Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inspire: Admiral William H. McRaven

Here is a very inspiring commencement speech given by Admiral William H. McRaven.

(Thanks to Ryan R. for bringing my attention to this!)

All the best,

Monday, October 27, 2014

Look Closer

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me, but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax...and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anything but gratitude...for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about I'm sure, but don't worry. You will someday."

~ Lester Burnham played by Kevin Spacey in American Beauty 

We are born into this Life and many things happen. Somethings we have control over, other things we don't. Some things we see as good, other things we see as bad. Later we may change our perspective altogether regarding some or all of it... or we may not. Some people will use what happens to them to love, learn and grow, others will use what happens to them to reinforce their fears, egos or overall unhappiness. It's your choice.

Live. Experience. Relax. Breathe. Let Go. (Repeat)

Keep going.

All the best,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Smell of Autumn


There is something about Autumn that I love. It's more than the crispness in the air, the pleasant temperature or the smell of a bonfire. For me there is something more. Mystery. Secrets. Possibility with more than a hint of melancholy. The kind that hurts in a strange, but somehow good way.

I love Halloween which is my favorite holiday. I love the way the trees begin to turn and then explode into a vivid cascade of colors when the sun shines through them on those fleeting warm days. Maybe the melancholy I feel is those things that are dieing and changing in us, our relationships and lives? And maybe its the weather of our soul that is being reflected in the season? In a weird way it feels good to miss something. Someone. Sometime. As I've said to others during times of loss, "It only hurts because they mattered."

We live for moments and Fall only has a short supply.

I can remember when I was probably in my mid-twenties, it was as if one day I woke up and it was winter. I somehow missed the fall again. I missed the change. I missed my favorite season. That feeling lasted quite a while until I tried to slow things down enough to catch some of it. It was hard because it seemed everyone else I knew and cared about were caught up in the same time warp I was.

When I throw in Rush Signals or a Boston album this time of year, my mind wanders back to a time that probably never really existed. A memory that is most likely made up of a million little perfect memories rolled into one whose melancholy has a gravitational force equal to that of a black hole. So strong even light can't escape. Good memories.

I hear the weather is supposed to be fantastic this weekend?! Remember it's a reflection of our lives.

Enjoy! It goes by fast!

All the best,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Finding Grace Under Pressure


"Serenity is not finding freedom from the storm, but peace within it." 


It took me a while to realize what I was looking for. Although I could feel something deep inside of me gently guiding my path. It wasn't clear. It was easily lost. Subtle. Delicate, yet deeply powerful. You might miss it if you didn't know what you were looking for. Or if you didn't know what you were seeing. Underneath my search for many things in life, even for the experience of feeling alive. I was looking for something inside of my self that allowed me to become a person who embodied Grace Under Pressure. 

It's difficult enough to find serenity on the top of a mountain. Being peaceful when everything is calm can be challenging enough, however being the eye of the storm when everything around you is chaotic takes you to a whole new level. A PeaceWalker. Someone who has Grace Under Pressure during conflict. 

I first sensed this as a kid when my brother would bully and hurt me. After years of martial arts training when I finally gained the confidence and skill to stand up to him, I felt this Grace Under Pressure for that brief moment in time. 

Although I didn't really realize it at the time, that was what was so intoxicating. That sense of power, serenity & Grace during that conflict. 

Later after cutting through much of the static we all sometimes feel, I clarified and sought out three things in life that have immeasurably helped me:

1) The Experience of Feeling Alive.

2) Embodying Grace Under Pressure.

3) Embracing an Ethical Protector Ethos.

At first I didn't know what exactly I was looking for. For me it began with practicing martial arts,  I wanted to feel empowered. I didn't want to be bullied. I didn't want to feel like a victim. I was looking to feel comfortable, confident & empowered in dynamic and stressful situations. 

As time went on I realized that I liked learning how to handle situations more effectively during stress & conflict. This pursuit drew me to the enjoyment of testing my limits in everything from extreme sports like dirt bike riding, martial arts & combat sports, rock climbing, white water rafting, bungee jumping, sky diving, snow boarding, flying and zip lining to adventure travel and pursuing my life and career dreams: Entrepreneurship, executive protection, corporate sales, protective services, writing & teaching have all been part of this journey. 

I think that we all see this Grace Under Pressure when we watch someone who is Really Good at what they do. Watch Michael Jordan play basketball, Rickson Gracie grapple, Dali Lama show compassion, Donald Trump cut a business deal, Berry Sanders play football or Laird Hamilton surf. Listen to Jimi Hendrix play guitar, Bernard Purdie play drums, Frank Sinatra sing or the rock power trio Rush perform. They all exude a sense of Grace Under Pressure.

But you don't just look to famous sports or other celebrities to see this quality. We see it everyday with folks we know who are good at what they do in regular life: The mother of four who handles her children with firm, yet caring grace; a professional sales person who is authentic, helpful and ethical during a tough negotiation, a police officer who handles a dangerous situation as an ethical protector, a young marine thousands of miles away from home putting his life on the line under fire and making decisions as a ethical warrior, a teacher dealing with a troubled kid in a firm, direct, yet caring way. The list goes on and on.

It reminds me of a quote from a North Dakota State Trooper:

"We treat people like ladies and gentlemen not because they always act that way, but because we always do."

I can remember at various times in my life experiencing someone who acted authentically, treated others with dignity & respect and handled tough situations with grace and saying to myself, "I want to be like that." It just felt better to me.

It took me decades to be able to clarify and articulate this idea of Grace Under Pressure in my career and life. And I'm not saying I'm perfect, but now I have more clarity and know the formula. And that's what I enjoy practicing and sharing with others. ...But more on that later.

Keep going.