Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Grinder, Part III: Quicksand

This post could easily have been titled, "You Are Obsolete" in honor of a classic Twilight Zone episode because for a while I felt like Burgess Meredith's character. There was never supposed to be a Grinder, Part III. It was a total shocker to find myself where I am. Inevitably, there will now have to be a Grinder, Part IV: Resurrection because as I've written before, I'm not going all the way to the bottom of the barrel before I get a grip. I've inadvertently created my own Rocky franchise, I think.

So what happened? After nearly 30 years as a productive contributor, the firm I worked for unexpectedly let me go. Surprise! The details and circumstances surrounding my departure are far less important than the lessons I've been forced to learn as a result. I'd never been unemployed before so it was completely new terrain. Though it was basically an amicable divorce, and I handled it calmly, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't absolutely terrified. I'm convinced it'll be the best thing to happen to me, but over one year later I'm still navigating the harsh landscape.

Meanwhile, all the Cornerstones are being tested simultaneously. It's scary. Real scary. The first one to crumble was Loyalty. I was let go matter-of-factly, a course of doing business. That's fine. I get it. But my loyalty was completely ignored. Did you ever see the movie Up In the Air with George Clooney? I never imagined my departure taking place like that. My sacrifice and contribution was repaid with cavalier disregard. It hurt, like it should. One year later, Sacrifice and Patience are less conscious choices and more imposed sentences. Perseverance & Determination remain intact but are battered daily. My Faith has been tested. But Discipline still sustains me. It is the bedrock. The lessons of Humility are gut-wrenching, but always worth the struggle.

Unexpectedly, calm has prevailed. I'm still wondering how that is. I think it's because the whole experience has taught me Clarity. I lost my job. Big deal, it's just a job. I'm not the first nor will I be the last. I had to reexamine the bigger Life questions I thought I'd already answered. Which sacrifices are worthwhile? What truly matters? My relationships also got clarified. Support came from unlikely sources, while expected sources of support were nonexistent.

My simple goal is to emerge in better shape than before.  Prove they made a mistake letting me go. That's my way of retribution, I guess. For certain, it's been a bigger challenge than I thought it would be. But I'm on my way. I started my own literary and business consulting LLC, write actively, and immersed myself in volunteer activities. I'm also traditionally employed, but my heart desires to return to the financial fray. I have a whole another career in me. What I don't have is a surrender flag. Stay tuned for Part IV.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Love Is All You Need

*This selection picks up a similar theme of a previous post, All You Need Is Love. It was originally written for a ghost-writing assignment but was rejected.*

Love Is All You Need

The Rolling Stones sang "you can't always get what you want, you get what you need." So what do you need? That's a good question. Ask yourself, "What do I need?" Chances are, if you're like most, you'd like plenty - those are your Wants. Needs? That's a shorter list. Food, shelter, health. If you're a company, the list might be a quality product, loyal customers, and sales.

The Beatles boiled it down even simpler. Remember? They sang "Love is all you need." Love. That's it. Interesting and true. Love matters. It's the thread running through it all. It binds us together...even substitutes for some of those things on the list sometimes. With Love, almost everything is better and almost everything is possible. Love is encompassing…transforming…inclusive…intangible…mysterious. Love is powerful.

Love can also be elusive. As an individual, you have to be vigilant in returning Love and also have the courage to unleash your own. As a company, it’s no different. Create a product your customers Love. Then nurture that by creating a culture of Love between everyone in the organization. That’s what makes it work long-term. Yes, Love is sometimes hard to find but the good news is it's free and there is an abundance within you. You just have to share it. And then things get beautiful because Love grows Love. Lives get enriched, companies prosper.

Love is all you need. So spread some Love

© 2017 Michael P. O’Connor. All rights reserved.

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


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.