Thinking of a place…

Happy weekend. The 3PP was nearly filled this morning. The only regulars missing were Blondie and Fatgrap. Slo has gone awol but Brett returned from a long hiatus. The ride was 50 miles and my legs felt it. This morning was chosen suffering and it was good.

Miss celebrates another birthday tomorrow. Her past year has been by far her hardest. She’s hung in there and never been more diligent in her fight for health. I know she feels like nobody understands her plight and this pains even more. We both just want the war on her body to end and for our lives to return to equilibrium, status quo, the way things were. Ain’t happening today or tomorrow. Miss has been at war with her body since the end of July. This is unchosen suffering. Sucks.

So, we say our prayers and hold onto hope. Our faith and resilience are in the crucible and I know I’ve never felt so unable to measure up. I want to hang in there and be strong for her, yet constantly feel like I’m dragging ass. Not giving up but not getting through, feels like the mantra. Recently read of the plight of Sisyphus, the dude in Greek mythology who gets punished for being all kinda crafty and stuff. He’s punished with a life pushing a freakin’ ridiculously heavy boulder up a hill only to reach the top and have it roll back down on him. Back at it again, he pushes. All day. All night. A life without progress – just pain. I know my Miss feels like Ms. Sisyphus since last July. I know it’s not forever – just feels like it. We’re both soft and never tasted chronic illness like this. I know this but knowing doesn’t alleviate the anguish. Sucks.

Jordan was home last weekend and it was freakin’ magic. He introduced me to more music. Music soothes, doesn’t it. At the moment, I’m captivated by the band titled The War on Drugs. The track playing is titled Thinking of a Place. The artist is thinking of a place where all suffering is gone, at least that’s what I’m hearing. He reminds me of a young Dylan and I’m loving it. Have a good weekend, friend. Hold the hand of someone hurting, turn toward them, help them think of a place, a happy place. Me, I’m thinking of Chicago and Coldplay. Miss is jumping and the rain is starting to fall. We’re just a couple rows from the stage and a million miles away. Thinking of a place with my Miss. Good…

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Together…

Fire and forget, is a familiar term if you operate in military flying circles. In the old day’s, a pilot would train his eyes and aircraft on the target, and keep them there for as long as he fired the machine gun or the missile. Today, pilots can fire and forget ’cause the missile is smart. The pilot can fire, forget, and focus on the next mission or enemy aircraft. FM, baby. Leaders, oftentimes, assume they can hire and forget. We assume because of experience, industry knowledge, or simple laziness, we can hire pre – loaded heat seekers and target hits will follow. This would be great if it were true. Sadly, this doesn’t work so well with humans. Humans are not like missiles. Humans are not hire and forget.

We want to know we belong. Not some of us, but all of us. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We never bring our best when left alone. We all want to feel included, needed, and, oddly, claim our independence in the same breath. Yes indeed, we’ve got issues. We are not machines and do not perform well when left unattended. Hire and forget will not hit the target, if your aim is to build elite performers.

Remember, a collection of individuals, teams, and leaders do not become ONE with common knowledge, common experience, and enough time together. They become ONE, only on rare occasion. They become ONE, only when someone has the clarity, conviction, confidence, and the competence to transform with them. They become ONE, only when one is willing to lead the charge and practice toward this purpose. Transformational leaders understand this truth. This is where the heart of performance lives for any and all human systems. Want a team of heat seeking missiles? Forget the notion of hire and forget and sell out completely, to the notion of becoming BTL. Commit to team practices that build trust, unity, and both individual and collective performance gains. Commit to challenging out of belief. Commit to giving courage. Commit to rendering out those unwilling to meet the standard. Commit to modeling the way, embracing pain and suffering, and embodying truth in love.

Together, we will awaken, challenge, and transform individuals, teams, and leaders into ONE, distinct, deeply connected, and BTL. Together, we transform into the originals we’re meant to be. Together, smarter than any heat seekers on their own. Together, we will become a team locked arms, dialed in, and fully loaded to be good and do good. Together.

Good…

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Practice like Pheidippides…

Pheidippides was a professional runner (a hemerodromos) back in the day – way back in the day. Pheidippides was the dude who ran from the Battle at Marathon to Athens in 490 BC. He’s said to have screamed “Nike” (Victory) before breathing his last. Here, as Paul Harvey liked to say, is the rest of the story.

Persia had landed on the shores of Marathon and were a mere 25 miles from Athens when the Athenian leaders sent their strongest hemerodromos, Phed, to make like the wind and run for help. So, Phed, laced up his sandals and starting running. Herodotus recounts that he ran really fast. Athens to Sparta is 140 miles and Phed made it in two days. No fanny packs, no water bottles, no food stations, nobody beside him, nobody cheering him on, no light to guide his way over rocky, mountainous terrain. Phed somehow made it, talked the Spartans into joining the fray, and, realizing the Spartans weren’t coming right away (6 day wait for a full moon superstition), he took a cat nap and boggied back to Athens. He made the return trip in two energy draining days. Are you kidding me? Nope. Phed was a pro.

The Athenian army had departed and was stationed in the mountains above Marathon. So, you guessed it, Phed booked it another 25 miles to Marathon to deliver his message to General Miltiads. After a couple nights camped in the mountains, Miltiads decided his army had to act. He ordered a night run carrying their 45lb shield, full helmet, and body armor. Miltiads ordered his men to run the final mile across the open field as the arrows filled the morning sky. So, foot long, they ran into the Persian army outnumbered 50,000 to under 10,000. Surprised, the Persians made military mistake after mistake and Athens beat them back into full retreat. Freakin’ great story, huh. Well, it doesn’t end here…

A bunch of Persians had gotten back in the boats and were headed to an undefended Athens. So, a bunch of Athenian warriors made the 20 some mile run back toward Athens to cut the Persians off before they made land, still wearing their battle armor and carrying spear and shield. Phed, ran back to Athens to calm the citizenry with the amazing news of victory at Marathon. The final 25 miles depleted him. Upon arriving and delivering his last message, he breathed his last. Historians recall he ran something around 330 miles in total. If you want to read more, feel free to pick up the book titled Road to Sparta, by Dean Karnazes. You’ll be blown away.

As I’ve come to learn along my study of greatness, there are no shortcuts, no easy recipes, and always so much more than meets the eye at first glance. We like to tell short stories, net it out, and only focus on the last leg – forgetting the mundane miles of preparation that led to every moment of truth (MOT). Want to perform a bit better in your MOT? Practice like a hemerodromos. Practice like Phed. Practice like a pro. Practice like Pheidippides again, and again, and again.

Practice like a pro. Good…

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Smart…

When the brain is overwhelmed with too many tasks to make sense of, it tends to ruminate and hold as many as possible in working memory for as long as it can. The result is this human tends to think too much- act too little. Eventually this brain fatigues from too much thinking/too little acting and pops. Hard STOP, oftentimes. This is not smart.

However, when the brain has clarity about worldview, identity, principles, passions, purposes, and process, it’s freed from thinking about the big stuff while trying to manage the small stuff. Smart. The reason some humans sweat the small stuff more than others is because they haven’t got clarity around their W.I.P. & 3P – their CORE lacks definition. These humans think too much about daily tasks and stressors because their brain can’t connect the dots and make sense of it. Not smart.

Want to increase your ability to get stuff done? Work on the hard stuff, first. Get clarity within. Build your strong CORE and authentically author your labor of love, your OPUS. Sweat the big stuff, if you will, even though your brain is telling you there’s no time and these deadlines right in front of you are labeled “dead” for a reason. You are not your mind. Control it. Make your brain tackle the big stuff, first. Sweat the big stuff. Before you know it, you won’t be sweating the small stuff. The problem isn’t that you’re sweating. We are meant to live meaningful lives. Hard labor you will disdain as you tire. Hard opus, remember, you will sustain as you tire. You choose. Your choices have consequences. Sweat the right stuff, my friend. Smart.

Sweat the right stuff…

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Elle Woods…

Today, during another truth telling practice with one of my favorites, I reminded my client that he’s not the old, experienced leader he works with. So, stop acting like it, I kinda scolded him.

To get his attention I compared him to Elle Woods. Yeah, Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde. You see, my client is doing his job the way he sees his leader do his. He’s winging it and counting on his charisma, conviction, and competence to carry his ideas forward. Instead of flying, most are simply falling flat. He’s got to change his approach if he wants to change his trajectory. Fact. So, today, I hit him with some hard truth about his preparation habits. They suck. He’s got to prepare a lawyers argument and come into each and every meeting like someone with something to prove. He’s not the senior leader. He’s not the main man, at least not yet. Like Elle, he could be if he takes himself a bit more seriously.

Elle’s problem wasn’t that her leader and colleagues didn’t take her serious. Of course, her good looks and Valley girl persona made her an easy target to not take seriously. The bigger issue was she hadn’t taken herself seriously. It all changed when a truth teller told her to stop letting one pr#$& hold her back. In that MOT (moment of truth) she saw the light and began to believe she was not just a blonde, she was legally blonde. My client and I concluded practice today laughing at the irony in my analogy. He got the message. I made him play it back to me and decide on his baby step PA to begin building his legal resume, if you will. Remember, leader, you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. And, you’ve got to prepare a lawyers arguement if you want to earn the right for one of your ideas to be taken seriously. Prepare like your life depends upon it. Prepare. Good.

Most of the professionals who appear to be winging it, aren’t. They’ve just prepared for so long, and mastered their craft so well, that it appears they simply show up and the sea parts, as if by magic, to let their idea move from one side to another. No magic. You, simply, gotta do the work. Elle Woods did the work. How ’bout you?

 

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This ones for you…

I’m rarely writing about you. The good news, I’ve come to discover through eleven years of nearly daily ranting, is that so much of our work at BTL strikes such a cord that lots of individuals, teams, and leaders that we work with think the rants gotta be all about them. It’s not. Today, during another freakin’ magic practice with a crazy system trying to keep their great run going, we talked about politics that if I told you about them you wouldn’t think, for a minute, that they were written about you. Yet, in a weird way, of course it is.

You see the human condition is so universal that we often go to conferences, churches, community gatherings, even company sponsored BTL practices, and think the topic has gotta be about me. Oftentimes, it’s not even though it feels like it is. Remember a word from Anais Nin, friend. “We don’t see things the way they are. We see things the way we are.” Fact. So, today, don’t allow some rant, some corporate hallway chatter, or some memo to send you into some kinda super stressed state. Assume less. And, like my client this morning, seek perspective. Slow it down. Catastrophize it less. Choose some PA and get on your way. Good.

This ones for you, friend. Actually they all are. Good…

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The Four Loves…

Recently, during practice with a team learning about love (yes, learning about love in the workplace), I referenced the book by C.S. Lewis titled The Four Loves. In this short but meaty read, Lewis explains affection, friendship, Eros, and agape as four very different expressions of love. Three of the four (Eros not one of ’em) are required if you want your team to perform at it’s peak. And, all these loves can be distorted and turned from energizing to agonizing. Yes, there can be too much love not just too little.

So, here I am headed to Chicago for another practice with a team I love, re-reading Lewis on love. As I read this book for only the second time, I’m reminded how little I understand this word I throw around all the time. I talk about loving your craft and loving your team as pre-requisites for leadership. What the heck am I saying? How much affection is required? I have no idea. What kinda affection is appropriate? I know what’s not, much clearer than what is. Everyone cannot be friends with everyone on a team. So, as a leader, what kinda cliques are healthy subgroups of a system and what kinds are destructive? When you focus on the few (which I highly recommend) what kinda club are you creating on the inside who feel like they’re outside? Is this the root of sabotage? Are we better off as leaders burying the “l” word and going back to the tried/true, old standby – fear?

Nope. We’re not.

Love your craft and love your team, leader. And, learn the languages of your team. Pour yourself into a few with the aim of making them so strong they won’t think they need you. Like me, you’re gonna have to FIO (figure it out) along the way. Remember to give and take care. And, the more you give, somehow, the more you’re gonna receive. Love your craft and love your team. Be kind, not nice. Remember, kind is love in action. Nice is love in appearance. “Be good. Do good.” Thank you, John Adams. Fall on your knees, leader, and ask for help. Humbly repair. None of us has this formula all figured out. All I know for certain is this is the only way. Love always finds a way forward. Love.

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”  C.S. Lewis

Thanks, Clive, for making me think this morning. I’ve got a lot to learn about love. I’ll try and pass the gift along. God, help me. Good…

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