Love-Loathe Tendency

2016-10-14-13-30-58Pay attention and you will notice something.

It is a tendency that happens after we make a decision.

As we are presented with more information, each “bit” will nudge us more towards a more extreme position.

Eventually, we’ll be quite certain of our righteousness.


If we pause then we may be able to see a reality containing some grey areas.

To see things as they are, I try to keep myself in the middle by…

  • Being cautious about public statements
  • Exposing myself to good people who disagree with me
  • Practicing not offering an opinion
  • Explaining both sides on an issue when asked for my opinion

How to practice?

  • Start by seeing the tendency in “their” actions and statements
  • Then see the tendency in “our” actions and statements
  • Then see the tendency in “my” actions and statements

Ultimately, you may be able to feel the tendency as it arises inside you.

When I feel the tendency, I pause before acting on it.

Can you feel your discriminating mind?

I feel it in my heart.

Parenting – Define Better

2016-09-30-16-53-02I was at a wilderness first aid course and a fellow student asked me if I thought parenthood had made my life “better.”

I gave a wry smile and shared that the challenges of fatherhood have made me a better man.

I further shared that it has been hard to detect any improvement in the quality of my day-to-day life.


However, it gets easier.

Our youngest turned four last month and that marks a key shift in our house. The younger kids (4 and 5) still get worked up but we have the skills to avoid making the situation worse.


Later, I had the realization that I’m basing my evaluation by looking at a single thread of my life.

You see, we only see the life we live. When I think more broadly, I’m certain that there are many threads that are tougher than living with three loud kids that love me.

For personal happiness, it pays to ask around, get out of the house and serve the community.


I have accepted that I am a good parent but I might not be good at parenting.

What I mean… I can provide the kids what they need but there isn’t the ease, and joy, that I see with mastery.

I shared this observation with my parenting mentor and she gave me a wry smile!


After eight years, I’ve come to the realization that my limitations are OK and I pay attention to them.

My motto…

When I am struggling with someone then it’s a sign that I’m spending too much time with them. So, it’s better for me, and them, if I stay under the irritation threshold.

Keeping a little in reserve can be easier for a guy (see my piece on Mommy Fatigue) but my wife sees the benefits (for all of us) of acknowledging limits.

High Finance

2016-09-24-10-14-55Keep your ears open this week. There will be a rare opportunity to learn about finance.

For my international friends, many of the American techniques (in the news) are available in your home countries. I have been applying finance, across four continents, for more than 25 years.

2016-09-25-18-48-42The overall financial system works great. However, when I try to explain certain shortcomings to my friends, their eyes glaze over and I lose them.

I wish I was more skillful.

Whether your favorite billionaire is a Cuban, a Koch, or a Buffett, we can learn a lot from insiders. A constant refrain from wealthy insiders is “complexity creates opportunity for the system to be gamed for economic benefit.”

Finance is a complex system. The system has been gamed extensively.

  • Offshore accounts (Panama Papers type stuff)
  • Thinly-capitalized investment vehicles, with lots of debt
  • Applying non-cash losses today, while deferring cash gains to tomorrow
  • Receiving preferential tax rates on gains associated with financial work
  • Using trusts to avoid estate and generation skipping taxes
  • Using special accounts to shelter income and gains across generations
  • Income reclassification to avoid income and payroll taxes

If the collective wants to run the system like that then I’ll bow to its will. However, I’m not sure the collective knows what’s up.

2016-09-28-10-43-49-1Like professional sports, my beef isn’t with the system. What irks me is the lack of integrity when insiders pretend the system is different than reality. The politics of the people I named above are different but their observations are often similar.

I’m grateful I can explain my personal reality without fear of banishment or loss.

Living a life you can disclose saves a lot of suffering.


What were you talking about the last time you were the most animated person in the conversation?

2016-09-18-18-01-09There’s information inside your passion.

Write it down!

In my case, I was talking about trying to be a father within a successful marriage.

A young wife will have a portfolio of needs, biases and desires.

As a husband, and new father, you are going to have your own portfolio of ideas for success.

Avoid the error of seeking to change your spouse…

…instead, be the best person you can be, while seeking to understand your core needs.


When you are under stress, you are going to have a tendency to assign blame to your partner — stop this immediately — it is counterproductive. Try a week as a single parent and remember your family needs all the help it can get.

If you ask around (about your “problems”) then you will find out the parenting experience is universal. A better way to frame your household is your “new reality!”


Many of my friends have a tendency to frame fatherhood (and marriage) as a negotiation.

I think there is a more effective way, than trying to outwit, outplay and outlast your life partner.

  • Be clear and consistent about your own needs.
  • Be willing to work to get your needs met.
  • Support your partner’s needs.

Childcare is an area where couples stress themselves, and their marriage, to save from their family budget.

Most my peers have the ability to earn a multiple of their babysitter’s hourly pay. Allocate four hours of work per week — invest the incremental income in time spent as a couple and time spent alone.

A wise allocation of time can bring you closer as a couple and keep you from tipping over the edge with your kids.


Reaching For Success – Young Families

2016-08-20 10.51.46

What makes a successful family system?

If you ask around then you might hear love, kindness, tolerance and forgiveness. All good but, with a room full of youngsters, these “higher states” often seem unattainable.

Let’s focus on specific tactics.

2016-08-17 17.20.34Renunciation – As an elite endurance athlete, this was a strength of mine. However, what serves a high-performer’s goals is unlikely to serve one’s family.

What happens when deeply help beliefs get in the way of being a good father, a good parent, a good son?

Most of us have past habits living inside of us. Feeding these desires as a single adult have limited repercussions in our lives. As a father, self-indulgence leads to misery.

What beliefs/habits are holding me back from being a better man?

The difficulty of change is completely worth it.

2016-08-17 10.52.28Intangible Assets – What is peace of mind worth?

What price are you willing to pay for a happier spouse?

How much is it worth to teach a three-year old conflict resolution skills?

I promise that you will undervalue the intangible benefits of greater serenity and you will greatly overestimate the pleasure you receive from hard assets.

In my family budget, “luxury” spending is focused on two areas:

  • Pre-K for the kids
  • Childcare for your marriage

At the end of 2012, we downsized our home to ensure we could fund the above.

2016-08-16 11.24.53One-On-One Time – It takes one-on-one time to get inside your child’s world.

Spend the same amount of time (overall) with your spouse.

Hold sacred your daily quiet time with yourself.

With kids, spouse, self, job, PTA, laundry, parents… we have endless demands on our time!

It is “ok to say no.”

Get more comfortable doing enough for the family, rather than your best for yourself. You might never be fully comfortable with time compromises. Discomfort is OK.

2016-08-14 12.26.58Patience – it will take work, over time, to learn skills to maintain your sanity, within the natural chaos of a new family home.

Give yourself 1,000 days to see where you need help.

Go get help!

Experienced preschool teachers have a wealth of knowledge you can tap to become skillful at home.

Most my “problems” are created when a lack of skill meets my emotional habits of anger, retreat, sadness, aggression and revenge.

2016-08-13 21.00.46Renunciation, self-care, connection and patience.


What To Do

2016-06-26 12.45.44We can be trapped into thinking that one person can’t make a difference…

…that there’s no point in bothering

…that we will be punished for good deeds

A bias towards inaction enables the enemies of a civil society to screw things up for personal gain.


This is what I got done in June:

  • Sent in my naturalization papers
  • Wrote an elected official
    • Introduced myself and my kids
    • Told him where in his constituency I lived
    • Pointed out an issue where he had done a particularly good job
    • Told him my #1 issue for his consideration
    • Thanked him for his service to us
  • Continued my home-based practice of de-escalation — when my family watches me improve myself then our entire community is better off
  • I selected a political group and a politician that “don’t get it”
    • I picked an area from each where they “do get it”
    • I shared my areas of agreement with my wife
  • Consumed less violence – whatever your favorite source… MMA, NFL, CNN, hate speech, movies, video games – choose less – I pay particular attention to visual violence as well as violence I can feel in my body – the NFL scores uncomfortably high in terms of pleasurable, tribal violence
  • Generated less anger – I can hold emotions, rather than feeding them – my mantra is don’t act on anger – the “holding” is done while breathing calmly because speaking when angry merely feeds it

Each of the above was inconvenient but, collectively, improved my life.

I need to remind myself of the overall improvement because it takes sustained effort to create the life I want to live.

Indeed, it takes sustained effort to create the mind in which I want to live!

Do we care enough to change?

One small step, daily.


Fame, Meaning and Risk

2016-06-21 16.41.25A buddy asked me to have a look at the movie, Meru, a compelling account of climbing at the highest level.

What an amazing movie.

It reminded me of the themes that challenge my daily living.



We share a need for connection and approval.

When I see someone with an extreme need for approval, I feel compassion for the child within them. I feel this because growing up with addiction, abuse or abandonment will crank up our need for approval/fame. My kids are lucky to have parents that are present and loving.

Try this antidote.

Lots of small acts of kindness.

I’ve been at it for more than 5,000 days.



Young people thrive when working together on a challenging mission.

In middle-age, many of your fondest memories will be a result of this reality. Remember that memory is a chemical signature of a story we tell ourself.

Coming back from the mission, or simply growing up, can leave a HUGE void in your life.

Applying the kindness tip gives you a dose of meaning but you’re going to long for a stronger fix.

Surprisingly, the mission might not need to be that much larger.

  • Build a veggie garden for your son
  • Teach your daughter to use an inflatable dinghy
  • Take your wife camping
  • Drag your son on a sled to a mountain lodge

I’m constantly giving myself missions. Recognizing that I’m larger than myself, my missions have an ever lower risk of death.



Teach your kids to recognize, and be wary of, risk-seekers – especially the criminal variety. Risk-seekers are exciting when your under 25. They are a disaster as a partner in family living.

Another antidote…

Gradually expand your sphere of influence…

  • Your future self
  • Your marriage
  • Your kids
  • Your family
  • Your tribe
  • Your community
  • Your country
  • Your planet

At times, I found it useful to take a break from my risk-seeking pals. I’ve tried learning new hobbies. I’ve resisted the urge to constantly benchmark myself against others.

It takes courage to make better decisions.