It wasn’t enough

When I follow my own advice, life is better.

At the back of my mind, especially with kids, I have a desire for life to be “easy.”

My desire makes me chuckle because my “easy days” are often boring.

Based on eight years of parenting… easy is not going to happen so focusing on “better” is a smarter option.

From time to time my appetites come up with ideas to make my life _even_ better.

  • These ideas might be small — five beers, two burgers, large fries and couple desserts
  • They might be large — a vacation property with a cost of ownership that doubles my core cost of living
  • Many fall in between — clothes, vacations, sports equipment, alcoholic beverages, risk-seeking friends

These desires pop up as an emotion associated with pleasure, excitement or release.

Certain choices, situations and people are associated with bad outcomes.

Despite an association with pleasure, excitement or release… many of my desires are highly-likely to lead me to bad outcomes.

To tame my appetites, I pause and consider the last time I gave into that specific appetite…

I ask myself…

Was it enough?

It was never enough. Not even close!

I remember always wanting more, even while I was getting what I wanted.

My desires are frequent, but my specific desires are fleeting.

They come and they go.

If it wasn’t enough then maybe I should find a better way to live….

…and that’s the system that I’ve been sharing.

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What’s your system?

Is it working?

Too Tired To Change

2017-02-07-08-11-04Picking up from last year

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

  • Keep it simple
  • Do it daily
  • Set a low bar for success
  • Stretch your limits when overall stress is low

As a coach, I used the above with regards to athletics => better nutrition, sleep and emotional control. Sort those components THEN crank specific stress.

The challenges facing a new parent

  • life stress never feels low
  • we start with no skills
  • we have unreasonable expectations

If you’re facing challenges in your family life then I’d encourage you to acknowledge the above.

Being honest about my limits makes it easier to improve and cope with the inevitable errors.

If I pay attention to my errors, they are most often associated with being tired. You may find this in all areas of your life (emotional control, food choice, substance abuse). You might also have other triggers (hunger, anger, loneliness).

I really like being tired. Fatigue settles my mind and helps me fall asleep.

The trouble comes when I make a big unforced parenting error before bed!

Errors can haunt my consciousness for days.

So this post is about fatigue and change. However, if you look deeper, it is about how I am choosing to invest my emotional energy towards success.

Our values are reflected in where we are willing to make an effort. My values are greatly influenced by peers, environment and media inputs.

So doing a better job at home meant letting go of areas, peers and situations where I used to compete.

Seven Positive Steps

2016-11-15-16-04-05Seven positive steps…

1 – unfollow the two most prolific sources of agreement in my life – top right hand corner on FB

2 – dial down pundits, forecasters and experts

3 – add sources from outside my circle (Taleb, MartinezAdams)

4 – slowly read a book about manipulation and another about high-conflict people (15 minutes per day) – choose one tactic, apply it for a month

5 – make time each day to use nature to slow my mind down (deserts, oceans, forests, mountains) (twice daily)

6 – teach a kid while demonstrating grace (2×20 minutes per day)

7 – improve my ability to listen by being still and not responding

Simple, not easy.

Creating A Life With Meaning

2016-10-15-15-57-57Jonser made flag so I loaded up my Alpha Child and we headed out to Coronado.

I was looking for ideas about about leadership and creating a life with meaning.

2016-10-14-13-48-27We spent the day before at Legoland – a cover story for the trip!

lexi_pinningWe went full “Colorado” for the ceremony – pink cowgirl boots and hat.

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What do models and professional athletes have in common?

By the time they are one quarter of the way through their adult lives, the best days of their careers are behind them.

Here in Boulder, we can pay too much attention to race fitness and body fat percentage.

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2016-10-15-14-10-10So what did Jonser have to offer?

The first thing that strikes me with senior officers is how much they get done.

The trick is being challenged enough to bring out the best in ourselves but not so busy our health, family and marriage suffer.

On the flip side, drive without a socially desirable outlet leads to anti-social behaviors (addiction, aggression, promiscuity).

My Alpha Pup has stacks of motivation, loves rules and respects authority (that’s why she got the trip to Coronado). She also loves people.

2016-10-15-15-08-14Everyone who makes it through Aviation Officer Candidate School, or Med School or an MBA program has motivation.

What’s a key differentiating factor for success?

oathEmpathetic listening.

When Jonser listens to me, it is like I am the only person in the world.

Here is a skill that can be learned, and is often ignored by overachievers.

Listening is a tough one for high-energy folks — how can we get our minds to slow enough to admit external input?

I work on impulse control. Physical first, then spoken word, then relaxing with my thoughts.

As for empathy, my kids started at a buddhist preschool. The school taught the kids, and me, various techniques for taming our inner savage.

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2016-10-15-17-08-18So we have motivated, empathetic listeners, who have tamed themselves. What next?

Lifelong learning and investment in the “person” through ALL levels of the organization.

The military, teaching hospitals, ministry, parenthood — these paths have the opportunity to learn, teach and serve.

Is this a field where I am going to be able to learn for twenty years?

2016-10-15-18-21-13

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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 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.

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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.