Playing Team at Home

I don't know anyone that doesn't love to be part of a team. Don’t you LOVE when someone comes up and tells you how appreciated you are for what you do already?  I don't know anyone that doesn't like that. It’s humbling, it’s gratifying and self-affirming. Someone is seeing you for your skills, your insights and for your value.

Whether it's part of a working group, a business partnership, a rec sports team or community service, everybody loves to be invited to be part of a team. I noticed in my volunteer leadership work that people are far more likely to step up when we specifically reach out and invite them personally then if we put out a blanket invitation for anybody to come and just show up.

The same is true with parenting. Our kids live a top-down life. It often seems to them that all significant decisions and activities are dictated to them without their consent or input. Can you imagine what it’ be like to go back to someone telling you when to get up, go to bed, what to do all day and be at the whim of your parents, teachers and coach? Our kids are regularly the subject of the opinions, decisions and structures that other people have made for them.

We can have a huge impact in shifting this perspective. Shifting from a “Victim” mentality (a state where things are being done to them), to a “Generative” mentality (a state where they are engaged in life as it presents itself).  This can not only shift their willingness to participate in almost any project at home, but THE WAY they participate. . When we approach parenting from a “We're All in This Together” from a place of partnership and inclusion, our kids have the opportunity to shift the way they see what they are going to have to do. For instance, we have a chores schedule in our home, everybody has chores and they rotate from month to month. Our kids may not get a choice in whether they will be assigned but by involving them in the process they get some say in what chores, in what way and when.

We take for granted that our kids won’t like half of what we present them. And while much of that is true, the more we INVITE them into the fold, to be a part of the process, the more ownership they will experience in the family, in their schooling with teams and with themselves.

The self-directed life. If we can empower that for our kids, they will have an engaged future full of choice. And we get to be part of bringing them that forward.

What would shift at home for your family if you invited your kids to play all on the same team?

Confessions Of A Psycho

It was 2000 and my wife was pregnant with our first child. Her impending birth inspired our decision to move from beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. We wanted to find a community where we felt more connected, was closer to the ocean and had good schools. It was time for us to go.

I was a firefighter/EMT at the time for the local Fire Department and a local ambulance service. I hadn’t shared with my co-workers that I was looking for new work for fear that they would judge me. People who work in Emergency Services are like a close-knit family. This is a result of working in stressful environments and long hours together. I was afraid they would feel betrayed, and that they would abandon me.

After spending several thousand of dollars on out-of-state trips and unsuccessful hiring processes I was despondent. My job prospects seemed bleak and I was feeling like nothing would happen for me.

And then something did happened. I found myself just outside of Portland, Oregon for a big city-wide fire department hiring event. Thousands applied for the select few positions they had. It was no wonder. The positions were well paid, in a desirable and well-established fire department. The benefits were amazing and you were outside of vibrant and beautiful city.

I showed up for testing and I was “in the flow.” You know that feeling when everything seems to be going your way and every time you open your mouth the right words come out. The interviews ended with smiles, the testing seemed to go with ease. After a three day process of testing and interviews I got THE phone call. They were offering me a job. It was the job of a lifetime. And thank god: My wife was now 7 months pregnant, so our urgency level to move was high. Also, in the intervening weeks I had made a mistake. I’d left a document on a work computer that showed that I was planning on leaving. My co-workers were feeling betrayed and resentful by my lack of transparency. And rightly so.

We flew to Portland to do some final administrative work and to find a home. We visited with Real Estate agents, and started to imagine ourselves living here. We were both nervous and excited about all the possibilities the future held. The remaining processes for me to go through were solely administrative. These were requirements of a professional service that works for the city. We were doing things like blood tests and sensitivity training. All activities that were administrative only and not part of the testing process.

After a morning of routines and orientation, they had scheduled me for a “quick 30 minute conversation” with the staff psychiatrist. I showed up, full of optimism, openness and confidence. Everything was going my way. The psychiatrist I met with had gone through my entire set of tests, including a 400+ multiple choice question test and a long-form essay questionnaire. He went through my scenario-based videotaped tests. He asked me many questions. One of them included the following: “The questionnaire asked whether you’d ever thought about suicide. I notice that you answered the question affirmatively.” There was a pregnant silence. I missed it.

I replied “Yes I did, thanks for asking!” and then explained: “Of course I wondered what it would be like if I was no longer on the planet. Everybody does but that doesn't mean they are thinking of ending their life. Someone who never thinks about what it would be like to no longer be on the planet is not living a considered life in my opinion.”

The psychiatrist continued with questions for another 10 minutes and then we were done. I left the office without any concern or consideration. When I showed up at my next scheduled event, there was a phone call waiting for me. It was a battalion chief.  They were withdrawing their offer of a job effective immediately without review. It was a direct reflection of my conversation with a psychiatrist.

“Not fit psychologically to be hired,” “unbalanced,” “crazy,” “mentally unstable” were all things that rushed through my head. I was ashamed, I felt like a true failure. And I had to go down to tell my 7-month pregnant wife in the parking lot about my utter failure. We went home to New Mexico. I was heartbroken and spent too much time wondering whether what they said was true.  Needless to say, the news got out. Nobody said anything, and in my mind the silence was worse than ridicule. I was sure of my unworthiness and now they were too. I spent the next month just showing up to work and doing what I was told to and then going home. I drank a lot, slept a lot and suffered a lot.

Finally a friend and co-worker forced me to sit with her and talk it out. I poured it all out the stories, the guilt, the shame. She was quiet for a moment and then looked at me and said “So you know where you screwed up, right?” I told her I didn’t understand. “You told them the truth. You told them what is true. You were transparent You were truthful and you told them what was so for you. And that's not what they're interested in. They're interested in the ‘right’ answers. They want square pegs for square holes. They don't know what to do with any other shapes. They're looking for people who don't think for themselves but do know how to regurgitate the ‘right’ answers they are expecting. Your mistake was by telling them the truth….. you PSYCHO!”  

At that point we both broke-up laughing. She gave me a big hug. My wife and I moved shortly thereafter, and I left the fire service. I have never looked back, and I've never been happier. I look back on this “failure” as one of the best things that could have ever happened. This moment was my catalyst to distinguish my own path.

There is no greater gift that I have given myself then being declared unfit, unstable and a psycho. I’m not a square peg. And neither are you. You have so many unmeasurable facets that make you perfectly the person you are. Your nuances cannot be categorized. You do not fit into neat boxes.  Some people and organizations would like you to fit into some category, and if you don’t they may judge you. AND THANK GOD THEY WILL. Because then you will know that you are not for them, and more importantly THEY are not for you.

When you find yourself teeing up for your next big leap, or if this inspires you to take one, it will either go as planned, or not. WHATEVER the result, it will further shape your path. And it is THESE moments that are so critical for shaping your future. Do not let the fear of failure get in the way of you finding your full expression, and fulfilling what you were meant for on this planet.

You can trust me, after all, I’m a psycho.

The Mat Doesn't Lie

I attend Yoga early in the morning twice a week, and have for the last year. It has transformed my experience of myself. It provides a centering space, clarity, and flexibility that this middle-aged body hasn't seen in a long time.

One of the longtime members of my early morning class, Art, and I were talking on the way out of class last week. I asked him what his favorite part about yoga was. He paused, and then said “The mat doesn't lie.”

This is so true. As I drive myself bleary-eyed at 7 o'clock in the morning to class, I sometimes wonder what in God's name made me think yoga was a good idea. But coffee in my hand, I’m driving there anyways. As I pull into the parking lot, the gravel quietly crunches under my tires, it’s often dark cold and lonely. Quietly grabbing the mat from the back seat, I shuffle into the studio.

Somewhere between the pre-class warm up, the consistent practice that we start with, the movements of the day, or the closing sequences the truth is revealed. If there’s struggle, clarity will ensue.  If there’s confusion, information will come forth. Where there is darkness, now there is light.

The news is always illuminating, although you may not always appreciate in the moment what you see about you. During this time you're focusing inward, on mindfulness, on flexibility, on breathing. But there will be Clarity because the mat doesn't lie.

If it's not the textured rubber yoga mat in your world, then where is it? Is it in a house of worship? Is it in meditation? Does it live over a cup of something hot, quietly sitting in a tea house? Is it on a remote trail?  Is it mile 3, or 6 or 9 on your run? Where is the quiet space where you get to be with you? These spaces are both sacred and critical.

Spending time being with “you” is the source of authentic inquiry revealing Truth with a capital “T” and at the root of personal evolution.

Your Truth maybe just one downward dog away. Just ask your dog, they know.

To The Exclusion Of All Else


To The Exclusion Of All Else

Big shout out to Rob Hanly, master marketing specialist. He inspired this post from a comment he made.

I’m not a betting man, but if I were I’d throw some crisp Benjamin Franklins on the smooth felt surface of a betting table for this: I bet you can't do something new, and outside your wheelhouse, every day for 90 days.

We pine for days when we weren’t “so busy” when we could “focus more.” We pine for a time before kids, before careers, before middle age, before responsibility. We have a magical delusion that when we were younger we weren't so busy and could focus more, when in reality we were more like that dog in the Movie "Up!".... SQUIRREL!

NEWS FLASH: Busy-ness has nothing to do with our ability to focus and create change, real change, in 90 days. What is required in a world full of distractions, (work, family, recreation) is a willingness to put something in front of all else at the exclusion of all else.

At the exclusion of all else requires a willingness to disappoint, a willingness to “not want to” and do it anyways, a willingness to not put up with distraction, opinion, or good idea that conflicts with what you chosen. Doing something every day for 90 days requires being inconvenienced by it, frustrated by and even angry about it. And you have to be willing to be with that. 

This is why diets fail.

This is why businesses fail.

This is why relationships fail.

This is why “people don't change” is the mantra of our society.

My work is all about inviting people to new ways of being and action far outside their comfort zone and their wheelhouse. What is on the other side is a reinvention of Who You Are, the way you live your life, and the way you see yourself. It is the Hero's Journey, and it requires putting the future you and your results in front of everything else, at the exclusion of all else.

As yourself this: What's the one thing? What's the one thing that, if you could have it in your life, you be willing to put it in front of all else?


The Magic of Falling Short

This week falling short made the headlines here at Limitless Central. It's far easier to talk about striving to new heights, or allowing yourself the break you haven't before. The discomfort is coming to terms with the poor showing, where it went badly. 

My nemesis the gym shared the insight with me, and it wasn't pretty. Stay tuned for the outtakes at the end where I really GET IT that the gold is in the struggle, and how that changes everything.