Stories

All That Heavenly Glory

Play the Long Game

We overestimate what we can accomplish in one day. And we underestimate what we can accomplish in one year.

Have you heard that?

What do you think you could accomplish in a century?

Ladies & Gentlemen

Remember that song, Wear Sunscreen?

It was a commencement speech set to music offering the Class of 1999 advice on life. And I’ve got a soft spot for commencement speeches and life advice. Most of my friends hated that song, but I loved it.

I know, I know.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, it wouldn’t be sunscreen-related, it would be this:

Play the long game.

What’s that mean?

The Game of Life

It means looking towards your future when making decisions today. It means behaving like the stock market. Ups, downs, bubbles and bursts, but always, always, on the upward trajectory.

It means having a one-year plan, a five-year plan, and a ten-year plan.

And a hundred-year plan.

It means thinking about and writing your own obituary, and filling in the blanks by working backwards from the tombstone to today.

It means focus on building lasting relationships.

It means clients, not customers.

It means everyone you meet teaches you something, even if it’s only an example of what not to do.

It means constantly asking yourself questions like, “Will this matter in five years? In five days?” If the question is no, don’t worry about it. And start doing things that make you answer “yes” to these questions.

It means taking huge risks now if you’re not headed in the right direction.

It means saving for a rainy day (or year). Cash is king, now and in the future.

It means building a kingdom, watching it burn to the ground, and being thankful for the air in your lungs, and fire in your belly, to build again.

It means keeping your eyes on the horizon, keeping your focus on the main thing, and letting it be the setting sun you chase.

It means seasons, cycles, phases. A time to work. A time to rest. A time to plant. And a time to uproot.

The Long Tale

Too many of us are crippled by the minutiae of day-to-day decisions when they don’t matter. Not in the long game. Most of what we worry about does not matter.

Until it does.

Worry about it then.

You might have a hundred years left to live.

Or you might have one.

But why bet on the latter, like so many of us do?

The truth is, the game is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

And remember two principles, long gamer:

  1. This, too, shall pass; and
  2. Good things, the best things, come to those who wait.

Here’s something Apollo Creed didn’t tell you:

There is a tomorrow. And many more, for most of us lucky ones.

Play long.

Engager

Too many people choose their work by what they are able to do.

I’m good at this, so I’ll do it.

I propose there’s a better way.

The better choice is to do what you are made to do. What are you made to do?

Take affirmative steps towards what that is. No matter how small. No matter what. Play the long game with life.

Think in decades, not days.

It’s the only way to win.

Let’s talk about an engager.

CHOO-CHOO

There’s something special about being chosen. About being free to be the chooser. About choosing one another. I pick you. Nothing sucks worse than being picked last for a team in school or in business; few things feel better than being chosen first. Or better yet, being the captain.

What are you choosing? And what do you allow yourself to be chosen for?

Sing, Bard, Sing

When I became an economic developer, one of the first things I had to do was explain my story. How I practiced law but did not love it. How I was able to cultivate a love of martial arts into a career but did not love it. How all points led to home, and how I found love and faith there. Our communications director at the time sat me down to write my biography for the organization. I told my tale and midway through our talk she asked me if I knew of Bob Goff. I did not. She said I needed to read his book because he’s a lawyer, too, and my story sounded just crazy enough that I would likely enjoy his wild book, too. She made a mental note to try and find a leftover copy from when the team had read it for its engagement and wellness efforts.

Time passed. Although it sounded like a great book, I had stacks of books which needed reading, so it slipped my mind. Fate, however, is not so easily denied. A few weeks later, the book was waiting for me at the office. They had found a copy of Love Does.

I had been chosen.

Fate Always Comes Back Around

Life is funny. I used to think that life is just full of once-in-a-lifetime moments (I refuse to say YOLO, man, no way) and it surely is, but life usually has ways of putting something in front of us many, many times. In endless circles. We lap them. Or it laps us. This is a good thing for us guys, who sometimes need something whacked over our heads over and over again before we ever bother to see it.

Where did that come from?

Once I learned about Bob Goff, I started to see him everywhere. Speaking at conferences. Writing forewords in books I read. Being best friends with sovereign nations and their leaders.

It is one of life’s sacred joys to “discover” a new guide, a new resource, even after everyone else has.

New to you ain’t used. It’s new.

Wisdom delayed ain’t so bad after all.

Choose new guides, even if, and especially so, they are old to everyone else but new to you.

Thanks to a friend, I “discovered” the works of Epictetus. About 2000 years later.

There’s wisdom, along with gold, in them there hills.

What DO YOU PROPOSE?

I was late to the Bob Goff party.

Bob is many things. One thing he is is he’s an attorney. But that’s not all. Bob’s an owner. He owns his own law firm, rightly a partnership. Every year, on December 31st, the law firm partnership dissolves. Every year, everyone at the firm becomes a free agent. Able to work where they choose. And every year, Bob, an enviable romantic, gets down on one knee and proposes to each teammate. To ask if they would do him the honor of practicing law alongside him for another year.

It got me to thinking: What if you did that with your work as well as your tribe?

What if you got down on one knee and proposed to your calling? Promised it, that for one more year, at least, you would give everything you had, all your heart and soul? That you were all in?

What if you did that for your spouse?

Every year.

You commit. You pledge. You engage.

I propose we propose more often to the most important things in our lives.

Will you?

Recovering the Satellites

What happens when good enough, isn’t?

When you have everything you ever wanted, and it just makes you, oh what’s the word? Meh.

It makes you meh.

So what do you do?

You do something about it.

You start over.

CTRL-ALT-DEL

All things being equal, I’m a pretty simple guy.

Give me some steak, rice, and kimchi, with a tall glass of ice water, and I’ll be fine.

For a few hours. For a few years.

Eventually, though, I’ll get restless. Hear the call of the wild. The call of my brother and sister wolves.

And I’ll start howling at the moon.

Hungering to run.

To lead.

I’ll start missing the pack.

The Call of the Mild

We all raced to get here. Adulthood, I mean. Without pausing to see what was ahead and why we were in such a hurry. Instead of asking what we wanted to do with our lives, we looked at the “help wanted” section and applied, effectively cutting off 99.9% of our available choices.

But now that’s we’re adults, and can do something about it, we feel we can’t. That we’re stuck with amorphous things like obligations, bills and acting your age.

Youth is wasted on the young, but adulthood is wasted on the ungrateful. We, by large accounts, are ungrateful. Count me among them. But should it make us, all of us, content with mediocrity?

Content with good enough?

It’s the biggest problem of our country, our world. Our contentment with the mediocre. Worse yet, we confuse it with greatness, with something to hold up on a pedestal. Even throw it a piece of tin, have a parade, and call it a day.

If we want to make America great again, we start right here *pointing at temple* and right there *points at heart*.

Get those two things right, which is just one thing, and we will start to hear the right call. We will answer the right vision.

Not ones we confuse for something legendary, when it’s really just a footnote to the footnote.

It’s all in the footnotes

In law school, you learn the gold, the stuff that gets you As and insight, isn’t in the actual text of the decisions of our nation’s greatest jurists. It’s in the little text under the actual body of the famous case. In the footnotes. Most people don’t read them. That’s why they’re so valuable. You get inside the heads of the judges and gain valuable context.

It’s all there. In the footers of every page.

Are you missing it?

What’s under your feet?

MUCH ADO

All of this to say:

We’re starting over.

Packing up and moving on down.

Seeing if there’s something on the other side of above average.

For a while, it’ll be scary. But not the kind that really matters.

Besides, we have done it before.

We are just hitting CTRL-ALT-DEL. Resetting. We are just getting back to basics. Family. Faith. Dream. Hope.

And love.

I said in my very first post in this redux of a blog about going for it. About finding out what happens when you play big. And it took a long time to get to the precipice, but here we are. About to take the first, big, step.

You might remember it as the American Dream. We do.

And we’re going to reclaim ours.

What’s On Your Plate?

The harder your brain works, the poorer choices you’ll make.

Huh?

There’s this Stanford study, where they gave two groups of people a number to remember. The first group had to remember, say, the number 39, while the other group had to memorize say, 8,430,819.

They had to walk down a hallway to tell the number to another person.

Along the way, though, they were unexpectedly stopped and asked if they would like a snack. If so, they could choose one of the following:

A nice fresh salad or a slice of chocolate cake.

Here’s the funny thing, the folks who had to memorize the seven-digit number were two times more likely to choose the chocolate cake.

The theory is that the burden on the brain of remembering the larger number caused weaker willpower and thus poorer decision making.

Or maybe they liked cake.

The truth is, there’s truth to this. Right? We have all had an all-nighter at work or school, come home from the collective high and just crashed, making easy, fast, and gluttonous decisions.

The easy choice and the right choice rarely are in alignment.

The times they are, well, it’s time to grub.

But mostly, it’s a question of how much you’re taxing your hard drive when you’re at the crossroads of a decision.

Close the other programs running. Open up a fresh page. Get ready to do some deep work.

As an old Navy Seal said,

Calm down.

Take a look around.

And make a call.

That’s all you have to do.

When the call is made, it will lead to more information. With that information, you will make another call. And thus you lead.

Vision. And big, hairy, goals, or whatever, are wonderful. But most of us lead this way. On the ground. Running.

But when you make the biggest decisions of your life, the ones which change family trees or maybe just your zip code, make sure your plate is empty, so that you can fill it with the right food.

If you’re a leader, what was on your plate when you made the worst decisions of your life?

And what was on your plate when you made the best?

And what’s there, next to knife and fork, right now?

 

Tunnel Vision

When you’re in a life or death situation, your body does funny things.

Your body knows to pump adrenaline and blood into your large muscle groups, and away from your fingers, making fine motor movements harder to accomplish (think putting keys into a lock) and gross motor movements (like running) much easier.

For a time.

It also gives you tunnel vision. Magnifying objects in your sight, images may appear closer than they actually are. Think bad guy. Think bad guy’s bad things pointed at you.

When you take a class on self-defense, they will hopefully teach you to anticipate and train for such things. To focus on movements that require little to no intricate subtlety. Just blunt force effectiveness.

They’ll also teach you to break the tunnel vision by willfully looking left and right, forcing you to break lock-on target.

Giving you a bigger picture.

Eye Exam

Life’s like that. Doesn’t have to be life or death.

We get tunnel vision.

Eyes on the prize.

As if the entire world blurs, fades, and your treasured objective is so vivid, so crystal clear, so close, you can almost reach out and touch it.

But as many people do in fight or flight situations, when eyes are focused on not-so-cherished prize, many of us, do neither.

We freeze.

At the very moment of the call, when we are about to swipe rock for the Golden Idol, we pause. We stop.

Mind Over Matter

The body does funny things, but it’s got nothing on the mind.

The mind will fool you into thinking all sorts of wacky things.

That you’re dying.

That you’ll never lose that 30 pounds.

That you’re doomed.

That’s there’s no way you can take the idol and switch it for the rock.

It doesn’t take a lot to imagine that type of mind, right?

But, and this is a big but, the mind can also be your best friend, your most powerful ally.

It can tell you that you’re gifted to help people.

That you are called to do so.

And that you’re going to do it, if you just keep on going, into the dark unknown of the future.

Deeper into the tunnel.

The mind can trick you into thinking that the darkness is a scary, avoidable at all costs, place. Or it can convince you that everything you are after, the veritable apple of your eye, is just on the other end of the tunnel.

In the daylight.