A Young 46

boatingSomewhere beyond your 30th birthday the world might begin to tell you that you look young for your age.

If you say this to me, I might smile and reply, “This is what 46 looks like.”

Likewise, many people say… “but I don’t feel my age.” To them I note, that’s what your age feels like.

They might follow that up with… “I wonder what 50, or even 75, is going to feel like?”

It’s going to feel like right now.

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The practice of accepting my age helps me accept all phases of life…

  • The overtired toddler
  • The anxious teen
  • The sociopathic 20-something
  • The fearful cancer patient
  • The crabby elder
  • The grieving spouse

If we are fortunate to live a long life then we will move through most these phases of experience. At midlife, they surround me.

If we happen to be “young for our age” then it might take a few more years for us to arrive at the phase where we “look old.” But it’s coming.

So I will try to enjoy this day and I will try to accept whatever day you are going through.

And when I am scared, or angry, or tired…

I’ll pause, try not to pass it on and remember to live as best I can.

 

 

Wealth Habits: Are we there yet?

2015-07-09 11.30.50A question I ask athletes is, “Why did you start?

When sitting down with a family, I change the question slightly, “What is living well?

Write down detailed answers.

Answering these questions honestly will surface your values and help you make better choices.

The answers will also help you understand when you’ve achieved victory, and you might discover something rather strange about winning.

You feel just the same.

Because you feel the same, you’ll be tempted to change your strategy. You will forget why you started and lose sight of what it takes to live well. You’ll strive for more.

The exact nature of your “more” will be influenced by your peers. Unsure? They will be happy to tell you. Just ask a room full of buddies… “What’s your proudest accomplishment?”

Look inside and see if you’re tempted to strive towards their goals.

With my academic, financial and athletic friends – I can feel the temptation to strive.

Striving towards another person’s answers might not fulfill you, especially as only a minority bother to consider the “why” behind their daily choices.

You may find that it takes a surprising amount of faith to stay the course. My list is exercise, write, read, love, help others and sleep.

It’s important to remember your answers. They are an effective antidote against the temptation to strive. In my case, striving is a result of desire: to buy assets, to make money, to compete against others, to go shopping and other variations of more more more.

  • In a family
  • In a marriage
  • In a company
  • In your life

How will you recognize success?

It might feel different than you expect.

 

Unmet Needs

number_oneI have many traits that can lead to poor outcomes:

  • I’m prone to hurry
  • I overestimate my capacity to impact external situations
  • I have a bias towards action
  • I’m stressed by noise and crowds

All of the above, work against my ability to help people and can lead to misery.

To get along better with others, I’ve started asking myself:

What’s the unmet need that’s driving this behavior?

Here’s a link to my article about how to help others: quiet presence, listen without knowing and compassionate action.

With my kids, I’ve noticed that most anti-social behavior stems from six sources:

  • Hunger – lack of food
  • Thirst – lack of drink
  • Sleep – lack of recovery
  • Boredom – lack of engagement
  • Need For Compassion – lack of connection
  • Habit / Temperament

The above are easy to spot in babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Once you can see them in your kids, try to feel them in yourself. Through self-awareness, you may start to see what drives the behavior of people around you.

The antisocial effects of hunger, thirst, sleep and boredom are why I resist changes to the underlying routine of my life: train AM/PM, eat/drink real food, sleep in a cool room, read and write.

I have a desire to be effective in all my relationships.

Do you?

If you don’t that’s OK. I certainly didn’t care about anyone other than myself for long periods of my adult life. If you don’t care then own it.

My difficulties with people make sense when viewed from the lens that I didn’t care and had significant unmet needs (health, exercise, solitude, nature).

Own my needs.

Address my needs.

Slowly, I have the capacity to focus outside myself.

How to meet that need for connection?

  • Put my phone down
  • Relax my inner experience with a two slow breaths
  • Listen, without knowing, until the person has spoken fully
  • Smile, nod and comment about an area of agreement

This works magic. The entire cycle takes less than a minute.

Connection is the solution.

On The Occasion of My 10th Wedding Anniversary

car_shotSome reflections on relationships.

Love will make your spouse more beautiful but remember that kindness is more valuable than beauty.

Working on myself has proven more effective than working on my marriage, my family or any other person/project in my life.

A valuable step in making myself suitable for marriage was getting myself to the point where I was comfortable being alone.

I couldn’t offer myself to others until I was comfortable with myself.

Gradual self-improvement is the journey.

ACT as if you remember why you wanted someone in your life in the first place — to share common experiences.


Thank you for helping me achieve everything I need in life. I reviewed my notes from the last three years and, together, we’ve achieved everything I wanted. So nice to be able to share my journey with you.

Love you, babe.

Less Little Lies

bear2A friend asked what it has been like to step back from athletic competition. Much of what follows applied when I left jobs, peers or habits – any of which might not have fit my life anymore.

The immediate impact is usually relief and a realization of the unnecessary cost my choices where imposing. Quite often, the relief is followed by sadness at leaving old habits, even negative ones.

In terms of “what’s it like” to compete less – it’s exactly the same, just less fatigue and soreness. All my “issues” follow me wherever I go!

What is available is an opportunity to look at the impact of a competitive, or corporate, lifestyle.

I often cloak a selfish reality with talk of benefits outside myself. Shareholder value, national prestige, competing on an international stage, earning money for my children… these little lies are repeated until they become my reality.

Fooling myself isn’t necessarily a problem. I spent my teens and twenties solely focused on my personal outcome. It worked at the time.

In my 30s, I broadened my circle to help other people assist with achieving my personal outcome. It still worked for me.

That lifestyle was a form of greed – more more more.

With a spouse and kids, the lies have to increase to justify continuing the choices of my youth.

Long-term competition isn’t a problem. The problem is the thinking that results from turning away from my spouse, my kids, my family and my community.

We tell ourselves that we will change when we have X, or achieve Y, or become Z.

What I’ve done is tell myself…

I’m going to look directly at my flaws, a diseased friend, a homeless beggar, a hysterical child or a demented hospice patient.

Whatever it is that scares me. I’ll look at it.

I’m going to acknowledge that I can’t fix the situation but I’ll try to do something small to make life better.

Working towards overcoming the difficulties of my inner life is similar to the pleasure of overcoming others through competition.

The reward is just as sweet and others do not pay a price for my success.

 

Fatherhood: Giving Myself A Break

disneyDuring the school year, my son and I have a routine. When I come back from my afternoon workout, he takes a bath while I have a shower. It’s a win-win-win as the two of us end up clean and my wife likes a fresh family.

Last week, as I was heading out the door for date night, my son asked me to help him get clean.

One of my reactions was fear.

  • Fear that if I gave into this request then I’d never get out of the house.
  • Fear that if I gave into the request then the requests would never stop.

Fortunately, I was able to pause before I acted on my fear.

While pausing, the thought arrived that I MUST break this pattern of behavior in my boy.

What pattern was that?

Loving me, or wanting to spend time with me? ;)

Pausing a little more, I thought about everyone in the situation.

  • The Sitter – being left with a dirty, unhappy four-year old
  • My Wife – sitting outside, content with her apps
  • My Boy – wanting his dad to spend time with him
  • Myself – feeling a wall rising inside me as I’m tempted to close out my son

I sent my wife a text that I’d be a bit late, enjoyed giving my son a bath and everything worked out fine.

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I share this story because it highlights a dangerous habit that is easy to create.

Closing my inner life because I’m scared of future demands.

If you look for this pattern then you will see it everywhere.

  • Gifting – refusing to help now, to avoid being asked later
  • Parents – giving into the desire to break the child now, to “help” them later

Inside me, the habit feels like a form of revenge.

I’ll turn away from you now, because that’s “easier” than having to say no later.

Looking deeply, I’m the one that is hurt by this habit (and I’m robbing myself of the feel-good benefit of being a nice guy).

Harsh people think their hardness is a long-term favor to the people in their lives. They probably learned this habit in a difficult childhood.

My heart tells me that I’ll be OK with the risks of staying open to the people in my life.

Be brave.

Can’t Be Bought

bearLooking forward to 50, I will find myself with 10, 7 and 6 year olds living under my roof. Those are great ages to accompany a 50-something man as he explores the world.

There remains a lot to look forward to.

The key advice that I give myself, and offer you, is to approach life with the understanding that you can’t be bought.

The reality is, often, we can be bought. If that describes your current position then keep your mind open to the possibility of increasing your price until you remove it all together. That’s what I’ve been working towards for the last 20 years, or so.

What’s your price?

I must remember the dissatisfactions have come from letting money influence my life choices. I’ve taken on assignments because I thought I should, rather than because they fit my principles. I’ve sustained a double-whammy when those assignments took me away from the people closest to me.

What are better principles to guide my thinking?

  • Lean towards marriage, family, friends, local community – let’s call these Core People
  • Share experiences with Core People
  • Pay attention to spending that has an immediate beneficial impact – my highest utility spending is childcare that enables me to share experiences or spend time alone
  • Aim to help all people – keep broadening my circle of altruism
  • Set aside time for continuous simplification – automatic bill pay, empty time in my schedule, reduced admin, streamline possessions
  • Don’t pay for luxury – adversity makes fond memories

Every day offers a chance to turn toward my principles.