Grappy, Durp, and the gift…

When you look back on your life, friend, you will measure backwards on how far you’ve come in terms of compensation, collection of automobiles, homes, personal growth, professional accomplishment, and all kinda other metrics that you chose to chase. You might measure how many buildings you built, how much insurance you sold, how many Arnold’s you ran, how many clients you served, how many deals you did, how many matches/meets/games you won, how many stocks you picked, how many assets you managed, or how many companies you owned. All of these will matter, to some degree or another, when you look back on the contributions of your time here on this planet. Nothing, however, will compare to the moments where you sense that something you said or did caused a fellow human being to not only feel more but become more. Nothing will feel better than those moments where you gave the gift of belief to one you love. And nothing is more satisfying to the human soul than when we feel it in deep in our bones that being here made a difference in another human life. We, friend, are made for this. I believe this.

Yesterday, something nudged me to call Grappy an hour before Choice practice 239 and ask him to drop everything and come share his story. He had come to practice 66 here four years ago and with one taste of BTL decided he had to have more. We’ve been friends and fellow builders of grapplers ever since. First off, it’s a miracle he answered the phone (this happens 1 out of 20 times/he’s a texting machine), but he did answer. He took about three seconds to say he would be there. I couldn’t believe it and started smiling ear to ear, knowing this was gonna be some kinda magic. I had no idea. Grappy spoke for over an hour straight and it was better than being in a Rich Nathan sermon (high, high bar). It was amazing. Grappy is impacting grapplers and groups far removed from his sport. He’s a gem with a heart for humans. Here’s a response I received from one of the people in yesterday’s practice 239. Grappy gave. She received. So, so good…

“I needed Coach Ryan’s story today.

I’m a single mom doing my best to raise my kids to be kind, loving, and intelligent people who make a difference in the world. I recently decided to get a second job to help financially. To hear his piece about his mom and the way he views her struck a cord in my heart. It’s everything I long for them to feel for me. It’s why I get up every single day. Everything I do is for them.
The piece about his son opened my eyes and my heart like never before. My son is 5, full of life, happy, silly, smart, and literally the light of my life. Life can change at the blink of an eye. I cannot imagine the pain he, his wife, and their kids endured. So the nights I’m tired from a long or rough day at work, my two hours I have with them before bed mean more to me now. I will make the most of every single second.

Thank you for having him with us today. I remember talking with him when he came to our practice before. He is such a special man whose vulnerability is literally changing lives. Im inspired more than ever to be the best mom I can be. I’m extremely grateful for BTL and you both everyday, but more so today. Thank you for that gift.”

Nothing will feel better when you look back over your life and recall moments such as these. And you, friend, can give the gift of belief today to someone beside you. All that’s required is for you to turn toward them and see the good, compliment effort, listen, practice vulnerability/being real, and give courage from your full heart. Nothing compares to contributing light, hope, and love from your heart to another. Thanks, Durp, for your belief and for your crazy contribution to the world of collections. Your team touched me yesterday, just as Grappy touched them. Together we improve. Good…

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Amazing grace version 2.0…

John Newton’s Mom died suddenly when he was 6 years old. His dad was constantly at sea – absent. He would attend Boarding school from age 8-10 before running away. By the time he turned 11 he was off sailing the high seas. When he was 20 his hard life took a turn further off course. He was forced off his ship on some small island just southeast of Sierra Leone, West Africa where he was enslaved for 18 months. Once he attained his freedom he decided to practice being as wicked as possible, as he wrote in his journal. He would eventually become captain of a slave-trading ship and transport slaves from Africa to England, his home country.

John did not start well. Maybe, as you look back at your journey, you’re thinking you didn’t either. Keep reading, friend. You too still have plenty of script left to write…

During a rough night at sea, John’s life took a turn as he found comfort in the Bible and in the message of God’s saving grace. John would leave the ship soon thereafter and embark on a new journey. He would become a pastor of a small congregation that he would serve with “toughness and habitual tenderness.” He would pastor two churches for 43 years. He would teach himself Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac. And, he read the best there was in Latin, English, and French. He invested most of time studying the scriptures. He was a model of study, learn, and apply.

John also wrote hymns.

He developed the discipline of writing hymns to accompany his sermons. During one stretch he wrote a new hymn, each week, for over 300 consecutive weeks. He developed quite a “talent” for putting words into poetry that brought a concreteness to the very abstract. One of those songs was my Dad’s favorite.

As a young boy, I can recall, vaguely, my Dad trying to tell me the story behind the song. I hardly heard a word and am certain my Dad felt my shortness, lack of attention, and general disdain for his words. I was certain my Dad was weak and what could I possibly learn from a weakling.  I turned my back literally and figuratively.  Amazingly, I never felt anything from my Dad but his tenderness toward me. The song, you ask?

Amazing Grace.

Thanks John. Thanks Dad. Thanks, Brett, Durp, Robert, Doc, and dozens more. In this experiment we call BTL, I’ve been blessed by so many “seekers,” and having a front row seat to their builders journey. Today, during practice 207, I was reminded how krazy blessed we all are to build alongside business owners who praise people more than they worship money. Makes no cents, yet makes perfect sense. Amazing how much we can all learn from fellow seekers on the path, even when our paths may be so distinctly different. Amazing. Grace.

See you along the way, krazy seekers. Thanks, again, Dad for your tender heart. And, thanks Heavenly Father for your Amazing Grace. Good…

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Lycurgus wasn’t the King of Sparta (BC 800 – 730) but he’s credited with what we know today as Spartan culture. He’s the dude who went away and studied other people groups and came back with a new idea on how to do community. He’s worth a look.

However, reading ole Epictetus, has given me a new perspective on Lycurgus – he wasn’t just wise, he was kind. You see, way back in the day, Lycurgus was blinded (in one eye) by a young, overly aggressive Spartan. The lad was then turned over to Lycurgus to punish as he saw fit. Lycurgus didn’t go for revenge or justice, he showed, instead, grace. Lycurgus took the young lad and educated him. When he publicly introduced him at the theatre, according to Epictetus storytelling, the crowd booed him. Lycurgus response is ccd magic, “The person you gave me was violent and aggressive; I’m returning him to you civilized and refined.”

Learn from Lycurgus, leader. Up your game from justice. Try giving some grace at least some of the time. See what happens. It won’t be popular, necessarily. Won’t always work. But, when it does, it’s some kinda freakin’ magic.

Practice unmerited forgiveness. Practice grace. Good…

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Persist and resist…

I’m loving my Penguin classic titled Epictetus Discources and Selected Writings. Epictetus was born into slavery, achieved freedom (in more ways than one), and taught philosophy most of his life. He didn’t write a book, but made such an impression on one of his students that they wrote a compilation of his lectures so his thoughts live on today. Epictetus (55-135 AD) words are relevant today. Here’s but a small, small sampling for your digestion this morning.

You see, Epictetus thought the darkest vices were the lack of persistence and lack of self control. Without persistence we don’t endure hardships well, without self control we don’t resist pleasures, we over indulge. Sound familiar, friend? Epictetus, during one of his ccd lectures, says it well – “Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternately exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life. These two words were persist and resist.” Well spoken, Epictetus. Persist and resist.

Words to live by, yes? What struggle are you enduring well, friend? What sweet indulgence are you resisting? God, help me persist and resist while receiving and giving love. God, help me remember to reverse the order. Receive and give. Persist and resist. Good “and,” yes? Good…

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9.11.17 – make it count…

We need more positive reminders.  We are wired to remember the negative.  How many of you can recall, with vivid detail, not only the events of 9/11, but everything about the day.  Where you were, what you were doing, who you were with, and a thousand more details.  And, all this would be magnified if you were in NYC, Boston, or D.C. that day, or if you were connected somehow to one that was lost on that awful day in American history. We are wired to remember the negative.  It’s part of our primal, survivor hardwiring.

Here’s a reminder of something from this century that was mostly missed by the very same American population. In June of 2000 a group of scientists gathered in the East Room of the White House to celebrate an amazing discovery of the human genome. Our own instruction book, if you will, had finally been assembled. Are you kidding me? Nope. We cracked the code. Talk about good news!

A bunch of  crazy scientists had labored since 1988 to uncover all the DNA of our species, the hereditary code of life.  The text was over 3.1 billion letters long and carried within it all the instructions for building a human being.  This discovery had been thought to be out of our reach.  The search was tedious and beyond time consuming.  And yet somehow, these mad scientists had assembled the most complex of puzzles into ONE, one piece at a time. Here’s the best part. Do NOT miss this. President Clinton stood alongside the head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, and said a little something to mark the occasion.  Amazingly, most of you have never heard nor seen this words, at least until now.

Clinton said, “Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind.  Today, we are learning the language in which God created life.  We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”

Tomorrow, slow down and remember the challenge of the big three questions posed to you and me.

1.  What will be your life’s work?

2.  What role will LOVE play in your life?

3.  What about faith?  What are your deepest held beliefs and how are you building them more consciously, cultivating them more deeply, and challenging them more regularly?

2020 will be here before you know it.  The best way to remember this decade will be to live it on purpose.  Purposely toward mastering your craft, with those that you LOVE, and aligned with your deepest held beliefs.  This is how we are meant to live, and it is the only hope for authentic happiness. And, if you want to read something good, something hopeful, and something that will stretch your deepest held beliefs, check out Francis Collins book, appropriately titled, The Language of God.

Thank you Francis for your magnum OPUS, the discovery of who we are genetically speaking.  The world will never be the same and someday we will mention your name alongside Galileo, Newton, Einstein, and Darwin. Good work, Francis. Keep working, keep loving, keep mastering, and keep giving.

Remember, friend, tomorrow promises nothing but an opportunity to live whatever it brings to the best of our ability. I’m not feeling my best but I’m aiming to make tomorrow count. How ’bout you my hurting, divided, and somewhat discouraged, friend? Lets get our sorriness up and get after making 9.11.17 count. I mean, come on man, we’re still breathing so how bad can it be? She doesn’t get you? He’s got no clue? Nobody seems to notice your life’s work? You’re not sure you believe anything anymore? Welcome to the human condition. Nobody said it was gonna be easy.


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Masters remember this…

“The greatest moral teachers,” someone once said, “do very little instructing – they mostly remind us.” So true.

Watching The OSU grapplers practice is not much fun. They lift heavy things, like barbells, dumbbells, and heavy balls. They roll around on the mat perfecting repetitive motions over and over and over again. Venture over to The OSU womens basketball practice later today and you’ll see more elite athletes running monotonous drills they’ve done since grade school. This too looks a lot like a mundane moment set on repeat, kinda like a needle stuck on an old vinyl recording. Speaking of music, I can’t imagine anything more boring than visiting an elite school of music and watching a world class violinist playing the same notes over and over and over again. Talk about boring!

However, when you watch Nate Tomasello take down his opponent with a shot that appeared propelled out of a canon, you’ll find yourself uncontrollably out of your seat with arms raised high. Prefer basketball? Watch the OSU womens team execute a perfect out of bounds play and free up Kelsey Mitchell for a nothing but net three from the corner – you’ll be out of your seat in an instant, unable to contain your need to praise the effort and execution.

So, friend, remember that the work you do on your own, practicing the mastery of your craft won’t always be fun, awe inspiring, and feel like a labor of love. It’s alright to labor, just not in vain. Masters understand the mundane moments are simply part of the gig. What keeps them going is never losing sight of the aim. This, friend, is why we don’t allow you to settle for a somewhat clear OPUS. Your brain’s got to clearly see the target, the big dream, the shore. You know this.

Doesn’t hurt to be reminded…

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Toxic, transact, transform…

Recently, one of my favorite clients (I love them all), told me he can hardly look at his wife these days. She turned down work worth lots more mullah, dinero, $. My client feels she is being short sighted. So, as you might imagine, a fight broke out back at the ranch. Money fights are always a mess. As my client finished explaining his side of the story I could tell he felt justified with his level of anger. He looked at me wanting a validating response. I gave him one.

I asked him what kinda marriage he wants. He looked at me with confusion across his brow. So, I clarified. I told him good work if he’s aiming at a transactional relationship with one he loves. And, I continued, without much of a breathe, to tell my client he was mastering the lowest form of love – reciprocal. His brow furrowed, his jaw tightened, and his face grew a bit more red and colorful. When I told him to go home and “choose to lose,” I might as well have been speaking French.

You see, when most of us are wronged, we stonewall out of fear of the fight. We run. We don’t resolve what is resolveable, we hope we’ll forget and go on with our lives. The recipe to getting yourself and your loved ones whole again, always involves acute pain. Transformational relationships require that you become ONE, distinct and deeply connected. This requires you to turn toward her when it starts to get crazy and your emotions scream for you to move away. Remember, men, the strong turn toward their woman. The weak scream, hit, and run away. Hit and run will turn transactional relationships into toxic ones. Turning toward will take you from transacting to transforming. You choose. Your choices have consequences.

Instead of running friend, try practicing 7 good minutes and better understanding another. Practice the art of staying deeply connected. Real, hard, work, when you’re hurting, I get it. Nobody said transforming together was gonna be easy. Friend, go for something more than reciprocal love. It helps to remember God offers us agape love but we gotta let it in. I encourage you to let this in and then give a little from your hurting and healing heart. Someday, you and I may be capable of giving generously from filled hearts. Someday. Compassion for another isn’t sustainable without agape coming in.

God, help me receive and give. God, help us all…

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