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Life

My Book List

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I get a ton of requests for my reading list. So here it is! I’ve started with what I’ve read so far in 2018. These are roughly in the order of which I read them. I then will update previous readings by category as time allows.

A note: all links go to Amazon, but please support a local bookstore if you can. I also didn’t include most of the fiction books I’ve read.

What I’ve Read in 2018

“Wild at Heart” – John Eldredge

“The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” – Vishen Lakhiani

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

“Ownership” – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

“The Witch of Portobello” – Paulo Coelho

“I Heart Creativity” – Courtney Feider

“Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It” – Kamal Ravikant 

“Feeling is the Secret” – Neville Goddard

“Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu

“The Gnostic Gospels” – Elaine Pagels

“The Daily Stoic” – Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman

“Dinner with Buddha” – Roland Merullo

“Essentialism” – Greg McKeown

“Beyond Belief” – Elaine Pagels

“Attached.” – Amir Levine & Rachel Heller

“Breakfast with Buddha – Roland Merullo

“Living Buddha, Living Christ” – Thich Naht Hanh

“Loving What Is” – Byron Katie

“Christian Mystics” – Matthew Fox

“Tribe” – Sebastian Junger

“The Celestine Prophecy” – James Redfield

“Leadership and Self Deception” – The Arbinger Institute 

 

Previous Readings by Category

Personal Growth / Psychology 

“Unbeatable Mind” – Mark Divine

“Grit” – Angela Duckworth

“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” – Mark Manson

“The Ego is the Enemy” – Ryan Holiday

“A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” – Donald Miller

“The Go-Giver” – Bob Burg

 

Business/Entrepreneurism 

“Heretics to Heroes” – Cort Dial

“Tribal Leadership” – Dave Logan et al

“Play Bigger” – Al Ramadan et al.

“Traction” – Gino Wickman

“American Icon” – Bryce Hoffman

“Red Teaming” – Bryce Hoffman

 

Spiritual/Mystic

“The Book of Joy” – Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

“The Book of Awakening” – Marc Nepo

“Writing Down Your Soul” – Janet Conner

“Outwitting the Devil” – Napoleon Hill

“Awareness” – Anthony De Mello

“A Hidden Wholeness” – Parker Palmer

“The Way to Love” – Anthony De Mello

“The Divine Arsonist” – Jacob Nordby

“Prayers of the Cosmos” – Neil Douglas-Klotz

“The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho

“Warrior of the Light” – Paulo Coelho

“The Magician’s Way” – William Whitecloud

“The Last Shaman” – William Whitecloud 

“Siddhartha” – Herman Hesse

“The Four Agreements” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Fifth Agreement” – Don Miguel Ruiz & Don Jose Ruiz

“The Mastery of Love” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The Mastery of Self” – don Miguel Ruiz, Jr

 

Creativity/Innovation

“Blessed are the Weird” – Jacob Nordby

 

History / Biographies

“In the Garden of Beasts” – Erik Larson

“Education of a Wandering Man” – Louis L’Amour


Other

“Markings” – Dag Hammarskjold

“Manuscript Found in Acra” – Paulo Coelho

“Adultery” – Paulo Coelho

“Letters to a Young Poet” – Rainer Maria Rilke

The Bravest Coward

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I’m 6’3″ 250 now — but I was a frail kid. Migraines, fainting spells, anxiety — and physically a weakling. I was tall but skinny. I couldn’t do push ups, pull-ups (which I still can’t do!) and could barely lift the bar on the bench press was I was 16. So physical strength was not something I knew until my 30s when I started lifting weights.

I had daily reminders of my lack of physical strength and stamina. Slow and awkward at recess games. Unable to lift irrigation pipes, saddles, close wire gates on the ranch. Bullied at school by kids whose own insecurities seemed to be attracted to whatever kick-my-ass pheromone my little body was releasing.

That frail Justin remains in me today at nearly 48 years old. My first reaction to any physical activity or challenge is “I can’t do this” or “I’m going to suck at this”. When I do physical things in a group, I assume that I will be amongst the laggards.

The past few years, I’ve returned to my true self, the original me. Yet to get there has required me to examine these other parts. (For more info on this approach, check out this article on Internal Family Systems). I’ve avoided this frail Justin part because … well … I don’t like him. I’ve buried him so deep in me because I’ve been afraid he would come back. But he never left and I never took the time to get to know him until recently.

In re-examining my journey, I saw that frail Justin was the bravest coward I’ve ever known. Despite feeling weak, fragile, puny and cowardly, he did a number of brave things:

  • In a 6th grade football game at recess, I saw that Todd Chavez (one of the better athletes — and also a frequent contributor to my misery) was about to blitz. I moved over to block him. And I sort of did. In the collision, I received a black eye and concussion — but he didn’t get to the QB.
  • I spent hundreds of hours outside at the ranch. There were all kinds of ways to get injured (which I did frequently) or even killed. I remember each day making a list of all the things that might hurt me — with the most imaginative stories. Like imagining what I would do if I stumbled across a hive of killer bees. Or if a serial killer showed up and held my family hostage. Or the Russians invaded (Thank you, Red Dawn!). But I did it all anyway. I rode horses and got bucked off, I rode motorcycles and wrecked them, I worked as an adult, I broke bones.
  • My sophomore year in high school. Walking down senior hall, I was suddenly surrounded by a group of bullies straight out of casting central of an 80s teen movie. Mullets, acne, chew tucked in to their lower lips, all sporting t-shirts from heavy metal bands. They started pushing me around; shoving me from one to another in their circle. Then something in me snapped. For the first time in my life, I fought back. I remember thinking, “they might kill me, but I’m taking a few of them with me.” And I fought back like the cornered animal I was. Throwing an elbow into the balls of one of them that jumped on my back. Kneeing another one in the face. Punching another one in the throat. They all got suspended (one expelled from the school) and I was — for a few days — a hero.
  • My junior year in high school, I went out for football. I was 5’11, 125 pounds and ran a 6.85 40 (in case you were wondering, turtles are faster). I got destroyed in tackling drills, I puked during the conditioning — and when the season started, I played a grand total of 5 plays for the entire season. One day in practice, the head coach (more than a little crazy) decided to pit the bigger offensive/defensive lineman against some of the smaller kids on the team. One of them was Steve Woodcock. An 18-year who looked 28 with a full beard and mean temper. The coach yelled at Woodcock “If you let Foster tackle you, then we all run sprints”. Here he came. He outweighed me by probably 100 pounds so I knew I couldn’t take him head on. So I decided to jump on his chest. I wove my fingers into his practice jersey and held on. He tried to push me off but couldn’t. As we neared the goal line, I began to slip. Which caused him to trip and fall on top of me about one yard from the end zone. With a spewing of profanity and threats, we all ran sprints. And it was probably the only time I’ve ever run with a smile on my face.

There were many other brave things. Stories maybe for another time. But in my 20s, 30s and into my early 40s, I kept that Justin tucked away in a dark corner; a distant memory. A reminder of what I did not want to become ever again. I covered him up with size, strength, bravado, brashness. But he was still there.

And in the last year, he came out again. But I noticed something this time. He was still brave. Brave enough to move to an entirely new state and start over after 20 years. Brave enough to walk away from the church I attended for pretty much my entire life. Brave enough to start a (another) new business. Brave enough to accept my life-long partner/wife’s awakening of who she truly is. Terrified by all of this, he did it all anyway.

Yes, this Justin is weak. Thank goodness. I’m more certain than ever that our weaknesses are designed to make us ask for help, keep us humble. I would much rather have a powerful soul and a frail body than a frail soul and a powerful body. I would not have known this without my weaknesses. I would not have asked God for help. I would not have gone back to therapy. I would have not spoken the truth if not for these weaknesses.

Of course, there are parts of me that I’m very proud of: being a dad, speaking skills, coaching/mentoring, strategic thinking, owning a business, writing intellect, etc. These things have fueled my confidence for years. And they still do. But added to this is a growing acceptance and confidence of this frail Justin. The bravest coward I’ve ever met.

When Did You Know?

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One of my LinkedIn contacts reached out to me recently. She wanted to visit with me about my mission, career, journey. We chatted recently and she asked me this question …

“When did you know?”

She wanted to know when I knew that I was on the right path with my life, relationships, career, etc. I stammered through some extemporaneous answers — but her question triggered a lot of thought (as good questions do!) so I decided to elaborate further here.

I would say there was no set moment when I knew. It was more of a dawning — an elimination of darkness, a clearing of the fog. And it was very recent. Just last month, I had this realization: the gaps between my relationships, work and personal growth were essentially gone. These gaps have caused a lot of suffering in the past years. But now I began to see a congruence; a flow that blended these three essential areas of a fruitful life.

My first attempt at knowing came in November 2010 on the heels of a mental breakdown. At 40, it was the first time in my life that I really begin to examine what made me happy, what I believed, what I wanted.

From then until 2014, I mostly experimented with different roles. I was a freelance brand strategist, then the CMO of a start-up, then the contract CMO of a consulting firm. I thought I was looking for the perfect job or role. I did not yet know that: a) there are no perfect jobs (at least not for me) and b)even if there were, it wouldn’t make me happy. I also reached out to mentors, advisors, other successful people to learn from them.

In the spring of 2014, I had my first true awakening. It was an awakening to my own value as a human (I call this “I met me the human). It was full acceptance of who I am and how I’m made. This was a huge awakening because I had been taught that who I am and how I was made are threats to my soul. Not true.

Later on in 2014, my mission began to crystalize as part of a greater spiritual awakening. (I call this “I met me the soul). I realized I’m here to teach self-worth to every one I meet. I am strongly certain that increased self-worth would be a world changer. This mission also manifested as a message:

Nothing matters until you connect with your heart.

I then began a combo that I continue to this day:

  • I read. A lot. I read about 75 books between 2014 and 2017. And countless blog posts and articles. The topics were about spirituality, personal growth, innovation, creativity, history, biographies and more. (If you send me a message, I will send you my book list).
  • I began to journal in earnest in late 2015. A practice I continue on 90% of my days. I keep three journals. One based on the booked “Writing Down Your Soul”, one that is more of a free thought journal, then also use Apple notes to capture daily ideas and concepts.
  • I created a personal ownership system that I tweak to this day. It’s based on something I created called “The 5 Pillars of Self-Worth”. It’s a system of accountability but also of freedom — all intended to keep me grounded in my soul, yet ever growing and learning.
  • I started going back to therapy in 2016 but it wasn’t until I experimented with several therapists until I found my current one. Her work with adult attachment style and deep psychotherapy has brought many hidden wounds to surface in order to heal.

Along the way, I learned how to understand the roots of my emotions, how to express them as feelings, how to ask for what I want (this is still a weakness). I learned that nature is a great spiritual teacher. I learned to be more vulnerable with those that I love and that love me. I learned to ask myself great questions.

All of the above — plus a series of life experiences — contributed to that recent dawning of knowing. I know I love my friends. I know I love my work. I know I love me. I know I love God. I know my mission. I know my worth. I know what to work on. I know to stay humble. I know to be present. I know there are flat days. I know I will fail, but I also know I will get back up.

I also know that I need friendships that run on truth, deep connection and a shared curiosity about life. Thankfully, I have been able to make a number of friends with these same standards.

I know there’s a “what’s next?” to knowing. I’m not certain yet of that answer. I know I need to work on visualization and imagination. I know I need to continue to work on my physical body (fitness, nutrition, rest). I know I need to continue to walk into my darkest corners with a spirit of curiosity. And when I get there, I know I need to let you know how it goes!

Trauma or Drama?

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(Photo credit: © iStockphoto.com/ Justin Horrocks)

Trauma and drama are two very different things.

Trauma is the violent, terrifying things that happen to you that you had no direct control over. Trauma’s impact is profoundly reveal and can’t be ignored. Trauma is pathological — meaning it must be treated as an injury.

Drama is how we react to things — especially situations or conditions that we created or attracted. Drama is psychological — meaning it is mostly in your head.

Here’s the great biological practical joke … our primal brain can’t tell the difference. Once fight/flight/freeze is triggered, its all treated as a threat response by our ancient mind. This mechanism is designed to protect us. But it also gives us a bias for seeing problems where they don’t exist.

It takes an intervention of wisdom and awareness to discern between the two. So here’s a helpful metaphor for that …

Drama is a mosquito in the tent. It captures all of your attention but contains essentially zero actual threat. We are flooded with how we feel about that *@#* mosquito! And that feeling determines our behavior. Pretty soon we’re swatting, flailing, swearing and the “problem” rarely gets solved. Because the real issue is our reaction, not the mosquito.

Trauma is a grizzly bear trying to get into the tent. This is a real and present danger! The very thing that our primal mind was designed to handle. Do I fight? Do I run? Do I freeze? What’s interesting is that you don’t feel fear — at least the kind of fear that you’re used to. Trauma survivors report being intensely aware and calm during an attack (the fear came later in the form of PTSD). Again, this is by design to clear space for the most effective survival response.

So try this …

The next time something feels like a problem, threat or otherwise negative disruption of your life, ask yourself its a mosquito or a grizzly bear. Unless you are dealing with some heavy shit, 99 % of “problems” are mosquitos. In that case, re-train your mind by giving it some action to take (thinking and fretting is not action) — belly breathing, take a walk, do some push ups. If you do this, you will be much more capable of handling the grizzly bears that inevitably show up in life.

Inside Anxiety

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Up until 2014, my life was primarily comprised of outer peace and inner turmoil. On the outside, everything was excessively “normal”. Make a living, have a good marriage, be a good dad, go to church, maybe take a vacation now and again. But inside, I suffered from severe and debilitating depression. This manifested in a number of ways — from mania, to crashing, to destructive behavior. It showed up in physical ways as well — primarily as crippling migraines.

As I’ve written about here before, that all begin to slowly change starting in 2011. It initially culminated in a big bang of a spiritual awakening in 2014 — which lead to stripping away all of the “normal” and getting to the root of who I am and what I’m here to do. In the process, I had less and less bouts of depression — to the point that I haven’t had a serious episode in over five years. Even the migraines have greatly been reduced.

In short, I moved from outer peace and inner turmoil to inner peace and outer turmoil. The outer turmoil was based around either the dismantling or evolution of these outer conditions and systems. A massive upheaval that has revealed a life that I had no plans on living.

One side effect of all this outer turmoil has been anxiety. From unease to screaming panic. Depression and anxiety are often lumped together. But not for me. When I was dealing with depression, I had no real anxiety. Depression robs you of pretty much all feelings. For me, anxiety came to me when I started feeling everything.

Depression feels like a permanent weather pattern. Like living in an air inversion or a fog bank. Anxiety feels like a submarine under attack. Dive! Dive! Dive! Do it now! Urgent, urgent. Panic, panic. Then it goes away. The outer conditions shift and anxiety disappears. Almost as if had never happened.

In working through anxiety, I’ve learned a few things that I felt compelled to share here. A strong disclaimer: I am not a therapist. I have no formal training in dealing with anxiety. These are just my personal experiences and observations.

  • I stopped treating anxiety like a disorder. Society, religion and pop psychology would have us believe that if we aren’t happy-dappy all the time, something is wrong. This is how I first responded to anxiety. “What are you doing here? Why are you threatening my happiness? Go away!” I was treating anxiety as an unwelcome guest. Then I realized this … anxiety is a signal. It can’t hurt me. It’s not here to hurt me. It’s here to provide a signal, a warning, a protection. Now when I feel anxiety, I consciously accept it. I listen to it. I often visualize it as a messenger sent to my door to warn me of something. Then, instead of treating it like a problem to solve, I treat it as a mystery to unlock.
  • I determined the triggers. If anxiety is a check engine light, it requires some investigation. This investigation is tracing anxiety back to specific triggers to understand the source of the warning. This was impossible to do when I was responding to anxiety as a disorder. Once I accepted it, I was able to follow the clues to reveal the triggers. Which are … 1) Fatigue. When I’m exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, I see the world as a scary, threatening place, 2) Hunger. Again both literal hunger, but also a hunger for connection, for meaning, for spiritual bread. Hunger makes me desperate, self-absorbed, greedy. 3) Isolation. One of my greatest fears is to be isolated with nothing to do. This is different than solitude — which is isolation that I chose to create. This isolation is the confidence-eroding blend of being left out/left behind, boredom and waiting. In knowing the triggers, I can pre-plan, take ownership over what I can control. This is empowering and greatly reduces the length and severity of an anxiety attack (I don’t really like that word for it, but that’s what it’s called)
  • I heed the warning light. As I mentioned, anxiety is an alert, a warning, as signal. For me, this warning light almost always means that I am either A) Too attached to someone or something or B) I am anticipating future pain or suffering. As Buddha said, “All suffering is attachment”. This profundity helps me to see that anxiety is warning me that I am attaching my happiness to someone else’s behavior, the outcome of a situation, etc. Because of the systems upheaval of the past few years, my psyche is highly sensitive to future suffering. The only cure for this to be present. To be here. Right now.

In understanding these three areas and their sub-sets, I can now be proactive about anxiety. I know that when I’m anxious or uneasy, I tend to attach the alleviation of this feeling to someone else. This makes me modify my self in order to get attention, affection, validation. Which erodes my confidence. And if I don’t get those, I will create conflict instead. Because conflict is way better than anxiety (according to my ego). By taking ownership of anxiety, I can then take another pro-active step. I can tell someone that I love that I feel anxious. By expressing without attaching to them, I can use vulnerability to proactively thwart anxiety.

These are helpful tools and resources, but the #1 proactive ownership I can take is to work on my confidence. Self-love and self-worth are engines of happiness. If these are tuned up and performing at a high level, the warning light of anxiety rarely comes on. But if it does, I now have the awareness to pull over, pop the hood and understand the source.

The High Cost of Fear Goggles

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We humans are pre-wired with a heightened sense of fear — which is rooted in the ego. For thousands of years, this heightened sense of fear was a necessary element for the survival and advancement of our species. As we’ve become more “civilized”, these primal traits remain. Yet they are used for much less threatening circumstances.

Unless you are a trauma survivor.

For trauma survivors, these primal instincts are further amplified. In fact, recent breakthrough brain research shows that trauma triggers deep-seated survival components that are manifested in PTSD, depression and other mental health issues.

That’s the science. This is the story.

I have noticed in myself a marked increase in fear the past couple of years. I used to be bold to the point of recklessness and brashness. But now as I’ve experienced a deep and transformative awakening, I noticed a much higher level of fear. From low-grade unease to abject terror. To some extent this makes sense. When you awaken, you feel everything.

I tried to explain fear away — “It’s just past trauma”.

I tried to mantra fear away — “Fear is a liar!”

I tried to pray fear away — “Please take this cup from me”

It was only when I turned in to the fears that I began to understand them. In short, I discovered I’d been wearing “fear goggles”. My perspective was being twisted by past experiences and changing how I saw things. Not just in small ways but in destructive, tyrannical ways.

Fear goggles made me …

  • See everything as a problem to solve.
  • See everything and everyone with a threat level assessment.
  • Create little false worlds or situations that I could control.
  • Either idolize or villainize people — especially those I love.
  • See myself as a victim.
  • See people as objects.
  • Visualize the worst case scenario in even the most benign situations.
  • Assume that something was deeply wrong with me; that I was permanently damaged in some way.
  • Look back with regret or nostalgia.
  • Create conflict in order to feel in control or powerful.
  • Look forward with delusion, dread or anxiety.
  • Lose my faith and spiritual vision.
  • Try to get comfort from more information and more data.
  • Possessive and greedy.
  • Not trust anyone or anything.

In times past, I would occasionally exchange fear goggles for rose colored glasses — an irrational hopefulness and recklessness disguised as positivity and optimism. This inevitably lead to more trauma, more disappointment — which lead to more fear. And back went on the fear goggles.

My path to freeing myself of fear goggles began with awareness (seeing that I was wearing them) and then advanced to this realization: wearing fear goggles is entirely a choice. Fear is a primal response. And all primal responses can be over-ridden by the one thing that elevates humans above all other creatures: the power of choice.

Getting rid of my fear goggles frees me to see that there are real problems to solve and sometimes real fears to confront. But it also frees me to see all of my resources and assets. It frees me to see my own worth. It frees me to see others as humans. It frees me to use my natural gifts.

By choosing to remove the fear goggles, I can see … the truth, the reality and the mystical.

 

Women: You Are Heard

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As I see my various social feeds fill up with a cascade of #metoo stories of women I know, I am sickened and horrified. I am also amazed at the courageousness to share something so vulnerable and raw. Added to this are the many woman friends that I know have their own #metoo story that they’ve had to deal with.

This matter of systemic predatory behavior by men is real and widespread. It is intolerable and inexcusable. It must be exposed every time it is witnessed. These are all true maxims, but I feel overwhelmed and frustrated about what I can do.

But I know what I have done …

I was raised by two very different but strong, independent women (my mother and paternal grandmother) to love and respect women. Because of this, I have always paid attention to my words and behavior — that no woman in any setting would ever feel disrespected, unequal or a target of unhealthy male energy.

Lynna and I raised two men who love and respect women. That have a sensitivity for equality. That do not view women as objects.

I’ve been very proud and supportive of Lynna as she has embraced and expressed her true self.

I am very proud that I have a woman business partner. One that personifies grace and feminine power in business, at home and in her community. And that our team is comprised of similar but unique women.

I hesitated to post this because I didn’t want it be viewed as taking away from these expressions of courage. But I have to say something. I have to add my voice to the “I believe you” and “I stand with you” voices. For all the women reading this, I want you to know that you are loved and supported.

For my fellow men, we have a direct and specific role in eradicating this toxic and damaging behavior. First, we must teach respect to everyone we lead. At home, at work, in our communities, in our civic groups, in our places of worship, in our circles of friends. Second, we must speak up EVERY TIME we see a man behaving this way. This is not a time for a domesticated, tepid response. To stand silently and wag our heads but not raise our voices.

We especially must stop allowing predatory men to hold seats of power due to financial or political expediency. This is where these predators thrive — on power and darkness. And silence. Predators are cowards. When exposed by the light of truth, they will run. Our collective voices are that light.

The Ego Test

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We all have an ego. It’s part of the operating system that runs the human app. This is not a surprise. I’m certain that everyone has some varying degree of awareness of their own ego. Even if the old ego=pride definition is applied, it still shows some awareness that there’s a part of us that can be corrosive and destructive if we allow it. The sharp increase in the practicing of mindfulness has also brought greater awareness to the presence and influence of ego.

The first thing to know is that we need to stop trying to kill our egos. We need the ego. It contains a large portion of our identity. It makes us alert and situationally aware for threats and opportunities. It provides the drive to hunt, achieve, perform. It fuels passion and charisma. The issue is not that the ego is some sort of defect in the human app. The issue is that the ego is constantly in pursuit of trying to take control.

In short, the ego makes for a great employee but a tyrannical boss.

As such, it is an essential skill to learn how to be aware (quickly!) that our ego is running our lives.

I simply call this The Ego Test.

While there are certainly variances based on behavioral profiles and external conditioning, the red flags of ego are universal. They include:

  • Comparison. This is the #1 indicator that the ego is the boss. To put it directly, all comparison is of the ego. And from it springs jealousy, attachment, insecurity, unworthiness and many other destructive reactions.
  • Judging your feelings. “I should feel X.” “I shouldn’t feel Y”. Your feelings are just your feelings. Yet the ego puts a good-to-bad or right-to-wrong spectrum on them in order to label and to control.
  • Self-Righteousness. This may be the most deceiving trait of the ego; where we become convinced in our rightness and everyone else’s wrongness. Skepticism and rational (two key elements of being a free thinker) can’t co-exist with self-righteousness. This is the essence of extremism.
  • Lack of Compassion. By design, the ego doesn’t have compassion. It’s the primal side of us that is needed for survival. And compassion and survival are in direct conflict with each other. So if we begin to lose our ability to see our own humanity or soul and the humanity and souls in others, we know the ego is in charge.
  • Self Absorption. The ego loves the role of Victim. By attaching our ego to our suffering, we become so consumed by our pain that the pain itself becomes becomes our identity. This means we spend our days in a personal hell of torment and lose our capacity for gratitude and compassion.

Once you begin to be aware of these indicators, you can then begin to learn how to make your ego a productive, efficient employee. But that’s a separate post.

Why You Won’t (or Can’t) Opt-In

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A few years ago, my business/creative partner Emily Soccorsy and I coined the term “Opt-Iners”. We use this term to describe the millennial-minded mature leaders (40+ years old) that are opting into the new way of doing business – what we call “being human”. Opt-Iners are self-aware, heart-centric, spiritually curious, tech savvy and adventurous. All very necessary traits in building and growing 21st century brands.

Emily’s recent post entitled “The Most Terrifying Question You Can Ask You” got me thinking – which lead me to this question … why wouldn’t someone opt-in? The evidence is clear that the era of command-and-control leadership, treating humans as capital and treating consumers as idiots is over. Why hold on to any vestiges of that era?

Here could be why …

  1. Industrial-Age Mindset What made a leader a successful in the Industrial Age wrecks organizations and people in the Human Age. From health benefits to workloads to performance metrics to safety, all the ways a company treated people in the Industrial Age are over. You can no longer hurt people, discriminate, suppress, wreck the environment, etc (not that there aren’t still more subtle ways of doing these). Yet much of the Industrial Age thinking remains. A great example is this … in the Industrial Age, you moved the people by moving the numbers (quotas, performance bonuses, productivity metrics, etc). In the Human Age, you move the numbers by moving the people. If you have an Industrial Age mindset about what moves people, it is impossible to opt-in.
  2. Linear Thinking. This is very much related to above. The Industrial Age produced straight lines to improve efficiency, productivity, output. Marketing was a straight line between product and target market. Recruiting was a straight line between job and skillset. In the Human Age, everything is spherical. It’s messy. It’s unclear. It takes a leader to see the patterns and rhythms – and linear thinking is the enemy of spherical thinking. If you see everything as a Point A to Point B activity with a series of processes and checkboxes, it is impossible to opt-in.
  3. Hours in the Office. It’s no longer viable to be addicted to work. Yet thousands of leaders wage a war of attrition with their minds, bodies and souls around how many hours they spend in the office, how they are never disconnected. A cynical view is that vacation time for most leaders is a time to recover enough to go back to grist mill of their role and job responsibilities – like a military leave from a combat zone. In the Human Age, Opt-In leaders measure things through energy acquired and spent. This is partially why EQ and mindfulness are such a hot topic in the business world lately. When you measure things through time spent, it is impossible to opt-in.
  4. Lack of Self Care. Addiction, depression, anxiety and suicides are tragically at an all time high. Too many leaders treating themselves and their people like rental cars or disposable razors. Too much of a massive gap between the real person and the job person. In the Industrial Age, you kept your emotional and spiritual (and often literal) wounds to yourself. You showed up. Because you had to. In the Human Age, these wounds, if left untreated, will wreck your career and hurt the people around you at work and at home. In the Human Age, if you aren’t taking care of you first, its impossible to opt-in.

Each one these areas are a choice. No one can make you do, think or feel anything. So if these resonated with you as reasons why you haven’t opted-in, I encourage you to examine your attachments, beliefs and fears. These three are the root of why we don’t grow, don’t change, don’t evolve. For those of us that have opted-in, it’s essential that we show compassion to those leaders that haven’t. This is not some character flaw. These are not dumb people. They are simply afraid and need some encouragement.

Embracing the Low Tide Moments

By | Life, Self-Worth | No Comments

 

In a year plus of massive transition and upheaval, this week has been especially so. In light of those dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, none of it was life-threatening or cataclysmic. But it still was a force multiplier of emotions that left me weary and raw — but also hopeful and grateful.

Here’s a summary of the week:

  • Our older son Logan and daughter-in-law Sarah moved from Austin back to Portland.
  • Our younger son Caden moved into his own place here in Austin.
  • Lynna and I moved to a new place and spent our first night as “empty nesters”. (An aside, I really dislike that term. Any suggestions on a better descriptor?)
  • Several other key relationships were full of tension, testing and conflict. These are relationships that have been a lifeblood to me so to have them disrupted was especially painful.

Oh … and I still had a business to co-run, clients to coach, spiritual practices to continue, adulting to do.

All of these combined to create a sense of low tide. I had previously hated these low tide moments: when our first son moved out, the passing of my grandparents — plus many other low tide moments in relationships and situations. In each case, I tended to go numb during the low tide moments. I felt exposed and vulnerable. Like everyone could see my scars, the debris, the hidden wreckage. I wanted to hide, lash out, cover up.

At best, these low tide moments were something to endure, something to overcome. So I tried to rush through them — like rushing would bring back the high tide. The low tide moments caused me to harshly judge myself for feeling the way I felt. They also carried a series of triggers that caused me to be hurtful to the people I most love.

This week was different. But I didn’t realize how different until sitting in my new thinking/reflection spot in our new home. In this week of upheaval, my mantra was “find the joy in each moment”. For the most part, I did. There were moments of feeling exposed, but I expressed them. There were moments I lashed out, but I asked for forgiveness. In the process of finding joy in each moment, I had three epiphanies:

  1. Yes, the low tide exposes scars and debris and even some death. But it also exposes treasure, nourishment, discoveries. All of which are impossible in high tide.
  2. No two low tides are the same. The natural process of drawing back and being exposed always appears differently. Yes, some of the same landmarks. But always different treasures and different debris.
  3. The high tide always returns. Always.

My intention is to continue my new-found embrace of low tide moments. I want to use them to practice gratitude, awareness, patience — especially in the low tide moments of relationships. I am certain these are the treasures that the low tide brings every day.