Wednesday, April 23, 2014

18,262 Days...and Counting

Live life on purpose.  That's my new primary goal after recently reading Robert D. Smith's book, 20,000 Days and Counting.  I've even decided to mimic his approach on mapping out just what that statement means.  To that end, I'm sequestered in my home, alone for the next 48 hours, to reflect on my fortunate circumstances, celebrate them fully, and realize how I got here...and where I'm headed. 

Time is the one constant.  It ticks on steadily no matter what.  Not to sound morbid, but the reality is that our time in this world is limited and fragile.  We always think there's more time to do whatever...and then it's passed so quickly, or tragedy has stolen precious moments we took for granted lay ahead.  It's up to each of us to maximize the time allotted to us - living each moment as if it might be our last.

Maybe it's just my own version of a mid-life crisis.  Or perhaps it's the crystallization of what I already believe and practice.  Either way, it's past time to express appreciation to those that have had an impact on my existence and good fortune.  A fulfilling life is all about the quality of the relationships we build.  It's vitally important to nurture, value, and enjoy them.  Doing so enables you to get to where you're trying to go.

I recently wrote about being A Man On Fire.  The urgency and passion encompassed in that, dovetails nicely with living life on purpose and being more cognizant of the people we touch and who touch us.  Every day, every minute counts.  Before I resume chasing after what's ahead, I'll pause to acknowledge and thank those in my life that have been so instrumental in helping me become who I am  right now.  So, thank YOU! 

In less than 3 hours, I'll turn 50 years old.  That's 18,262 days...and counting.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Courage of My Conviction

Conviction. This is one of the most important attributes I look for in gauging a person’s character.  It's something I honed when I ran for political office several years ago. Let’s face it, there are plenty of “great guys” that still have trouble finding their backbone when the sledding gets a little tough. A fantastic notion is immediately compromised in the absence of conviction. In the presence of conviction, even a fledgling idea can become fantastic. Conviction is powerful – it is transformative. Unfortunately, it can be as equally fragile and vulnerable. Not only do you have to know what you believe, you have to actually believe it. You have to believe it when the sun is shining and you have to believe it in the fiercest windstorm.

Having conviction doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be stubborn, inflexible, or uncompromising either. More accurately, it’s about being unwavering in principle. I often admire people I disagree with because I appreciate that they have the courage of their conviction.  In the end, words and actions have to be consistent.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

All You Need Is Love

The Beatles said it best:  Love is all you need.  So many of their songs reflect the simplicity and grandeur of Love.  It always seemed like they knew something maybe the rest of us didn't.  I know I didn't.  I've always been a romantic and respected what I thought love was - but they were singing about Love.  Love, with a capital L, is bigger - encompassing...transforming...inclusive...intangible...mysterious.  It's hard for me to try to describe, like that scene near the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when Dave says, "It's wonderful."

Love is undeniably the most powerful force on this planet.  When applied, the result is something positively special to behold.  I didn't always hold this view, but have come to understand the significant transformative quality of Love over a lifetime.  In today's world, where hate is often all too prevalent, it would be easy to be dismissive of such a notion.  In fact, most of my life, I was.  Not that I didn't value Love - I did.  I simply didn't appreciate it's true essence.

One experience that helped me understand was celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary.  That marital journey taught me love and Love.  I'm forever grateful to my exceptional wife for guiding me through those lessons.

At this point, I probably sound like some reincarnated flower child or modern-day liberal.  I assure you I'm neither.  Yet, Love astounds me.  I attribute the point at which I've arrived to simply living enough years.  Once you see enough hate, injustice, and death, solutions become easier to recognize and accept, and obstacles easier to identify and overcome.  As an individual, I'm finally a believer in Love.  I hope as a society, we can all be.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Simplify

I constantly remind myself to simplify.  As each new year begins, I try to eliminate as many life demands as I'm able that are not absolutely essential.  It's my personal way of rejuvenating and refreshing my energy. 

For instance, I can't quit my primary job but I can (and did) idle my real estate concern.  I also took a month break from my creative passions.  I usually opt to eliminate all elective responsibilities for a short period and return to a state of bare essentials.  I know that the demands and interests will quickly build again, so my approach serves as a hard-wired circuit breaker to ensure I don't overwhelm myself (or provides fail-safe relief for an already overwhelmed state.)

I've been using this approach for the past several years and it has served me well so far.  Occasionally, I've even employed similar 2 week stretches during the year where I essentially "go off the grid."  The approach dovetails nicely with my Take Time To Relax philosophy.  I take it seriously.  Two sides of the same coin - Simplify on one side allows me to Relax on the other.  It's really the development of a habit that maintains my sanity in a crazy world that never seems to slow down and is always connected.  It's my Thoreau-inspired modern day Into The Woods...without having to actually live in the woods!

Friday, February 22, 2013

My Axioms

Along with the Cornerstones, I use the following self-developed Axioms to guide my behaviour.  You might recognize a few of them from earlier posts.

1.  Be Yourself
2.  Never Say No To Yourself
3.  Trust Your Instincts
4.  Choose Your Reaction
5.  I'm Not Beholden
6.  No Excuses
7.  Simplify
8.  Take Time To Relax
9.  There Is Always Hope

Always keep in mind that there are no magic solutions for living life.  Success and/or happiness is measured differently by each of us, so do yourself a favor by not comparing yours against somebody else's.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Loyalty: Cornerstone #7

Loyalty is a vanishing commodity in today's world but it's importance cannot be overstated.  While corporations shed employees at will or employees jump ship at the first appealing opportunity, loyalty has become increasingly elusive.  Loyalty is for the good times, the bad times, and for those times where staying loyal seems to be at odds with your own best personal interests. 

There are no degrees of loyalty.  Whether it's fidelity in marriage, loyalty on the job, or the "I've got your back" mentality of friendship, loyalty is an all-in proposition. I'm a little guy, but in a fight you can count on me to have your back for whatever that counts for. I've spent 26 years on the same job through plenty of adversity that could've sent me looking for greener pastures but I didn't go.  I don't backstab and I often assume blame that belongs to others. After 25 years of marriage, I'm still happily married and my wife can count on me to remain loyal despite whatever temptation may come my way.

Loyalty must be an equally balanced equation.  Real loyalty is earned through the implicit understanding of that reciprocity.  People often expect loyalty but aren't prepared to give it. A betrayal of loyalty was actually the catalyst for my Grinder experience. I demonstrated my sense of loyalty by remaining loyal even after the betrayal.  That was an extremely tough course of action but it has turned out to be the right decision. 

Loyalty is my own code of ethics.  It helps maintain my dignity.  It helps maintain my integrity, reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness when life makes things murky.  Loyalty is what compels me to travel the more difficult road when an easier one is readily available. Loyalty is the glue that binds my Cornerstones together.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Patience: Cornerstone #6

Patience is probably one of life’s hardest and most important lessons. It's an important avenue to clarity.  Lack of patience undermines everything else you do.  To learn patience…well, you have to be patient.  It's the same Catch-22 as developing discipline. 

True patience is hard to attain because it competes against so many of your other emotions. Emotions that can unleash themselves in a hurry and without restraint if you’re not paying close attention. I adopted my axiom of Choose Your Reaction as a mechanism to help me be more patient. I tend to be highly opinionated and controlling. I've found out the hard way what a bad combination that is! My solution was to try to eliminate the emotional component in many of my responses.


Of all the Cornerstones, I struggle with Patience the most.  I simply don't have much... but I've chosen to be patient as I slowly learn to have more.