Building Resiliency

2019-08-11 07.56.00

I like to balance the Navy Seals in my feed with the Flag Officer in my life. Here’s what Admiral Jonser has to say:

Gordo, always remember that our words have far more power, and reach, than we can possibly imagine.

When my son was little he developed a habit of total breakdown. He could not handle the slightest disruption and we were at a loss about how to help the guy.

If anyone needed to “harden up” it was him. However, I couldn’t bring the hammer down (on the nicest guy I’d ever met).

We talked about this challenge with each other, with his pediatrician and with his teachers.

What we ended up doing was cultivating a different kind of normal for him.

My normal:

  • Read, exercise and learn every day
  • Be kind, especially to those without recourse

I focused on the above, invited him along, and gave up trying to fix him.

2019-08-13 08.08.03-1How do you help a sensitive kid learn to deal with strong emotions?

Lower The Stakes – paradoxically, expectations may be making life more difficult, particularly when you focus on external performance relative to peers and siblings.

Personal Mastery – Where can you give your kid (or yourself) a big win? Our kids try a lot of different things – climbing, swimming, hiking, skiing, martial arts, water polo, reading, math, art.

From the time he could stand up, my son had a passion for walking uphill. So I went with that, even when it meant I had to carry him back to the car! Turns out he also has a knack for skiing. So he’s 8 and he’s figured out that he can hike and ski like a man. That’s a big win in a boy’s world. Personal mastery helps, a lot.

Respect Sensitivities – at the start of the summer, I put his sister on BLAST. He was standing beside her. She shrugged me off, I merely “got her attention.” Unfortunately, my son was caught in the blast and ended up on the ground shaking from overload. I didn’t need Admiral J’s advice to see my approach had been completely ineffective.

Positive (Self) Regard – my desired outcome for my kids is simple. Basically, I’d like them to be polite, healthy and repeat mistakes less often. This leaves my mind free to acknowledge they are already better versions of myself. I share my shortcomings with them – current and when I was their age.


We stuck with the above, as best we could, and he figured out how to cope. My main role remains loving him and not making things worse!

Change happens slowly. This was a multi-year project and I didn’t notice he was a different guy until last weekend. He took a huge digger descending the highest mountain in Colorado, brushed it off and kept on rolling.

I said to myself, “this is something new,” and started to rewind the recent past. I realized my filter was out of date. Homie had been crushing life all summer and I didn’t notice.

Perhaps there was nothing to fix.

 

 

Baby Essentials

10411151_10152583824527622_2265981354170992571_nA friend just had a new addition. Here’s a summary of what I learned.

Become a Jedi-Master of the baby swaddle – this book will teach you how – there’s nothing more important than being able to settle your baby.

Put a full-size mattress in every room where the baby sleeps – we spent two years hunched up on a circular chair and could have saved ourselves a lot of hassle by spending $100 on a twin mattress.

More than vacations, clothes, a bigger house, visits to family… what your marriage needs (for the next three to ten years) is sleep and time. Time for yourself, for friends and for each other.

Say “no” to just about everything. Now you understand why your friends disappeared when they had kids!

You will get a chance to add stuff back later. For now, just get more sleep and some light exercise.

You are likely to hold a grudge against any child, or adult, to whom you overextend yourself. It is a paradox that you serve your family best by holding some of yourself back.

Forgive each other when you inevitably fall short. It’s a stressful time.

Fasting and Chronic Weight Loss

2019-07-23 14.47.50Let’s consider the second order effects of fasting.

Inside every one of us is an anorexic and a glutton. Be wary of strengthening these aspects of your personality. If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean.

What’s your goal? Similar to knocking out a major food group, fasting can be cover for a deeper desire for chronic weight loss. Chronic weight loss is not a viable life strategy. 

Health. I don’t buy the discussion on health benefits. It reminds me of counting calories => a technique, used by many, to self-rationalize poor choices.

Not smoking, reducing sugar, daily movement, wearing a seat belt… those make sense to me. Getting really, really hungry (so I can stuff myself later)… I’m not so sure.

Health is characterized by stability. Stability in body weight, sleep patterns, emotional wellbeing and cravings.

If you experience extremes in your emotional life then avoid them in your nutritional life (and everywhere else).

Own, then address, your extreme choices.

Thinking through consequences

2019-07-16 08.01.59A friend confided in me that his FOMO (fear of missing out) is running hot. Stories of easy money have got to him and he wants to get in on the action!

This reminded me of 2005 – a year when I was planning a future life of luxury. I had a road map for how I would spend my paper profits… a house in Santa Barbara, a flat in Paris, summers in the high-country. The constant focus on acquiring more should have tipped me off, but I didn’t notice.

For Christmas 2005, I bought myself a copy of Fooled By Randomness.

It humbled, and deeply concerned, me. You should (re)read it.

In my business life, I had a personal guaranty outstanding. The guaranty was a modest amount of my “paper” assets but more than 100% of my liquid assets.

In my personal life, I had established a line of credit to pay my living expenses.

I realized I could be wiped out.

2019-07-16 08.21.00Taleb’s teaching…

There are some games you don’t want to play.

Some risks we should never take.

Across 2006/2007/2008, I secured my financial life. This decision saved me from ruin.

I had NO idea about what was going to happen (still don’t).

I had a clear idea of the scenario that would wipe me out. Approaching 40, with a new wife, I didn’t want to get wiped out.

I addressed what I controlled: my cash flows, my debts and my obligations.

Do you know what could wipe you out? Look to your borrowings, your obligations and your cash flows.

2019-07-16 07.57.56

Do you notice triggers that could create a shock to the system? In what ways is the recent past skewing our vision of the future?

  • Debt-fueled political stability in Asia
  • Negative yielding sovereign/corporate debt in Europe
  • Easy money at a time of multigenerational employment highs in the US
  • Global debt double 2008 levels

Across all markets, a low-interest rate policy:

  • Delaying the consequences of poor decisions
  • Pulling forward future returns
  • Reducing interest service obligations => while global debt has doubled the price of debt has more than halved

It impossible to predict when the credit cycle will play itself out.

It is possible, and advisable, to understand how you are exposed to ruin.

  1. Cash flows compared to fixed commitments (taxes, debt service, core cost of living)
  2. Asset purchases via debt finance => particularly negative yielding luxury purchases
  3. Credit quality => Who can go bust and hurt you?

Things go wrong when people build assets, and debts, to the top of the credit cycle.

===

The photos were taken on the Twin Sisters in Rocky Mtn National Park – mountains provide an opportunity to teach about consequences.

Kids Don’t Lie

2019-07-09 10.57.59A segment of our local community is dealing with the fallout from treating child abuse as an internal issue – rather than seeking assistance from local law enforcement.

I have been bumping into this story for over thirty-five years.

There is never just one incident. 

+++

Years ago, I attended a child abuse prevention workshop.

Remember…

Kids don’t lie – in over 20 years, my teacher had instructed 100,000 kids. Out of the 400 reports received, none were false.

20 years, 100,000 child interactions, 400 reports, zero false positives.

The perpetrator will have primed your child that you will be angry and not believe them. The most likely perpetrator is a male you know.

Have a no secret policy in your home – predators use secrets against our kids – let the kids know that kisses and touches should never have to be kept secret.

It is awkward to live an open life. Awkward is better than creating a culture of secrecy exploited by evil people.

Create a support network – have your kids name five people they know and trust (ideally women) – discuss places in their neighborhood where they feel safe.

When I’m walking around town, I’ll ask my kids… “Show me a safe person.” “Why is that person safe?”

Teach your kids that adult authority should never go unqualified => even your own!

Teach your kids… If you feel uncomfortable then:

  • Leave
  • Tell
  • Get Help

As a parent, the most important thing you can say is “I Believe You.” I say this a lot, I will “believe” somewhat ridiculous things.

People that commit evil deeds are hoping you will look away.

Be Brave.

 

Dealing with Difficult People

2019-07-09 08.06.27We rolled through 14 years of marriage last week. So good!

My marriage is my most important, and easiest, relationship in my life.

This is surprising because I have a track record of being a very difficult person to live alongside.

A favorite bit of advice, paraphrased…

If you are surrounded by difficulties then remain open to the possibility that you may be playing a small role in creating them.

In my 20s, everyone tried to get through to me. Friends, co-workers, mentors, bosses, family… they were ineffective with their attempts to improve me.

Some might think the lesson is not to try.

That’s not my experience.

My experience has been to “try smarter” by focusing on: (#1) myself and (#2) getting expert advice on what those around me are likely to value.

In applying expert advice, I found it easiest to remove little bits of the “small role” I play in my relationship difficulties.

2019-07-04 19.17.39Bit #1 => my attitude is the main source of my (relationship) problems

I’m lucky to live with two people that are VERY easy to get along with (my son and my wife). They are my “canaries in the coal mine” – if they start to bother me… something is out of whack.

This is a major improvement for me. I used to get to the point where everyone, everything… would be bothering me.

When I’m on the other side of “everyone,” I pause and reconsider.

+++

Bit #2 => I can stay mad for DAYS

This is more common than any of us let on.

The good news… anger only becomes a problem if I act on it.

If I’m wandering around the house doing power-housework then my anger is only making myself miserable (see #1).

The payoff… once I settle down, there’s no emotional cleanup.

+++

Bit #3 => treat others the way they wish to be seen

The deep reservoir of goodwill I have for my wife and son comes from the match between their instinctive treatment of me and my deepest desires.

I am often unaware of my values & desires but I can intuit them by reflecting on the people I like to hang around.

For other people, I can sit quietly, listen and tweak my approach.

Call out culture does us a huge disservice, I have yet to regret leaving negative thoughts unsaid.

Better to keep my mouth shut and use the energy to improve myself.

2019-07-04 17.38.43-1

Strength & Training Strategy at 50

2019-07-07 09.01.30Strength gives me better choices.

Specifically:

  1. Maintain muscle mass
  2. Challenge my connective tissue
  3. Strengthen my shoulder complex (to survive my inevitable crashes)
  4. Get the bio-chemical benefits from working large muscle groups anaerobically

2019-07-07 08.45.03

My base period needs to be longer: I was very consistent with strength maintenance across the ski season. As a result, I lost less strength than prior years. However, I was WORKED at the end of the season and my mojo stayed flat for a long time when I returned to more focused strength training.

Two, maybe three, “good” sessions per week: At 50, I go flat quickly! I need to be humble with the load I put into myself.

I split upper and lower body days: in order to do quality exercises, and recover, I split my workouts across the week:

  • Monday/Thursday – lower body
  • Tuesday/Friday – upper body
  • Wednesday/Saturday – plyo (~7 minutes total per day)

Very little sustained intensity: I lose a lot when I get sick and can’t train. Put another way, my ability to go training is more important than my training ability. A calendar of events would certainly push me to do more (likely for less benefit).

I go to the gym to be around people (even if I don’t speak to them!): the core of my program has been the same for 20 years. It would be easy to set it up in my garage. However, part of my “feel better” seems to come from the gym process. The most time-efficient setup isn’t always best.

My aerobic goal is “about an hour, every day.” I’ll go longer when I can hike trails with my wife or son. I do a bunch of walking on top of the aerobic exercise.

Learning to navigate the physical decline of middle age is a benefit of middle age.

The days that start with training are clearly better.

Pay attention to better.

2019-07-07 08.54.56