Friday, June 16, 2017

This is 34

It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through 2017. My birthday the midway point in the year for me and for the last several years… since I turned 30 at least, my birthday has really been a bit depressing. It’s the milestone of another year gone by. It’s been a yardstick of measuring what I have and hadn’t done with my life. The goals I’ve achieved and the marks that I’ve missed along the way.

No way would I have thought at 22 I would have excelled as far as I have in some areas, yet be so stagnant in others – repeating the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes old habits are hard to break. And Facebook certainly aint no help! All I see is the life that everyone else wants to portray. How great their lives are; filled with the wonderful vacations they’ve gone on, the concerts attended, the new house,  the kids, the wedding, the great friends, the new car, the promotion, the new job, the move to the new city and the new successful business. The reality is that I only see a representation of the life they really have. Real life is a struggle! Most people leave out all the negative parts of life and it can honestly make my real life seem a bit underwhelming. Sometimes it literally feels like life is passing me by and I’m in a constant do-loop trying to catch up.

This year, rather than going through another quarter-life crisis, I am feeling allot more optimistic about the present and the future. A big part of my adult life has been about pleasing others and waiting on them so that I could make decisions in my life - esp when it came to money, trips, vacations and relationships. Last year I really did want I wanted when it came to travel... if I found a person or two who wanted to make the trip and I was out - It was great!

The first half of this year has been about preparing for the next steps in my life. I’ve spent the last 5 months really thinking about what I want, where I want to be, where I want to live, who I want to share my time with. Yes, it's been selfish, but much needed. Too much energy had been wasted with no appreciation or reciprocation.

Now, I’ve been getting myself mentally prepared to step into bigger shoes and letting go of bad habits, bad people, bad attitudes, bad situations and just overall bad vibes. I told myself I would give myself 2017 to get my act together so I that I can step into 2018 on a defined mission with the right people around me. It’s been a real journey; and while I have made progress in some areas, I have definitely been slacking in others. Sometimes it takes others to point those shortcomings out; but it’s upon me to take that feedback, internalize it, get ready and do better.

So my birthday is still a milestone, a yardstick for measuring up to where I want to be. But it is also an indicator of the changes I need to continue to make and reflection of how far I’ve come on my personal journey.

Cheers to another year’s blessings. This is 34!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Part 10. How Not to Suck at… Optimism

Today I found out that I am an optimist! Until now, I always considered myself a realist – that I saw things for what they were and didn’t try to make things better (or worse) than what they were. But today I learned what an optimist truly is – a person who accepts and chooses to make the best out of a situation. They refuse to take the victim mentality and continue to push for success. That’s me!

Contrary to popular belief, everyone has setbacks – all of us. We are human, and therefore fallible. The difference in those who succeed and those who don’t is their reaction to the setback. Will you take the time the figure out your next move? Or claim to be the victim? Next time you think to say why something can’t happen, take 1 minute to think about how it can happen. That 60 seconds can make all the difference. The “can happen” route will likely take more work, research and effort, but that’s what successful people do – make things happen!

Optimists spend time and energy on things that are within their control. Pessimists worry about things beyond their control. So take purposeful action to remedy problems, remove obstacles and move forward on those things that you can positively effect. The other stuff – that stuff that out of your reach – LET IT GO! Optimism demands that you don’t stress on the things you can’t fix. Either take action or let it go. There is no place for worry.

Optimists need other optimists. You’ll need people around you who support you and your dreams. Who don’t just poke holes in your dreams but offer solutions to patch those holes up. You need people who are going to help you figure out how to make the dream happen. Do get me wrong, we need people to point the potential it falls – but they also need to help think though the solution. Those who only shoot the dream down are a cancer – remove them before their pessimism kills your vibe.

So is the glass half empty? Or half full? You decide.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Part 9: How Not to Suck at... Delayed Gratification

I was in a leadership class on influence the other day. A small section of the class dealt with the topic of delayed gratification and how people who have learned to practice the art of delayed gratification were generally more successful in life.

This applies to saving, dieting, relationships, jobs, school, shopping... just about EVERY area of life.

However there is a balance between delayed gratification and instant satisfaction. There are trade-offs to everything, so in our microwave society, how do you influence yourself and others to give up at least some instant satisfaction for future gratification?

For instance, let's talk about saving for the future. The class taught me that simply telling someone that they should save does not work. They know that they should save... for retirement, for a vacation, for a newer car, and the kids’ college tuition. They already know so telling them isn't going to help anything. In fact, it might even hurt the situation. People don’t like to be told what they already know!

So, instead of telling, we need to influence them.  Per the book, there are 6 sources of influence… and therefore 6 ways to influence a person to save, per say a vacation.

·         Source 1 – Personal Motivation – whether you want to do it.
This is the easy one, I doubt there are many people who don’t want to take a vacation. I don’t think there will be much convincing there.

·         Source 2 – Personal Ability – whether you can do it.
So here is a harder one. Can we save? Is there anything to save? Do we have enough to live now – pay bills, rent, car note & buy food - and save for a trip? If there is not enough for now, a vacation is out of the question.

·         Source 3 – Social Motivation – whether other people encourage the right behaviors.
My circle of friends like to travel. They like to do big things and go on grand adventures. I have that motivation from the people around me. They encourage me to travel, which in turn encourages me to save. Be that for someone else.

·         Source 4 – Social Ability – whether other people provide help, information or resources.
I had to learn the hard way how to budget, so showing someone else how to save a few dollars here and there will go a long way. Helping them realize that there is enough will strengthen their personal ability to save. Budgeting & saving are skills we need for life but probably weren’t taught in school. If you can teach someone else, do it. Not everyone really understands how money works.

·         Source 5 – Structural Motivation – whether the environment encourages the right behaviors.
Another hard one. Our culture and society is motivates us towards NOW. We are regularly bombarded with images and advertisements to act now and get instant satisfaction. And the most attractive offers seem like they wouldn’t hurt our budgets (and savings) that much – but when I look at my credit card bill, it’s never the big purchases that surprise me. It’s all the $15 ones that add up!

·         Source 6 – Structural Ability – whether the environment supports the right behaviors.
To combat the lack of motivation, we can set up a system to helps us save. Have a set amount transfer from you main bank account to a saving account every paycheck.  Forget about this account and don’t touch it – until it’s time for the trip

They say that if you want to influence change, hitting just one or two of these areas isn’t enough. You need to reach them in three to four areas at least before there is real momentum to act differently. So if you are someone hasn’t be successful in saving before, look at things you can do in each of those areas to influence them to act in delayed gratification. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Part 8. How not to suck at… Addressing the Issue

I’ve been a supervisor for a short 8 months, and I just went through my first performance review with each member of my team. Fortunately I have a great group everything went smooth. But what if it hadn’t? What if there was some issue I needed to address with a member? At work, is mostly business but in the real world, friendships and relationships can be devastated by unresolved issues.

I’m naturally passive aggressive – so I’m generally pretty easy going, let allot of things slide and just pick my battles when necessary. But I’ve also been guilty of letting things fester and build up so that when I do address the issue it’s a full blown explosion instead of simmer. And here’s the added bonus, as man you’re often labeled a sensitive or moody when you bring up an issue. We’re supposedly not supposed to care, feel or be bothered. Just “man up.” That is not healthy and we need to stop teaching young men that. The things that bother us need to be addressed. How we feel needs to be heard. That unresolved issue adds stress to your life and stress kills.

As a supervisor, the official performance review shouldn’t be the first time an employee hears about a problem in their performance. The same holds true in our daily lives. It’s better to talk through an issue after it happens than to let it build and let an explosion come out of nowhere. Yes, the other person may be defensive but a conversation allows both parties to be heard. Plus, they may not even know that there’s an issue until you tell them. It may be a complete misunderstanding and easily fixed. However, an argument, especially one seeded from an explosion is not going to do much but piss the other person off.

The only way to deal with the issue is to talk, I mean real communication. A conversation where both people are able to be truly heard and allowed to get stuff off their chest… not the kind of conversation where all you do is think of your next clap back. Don’t discredit how they feel by talking over them or saying why they shouldn’t feel the way they do. It’s their feelings. Let them feel! The need to understand how the issue makes you feel and you should understand why they do what they do. Even if the issue doesn’t get resolved, a little understanding of the situation will go a long way. You should offer constructive feedback, solutions, and help. Not judgement!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Part 7. How not to suck at… Encouragement

Contrary to popular belief, most people do care what others think. They may not want to, they may not want to admit it, and some definitely won’t tell you… but they care. We all care on some level, its human nature.  Its part of how we are designed and rise of social media proves this!

Everyone has a bad day, week or even a bad year. They will feel bad and like life sucks, like the world is against them, like nothing they do is right. At these moments especially, people care what others think. They will be especially sensitive to everything said to them, about them and around them. This is your moment to be a hero… or a dick. You have a choice to positively motivate and encourage them or just make the situation worse.

We live in a world where it is easy to focus on the bad. It’s what we remember, it’s what sticks out and grabs our attention. It gets noticed because it negatively effects our lives. The news, Social Media, gossip – all highlight and reflect what’s wrong in world. But what about the good? All the things that people do right everyday go largely unnoticed. When we ignore the good and only point out the bad, people start to feel unappreciated and abused.

After a strong drink, we all need a little encouragement, validation and appreciation. Realize that and provide it to a friend in need. Bring them back the good place and give them a boost to keep moving forward. Don’t be a dick. Be a hero. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Part 6. How Not to Suck at… Conflicts

Whether it’s in your daily life, or your personal relationships the rule about conflicts is the same: address them as quickly as possible!!! There is no time to waste. It will not work itself out. It will not get smaller. Deal with it… now!

The longer the issues sits out there unaddressed, the worse it will be for everyone involved. The things that should have been easy to deal with will snowball completely out of control. In the absence of facts, people will start to tell themselves stories. And not just any stories… worst case stories. People will begin to act as if these stories are facts. Tempers will rise and attitudes will fare. Without being addressed, the situation will get worse.

Most conflicts will result from poor or lack of communication. The things that should have been asked or discussed but we ignored instead. The feelings we had but didn’t express. The questions that we did ask, but weren’t answered. The things we thought we knew, but had the wrong idea. We assumed when we should have had explanations. We filled in the blanks with our imagination and start to treat people based on these alternative facts.

Have the courage to address the conflict. It will suck. It will be a tough conversation, otherwise it wouldn’t be a conflict. Here’s the catch…it will be better addressed quickly then after it festers. Now is better! Do not text or email. Pick up the phone or talk face to face. Leave no room for additional miscommunication and deal with the issue head on. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Part 5b. How Not to Suck at... Communication (In Relationships)

B.                  … In Relationships
If you thought communication (or lack of) is a big deal in your life, it’s a bigger deal in relationships! At least at work people have to deal with you. For the rest of the world it’s a choice. In your relationships bad communication can end a friendship and halt a relationship before it even gets started.

I just finished a 5-day leadership class: they say that communication is 70% body language, 20% tone and 10% words –hence the phrase “it’s not what you said, but how you said it.” Communication is meant to build trust and share information but if your verbal message doesn’t match your body language and tone, people have a hard time believing what you say. It feels like you're lying, or at best, hiding part of the truth.

People mainly lie because it’s easier than telling the truth. That’s the coward’s way out, and as an adult it’s time to mature enough to have some of those difficult conversations. Be open and honest; those hard exchanges will help us grow as people. Though they may not like what you have to say or be happy about it, person on the receiving end will actually appreciate your straight forwardness.

A key part of communication for me is commitment… not the let’s have titles or put a ring on it kind. That just comes with time with the right person. I’m just talking about the follow through on plans kind. I used to plan allot of group trips and outings and people’s lack of assurance drove me up a wall.  Pet peeve: when someone says “I’ll let you know.” In my head that’s a polite way of saying “no.” But it gives the other person a way back in if they want it. The down side is that holds my time hostage! I felt like I couldn’t make other plans waiting to see what they would say. Now, I set a deadline to “let me know” by or just treat “know” as a “no” and move on. I’ve been a lot happier that way. And when they try to come back with a last min answer, they get the “I’m busy,” “you didn’t let me know” or the “I have plans already.”

Now that I know how certain phrases and tones can sound, I try to clearer in my message, esp. via text. I am sarcastic. Depending on a person’s mood I know that some of the stuff I say can come off as mean and rude when in reality I was being completely playful. For that reason, when I think a text/email conversation is going south I immediately pick up the phone and call. No more texts until I hear their voice and understand they know I don’t mean any harm. I make sure that my massage is received the way I sent it!

My point is that you must to listen and look beyond what people actually say, and also take into account how people may interpret your words and body language. Allot of miscommunication is not in the words, it’s in how the other person interpreted them.  The message you sent was not received as intended! I learned the major cues, sayings, body language and tones and what they generally mean. I want to believe the words that come out of people’s mouths but now I know to pay attention to how people say things. People how a million ways to say “no” and just a few to say “yes.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Part 5A: How Not to Suck at… Communication (in Life)

It is AMAZING how many situations and issues have communication at its root. Most people think they communicate well… they don’t. A study asked a group if they thought they were in the top 10% of effective communicators. 90% said they were. So at least 80% of those people are completely delusional! While most of us think good communication is sending information, the important part is that the information is received and understood.

A.                 … In Life

Nothing irritates me more than when someone sends me an email expecting me to do something. I am not an email person. I am not checking it all day and I hate checking it from my phone. Emails are for details, updates and tracking. The initial project conversation needs to be a conversation! Hitting the send button in Outlook does not guarantee that

1)      I’ve seen your email (both my personal and work emails stay flooded).
2)      I can do what you are requesting or
3)      I am actively working on it

I hate when I sit in a meeting and someone says that told my group something only to find out that they hit send on an email. That’s not telling! That’s throwing a ball and hoping someone is there to catch it…otherwise the ball gets dropped!

I know I am not an email person, but apparently other people are. So for me not to suck at communicating I do things I don’t like. I check emails from my phone and when I get an email asking me to do something I initiate the conversation to get a better understanding. Now that I have a team of people working for me, I try to communicate in ways they receive the information. I follow up emails with phone calls or face to face conversations. I provide feedback when questions are asked. I try to compensate and follow-up.

Communicating is meant to do 4 things:
1)      Build trust! It no one believes what you saying, there is no point in saying it. A big part of that trust will be to communicate and do the things you say you will do
2)      Share information. Sharing is giving and receiving. Good communication makes sure that the message is received and understood.
3)      Provide Feedback. Acknowledgement of shared information and requests is key. Working on a project is no good if no one knows you’re working on it. Even worse when it’s assumed that you are working, but you aren’t!
4)      Walk to Talk. Communicate with people how they best receive information and express to them how you need to be reached.

If you’re communicating just to say you did it, then you’re missing the point. We’ve got to communicate so that we actually connect with other person. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Part 4B. How Not to Suck at… Focus (in Relationships)

B.                 …In Relationships

When it comes to relationships, “Focus” and “Letting Go” go hand in hand. “Letting Go” allows you to Focus. The things, the people, and the situations that you struggle to let go of are the very distractions that will trip you up when you find something worthwhile. Until you ae ready to Let Go, it will be extremely difficult to Focus. Let Go first…then Focus.

When it comes to relationships you can focus on a particular person, but I want to start even before that. I want to talk about what you really need/want from any person. In that regard, your focus should be the infamous list – the set of nearly impossible traits that some of us want from a mate. So like before, we have to first find the things that are really important, then make those a priority and stick to them. A hand full of things you are unwilling to compromise on. It might be faith, kids, location, or job – but narrow that book of traits to a short list of must haves. Then let go of the rest!

You’ll be amazed at the new possibilities that are opened up when the focus is changed to a few really important things. You may even realize the other stuff wasn’t even all that important. Or even better it was all shallow and surface non-sense.

I know that as I’ve gotten older, the qualities I look for in women have matured. Back in undergrad all she needed a nice smile, a big butt and brown skin and I was in love. Intelligence didn’t matter, level of craziness was a non-issue, strong faith was actually a deterrent and I hadn’t even remotely thought how our lives could/would fit together. Now I still like a big butt and a smile, but intelligence/drive is a must. Crazy/drama is a show stopper. Faith is a necessity. Wondering how our lives would mesh is second nature.  And real chemistry is essential!

It might seem that my list, my focus, has gotten longer; however, I’ve already been through the bow wave of superficial requirements… height, weight, income, breast size, skin tone, kids, car, dress, etc, etc.

It’s kind of like the 80/20 rule in relationships. The 80/20 rule says that you get 80% of what you want from your mate in your relationship, but there is 20% that you don’t or will never get.  Realize that you may never find someone who had all of want you want, but define a focus on what you really need. Get that stuff and be happy!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Part 4A. How Not to Suck at… Focus (in Life)

Never lose focus 

Never, lose focus

Never lose, focus

Never lose - Focus!

It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s really important long term. Even worse it may not even be for gain… just instant gratification with nothing to show for it! What we need is FOCUS. Not that getting something in the short term is bad, but we can’t allow that to derail us from what’s really important. Thee definitely needs to be a healthy balance between now and later, but if it’s going to significantly deter from the end goal, is it even worth it?

All that other stuff is distraction. Seems legit for the moment. Makes us happy in that instant, but what’s left when all the hype is gone? Are we any better off than we started? Did the distraction even serve its purpose? No? Then we need to create and maintain focus. That means we have to first find the things that are really important, then make those a priority and stick to them. Do not change the planl! Don’t take your eyes of the prize. Continually hanging the plan – changing what we think is important - is the very definition of a lack of focus.

A.                 …In life

In life, that focus should be on our goals. Where do we want to be in 1, 5, 10, or 20 years? New job? Bigger house? Happier lifestyle? Better credit? Sweeter ride? If you don’t know already, now is the time to decide. Things generally don’t happen by accident. Most of us aren’t fortunate to have the perfect life dropped in our laps. We have to play an active role in making our dreams come true.

My plan, my goal (one of them) is to be able retire decently early (early 50’s). For that to happen I know I need to know what I would need to retire on and have some cash tucked away gaining interest. That’s the goal. That’s what’s really important to me. I hate to see people who worked all their lives and have little to show for it. People who have to work into their 60’s and 70’s. People who are still living check to check even though they put in 30+ years at the same company.

I’ve created my focus. I know my goal – early retirement. How do I maintain that focus? Each pay check, after I pay God and my bills, I pay future me. Yes, I could use that money to buy things for now. Food, better car, bigger house, jewelry, clothes, the newest gadget, VIP lounges; and bigger and better vacations. I would LOVE to do all of those things…and I do all of those things to a smaller degree. My car is good. My house is big enough. I travel several times a year. I have and do enough now to keep me happy, but I don’t trade that for what I want long term.

Future me gets a cut of my check before I do anything extra – unnecessary expenditures. I put his money in places that gain interest. Future me is very patient and we both understand that compounding interest on an investment is the gift that keeps giving. True be told, I could do better about current multiple streams of income and investment opportunities; but I am definitely doing enough to keep me on track to an early retirement.

This is how I’ve been able to stay on track with my focus:
  • Decide what’s important – You already know something about your life that you really want to change. Decide that will be you focus, your goal.
  • Determine how to accomplish it – Make a plan. Doesn’t need to be elaborate. Just something to get you headed in the right direction.
  • Surround yourself with those who support your goal – My friends have similar goals. We encourage and support each other.
  • Eliminate (at least minimize) unnecessary activities – Have fun, live now but realize and maintain a level of focus on the future.
  • Stay consistent! – Otherwise future you isn’t going to be happy. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Part 3B. How Not to Suck at... Letting Go (in Relationships)

B.                 …in Relationships

Here comes the rough part – letting go of relationships. Yes, there are some family relationships we should let go of, but they are family. You can’t exactly get rid of them. You can only change how you deal with them, so we’re going to skip those. It’s the friends and the lovers we really need to address here.

I believe that people come into our lives for a reason – and that reason can be short lived, years or a lifetime. We have to have the discernment to understand when that season is up. We’ve all got friends from k-12. We grew up together, played sports together – they were our best friends. That was 20 years ago. People change and grow… they basically become new people. That new person may be totally different from what we needed as a child and my actually be a hindrance to us as adults. They may still be good people, even great people, but not what you need in your life anymore. Trying to make a past childhood or college friend part of your adult life can disastrous. Admire them from afar – Facebook, Instagram, etc. People grow apart for a reason. When the time comes just let it go. You shouldn’t have to force it. Don’t fight it!

And now the lovers. Some of those we need to let go of as well. I know I love hard. Once I’m in, I’M IN and I try to make it work. Even against all odds and red flags I’ve pushed towards what I thought I wanted and needed. What I thought could work. Truth is, it shouldn’t have been that hard. I shouldn’t have had to force it and be that accommodating. I shouldn’t have had to convince her that I was the man for her.

Sometimes letting go feels like giving up. Like you didn’t try hard enough or give it your all. The reality is letting go is knowing when to move on to what’s really waiting for you.

Let go of what you think is supposed to happen… just let it be. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Part 3A. How Not to Suck at... Letting Go (in Life)

A huge part of moving onward and upward to better things is having the courage to stop looking backwards. Not letting go of the past is probably one of the greatest obstacles to having something better. There is a fear associated with holding on to something that’s just ok even with there is a possibility of something better waiting on us. We’re comfortable with what we have, even though it’s not perfect it’s, what’s we’re used to. It’s familiar. Unfortunately that familiarity could be holding us back from what we really want – what we really need to be where we want to be.

A.                 …in Life

Before there is room for anything new in our lives, we must clean out some of the old stuff. It’s like spring cleaning. It’s all that stuff laying around that no longer serves a purpose. It used to. We had a reason for buying it when we did, but now we’re just keeping it just because. Because it’s nostalgic or because we might use it one more time – one day. Or because “insert random excuse here.” Fact is, we don’t really need it anymore… and there no room for the stuff we do need.

I freaking loved college. Those were easily the best 4…umm, 5 years of my life. The friends, the fun, the adventures, the life lessons, the plethora of women, the freedom, the lack of real responsibility. I felt like I was living THE LIFE. After undergrad I had a good job offer with my current company but I wanted to stay in college as long as possible. So when the opportunity to stay longer (grand school) my decision was 90% staying to kick it, 5% the free ride and 5% getting a masters. I wanted to live this life as long as possible. I didn’t want to let go.

Undergrad commencement came. We partied hard, we stayed up late but most of all we gradated. We walked the stage, they left. I stayed. That first year was ok - it wasn’t the same, but it was cool. It wasn’t like it was. My friends had started to move on and the things I liked about college weren’t fun anymore. I was older than most everyone, my interests didn’t match those of the underclassmen. I wanted and needed more but I was trying to be fulfilled in something I should have let go of – college life. What I was used to and found enjoyable as an undergrad wasn’t enough anymore.

Year 2 was rough. I was ready to go! Most everyone I really knew was gone and I was stuck. See, had I let go when I should have I could have moved on to the next stage in life, started at my job, became real adult. But because I didn’t want to let go of what I had… because I wanted to live in the past… because I was uncomfortable with change I spent 2 years chasing a forgotten dream. When the degree was done and I had the next job offer I took it.

I couldn’t move to the next stage until I was ready and let go of what I had. It was great for a season. It was perfect as an 18-22 year old. I out grew it and tried to make use of something that no longer fit. Letting go of the past had to happen before I could live in and succeed in my future. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Part 2B. How Not to Suck at... Decisions (in Relationships)

B.                 … In Relationships

Unfortunately sometimes, we don’t get to decide who our family is. We were born into them, and … unless you’re a Huxable, all the family drama that comes with it. We didn’t get a choice in matter. Yet, we do get to decide how we interact with them. And for the friends and lovers… you really do get to decide who these people are. We have got to realize that allot of these relationships are totally within your control!

So if the relationship sucks, then you have already realized that a change is needed. Stop dealing with folks on their terms. Cut them off. Leave. Stop allowing them to kill your mood and suck the life out of you. Stop saying what you should do about the situation and DO IT. Every day you put it off is another day you could have closer to having peace of mind.

Getting to that future peace means we must stop living in the past. Just because things used to be good doesn’t mean that they ever will be again.  Yeah, they didn’t used to treat you like that… but guess what. They do now. Whatever it was they are doing…. They are doing to you because you allow it. Stop taking that shit. Give them a time or two to straighten up. (I said 1 or 2…not 87). You deserve better. Got to stop letting family, friends and lovers kill your vibe.

You must decide that that you can make the change. Yeah, it may mean pissing off some family and losing some friends – but your sanity is worth it. It’s a good chance that while you’re bothered over a situation, they aren’t even thinking about you or what they did. I don’t want to be a grumpy old man looking back on my life, frustrated and pissed about all the people who did me wrong. Do something now while you can. Time waits for no man.

Realize that you are worth it. You deserve better. Make better choices – in how and who we interact with. Change your habits and focus on what’s really important to you. I’m not saying this is going to be easy. In fact, it’s probably going to suck at first. It will be cold. It will be hard. But guess what … It will be worth it.

For the ones talking about the lovers – As yourself “Is this the relationship I want?” You’re in a comfortable relationship but it’s not what you want? GET OUT. There is something better out there for you. You’ll begin to resent them…for being them. But you’re the one that continues to stay – you can’t play the victim. I can understand that you don’t want to start over but every day you stay is a day lost for something better.

The decisions we make each day will be the difference in a decent life and the life we want. They alter the course of our lives and good different choices will make us uncomfortable in the short run... but better overall. Kids, marriage, jobs, location, your standards, traveling, education – these are all decisions within our control. I’m not saying they will be easy decisions… I’m just saying they are ones we can make.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Part 2A. How Not to Suck at... Decisions (in Life)

Everyday we’re faced with a series of decisions. Most of them so small that we don’t even notice we’re making them: what to wear, what to eat, hitting the snooze button for the 8th time, responding to a text, or ignoring a call. Then there are the big ones: do I take the job? Should I buy the car? Do I ask her to marry me? Do I make an offer on the house? Am I ready for a baby? These are all decisions and even the small ones can have a huge impact on our lives.

And don’t forget that even in your non-decisions you are deciding! When given an opportunity to make a choice, replying with “I don’t know” or “I don’t care” is the same handing someone your power. Even worse, not deciding is deciding. You are choosing to allow life to happen to you!

A.                 … in life

It’s natural for us to resist change. We probably are where we are because it’s comfortable. Been on the same job, doing the same thing for years. Change is different. It’s scary. It’s new. It will take us out of that warm place we’re familiar with and make us be more than we are. It will be cold. It will be hard. But it will be worth it.

I was in the 8th grade – average student and maybe a little above average in track. Grades were A’s, B’s and a C I’d gotten in Spanish. I remember the C because I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or play games until I got that grade up – Momma wasn’t playing no games. I struggled to keep up in math class and biology just didn’t make sense to me. Then came D-day. One of the first major turning points in my life.

Normal day, nothing special about it. I was at home watching TV and Momma was talking about my grades. She was obviously disappointed. She said, “You’re going to college. I don’t have any money to pay for it so you better figure something out.” That day, then and there I made one of the most important decisions of my life. I DECIDED that I was going to do better, be better, want more and succeed. I had to give up some TV time, some play time, video games, etc. I had to give up the things that were holding me back from my potential. I traded where I was comfortable being average for the challenge of being great.

4 yrs later I graduated salutatorian with full ride scholarships to several major universities and 3 free degrees later started my career as an engineer – all because of a decision I made one random day in middle school. That’s what life is. A series of decisions that can lead to the difference in being ok, and being better, and being great. Living great. If you’re comfortable, but not happy it’s time to course correct and DECIDE to make a change. Baby steps every day will then lead to big changes.

It’s not that it’s too late. You’re just too comfortable. DECIDE.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Part 1B: How Not to Suck at... Accountability (in Relationships)

B.                 …in Relationships

We have got to take some real responsibility in the reason our relationships go the way they do.

Stop. Take a second and grab a pencil & paper. I’ll wait.

List all your past/current strained or failed relationships. I’m talking brothers, sisters, parents, ex-friends and yes, the ex-lovers. Make a column for your name, their name and another for its strained or failed. Now list a few of the potential daters you didn’t give a chance. Again, make a column for your name, their name and why you didn’t give them a real chance. For some of you it may take a while, so stop at about 10 or so. We don’t need a Superhead big font novel here… just a few people that really stick out. The supporting cast to your life.

Stop again, look at the list. I mean really look at it. What’s the common denominator? Whose name appears next to every failed/strained/passed relationship on your list?

I’m sorry, but yes - it’s you. A big part of the reason you’re unhappy, or have strained relationship and/or single is YOU. Take accountability in the fact that the source of your situation is you. Be empowered in that fact so that we can do something about it! It’s not in someone else’s control – It’s in our control! Your happiness is determined in big part by what we allow to affect our lives. Somethings are just not worth our time and effort and we get all worked up about the wrong things.

And as far as romantic relationships go… the reason you’re unhappy or single is staring you in the face every day – and it’s not the just other person fault either. Yes, it’s still you!

At our age, we can’t blame the universe for not providing you a good man or woman. By now someone wanted you and you decided not to be with them. Or maybe you loved someone and they didn’t love you back. Let it go and move on. Or you are with someone and you’re unhappy as it gets.

It may be your pickiness, or what you choose to accept in the relationship, or your preferences are unrealistic or your standards are too high. Either way, it was/is your choice. Be empowered in the fact that it is your choice. Be accountable for your role in your love life and decide to make better choices and refuse to let life bring you down. Stop blaming everyone else, stop taking shit from others, stop thinking you’re not good enough.

Be the main character in your life. Decide to do better and be happy. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Part 1A: How Not to Suck at... Accountability (in Life)

Every leadership book I have ever read has a chapter on accountability, but leaders are not the only ones that need to be accountable for their actions and the things that happen to them. We all need to take a step back and realize and accept the fact that allot of the issues in our lives are our fault… yeah, I said it. It’s YOUR FAULT. We always want to take credit for the good; realize that we need to start taking credit for the bad too. Once you’ve done that then you can take action to do better. And we want to do better, right?

A.                 ... In Life

I did it, I broke the cardinal rule when I comes to money. I co-signed a small loan for a close friend. I was young and dumb and I’d done it before with others with no problems. Till this day I love them like a brother. They promised on their mother’s grave that they wouldn’t miss a payment and that there would be no issues. I knew them well, I trusted them – I believed in them and knew that they wanted to do better. I believed in their dream and success.

The truth is no one asking for a favor will ever tell you that they can come through on their end. I don’t know if its pride, blindness, optimism and just a straight up, cold hearted lie; but you never hear “hey man, I need this favor and I’m probably going to screw you over in the end. But I want you to help me anyway.”

Life was all good for a while. Then the calls started. The bank was looking for me to make payments that were past due. They would call me, I would call him, he would promise to pay, the calls would stop – repeat. I figured that sense they weren’t calling that life was all good. I was wrong.  I pull my yearly credit report and found out my A1 credit was now “fair.” I was HOT. I called, I cussed, and was ready to fight… and then I paid the pass due balance. Set up auto payment and required them to pay me directly.

Most people would want to say it was his fault. He missed the payments. He defaulted. He lied.

The reality is it’s my fault. I agreed to the loan, I let the phone calls slide, I believed he was doing as he claimed he was. I should have been more involved and intrusive to the situation. I failed at life. Yeah, he has some blame, but I failed myself and honestly can’t blame anyone but myself.

The situation didn’t change until I became accountable and made sure things happened. Sure, I can say that this happened to me but it’s more like I let this happen to me.

The same is true in most things in life. We want to cry that the world and the man is out to get us but the reality is that we are generally passive and allow things to happen. Take charge, take control, and take a few seconds to figure out how we can change a situation. Be accountable! Realize that the problem or the solution is you!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Not to Suck at Life… and Relationships

This is the introduction for what will be a multi-part blog about life in all its joyous wonders. I’ll discuss how the lessons I’ve learned in life have allowed me to grow as a person and become a real life adult. And how these life-lessons apply to relationships – not just the romantic kind either. Family, coworkers, friends, associates and yes… even the lovers. I’m tired of sucking at life… and relationships. Time to do better and give you insights to the come up.