outnumbered, and in serious trouble, I had nowhere to go.  Instead of doom, however, we were simply asked to leave, which we kindly obliged.

Things were different after that. I faced a challenge we all must face in life.  Whether it be high school antics, career changes, or major life decisions, we are all faced with a choice to live defensively or offensively.
We can choose to avoid pain and stay in the background or choose to challenge the causes of our pain and take control.
We typically compartmentalize areas of our life were we are willing to face challenges and some areas where all we wish for is an avoidance of pain.  I recently wrote about the battle between comfort and success.  While it may seem comfortable to avoid challenging those things that bother us, it may be necessary to move toward your goal of being awesome.  Impulsiveness and rashness are not to be confused with challenging.  If you are living intentionally, you will challenge intentionally. Assess the situation for worse case scenarios, alternatives, and the “up-side” to a challenge.
I gained valuable perspective after that incident in High School.  Knowing that I can change situations by appropriately challenging those attempting  or actually controlling the environment gives me the confidence and eagerness to learn and to lead.  My ideas may not always be the best avenue to success, but sometimes they are.
What are you going to challenge in the new year?

Traditions vs Crutches: what keeps you around might be holding you back

Elf On A Shelf Book And Doll

Elf On A Shelf Book And Doll (Photo credit: Michael Kappel)

Are we holding on to familiar places, experiences and even our hometown too tightly that we can’t grow as people? The answer, of course, is a solid, set in stone yes and no. I may raise more questions than answers with this post, but reality is that there is no real answer.  I am all about growing myself and growing my readers as people.  That is the essence of finding your “awesome”.  This question is best answered by taking a step back and making sure you take a good self-evaluation and understand yourself, question your motives, and challenge your own status quo.

 I love the Chevy Chase classic Christmas movie “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”.  As far back as I can remember, we have watched it multiple times during the Christmas season and usually on a loop in the background on Christmas Day. It simply would not be Christmas without Clark Griswold locking himself in the attic watching old family films.  But really, would it?  Another great tradition for my family is the Mission Inn Festival of Lights.  This is a beautiful display of Christmas Decorations and vendors against the back drop of the historical Mission Inn in Riverside Ca. As I write this, I realize that my family has attended the Festival of lights 2 or 3 times.  I am 37 years old.  In the past five years, we have attended this event 2 or 3 times (I sincerely can’t remember), and I am willing to emotionally tie my Christmas holiday’s success to attending this event???
In these modern days, with very little worry over our next meal, we are eager to fulfill a different hunger .  We seek nostalgic experiences.  Marketers love this.  Most people within a normal psychological spectrum have a cluster of relatively harmless “hungers”.  We didn’t make it to the Fesitval of Lights last year, and we still enjoyed a wonderful holiday.  Rest assured, I am locking us in for attendance this year.  Two years missing in a row would be a travesty.
 Most normal, hardworking and ambitious people however, have 1 or 2 significant weaknesses that go well beyond family holiday traditions.  These are emotional ties to something that holds them back from further success.  
It may be fear of moving away from a hometown and the memories, thus limiting career advancement.  It may be holding too tightly to the past with regard to relationships and marriage such as comparing the new spouse to the previous,  causing personal problems that likely ripple through all aspects of life.  It could be a holding on to childhood emotional securities such as keeping parents and grandparents too close and not “cleave [ing] to his wife”, as God commands in Genesis 2:24.
It’s likely that most people deal with a bit of this in one form or another.  Some may have significant clinical issues well beyond this. That’s another post, another day.  I am reaching out to you stuck in the middle. Mediocrity is not as bad as failure, but it is not at all our goal of “awesome”.  Are you holding on to things that are holding you back from success?  It’s time to reevaluate yourself and your priorities.  Let’s get intentional about making a change.  
What traditions are absolute deal breakers for you?

Keeping Pace with Life: Wisdom on the way to school

I recently had the opportunity to share some wisdom with my 17 year old daughter on the drive to school.  Most days the 2.5 mile trek to school is no more than a song or 2 and the click…click of her texting her friends regarding her upcoming arrival. This day was different. College is less than a year away, and with the college discussion comes the life discussion.  What to do, how to live, and what is an acceptible  standard of living.  This 5 minute conversation stirred up some great thinking and some real questions, especially as I reflect upon my life.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She’s a smart kid.  One of the features she gets from me is the uncanny ability to get things done.  Maybe they aren’t done smoothly (maybe they are), and maybe not according to the plan, but done nonetheless.  Many times she, and i alike, achieved great grades and successful marks without too much challenge. This ability is a double edged sword.
Seeing results without intentionality trains the mind to feel entitled.
I lived, and sometimes still do, this way for many years.  I am happy with my life and career but wonder  what could have been.  I have worked hard to get here, but not always intentional, strategic, and certainly not open to much risk.  The question I posed in our discussion was what if I had added  1 or 2 of those elements to my earlier years (as I am incorporating them now)?
My success today does not mean that I arrived here in spite of my lack of intentionality, strategic thinking, and risk aversion. I believe my success today is just the tip of the ice that could have been massive success beyond what I have achieved today.
This is not to say I am regretful or in any way unhappy with my life.  I love my life and my family.  This is about others, in particular, my 17 year old daughter.  This could be you reading this post today, or your very own 17 year old daughter.  Life is a constant moving object.  You are moving at 1 speed, and life (society, careers, family) is moving at another. I told her that for many years I thought I could find a trajectory and get comfortable.  I even fooled myself that I had arrived there several times. While I never went backward, life kept moving forward.  Soon, life was moving faster than me and I had to catch up.  There have been other times where I have been so overly ambitious that I outpaced life with the power of a bullet train.  The problem with this isn’t my ambition, work ethic, or intelligence; its my perspective.
Move too slow in comfort, life passes you and you live with regrets.  Move too fast and you miss the moments life was designed for.  
I told my daughter that you need to find a pace that is comfortable, sustainable, and slightly faster than the speed of life.
What do you do to keep perspective without loosing out on opportunities?

Self Honesty in the Intentional Life

One of my favorite things to do to unwind is walk through the local Barnes and Noble.  The combination of the smell of new books and starbucks brewing bring a creative calm to my heart.  I usually browse through history, current affairs, business and christian living.  I love to read books.  If I could read 10 hours a day, I would.  Perhaps I may even have an addiction to books. My typical “poison” is Non Fiction. I’ve learned from reading well over a thousand books, that every Non Fiction book sells you a perfect life, with steps to this, and steps to that.  All the success, effectiveness, and happiness you could ever dream of in 10 easy steps. Anxiety filled office overhaul day after anxiety filled office overhaul day, I have learned to manage expectations and be real.  There are circumstances in life that are not excuses, and certainly not roadblocks to success.  Managing our specific lives rather than comparing ourselves to others will vastly increase our happiness and drive further effort rather than stifle them in anxious self pity.  I’ve done them all.  Here are some key learnings from my anxiety filled attempt to become everyone but myself.

[ D ] Salvador Dali - Metamorphosis of Narciss...

[ D ] Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) (Photo credit: Cea.)

1. Don’t compare your work to people in different stages of life or career.  Comparing my blog to Michael Hyatt’s blog is ridiculous. He is the retired CEO of a major publisher, vastly more experienced (by 20 + years I’d guess), and has way more resources than I do.  Compare, instead to novices if that’s where you are.  How do you compare to people just starting out?
2. How much time do you have available? Trying to squeeze in another “thing” is difficult.  Some people can tightly schedule their time, some can’t.  Too rigid a schedule leads to anxiety and no room for life’s inevitable interruptions, especially if you have kids.  Rigidity leads to rushing, which kills creativity. Be realistic about how long things take.  Too many times I see people simply overplaying their hand when it comes to their ability to get things done. If, on average, it takes 30 minutes to mow the lawn, don’t think you can do it in 10.
3.  Live in reality.  You have obligations on your time and energy. Life has seasons.  What season are you in?   Prioritize not just your time, but your energy.  Being honest with your commitment to give effort to a project is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your happiness and success. You can over commit and fake it for a while with other people, but you know if you are out of your comfort zone and will be unhappy. One blog post per week and happiness is better than 5 posts and misery.  It’s not sustainable and is counterproductive.
4. Define your goals.  What are you trying to accomplish.  My goal with this blog is to write for the sake of writing and to get better.  I periodically check in with my motives and compare them with my goals.  If I’m unhappy with my follower count, or engagement, I remind myself that was never my purpose.  Your goals may be different.  Defining them gives you firm ground to stand on.  Self honesty is a must.  Changing goals with the weather doesn’t usually lead to success.
Understanding where you are in the development process and how much time and energy you have and are honestly willing to give toward a defined goal is key to intentional living.
What one thing have you lied to yourself about in the last week?