Monday, May 30, 2016

The Chick Being Born by Mark Nepo

"Every Crack is Also an Opening."

When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all of its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually, the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world.
Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles through the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment - growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking - the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn't die, but falls into the world.

The lesson is profound. Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with a feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is. 

Yet the chick offers us the wisdom that the way to be born while still alive is to eat our own shell. When faced with great change - in self, in relationship, in our sense of calling - we somehow must take in all that has enclosed us, nurtured us, incubated us, so when the new life is upon us, the old is within us. 

~ Mark Nepo 
From the his book - The Book of Awakening

Monday, May 23, 2016

Identity: The Choice of What to Be & See

 The Calm Before the Storm at the 2016 Michigan Dept. of Corrections Annual Conference

Who will you choose to be? 

What will you choose to see? 

These are the questions that I asked the directors, wardens and other leaders at the 2016 Michigan Department of Corrections Annual Conference.

Will we choose the path of being an Ethical Protector? Are we clear on where our "Moral Compass" points? Can we see the Life Value inside of each person we meet, beyond their behaviors, relative beliefs and values? We are all protectors, we just have to make sure we are protecting the right things! ISIS, drug dealers and other criminals are protecting something too. It's just the wrong things! 

The picture at the top of this page is of the empty conference room before everyone arrived earlier today. There where just under 300 leaders from the Michigan Dept. of Corrections met from all over the upper and lower peninsula of the state. They get together every year at this annual conference to discuss the newest training, to recognize top performers, to reconnect, bond and exchange best practices in the field.

I was privileged to be brought in to be their keynote speaker kicking off their 3 day event. Given the opportunity, I laid it on the line, opened myself up and spoke from my heart regarding my solo work as well as my work with Resolution Group International (RGI) and our work out on the East Coast specifically with Camden County PD.

I began my 1 1/2 hour presentation (yep, you read that right, I had the stage for an hour and a half, not like these Ted Talk sissies who only talk for 18 minutes! ;-] ) by telling the story of my brother and I. I'll be honest, I still feel apprehensive telling that story because how personal it is to me.  However, I tell it because I think it is important to share my history of where it began for me regarding being a protector. I'll admit, replaying the details of that day as a kid standing up to my brother is a raw vulnerable experience for me. I find it a bit embarrassing still. I want it to be a much more heroic story like being courageous in a war, or overcoming a terrible disease or heroically saving someone in the face of danger, but it isn't any of that, it is just about a boy standing up to his older brother. Regardless, it's my story and the reason why I do what I do. 

I go on to tell Robert Humphrey's tale of human equality in his Hunting Story and show a short video clip of how a correctional officer from one of the most dangerous prisons in the world (South Africa's Pollsmoore Prison) applies this Ethical Protector concept in what he calls "dynamic safety." He finds the power of relationships and separating inmates Life Value from their behavior to make him more successful and gives him a better life. 

I illustrated that we are human beings so, we needed an integrated approach to training and strategy when it came to conflict management and leadership. A model that included ethical clarity, verbal communications, and physical skills. I went on to demonstrate the idea of "tactical space" both physically and verbally and how it can be used to optimize performance during a situation. 

After the physical demo, I describe what was going on in Camden County Police Department and how RGI trained their officers and mentors to help them develop a clearer ethical protector culture. 

Finally, I finished my presentation with a personal story of my friend Mike Benson and his incredible journey of overcoming adversity and becoming More Than a Conqueror

In the hour and a half presentation I tied in the themes of:

We are all protectors... Make sure we are protecting the right things.
See Conflict as an Opportunity
Embracing the Universal Life Value
Working Toward Most Good / Least Harm
Lead Through Inspiration

Of course I concluded my time with Robert Humphrey's Warrior Creed:

Where ever I go everyone is a little safer because I am there.
Where ever I am anyone in need has a friend.
When ever I return home everyone is happy that I am there.

~It's a better life.

Thank you, MDOC, it was my pleasure to speak at your 2016 conference. I hope that some seeds were planted and my intentions were well received. 

All the best,

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mojo Rising


Mojo Risin' - for most it's a passage from the 1971 Door's song, L.A. Woman, but to me and my friends it was also a legendary motorcycle spot that was talked about in whispers by our older brethren when we were kids. You could see the sand, hills and trails of this dirt biking Valhalla from US131 before urban sprawl enveloped it more than 20 years ago. Surfers had their illusive ultimate wave that  they spent their life chasing. Skateboarders of old had the perfect pool. Ski and snowboard aficionado's have their perfect slope or powder. Jerry, Mark, and I had what we knew as "Mojos." The perfect dirt bike riding spot. A place where the days lasted forever, your ride was epic, legends were made, everything was... well... perfect. 

The reality of this "perfect" spot was a far cry from all the hype. However, many kept the illusion of this perfect place vivid in their minds. As if this would be the be all, end all of  their happiness and answer all of their woes. 

It's funny that we still hang on to our Mojos. Places, situations, or people that will make everything better in our lives. Something that will solve all of our problems. It can be easy to think that it'll all come together if we only had that job, or that relationship, or that house, or kids, or those bills paid off, or that boat, cottage, vacation, degree, promotion, winning lottery ticket, etc. etc. etc. 

The thought of something "over there" that will bring us our ultimate happiness is a fantasy many of us hold on to. It's this same fantasy that can distract us from feeling content and happy with what we do have right here, right now.

As we continue walking down our path, we often turn over stones looking for contentment, happiness and fulfillment. It's like that mirage on the next hill, it remains just in front of you. Just over that next hill. No matter how fast you approach it or how hard you try, it's always just out of reach. If you keep coming up empty, look inside of yourself. Look to the things that you are grateful for in your life. Look to something bigger than yourself, something that is already in and around you. That perfect place isn't "out there," it's in here! Mojos is in each of us, you don't have to go anywhere for it. Every place is Mojos. Every wave is that perfect wave, if you have the right perspective. 

When I see a young child excited by the smallest things in life like playing for hours with a simple rubber ball, or finding enjoyment in the tiny forgotten joys that are soon lost, like a quick splash in a mud puddle or riding their bike for the first time, I see that they found their "Mojos." All of our Mojos are right in front of us if we just have the right perspective to see it.

What is your Mojos? What Shangri La are you coveting? What is clouding your vision from being fulfilled in this moment?

Keep going,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

9 Things to Let Go Of & 6 to Consider

  1. Breathe
  2. Relax
  3. Let go of Complaining
  4. Let go of Anger
  5. Let go of Worrying
  6. Let go of Guilt
  7. Let go of Competing
  8. Let go of Judgement
  9. Let go of Regret
  10. Let go of Blame
  11. Let go of Fear
  12. Appreciate What You Have
  13. Focus on What You Can Do
  14. Be Here, Now
  15. Keep Going!