Asking for help…

Here’s a great question to ask yourself – When overwhelmed, do you go dark or merge with the team?

Yesterday, during team practice 237 with a team getting real & raw, the melody line I kept hearing was not around merging. Nope, it was not. For most that had the guts to get real, their tendency when overwhelmed is to go it alone under the guise they don’t want to be a burden to their buddies. Nobody wants to admit they’re weak (me included). Nobody wants to ask for help. Nobody, at least it seemed, thinks their teammates care enough to carry ’em when they’re overwhelmed. And, this is one hell of a team too! Imagine what people are thinking on normal teams?

Let me remind you of Doc Potterat’s (Former Navy SEAL lead psychologist) favorite weed out question for would be SEAL’s. I love this one. “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done or gone through and how’d you get through it?” If you’re gonna make it into BUD’s you had better be able to humbly recount a moment that got the best of you and you better be able to ask for help. You see, the Doc is looking for strong/humble teammates that are wired to merge, not go dark. If you go dark as a SEAL, teammates die. When overwhelmed, the strong, you see have no problem asking for help. When overwhelmed, the strong push their sense of pride down and put their hand up. And, when the strong notice a teammate struggling, they grab a hand, pull ’em up, and somehow make their teammate feel they are not a burden – just one of their best buddies.

Do you go dark or merge with the team, friend? God, help me merge with you and with the many friends I’m blessed beyond belief to have beside me. God, help me give and take care. God, help me give more than I take. God, help me merge…

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5th graders…

Want to influence your kids toward becoming men and women who contribute to their community? Stop telling them how good they are at stuff, especially how smart they are. You see, most immature brains believe in a fixed mindset. In other words if you tell them they’re smart or not smart, they’re gonna further believe they either have what it takes and get lazy, or don’t have it and give up.

When we study 5th graders around the world and compliment their effort (You must have worked hard at these problems) vs intelligence (You must be really smart at these problems) the ones who are recognized for effort choose more difficult puzzles to solve. Ironically, the ones praised for smarts, choose easy ones. You see, once someone thinks they’re smart, the brain wants to protect them from contrary data – play it safe here we come.

Challenge your young ones to increase their effort. Reward hard work. As you do this, you’re teaching your young ones to understand their choices are in their control, not outside ’em. The more you and I feel in control the more we take control of our choices. We self start when we think we can, and self starters are the key contributers to the greater good around us – our communities.

You can do this, leader. Your workforce mostly believes in a fixed mindset too. Reward effort. You may just be the catalyst for creating a few with growing minds, a few with a growth mindset. Smart. Really, smart.

Keep working. Good…

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Attention leaders with hearts…

…read up, this ONE’s for me and you.

If you care, it will hurt, fact. Believing in people is a messy business. Most avoid it because after all, it’s just business right? Not if its not, so therein lies the pain. I recently got reminded of this truth and thought I’d share how my brain and heart are in a battle royal with my CORE.

A client, who I deeply care for and poured myself into, suddenly went dark. Seemingly out of nowhere, we went from deeply connected to disengaged and distant. My brain was the first to jump in and point out the change in behavior. You see, the brain is wired to pay attention to things like this. Good brain, well done. However, the brain doesn’t stop there, it continues to do what any good brain should do: think, asses, question, rationalize, strategize how to ensure you don’t get hurt. This is perfect for when you are truly in a life or death situation but not so much when its not.

Picking up on the cues my brain is sending into the system, my heart (a.k.a. feelings and emotions) showed up. Confusion, concern and frustration eventually led to hurt. Yep, hurt. And we all know hurt really doesn’t leave any part of us very easily so when it gets together with our thoughts, more complex emotions join in on the fun like self doubt. Oh man, this caring stuff hurts like krazy. Why am I doing this work again?

{enter my CORE stage center} I pulled out a few decklarations from my CORE (listed below), that were written when my brain and emotions weren’t running the show, when I wasn’t hurt and full of self doubt. They’ve been vetted, challenged, rinsed and strengthened over the last seven years. These are the truths of me, my CORE strength, that I draw upon to guide my way through irrational thoughts and feelings. Thank you Chet for pushing me way back when, when I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And then again and again. Always growing, embrace the pain, do the work. Good AND oh so hard.

I believe…
– we all have fear, some are controlled by it, some face it and work hard to overcome it – the choice is ours.
– the more I lead, the more I tend to feel alone even though I know I’m not.
– you can change your behavior much quicker than you can change your mind.
– integrity and honesty are two of the most important traits a friend of mine can have.
– learning about and getting to know your self, is one of the hardest things to do. Accepting what you discover is even harder.
– peace comes when you’ve done all you can do.
– I cannot control anyone or anything but myself and even that is arguable.
– love is magic and painful.

I am…
– a distinct individual whose deep connection to my work is rooted in integrity, driven by passion, committed to purpose.
– a ‘thinker’ about my feelings even though I also make decisions with my heart, funny nuance to me.
– someone who has so much more to learn about pretty much everything.
– an active challenger.
– a beautiful ruin, a passionate fool.

I will…
– use my strength in relationships as courage to stand and control that which I can.
– make my life an open book.
– worry about my reputation with me.
– choose responsibility over empathy. Serve every client with a singular focus on making them do what they can do.

I love…
– deeply connecting with others.
– people who exhibit real effort to grow and become better.
– music and am inspired by the artists who write their “songs” AND “play” it


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Freed from fear…

I couldn’t love this work any more. If you see me working, I hope you sense my freedom from fear; especially my freedom from our greatest fear – fear of failure.

This early am in the 3PP, six men inoculated themselves from this fear by, in fact, failing. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I put together a workout that can’t be done – at least not be me. I plan to fail on purpose. This mornings fail came during the first minute. We had one leg in the TRX suspension trainer and one leg hanging in the air, nothing anchoring it. Both hands were on the concrete floor in the pushup position. We attempted to perform Spider-Man pushups (YouTube if curious) and within 30 seconds of the 59 second set, I could not pull my unanchored foot forward. Fail. The ipad seconds timer app, like a good trainer, didn’t care one bit about my fail, it simply told me what to attempt next. So, we kept going. As I looked around the 3PP, I saw fails everywhere – no failures. Big diff. Everybody kept getting back up. Nobody quit. Good.

You see, friend, you cannot dream and do without facing your biggest fear – the fear of failure. Most of us avoid asking ourselves if we have what it takes, by simply doing what we’ve always done. We don’t test ourselves relationally, spiritually, technically, or physically, instead we play it safe and perform within the comfort zone. We do what we’ve always done. Somehow we feel anchored knowing we can pass today’s test – nevermind it’s still a test from 5th grade.

Dreamers, the kind who actually do stuff others say can’t be done, gotta get seriously inoculated from the fear of failure. The dreamer always has a leg up because she has a leg out. She’s gotten comfortable being unanchored. She understands the physics of growth. We mostly fail forward, friend. Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done. Dream and do. Practice doing what is beyond today’s reach but worth attempting to grasp. Go for it. Go for it because you love it. Someday soon, you’ll be playing freely, filled with more love than fear, working hard and enjoying it. Freed from fear. Really free. Good…

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Today, as I reflected on practice, I heard my dear friends voice booming in my head as it once did out on Seldom Seen Road. You see, back in the day, Larry Allen would depart Dublin and I’d depart Powell. We would meet in the middle on Seldom Seen. I could see LA coming from miles away, as his 6’6″ frame seated on his larger than life bike frame, was impossible to miss. He would see me coming and turn his bike round and wait for me to catch up. His greeting was always the same. “How are you?”

How are you? You see it wasn’t the words that seared my soul. So many folks offer similar greeting and it means next to nothing as it’s really just canon fodder communication. LA’s “How are you” was unique because he meant it, his presence told you so. He would touch my shoulder, look me in the eye, and smile. We would be riding our bikes but the hours would melt by when it was just the two of us. It would start with his interest in knowing how I was and he’d just take it from there.

I miss my friend, mostly I miss his presence. You see, friend, the gift of presence is a rare and beautiful thing. To come into his presence out on Seldom Seen was to know he was coming unguarded, undistracted, and fully with you. He would often talk about Jesus and the ministry of “being with.” He walked the talk, actually, he rode it. His presence was a rare and beautiful thing. So, leader, remember it’s not the words you mouth, it’s not the speeches you rehearse, it’s not the charity events you grace, or even the time you take to travel the world visiting your global partners – it’s your presence. Wherever you are, whomever you’re with, turn off technology, tune into them – the ones right in front of you.

How are you, friend? What a great question, when your caring presence swaddles it, kinda like my dear friend Larry. Good…


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Productive rebels…

Creators are a weird lot.  They are more like the juvenile delinquent than the prosecuting attorney. I know, it’s kind of a weird thought but it’s true. You see, most of us humans are reluctant to create.  We want someone else to pave the way and then maybe we’ll add a couple thoughts, timbers, and tidbits – depending on the creation. Leaders would benefit from remembering this little truth.  We humans love to contribute to a cause, a company, or to a really cool creation.  We mostly just wait for something that excites us enough to get involved.

Leaders create.

Leaders create and create some more. Leaders create and engage the team to contribute. Some contribute a ton. Some contribute a tidbit.  The cool systems make it easy to do either. You cannot be a leader without creating something. You can be an effective operator without creating. You can be a great manager without creating. You can be a good teammate without creating. You can be a valuable contributor without creating.

Leaders create.

And, the best of the best make others feel more, not less with whatever tidbit they contribute to the cause. Elite leaders invite contributions from outside their circle, club, or even company. And, the best of the best turn up the quiet ones. And, these quiet ones often contribute a ton. Leaders create and collect the best contributions both large and small from all around. Leaders create a culture where teammates know they are loved too. Leaders love their work and the team. This creates an energy that is the signature of a team of productive rebels. You see, friend, juvenile delinquents are a creative lot – they just haven’t learned yet how to productively rebel.

How ’bout you?

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Wounds and vows…

A vow, by Webster’s definition, “is a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition.”

I made a vow to myself when very young. I was not going to let people push me around like they did my dad. I watched his mom treat his other brothers better and his physician colleagues disrespect him. I observed his lack of confidence and willingness to play small. I saw his wounded heart and hardened my own. You see, most vows (the kind we make silently to ourselves) are rooted in our wounds.

I was super small and slight. Never mind. I made a vow to myself, early on, to make something of myself, no matter the cost. If you beat me at basketball when I was young, we would play again and again and again, until I beat you. Driven. Focused. Competitive. These were my early descriptors. My wound, I guess you could say, drove me to accomplish. I was tough. This worked well for awhile. You see, being tough and demanding doesn’t make for much of a cuddly kinda dad. Kids came early before I understood myself, my wound, and my Miss, much less what it meant to be a dad to little boys. So, I kinda subconsciously lived out my vow to myself when raising Cain, if you will. I made sure my sons were strong and pushed too hard. I was involved and loving, don’t get me wrong. I was very committed to being a good, loving, dad. I just hadn’t learned to modify my approach. Once Krit came along, I had no push in mind, just protect. I was learning slowly.

Today, as I write this rant, it’s clear to me that I’m a better builder than father. It pains me to admit this. My sons are distant, even Tay, who is still proximate, holds me at arms length. Fact. So, my distant friend, take some time to look within, deep within, and understand the vows you’ve silently made to self. These vows can be very powerful and cause great good. And, they can be very powerful and cause great grief. None of us gets out of here without experiencing deep wounds to our hearts – none of us. The strongest, I’ve come to discover, do the most repairing.

God, help me model the way, embrace pain and suffering, and embody truth in love. God, help me become whole as you alone completely fill my hole – my wound. God, help me belong and become the kinda man, father, husband, and builder that is more of a “ezer kenegdo” – sustainer beside ’em. God help me come alongside. Thanks, God, for your perfectly good vow to all your creation to make us whole and set things to right. God, help me trust in your strength, grace, and mercy. God, help me pass some along. Good…


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