Life to the Full!

Posts made in December, 2014

Let’s Be Honest

By on Dec 17, 2014 in Blog |

I was talking to a client the other day about the state of her relationship, and she pointed out that after almost 30 years of marriage she and her spouse were finally starting to disagree. Okay, to be honest, not everyone has this problem.  In fact, it almost doesn’t sound like a problem. I mean, lots of people not only disagree, they argue. Plenty. In fact, lots of people argue too much and they do it in the wrong way. We all know about those folks.  But what might surprise you is how many people pride themselves on not arguing at all.  Like that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know I used to think so. In fact, my wife and I thought it was one of the hallmark’s of a healthy relationship. “We never fight.” This would elicit praise from some people. Others would be jealous, resentful even. But no one I can think of had the right response. Which would have been… Uh-oh. That’s right. Uh-oh. Because if anyone had been honest, they’d have told us that couples should disagree. That two different people – I don’t care who you are – are not supposed to agree on everything. That’s not what’s required for a loving relationship and, in fact, it’s counterproductive to having and maintaining a truly healthy relationship. Here’s why: If just one person in the relationship is being honest about what they want and need, then there’s no way those wants and needs are always going to be perfectly aligned with what the other person wants and needs. So, in a relationship in which even one person is being honest there will be – has to be – some sort of disagreement. The real trick, like it is for my client, like it is for my wife and me – like it is for most people – is learning how to disagree in healthy and effective ways. Ways that are productive and which actually build relationship rather than tear it down. Don’t be fooled: the silence of desire can be just as destructive over time as yelling, screaming, or other forms of hurtful fighting. On the other hand, despite how uncomfortable it can be,...

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The Messy Middle

By on Dec 15, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Ever been excited to begin something new?  There’s an energy that seems to color almost everything in a deep, rosy red. You know what I mean. In the early going of things we’re inclined to bask in the sense “it’s all good.” Sure, there are little challenges when first starting out, but many times that’s what makes things exciting, fresh, and fun. Over time, though, things start to get hard. One of my virtual mentors, Michael Hyatt, refers to it as “the messy middle.”  It’s that part of building a platform or a business when all the “new,” “exciting,” “fresh,” and “good” things you’re working on seem to bog down with the very real challenges of being consistent, dependable, and some days… just showing up. When becoming the person (or building the business, or growing your family) becomes harder – sometimes way harder – than you ever thought it could. It’s when a lot of people give up. Loss of direction; too little clarity; a destination that can’t be seen; a setback at just the right time; things you thought were going to go one way seem to be going to hell in a handbasket, and at some point you just go, “why bother?” This is exactly the right time to keep going. What do you do when you find yourself in the messy middle? When everything that started out seemingly simple and straightforward seems to have become incredibly complicated, overwhelming, and “too much?” You have to get back to some of the basics you started with.  I mean you are organized, right? For example, you desperately need to re-organize your schedule to accommodate your new situation. As you get to the middle and beyond, whatever organization you’ve been using up to that point will likely fail you. Get a plan. Write it out. Keep it handy. You need a plan in the messy middle.  Resources for planning can be found at www.billmarshjr.com or at Michael Hyatt’s website.  I subscribe to both of these. Begin to look beyond what you can see. You have to begin trusting. Believing. The opposite of which is being in control of everything. Yes, you have to take responsibility for doing what you need...

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Learning to Fly

By on Dec 12, 2014 in Blog |

I was a lousy student in high school. Embarrassingly so. Think 1.8 g.p.a. Never knew where my locker was: threw my books in the back of my car in September, and turned them back in at the end of the year none the worse for wear. One of the reasons I did so poorly is I’m not a very good test-taker. In the approach to learning taken by most primary and secondary schools, tests are based on measuring the sum of information acquired. These tests are sometimes called “summative.” And they are designed to ‘screen out.’ In college, by age 30, it was different. We engaged in dialogue, trading ideas and challenging the concepts presented. “Finals” were often papers requiring critical thinking. Students’ ideas were important. Summative tests were rarely used, and as a result the picture really changed. My undergraduate years ended in about a 3.9 g.p.a., and my graduate program finished at about a 3.8. At the time I didn’t know there were two different kinds of tests, but something was really working for me in college. I knew I wasn’t any good with summative tests, but I didn’t know what to call them or how to describe the difference until I read something about learning to fly. The author/pilot described how one day his flight instructor reached over, switched off the engines, and said, “Now what?” Whoa!! What kind of test is that? It’s called a “formative” test, and here’s why. The flight instructor doesn’t want to die, right? Her job is to teach you how to fly, not die. So absolutely everything she does as an instructor is about helping you become a pilot. She’s not interested in seeing if you don’t know the material. Instead, every “test” is to help ensure you really do know what’s being taught. She’s testing you in, not out. In the process, she’s helping to form you into a pilot. Thus the process is formative, not summative. Most any situation can be managed in a summative or formative way. This is true in business and how we approach training and employee management. It’s true in our families, and how we approach our kids. So which is better? Well, if...

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The Ache in Your Heart

By on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog |

So, I came to this place in my life where I just couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t that life was so bad. Not at all. But there was an ache in my heart that just kept growing, and growing, and growing. Something had to change. Do you know what I mean? It doesn’t matter what your “it” is. It doesn’t really matter how old you are, or where you are in your family, your life, your career, or your business. If you’ve lost your passion, your sense of meaning – if you’ve lost the idea you matter or have something to offer – I get it. Been there, done that. It can be awful. But, here’s the good news: The ache in your heart is there for a reason. To tell you something’s wrong… and to show you the way out. That the dis-ease you’re feeling is a calling, gasping for air, literally dying within you every day nothing happens to set it free. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but we only get one shot at this life. It’s uniquely yours, and yours alone. This gift you’ve been given, the person you were created to be – it’s waiting to be released. If you can relate, let me hear from you. Even if you’re not ready to do anything about it just yet – and I hope you don’t wait too long – I’d love to hear where you are in your story. The post “The Ache in Your Heart” appeared first on...

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Soul Food

By on Dec 8, 2014 in Blog |

Back in the day I used to do Dismantling Racism work. This is when I lived in St. Louis, MO. You know – where Ferguson is. There were some excellent people doing this work. We thought of ourselves as allies, conducting workshops to challenge people’s thinking about race. Allies were mostly paired with people of different ethnicity, and we had each other’s backs. My closest ally was Aliah. Aliah and I were intentional about finding ways to get to know one another. It was especially important in work like that so that we could support each other as people, not just as co-facilitators and professionals. She definitely had her work cut out. I was (mostly) from the suburbs and I knew virtually nothing of what it truly meant to be black in St. Louis. But with humor, patience, and real tolerance, she helped me see the world through her eyes. Some of what she showed me was hard to hear or see. Some was a real delight. Like the time she took me to a well-known soul food restaurant in the city. See, as part of my “education,” Aliah wanted me to be sure to have this experience. The place was near and dear to her, familiar and comfortable. And not that it mattered, I guess, but I was the only white person there. Anyway, there were collard greens, southern fried chicken (one of my favorites), and a range of pork pieces prepared in exotic ways. Even for someone whose grandmother was a real southern country cook it was quite the experience. Good food, friendly people, great conversation. But here’s what I remember most. As we walked in she hung up her coat. She paused a beat, waiting for me to do the same. I’m just looking around, checking out the place. “No, that’s okay. I’ll just keep it with me,” I said. Aliah was looking at me.  It was one of those looks… This was becoming a moment. Now, in my defense, I really did always keep my coat with me – I still do, most of the time (I don’t know why, I just do), wherever I go – but I knew what that look was about....

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