Attention…

Yesterday, during practice 217, I watched fourteen pairs of BTL buddies talk. This wasn’t just any talk. You see, these teammates shared stuff most couples don’t dare touch. The topic?

Resisting impulse.

Yeah, these k-dev krazies talked about where they struggle resisting impulse. The room erupted in smiles as I set the seconds timer and let these pairs connect, deeply connect. Almost twenty minutes later, the smiles were still present, and as Tay noticed, the mood was lighthearted. I laughed as I let that in. The mood was lighthearted while the topic was internal strife and struggle.

All life requires attention. We know this. We tend to forget it though, don’t we? Living things die without attention. Now, do I have yours?

Don’t underestimate the high cost of inattention. Attention takes almost all of your psychic energy. Did you know that? Fact. Listening drains your psychic reserves. Speaking ccd (clear, concise, and direct) is not easy either. Talking is not only time consuming, it’s psychologically draining when the topic is a tough one. Here’s the good news. Over time and with the aid of deliberate practice, you can talk about just about anything with almost anyone. You can learn to focus on the facts more than your feelings. You can learn to slow your cadence and even regulate the temperature in the room like a virtuous thermostat. You can learn, like the k-dev krazies, to remain lighthearted while taking on heavy topics. You can learn to love listening. You can learn to love by listening.

Now, imagine if you and I could learn to carry these kinda conversations home with us…

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Hard on self, not down on self…

Tilt is a term, I’m learning from my son Taylor, that has specific meaning in the video gaming world. When teammates “tilt,” it means they lose it in their team game and blame others, not themselves. Teammates tilt and don’t take responsibility.

Tay sees this in his video games. He sees all kinds of amateur gamers who are hard on their team, easy on themselves. Normal. Pro’s reverse the amateur equation. Pro’s (I mean masters in their domain) are hard on self without getting down on self. Hard on self not down on self. Hard on self is the key. You will not achieve greatness without the ability to think critically about yourself. The elite are always hardest on themselves. Are you?

Everyday, I see teammates on tilt. They are blaming other teammates, not themselves. This is natural. Don’t continue to do what comes naturally, friend. Build a second nature. Learn to develop the discipline of being hard on self without getting down on self.

Hard on self, not down on self. Good…

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The building process…

So, you want to pour yourself into someone on your team in work and life – you want to build them a bit better. Good. Building another is a worthy aim. However, before you begin the building process with them, take a look in the mirror – a long, hard, honest look! Do you love yourself? Do you love your work and your team? Are you disciplined in your aim of mastering yourself and your craft? If you answer yes to these three with conviction and clarity, you are either self delusional or self confident. We’re going to assume you’re confident. Good. Building another will shake your confidence to it’s core, you’ll see…

Step two is not trivial either. Are you and your teammate willing to engage in honest dialogue? Here’s what this means. A good builder will tell you the truth about what she thinks. Don’t mistake this for telling another your thinking is truth. Slow down and sit with these thoughts for awhile. This is beginning to sound a bit more difficult, isn’t it? A good builder tells the truth about what they think. Roger that. And (this ones harder yet), a good builder will listen. Really listen. A good builder tunes in like an animal being stalked, and guides their teammate toward better thinking of their own. Most of the time, the building process involves good listening at a 10-1 ratio to good speaking. Good builders ask the best questions, both curious and challenging. Speaking truth, you see, takes few words. Good builders understand that their teammates ideas are the ones they’re most likely to act upon. So, they use questions to get their teammates ideas out in the open.

Step three is just as important as one and two. Step three requires that the person you are building into tells you the truth about what he thinks and is willing to listen. This one is really difficult because you, the builder, have to begin by giving your teammate the benefit of the doubt. You cannot know how honest your teammate is willing to be until you begin the journey together. No matter how good you become as a builder, friend, your impact is mostly dependent upon how good you are at picking worthy targets. Slow down and reflect, friend.

Remember, almost everybody wants to get better or at least verbalizes as much. Only a few have the courage to tell the truth about themselves, listen to hard truth about themselves, and then figure out the best way forward for themselves. Find your few. Once you find worthy targets, focus on them. Cheat toward them, if you will. Good.

God, help me continue to build mastery within me and my craft. God, give me wisdom, patience, and courage. God, help me…

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Loss aversion…

I’m an amateur investor. My tendency is to hold onto bad stocks too long as I suffer from a classic case of loss aversion. Once I own a stock, it becomes personal. The longer I hold it, the more personal it becomes. Here’s the crazy part, when my long term stock begins to slide, I tend to believe it’s going to reverse course and bounce back. I may look at the analytics but hardly see what’s really going on. I see what I’ve always seen and continue to hold onto this free falling stock a bit longer. Knowing my tendency toward holding onto losers, I’ve hired an investment management firm to help guide my financial future. They are firing my losers faster than I ever did. My portfolio has never been stronger. Good.

Leaders are mostly like amateur investors. Once they hire someone, train them, pour into them, and promote them, they have a hard time looking at the facts surrounding their performance. They see what they’ve always seen. They hold onto poor performers a bit too long. You see, friend, firing someone feels like a loss. Here’s my advice to all my clients.

Hire slow. Fire fast. High performing leaders do not hold onto poor performers. High performing systems hold people accountable. High performers love this kinda accountability and thrive when performance bars are clear. High performing systems invest in their high performers and know that a 1% uptick in their top stocks, if you will, pay huge dividends. These leaders celebrate their best and have no problem shaming and shooting the stocks that miss the mark. Hire slow. Fire fast.

What stocks are you holding too long, my friend…

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Raise your aim…

C.S. Lewis told us we suffer from poor eyesight. Before him, Goethe said the same. Way before him, Jesus said as much. Way back when, Socrates kinda started the whole conversation.

Lewis reminded us that we’re offered a Holiday at the sea but can only see what’s in front of us – making mud pies in the street. Goethe told us not to dream small, but see the possibilities and dream big. Jesus told us to set our sights beyond the physical and keep our eyes on the eternal. Socrates started questioning everything and challenging us to see for ourselves, so to speak.

This seeing thing must be a big deal. Slow down and think about your eyes. What captures your focused attention? What are you looking for? Think about Jordan Peterson’s challenging insight to the power of eyesight – “What you aim at determines what you see.”

Want to raise your game? Maybe you are too easily pleased. Maybe your eyes need correction. Maybe you need to see beyond yourself. Maybe you need to see possibilities not just problems. Maybe you need to see obstacles in your way as opportunities to find the way. Maybe you need to see the bigger picture. Maybe you need to see what’s right in front of you.

Maybe you need to raise your aim…

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Order in chaos…

My son, Taylor, loves structure and order more than most in my circle of family, friends, and clients. He likes people, places, and things that make sense to him. He values consistency and predictability. For instance, he has little tolerance for professors who give unclear assignments and coaches that deliver non specific feedback during practice or performance. He has a math mind, I’ve concluded, and it’s a mind oriented more toward calculus than statistics – there are answers to problems, we simply have to calculate, sometimes quite a lot, to find them.

I tend to be more comfortable in chaos. I enjoy not knowing the exact route we’re going to take on our bike ride (adventure) and get a thrill out of discovering white roads (ones with no name) and seeing where they take us. This is how we ended up at the top of a mountain in France back in 2009 with no way down but reversing course. You see, we went off course, so to speak and even our garmin couldn’t help us. A couple elderly French women greeted us as if they hadn’t seen outsiders for decades. We dead ended in their remote village, they kindly refilled our water bottles, and away we went back down the white road that had led us to new discoveries.

Taylor has been embracing the chaos of BTL team practices and finding that he loves not knowing where it’s going until we get there. I love the structure he’s bringing to our AAR (after action reviews) and how his ordering mind is helping mine. You see, friend, too much order leads to boredom, stagnation, decline, and slow death. Too much chaos leads to instability, insecurity, and quick death.

You and I are designed to have one foot in each, so to speak. Order in chaos, I guess you could call it.

We need stability, good homes, warm fireplaces, trusted friends, meaningful work and accomplishment (the kind that helps us stand up straight with our shoulders back). And, we need to have one foot in the unknown, so to speak. We need to stretch ourselves outside what is known, try new things, make new friends, explore enemy territory, climb new mountains, and create new meaning in new ways. I’m currently reading 12 Rules For Life, By Jordan Peterson (Thanks Rogue) and he and I agree that excellence is found at the ever moving intersection of order and chaos. The elite, remember, take up residence, not in victimhood but in that really cool little village located just this side of chaos. The elite residence? Order in chaos.

What do you need, friend? More order? More chaos? What about your team? Who is helping you to lean against your tendency? Who illuminates your blind spots? What are you doing to challenge your habitual questions, behaviors, beliefs? Where are you taking up residence? Victimhood? Order in chaos? Somewhere else? What do you think? Tell me more, friend. Tell me more…

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These days…

These days I can’t believe my good fortune. Everyday, Tay and I get to practice becoming one. Everyday.

Today, we practiced with a few teams who are finding their way toward becoming one. Today, Greaves turned into weirdgreaves. You see Greaves is running a big position in his paid profession. He’s one of the top dogs and has got lots to get done and not enough time to get it. So, what’s he done?

He’s read Man’s Search for Meaning and instead of pushing for bigger metrics from his team, he’s pushing for more meaning. He’s taking time out from running hard and fast to run slow and low. Every week he’s giving his team and teammates from any other team, the gift of BTL practice. His job is to produce more mortgage metrics, not meaning. He’s doing both but in ways that make no sense but perfect cents. Who knew?

Today, during practice 33 with a team of Homies, I could hardly believe my ears. Cash did nothing. FM, baby. Scott took us home. Chad took us inside his daper suit. Z opened the kimono. Chelsea asked for help. Jamie(sp) spoke truth about her battle with time. RJ shared his one on one. Greaves shared his one on many. The chief was missing in action and nobody missed a beat. Today, a team of Homies came together in a way few will ever taste. Today we tasted flow after we had just learned about it. These days are so good. These days.

Thanks, Kristin, for turning me on to Rudimental’s new Macklemore remix, titled appropriately – These days. Who knew that these days we would discover so much meaning in making mortgages and so much more. Who knew the unintended consequences could be this cool. Who knew these days could be so freakin’ magic. Who knew.

These days…

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