Out in front of you is a window of time. For the sake of my post, let's say June. June of 2013 to be precise. The most important question, if the Lord allows, is whether you'll be present.
Will you be there in June?
All of your life in 30 days will be found in June. No exceptions, the happy, the sad, the fears, the events, and more. The question remains, will you be there in June?
Many of us sprint through the days that create the months. Busy schedules, busy activities and our lives are wrapped in the doing. Tragically, the being part of life is left in the dust. One of my greatest challenges, and opportunities, is reminding and teaching my family the art of being. My family is not unlike most when it comes to the struggle of being. In many ways, I play the resounding gong. A bell designed to remind and encourage the behavior of being.
What the hell is being?
I practice being in the following ways:
Doing absolutely nothing in silence. Many refer to this as mindfulness. I often practice this to hear from God
Stopping to look around me and let my senses take over
Practicing my art
Romancing my memories. Central Park comes to my mind right now
If you live in a place where "being" is a strange concept, you should take the risk and try it. Don't worry, this is not something you do for hours. Think of it as adding salt for flavor. It's something small that is really big.
I have written many times that everyone is an entrepreneur (risk taker). The size and scope varies from person to person. The place where it happens can be different too.
I was in a conversation with a CEO yesterday about how we've moved to a place where if you don't see yourself as an entrepreneur, you'll be left behind. This is tough work. Many, I know, haven't accepted that we no longer live in an industrial age. Accept is the right word to look at here.
I've been an entrepreneur for 6 years. And as I think about that conversation yesterday, I realize that entrepreneurism did something I didn't expect when I started the conscious journey.
Entrepreneurism reintroduced Eric Pennington to Eric Pennington. Regardless of how much money I make, how many people experience what I offer or whether applause comes in waves, the reintroduction is a difference-maker.
I've lived long enough to have lost some things. The list includes people, careers, health, and more. Probably true for you as well. The reality of loss is not an age-related thing, though our culture still sells the BS of loss is for the older crowd.
I value what I've lost.
I hear Joni Mitchell in my head singing "well somethings lost and somethings gained in living everyday." Our best remedy is the art of reflection and being. The consequence of reflecting and being is you can't be so distracted and doing in life. You better get this one down, your life, and its quality, might depend on it.
Hear's what time hasn't taken from me:
In all of life's losses and heartbreaks, love remains. Whether I've fallen, chosen or awakened to, love has remained. That poem at the beginning is true, not even death. How can that be? I've had my moments of wondering, but the truth remains. When love enters you it never leaves. The colors and brush strokes may vary and change, but love never leaves.
The existing state of affairs (seeks to preserve the status quo)
I'll use my own experience to set some context and you can apply my example to anything you like.
About 25 years ago I persecuted my dad in-person and alone. I was angry for what was done and for what was missing. I waged this case on what seemed like a daily basis. I protested, I lied, I ignored, and I was silently cruel.
At a point, a few years into my marriage, my wife asked me if I realized how distant and cruel I became when I was around my father. I denied it, I defended myself and I felt exposed. How could she know my secret, my wound, my war? I decided to prosecute on.
The existing state of affairs (seeks to preserve the status quo)
You might wonder why I wouldn't make the choice to change, to turn it around, to forgive. I'm sure there are multiple reasons why, but certainly I felt more comfortable in the prosecution's case. I fooled myself into believing that my existing state would deliver an outcome I thought was right. Little did I know how wrong I was.
Many years on, my case rested and the charges were dismissed. I forgave and got a few years of peace and freedom before he passed. I actually found a man I liked and certainly loved. I do, at times, wish I would have come to my senses or figured out that it Really is better to forgive.
Are you tracking with me? Can you see the danger in sticking with the status quo?
Think about this:
The status quo fools you into believing that all is well, regardless of the problems looking right at you.
The status quo demands you lie and defend.
The status quo assures you saftey and a future you won't have to deal with.
The status quo accuses (loudly) reformers of betrayal and madness.
In one of the new ventures I'm working on, I've been brought on to help on multiple fronts. The company is a startup and that implies variety. The biggest job for me, however, is building and managing trust.
I never take this for granted. You shouldn't forget this either.
Building trust comes from a desire to show that you're worth trusting. It can be manifested in your words, but as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. If you have a relationship with a smart, actively engaged person, then you should expect that your words and actions will be observed for the purposes of building trust. I highly recommend you pay as much attention as possible here because more than likely the person observing you has been burned before.
Everyone been burned before.
Managing trust is the art of gratitude toward the one who has given the trust. When trust is given don't feel like you've arrived and begin to think autopilot is the order of the day. Complacency is sure way to lose everything you've built. I practice on purpose management. For example, what actions am I taking today that enhance or hinder. Ask these questions everyday.
Think of building and managing trust as a form of gardening. Build something beautiful and then keep the weeds out.
This article appeared in this past weekend's Wall Street Journal. It focuses on the value of a degree in today's social and economic climate.
I've looked at this issue for many years. I've done this through the lens of an individual and a parent. Certainly, there are arguments to be made on both sides. I tend to favor the disruption going on now. It could lead to something very positive.
There is one thing I'm watching that doesn't get touched on in the article, and that is how much debt many universities are carrying on their balance sheets. It speaks to some of the creeping ills facing higher education. Mark Cuban wrote a fabulous post on the subject here.
Keep an eye on all of these trends. You'll be glad you did.
This post is from back in 2008. We'll need this in the future to come.
The above insignia is for the U.S. Navy Seals. I didn't realize how significant the symbol was until I talked to Erik, whose brother is a Navy Seal.
Erik and I didn't talk much about war or fighting, but we did talk about knowing your limits.
The Seals go through very difficult training in the pursuit of becoming elite. A part of that training is discovering your limits. My understanding is when a Seal discovers their limits they are better prepared for the extreme situations inevitable in their job. Some say enlightenment arrives as well with a discovery of one's limits. I would agree.
So how about you? Have you discovered, and do you know your limits?
In years past I didn't want to know. I thought knowing my limits would bring me too close to the "brink." So many times I chose the expedient and practical The brink is good for you though. I say this, knowing how painful it can be. No one signs up for it (except maybe the Navy Seals) and many times we just want a break.
Here are some ideas around discovering and knowing your limits:
When the storms (business drop-off, health issues, job loss, relationship troubles) come, stop. You're heading into a time of discovering your limits. Ironically, the choice is yours as to the staying and fighting. You could choose an easy route to escape, and many do.
Focus on what is being produced inside of you. This is a future-forward perspective. In other words, a seed is planted, but you don't see the fruit for some time to come. You have to believe.
Prepare for people to desert you. It's not personal, but it is true. Limits are markers for what many people see as dangerous, frightening or pure madness. When you find someone willing to stick with you during your discovery and knowing, you've found someone you can count on.
Don't get bitter or resentful over anything.
Don't be too hard on yourself when the mistakes are made. Mistakes are a part of the process.
The Navy Seals are an elite group of people. They've set a good example of what we all should be willing to do in our career, relationships, health and dreams.
What happened in Boston has left me without a conclusion. I am still processing all that was, and is, a tragic event. Maybe it comes down to a minute in Boston. A minute to reconsider, a minute to stop and text an I love you message or a minute to react to what was not supposed to happen.
Many of us in America are searching for answers. Inside of us is this inescapable feeling that what was over there is now permanently over here too. Maybe that's an inherently good thing. The recognition that we do live in a dangerous world-terrorist or not. Maybe we now understand that taking things for granted is no longer an option to be chosen by accident.
A minute in Boston, or anywhere else, should teach us the power in "now" and living life accordingly. No more waiting on a government to fix things or restore things, no more worshiping at the alter of career, no more depending on someone else to do what only you can do.
If we don't get this right soon, history will swallow us whole.