The End Game!

The Real Deal

None of us are likely to get out of this alive! The value of our lives certainly includes more than what we take…and finds us eternally attached to what we leave behind. In a time where personal expression is at an all-time premium, contributions to the greater good seem lost in translation.

The digital revolution has failed to connect us to the larger world and instead has made us more tribal. When we have to meet the criteria of sameness, to fit in, inclusion seems problematic. Deference is the thread that reveals our humanity.

Pain and suffering along with pleasure and euphoria shape the lens we look through…and sets the boundaries for the way we interpret life events. We want more or less of what we have already had.

If we haven’t changed a major position in our thinking in the last few years it might speak to the stagnation of our own growth. Speaking louder with increased emotion does not of itself indicate we have gained more clarity. I ask a simple question:

IS THE WORLD BETTER BECAUSE WE WERE IN IT?

Analytics

Self-evaluation offers the opportunity to legitimize authenticity. We are able to determine not only what we want but, why we want it. My desire to be “right” is not for dominance but rather for sharing. To actually cause more peace and harmony among my fellow sojourners.

As the push to make everyone identical increases in intensity I consider the loss of built-in beauty intentionally designed in our makeup. Life can be described as a floating mass of thoughts, unimportant until claimed. Once ownership of thoughts is harnessed an agenda gets established. Followers are secured when the cause is commercialized.

How we define ourselves is our path of destiny. Violence, force, and coercion are hopeless to bring us together. Blame lacks urgency and prevents us from being taken seriously. Heck, even we can’t take ourselves seriously when we know we aren’t being responsible for the attitudes we promote.

The Finished Product

Corruption is the thing we are all complicit in. Selfishness, greed, the compulsion to dominate still has no probability of making crooked systems straight. If we stay the course we are now on…what will change?

The deep-dive into the conflicts within offers the only hope for change we can believe in. The constructs of human frailty have sabotaged our highest potential. The need for less rhetoric and more substantive processes are in high demand. The killing of each other has never killed bad ideas.

As I get closer to the end of my life I’m more uncertain of the world my grandchildren will inherit than I was a decade ago. The atmosphere is charged with an uneasy, undetermined inevitability. As those who like to play god and those who like to hate god continue to duke-it-out in the streets I sense the denial of our best selves.

Only when we treat ourselves like we are someone we really care about will we be able to properly care for one another!

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Not My Job!

Our morning routine was interrupted. I was engaged in conversation and failed to notice the time. My grandson said,”Papa! pointing to the clock, I need my breakfast.” “I said, that’s not my job, to which he replied, “YES it is!”

good morning...pixabay

Image courtesy of pixabay

I quickly got him his breakfast. No time for an object lesson or an extended conversation.

HONEST REFLECTION

I have spent years deliberately affirming this boy. I’ve learned that how you feed people, literally or otherwise, is an act of love…or loveless. He’s not helpless. He often gets his own food. But preparing his breakfast is something I have done since he was a baby. I have done it with pleasure and get a lot of joy from doing it. He’s come to know this…and that is what he sees as my job!

Every morning he stops by the restroom and then comes to be held by me. I say the same thing every day. I take him into my arms and engage him with,  “Good morning!””Did you sleep well? Do you feel good today? I love you!” This too is something he does without thought. When I’m not home to complete this morning ritual I feel the loss all day…from what he says I know he does too.

This is too precious…too virtuous to interpret as some calculated job description.

WARNING

Love is the most fertile soil we have available. We can’t do love like it’s a means to an end. Why? because love is not an investment in others…its an investment in ourselves and others benefit like we’ve planted them in Miracle Grow. Why? because we are connected to every living thing.

warning...pixabay

Image courtesy of pixabay

We won’t feel the same or experience the same level of intimacy with everyone but if we are “being love” we can interact from a place that makes those who feel unlovable or unwanted feel what they most need to feel.

The absence of love in our homes and in our business affairs leads to corruption of monumental proportions. It fosters performance-based reasoning, promotes competition, and leaves all affected by shame or hyper-inflated egos. It’s not about competition…It’s about completion. We can complete tasks, missions, and projects without completing ourselves. But, we will never know what we should be doing until we actually complete ourselves…and we can’t complete ourselves without love.

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

Our homes, businesses, private and public relationships share the common requirements of love, respect, and empathy. If money alone is success, we have justification for empty and unfulfilled lives. We have the visible wrappings for meaningless existences and disconnected capital ventures.

under construction...maxpixel

Image courtesy of maxpixel

Getting the most out of doing the least has sacrificed our greatest opportunities for going out of our way to meet someone else’s need. We forfeit the ability to demonstrate to another person that they represent more than money, more than being an object of pleasure and that we refuse to treat them as a “mark” for our own greedy gain.

We have much work to do to remedy our complex and integrated problems but I think I at least know where to begin. Love can’t possibly fail us!

What would our lives look like if we all decided to love first and let everything else follow?

If love is not everyone’s job then its nobody job!

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Easter Fools!

Historically, Easter Sunday and April Fools’ Day has happened, on the same day, a number of times.

Perpetual

It’s a bit challenging to establish the origin of April Fools’ Day. Some think the holiday was first mentioned by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1392). In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “Fish of April”), a possible reference to the holiday? There are too many possibilities to lists. We can agree it began somewhere and continues around the world in various forms. (Wikipedia)

Easter Sunday is much easier to nail down. It’s universally believed to be the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His crucifixion. To some, this is the cornerstone of their faith. Other people find the notion disgusting and dismiss the very idea as a day for fools. Whatever position you hold, Easter began and continues around the world in various forms.

Egg On The Face

Pranks are coming! It’s just too irresistible…too invitational not to pull some shenanigans on the unsuspecting.  In modern times, people have gone to great lengths to create elaborate April Fools’ Day hoaxes. Newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites have participated in the April 1 tradition of reporting outrageous fictional claims that have fooled their audiences. Maybe, “Fake News” is simply an omission to say, April Fools.

The faith-based have their own challenges. The Easter story carries the dynamic of  God, defying natural law and clearly defines the Creator as supreme over the created. According to Jesus, all power in heaven and earth is His. And, He gives this power to His followers. Any Halleluja around impotence offers the skeptic all the fuel they need to scoff.

Funtimes

A few years ago I decided to prank my wife’s aunt. She is a rock…a matriarch in the family. This was at the time when the paternity of Anna Nicole’s baby was dominating the news cycle. When she answered the phone I said, aunt Freda, I’ve done something I need to confess to the family so, I decided to tell you first.

She said, OMG, what have you done? Just a minute, she replied. I’m on the other line and I will tell them I will call them back. I knew I had her. She was so concerned and willing to hear my confession. She clicked away and then came back on the line. Ok, she lamented, what have you done?

I said, aunt Freda, I’m the father of Anna Nicole’s baby. After a moment of silence, we both started laughing so hard neither of us could speak. I had to hand the phone to my wife who was standing next to me not knowing what I was up to. Even though she was laughing too she managed to say to her aunt, he’s a nut!

I’m a writer. I’m always aware of the need to show… not tell. As a person of faith, I’m also aware of the need to show…not tell. For years my life experiences didn’t match my beliefs. I fundamentally misunderstood the correlation between my mess and my message. I kept wisdom at bay by complicating the simplicity of truth.

Somewhat slowly, understanding emerged. My desire to experience good things, to benefit other people, to witness the power of virtue in action was frustrated by my theology, doctrines, and dogmas of judgment and condemnation. I was undeniably opposing my self. When I learned to accept what I needed most I also understood what others need most from me…

I’ve been able to convince myself…love never fails! It’s the antidote to the self-righteous and the haters. We can be very divided on how we define love but, when we meet it face to face it does its job. Love is the only way I know to not be an Easter Fool!

What do you think?

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The Power of Sufficiency!

Compassion

I came running from the backyard when I heard the magical tune of the ice cream truck. I darted into the house to ask grandma for the money to buy an ice cream. I panicked when she said she didn’t have the nickel it cost. I paused, standing in place as my hopes melted.

ice cream truck

Image courtesy of flickr.com

I was five or six years old on that warm summer day. I slowly walked outside as the truck drove past my house. We lived on a dead end street so I knew it had to come back past me. I stood at the edge where our sidewalk met the pavement. Pitiful as I could be, tears streaming down my face. The young man driving the truck evidently couldn’t take my distraught demeanor so he stopped and gave me an ice cream for free.

The next day I was playing away when I heard that same sound. I jumped off the tire swing leaped up on the porch and yanked on the screen door slamming it into the wall as it swung open. I ran into the house to find grandma. I didn’t have a good handle on economics. I didn’t understand that our finances hadn’t changed since yesterday. I gasped as the air completely departed my lungs.

Wait! I cried my way into an ice cream yesterday. Maybe I can do it again. I put on my sad sack formal wear and assumed my post. I watched in anticipation as the truck turned around at the end of our road. Here he comes…I got my beg on. He acted like he didn’t see me. I think he even stepped on the gas as he went by. I’ve never forgotten the feelings I experienced on both of those days.

We were poor and I hated everything it represented. I have so many memories of being left out because we couldn’t afford this or that. I think in my own naive way I vowed to overcome monetary depravity. I didn’t want to ever feel those feelings again.

A Backward Glance

I ventured out into the world unprepared to succeed. My father and three stepfathers did little to move my ball down the court. Leaving home at fifteen to escape the violence and hatred did little to increase my stature. Even though I left prematurely I didn’t get out before some significant damage was done.

I looked back only to remind myself to keep going. I wished things were different but, it didn’t take long to learn that wishful thinking wasn’t the mother of invention. I appreciated the free ice cream I got that day but I wanted to be able to pay for ice cream whenever I got the urge.

Steady As She Goes

When I got married and had a couple of kids my financial forecast was bleak at best. I wanted a family…the family I never had. I also wanted to give my kids a better life…a better childhood than I’d had. I didn’t have a very good plan or strategy to make a better life but, what I did have was the intention to do so.

perfect storm comons.wikimedia.org

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Shame is a terrible weight to carry and I was loaded with it. Before I knew what my issues were I added on layers of responsibilities. Life is full of good intentions that never get followed through on. I had the makings of a perfect storm.

I tried one thing after another. Seeking. Searching. Trying to make it all happen. Oftentimes my only fuel was the necessity of those depending on me. I simply had to keep going. There was so much I immediately improved. And, there were fierce repetitions from adolescence at work that I didn’t even know were there.

The refusal to give up eventually brought about opportunities. The kind of monumental moments that change your trajectory. Things began to work out that wasn’t connected to any well-planned scheme. They happened solely because I kept looking, pushing, believing I could make life worth living.

Never Give Up

Back in the 90’s I built a  multi-million dollar insurance agency. The residual income should have lasted me for the rest of my life. For a while, it looked like I had set us up for good. Through some mergers and shifty corporate shenanigans, it evaporated overnight. Gone with a thirty-day notice.

I don’t like to be violated, who does? I don’t know how to warm up to rejection. What I do know is that disappointment is never unemployed. It’s almost like some people feel it’s required of them to do you wrong and do so blaming you for their unacceptable behavior. I’ve had the bitter experience of disappointing myself more deeply than anyone else has. It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

Callenge yourself Air Mobility Command

Image courtesy of Air Mobility Command

When you peer past the obvious there remains a subtle truth: If you made it once you can make it again! If you’ve yet to experience that one big break the only reason…the only reason you’re thinking about it is that it’s within you…within your reach.

In a world filled with corruption, polarization, and the hollowness of the world wide web we have a standing invitation to make things better for ourselves and those we come in contact with. The age of entitlement is half right. We are each entitled to our dreams and to what we can achieve. But, if we define success by what is given to us we can never be free. We cannot know what we are capable of and we will never know who we are.

I learned something about compassion the day that young man stopped and gave me an ice cream. I learned something even more important the very next day when he didn’t stop… when he didn’t even look my way, I learned the power of sufficiency!

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Finding The Perfect In Chaos!

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve looked into the face of confusion. While I have my share of things that have worked out I, also have my share of things that didn’t go as planned. The ebb and flow of life can be fiercely independent. It’s difficult to talk reality out of being the reality.

Order choas

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When I suffered a setback and had to deal with hardship, I used to look for someone to blame. The idea of my best efforts not producing desirable results left me dazed and confused. How could my good intentions not be rewarded? Why don’t people see the virtue I see in myself? I had a perception problem. We all have a lens. What we see when we look through our lens is based on our interpretation of life events.

I remember when I first noticed that my vision was changing. I made an appointment with the eye doctor and discovered I needed glasses. I had mixed feelings about wearing spectacles. I worried as to whether I would look professional or studious. Or, would I look like a nerd? I was only in my thirties. I wrestled with the idea of ending up with thickening lenses as my conditioned worsened over time. The fact was I needed help seeing. Deal with it, Rick!

What a metaphor for life. Sometimes we all need a little help with our perception. I learned in my Behavioral Analyst Training that people fall into two predominant categories; we either see the world as friendly or unfriendly. And, we base much of our attitude on one of these notions. Either premise contributes heavily to how we exist and relate to the world.

I discovered that I could drive or draw people and things away or into my life depending on how I was seeing and interpreting the world around me. In my work with people, I have seen this principle perform with precision. Things don’t happen to us; they happen for us.

Clarity jon wiley flickr

Image courtesy of Jon Wiley via flickr.com

 

A client who had married multiple times thought she was simply “bad in love.” The truth is much less mysterious. She was looking for someone to complete her. What she attracted were men who were looking for someone to complete them. We get out of life what we are in life. If we don’t like the fruit, we have to look at the root!

We will be a part the pollution or, part of the solution. When patterns emerge, there is only one place to find a remedy, inside ourselves! That’s not a bad gig. Just think about it. You’re readily accessible, very familiar, and worthy of transformation. We actually deserve a rich and rewarding life filled with good things and relationships.

I know it’s not always easy to forgive…especially ourselves. Letting go is a form of letting grow. While it would be nice to be able to erase moments of failure and disappointment it’s just not practical. What is possible is to learn and embrace the lesson.

Confusion can be a door opener or a door closer. Life is a delicate balance of tension with a yin and a yang. Can anything be more perfect than to experience it all? I think mastery evolves out of finding the perfect in the chaos.

 

What’s your strategy for moving forward?

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Where Greatness Resides!

ELOCUTION

I’m intrigued by the way words are put together to convey ideas, sentiments, and deep emotions. I appreciate words, phrases, and quotes. I love to hear an angry person when they are in control of their vocabulary and verbally lay the ax to the root of bad ideas. I’m also excited to hear people who are equally adept at erecting the kind of noble word-lofts that even kings want to climb. And, I stand in awe of the celebratory individual with such a command of the English language that everyone wishes them to speak on their behalf.

Speech on pixabay

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

The only thing that gets my creative energy flowing more than hearing powerful speeches, verbal duels, and passion inducing vernacular is action. Yeah, imagine that? My attention span becomes shorter and shorter as I become less and less convinced of the speaker’s commitment to what they are saying. I’ve lived too long now to play patty-cake with the idealistic rhetoric of people who think misinformation, deception, and manipulation as art forms.

Our public landscape is changing faster than politically correct terminology. Who can possibly keep up… whatever do you mean? Words are rarely innocent anymore. They are often cosmetically engineered to mean something different than their origin. It’s like dating a plastic surgeon who takes her work home with her. I still dig it. I’m just at a loss sometimes, to know which word is least likely to incarcerate me in the land of sacred spaces. Is my aggression micro or macro? Where is my shrink when I need him/her?

It’s generally accepted that words play a marginalized role. Tone and body language trump mere syllables. Hate speech, nouns and pronouns dipped in insanity, and incendiary disquisitions are most likely to get primetime play. If you have strung together a few lines or a paragraph of hope-filled solutions you should expect to be indicted for inciting a calm.

CLARIFICATION

I love to converse. Share ideas. Make peace with the lexicon pipe. Are we still capable of reasoning together? About important issues? It does seem like neighborly conversations over metaphoric picket fences might be extinct. The silence of the lambs is disturbed by peace devouring foxes. Did you get your shot? Everyone must be introduced slowly and methodically to the impediments of the common sense virus. 

peace pipe on pixabay

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

I look both ways but, I find myself running a lot of red lights on intolerance these days. I’m hoping for a resurgence of simplicity and wisdom. We’re now at a time when getting over an education is more challenging than not obtaining one. Who would have ever thought dropouts could actually be the more scholarly career choice? No, I’m not advocating ignorance. But, to not see most colleges have replaced education with indoctrination would be ignorant indeed!

Human beings by nature are problems solvers. It’s just that we have this habit of reinventing negative systemic attacks on our general well-being. Somewhere, deep inside each of us resides the capacity to knock it off. Is remedy to scary of a concept? How about reminding ourselves that healing is a virtuous form of revenge.

DEFINITION

I was incensed so early in life I thought anger was a part of my anatomy. C’mon! This hell-bent annihilation of diversified viewpoints is nothing short of ideological genocide. We need a renewed mind that understands liberty is impossible without restraint. Just because we can say it doesn’t mean it’s expedient that we do.

We are all going to fight for what we believe in. And, we should. But, it will serve us well to be mindful that a free-for-all lacks stability. Our self-justified speechification is eating away at the beauty of independence. The best affirmative action is personal responsibility. It’s liberty and justice for all! or not at all.

Power of the tongue on pixabay

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

I don’t like a lot of things. But, wishing thinking produces nothing. Our country has an expanded mind…the genie is out of the bottle. We need to learn to play together before we are bewitched beyond repair. We need a “first, do no harm, approach.

Words founded us. Words define us. Words sustain us. The power of life and death are on our tongues. What we say, how we say it, and who we say it to matters. Our greatness resides in our willingness to improve!

What do you say?

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The Secret of Change!

We all know if we keep doing the things we are doing, the same way we are doing them, we remain as we are, have what we have, and commit ourselves to exploits only of the imaginary.

Those who have wrestled challenges into cooperation enjoy the benefits of tangible fruit. The deep satisfaction that comes from seeing ideas, hopes, and dreams take on reality can leave a person breathless and oxygenated at the same time. I find it easy to celebrate the successes of anyone that pours themselves into excellence. I know what it takes to face yourself, overcome obstacles, and refuse to settle. If you beat the odds, you’ll have me jumping for joy right along with you!

Change on wikimedia

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Navigating the twists and turns of life without losing forward momentum is an admirable trait. I’ve witnessed those rare individuals who make it look easy but, closer scrutiny reveals it’s an illusion. They’re operating under a very different paradigm than the average fellow. While remarkable results usually include a strong work ethic, we shouldn’t overlook other principles.

What’s the secret? You ask. Let’s start by backing up a little. Any honest self-reflection will include taking inventory, in reality. “You can do anything you set your mind to!”  We’ve all heard this, felt the twinge of excitement brought on by the very suggestion. But, is it true? I find there are elements, common dynamics, and systematic traits with people that reach the highest levels. It does, in fact, take a resolute mind. However, there is more to the story than meets the casual eye.

Dr. Liza Siegel, the psychologist for the hit reality shows “The Apprentice” and “Survivor,” has had a front-row seat to what it takes to succeed, and what to do when at first you don’t succeed. In her book Suite Success, Dr. Siegel lays out six essential psychological characteristics of successful people. They are Optimism, Creativity, Resilience, Self-Control, Emotional Awareness, and Sociability. You may want to read all about these categories in her book Suite Success: The Psychologist from “The Apprentice’ Reveals What It Takes to Excel – in the Boardroom and in Life.” (Available on Amazon)

Garret Kramer, the noted sports Psychologist, and Coach have recently caught my attention. In his latest book “The Path of No Resistance” Garret enunciates that its insight, and not intellect that fuels our ability to achieve. I had to dig into Garrett’s train of thought to understand his “inside-out” model. Being a subscriber to self-help principles, it took some careful consideration before I could admit that many of the strategies I adhere to were not working. I’m thankful to have discovered this insight.

I listened to a Ted Talk by Richard St. John. Richard spent ten years interviewing over five hundred successful people and then analyzed the data resulting in identifiable characteristics. In his book 8 To Be Great: The 8-Traits That Lead to Great Success, he lists them for us: Passion for what you do. Work hard and have fun. Focus on one thing – not everything. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Consistently coming up with new ideas. Constantly improve. Provide value to others. Persist through failure.

An article I read by, Ciara Conlon, on lifehack.org offered one of the more comical takes on the attributes of highly successful people. They are early risers. The “Mind over Mattress” reference she makes can’t go unacknowledged. Getting up just one hour earlier each day gains 15 days a year. I have always been an early riser. For me, it has been effortless. I love the fewer distractions during the wee hours. I do understand the challenge this poses for anyone clamoring for a few more minutes of pillow time.

changes on pinterest

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“If you do not change your direction, you may end up where you are going.” ~Lao Tzu.

Before climbing every mountain, I passed through the valley below. These highs and lows have been the perpetual classrooms of my education. Forming the experiences of my life. I’ve been able to tabulate a few absolutes throughout my six decades of mounting the impossible, facing my fears, and relishing in moments of jubilation. My trials, errors, and awakening may not be everyone else’s normal… it certainly is mine.

As I continue to discover life’s deeper meaning and caress understanding, I live more and more intentional. If I had to step through the many concepts of success principles and offer only one as a gift to others my tip, from personal experience would be this, find the “why” of your life. Almost everyone can explain what they do, write, sing, sew, etc. Others can even talk about how they do things. But, knowing why you do what you do is what separates distinction from mediocrity.

Why are you here? Simon Sinek, (Ted Talk) uses what he calls the golden circle to explain the concept of why. He asks, what’s your cause, your belief, your purpose? Why do you get out of bed in the morning and, why should anyone care? I can tell you it’s not accolades, fame, or even profits. Most people start with what, move to how, and maybe get to why illustrates the “outside in” predominance.

Find your why on braintraining tools.org

Image courtesy of braintrainingtools.org

 

We all deserve to find our place in the universe, to offer our unique contribution to serving others, and create the world of our dreams. Recognizing the temptation to dally in external factors and strategies affords us the opportunity to cancel distractions. Authenticity, success, and contentment is an inside job. Reversing the trend of utilizing the least essentials first will put us on the right track.

The secret of change is discovering your why!

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This article originally appeared in Read My Mind Magazine.