Real Recognize Real: Why "Being The Part" Is Better Than "Looking The Part"

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” — Albert Einstein

“You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” — Warren Buffett

Life is all about sacrifices—what we are willing to give up for the greater good, or to gain something down the road. The path of looking the part often sacrifices for personal gain. The path of being the part focuses more on sacrificing for the goal of benefiting others.

Which sacrifice are you willing to make?

3 Core Needs Of Every Human Being

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that enhances the freedom of others.” — Nelson Mandela

“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection.” — Johann Hari

“We have to stop being takers and start being caretakers.” — James Cameron

One of the dangers of living in such a prosperous and peaceful nation as America is that we inevitably begin taking what we have for granted, causing us to lose sight of what really matters. Most of us who are under fifty-years-old and have grown up in the U.S. have never experienced what it’s like to be a part of a war that impacts our home-front or the safety and security of our daily lives.

As a result, we end up creating big deals out of small issues, and begin making unimportant things way too important. And, in the process of doing so, we miss out on the importance of the 3rd tier of basic needs that every human being has. These are the non-obvious basic needs because they aren’t as directly correlated to survival, but they are of equal importance in turning mere survival into an existence that promotes and produces good for yourself, each other, and the communities we are a part of.

The three core needs of every human being are: to be 1) seen, 2) heard, and 3) connected.

When you strip away these three things from any human, you begin to push them back into the survival-mode of existence, and many times without even knowing it (or being conscious of it). When a need isn’t even recognized, there is no way for that need to be met—which is why these non-obvious needs can be so lacking in the lives of those around us just as much as in our own.

I Wrote This On My Sabbath

“We have what we seek,
it is there all the time, and if we give it time,
it will make itself known to us.” — Thomas Merton

“The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” - Blaise Pascal

“By ceasing for a moment to consider my own wants I have begun to learn better what I really wanted.” - C.S. Lewis

The Sabbath still matters, and it always will. We aren’t super-men/women, we’re merely human. God knew we would forever remain human, as long as we’re here on this earth, and because of that He gave us an example to follow ever since the beginning of time. “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.” (Gen. 2:3)

Be The Change: Overcoming Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago.” — Alan Watts

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”  — John Maynard Keynes

“To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”   —  Winston Churchill

You can change.

No, I’m serious. You really can.

But why don’t you? Why don’t we?

It’s important to know that you’re not alone in this problem of change. The struggle to change is a human dilemma that every individual faces to one degree or another. What is shared below will hopefully give you the tools to believe change is possible. The belief that can shift our self-limiting perceptions no matter how ingrained they may be.

Sharing is Caring: But Sometimes It's A One-Way Street

“The only blessings you own are the ones you share.”  — Frank Blake

Like an Oreo, life is meant to be shared.

From the oxygen we breathe to the planet that we inhabit, every aspect of life is amplified by the ability to share. Many things in life begin to lose their luster or appeal when they become isolated and individualized.

Sharing life — the real, tangible, non-virtual aspects of the moment-to-moment existence we call “living” — that is what makes us human. Sharing is one of the distinct features of being human. It is one of the greatest means we have to experiencing joy and fulfillment each and every day. And it’s a part of life that is readily available, always within reach of our current grasp, no matter the place we find ourselves in.

There Are No Free Lunches: Understanding Costs In Daily Life

“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”  — Jerzy Gregorek

Whether we want to or not, we are paying a price in countless decisions and actions throughout our days. The question is: do you want to pay more or less? And this is a valid question because there can definitely be times when deferring the cost till later is worth the extra cost to come. 

It’s important to remember that when we hear the word “cost” we immediately associate it with dollar amounts or values, but that is by no means the only type of “cost” we pay. The more prevalent costs we face are opportunity costs

Opportunity costs are the price we pay for doing anything. When we choose to do one thing, we pay the price of not being able to do a different thing.

The False Promise of Modern Society

“The world was not big enough for Alexander the Great, but a coffin was.”   —  Juvenal

(Fill in the blank):

If only I had _____, THEN I would be  _____.

When it comes to the personal happiness, fulfillment, and joy found in life, this if-then statement pervades our daily thinking beyond what we may even realize.

Billboards, commercials, social-media ads, notifications, alerts, and on and on it goes… and that’s just the commercial side of things.

Life of the 21st century is training and conditioning its members that there is only one key that unlocks all we ever want in life. It’s a simple key that opens endless doors. This is the key of: having more

Why Positivity Pays Dividends

Positive emotions can literally pay dividends.

“Dividends” are a form of recurring, passive income from larger investments in a business or company. Positive emotions emit intangible dividends that can add up, over time, into incredible sums of personal resourcefulness. And as Scott Belsky said so poignantly: “Resources are like cards. Resourcefulness is like muscle.”

I don’t know about you, but I would rather hedge my bets on resourcefulness over resources any day of the week. But the best case scenario is to build your resourcefulness while also growing your personal resources.

… so how do we do that? The answer might be easier than you’d expect.

HOPE, Pt. 4 - Purpose: Living Attached and Aligned

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” — Howard Thurman

“A goal is an objective, a purpose. A goal is more than a dream; it’s a dream being acted upon.” — David Schwartz

When we get out of bed we have two choices to make: 1) either make life happen, or 2) let life happen to us. Each day we have the opportunity to discover, understand, and remind ourselves of the point of our life and what we are living for. Not taking advantage of this opportunity will be the default choice if you do not intentionally or consciously make one. This is one of the greatest maladies, highlighted by Frankl’s psychotherapy, that continues to plague our existence, adding to the rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide.

While phones are an easy scapegoat (and rightfully so), I believe this is a surface wound and not the root. At it’s core, it is a loss of purpose; a loss of clarity in direction and pursuit; a misconstrued focus on image vs. relationship; an emphasis on self fulfillment through pleasure instead of meaning.

The beauty in this is that each day we have a choice. Every human has the ability to wake up on mission. Each individual has the capacity to set a trajectory for their life and pursue it. Each person can intentionally live with a daily drive for a higher purpose — for something bigger than themselves.

HOPE, Pt. 3 - Possibility: Leaning Into The Potential

“Some things have to be believed to be seen.”  — Madeleine L’Engle

“Capacity is a state of mind. How much we can do depends on how much we think we can do.” — David Schwartz

“So you’re saying there’s a chance!”

If you’re from the same era as me and are at all familiar with the Jim Carrey of old, this phrase brings one particular scene to mind — Lloyd Christmas asking Mary Swanson what his odds are for ending up with her. Standing there in the hotel lobby after a long, arduous, and near-to-frozen trip to Aspen, Lloyd represents a picture of hope in the middle of what seems to be hopelessness, the one-in-a-million chance of (in Lloyd’s words): “a guy like you and a girl like me ending up together” … this is the power of possibility, and the beauty of hope.

HOPE, Pt. 2 - Progress: Why The Little Things Are The Big Things

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
— Confucius

“The most important shot in golf is the next one.” — Ben Hogan

From Belief To Action

The first part of this mini-series on hope was all about the foundational hope of knowing we are never finished in life — or stated affirmatively: we are always in-process. Which means, our current place in life is more descriptive than it is definitive. It means that growth is possible, whether or not it looks like the picture of growth we imagined.

In this second installment of the mini-series, my goal is to discuss what our focus in that process should be — how we can leverage hope to our advantage and add fuel to fan the flame of that hope to higher and higher realms.

If knowing that growth is always possible is the first step to living a hope-filled life, then the second step is to believe that hope and take steps forward to prove that belief.

HOPE, Pt. 1 - In-Process: A Catalyst for Hope

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage."  — Anais Nin

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” — Carl Rogers

Benjamin Franklin is said to have coined the infamous saying about the only two things that are guaranteed in life: ____ & ____. 

Unless you’ve been living underground, I’m fairly certain you passed the quiz with flying colors. 1) Death and 2) Taxes seem to be the only guarantees we have in life. 

Of course there can always be other arguments that are made. If you do a simple google search for “guarantees in life,” you will find endless articles on various opinions of what should be inserted in addition to death and taxes, but the original deduction by Franklin carries with it the right balance of brevity and truth that makes it a fair analysis of the human condition.

Part of the truth that this cliche conveys is that life is filled with movement, dynamism, and change. 

Not For Everyone: An Honest Evaluation Of Self-Employment

“It is better to fail at your own life than to succeed at someone else’s.”  — Andre Gide

“Your calling is found where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  —Frederick Beuchner

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to “take that leap of faith”? To go out on your own and pave the path for your own career and destiny?

In the day and age we live in, this thought occurs more than it ever has before in history, because the opportunities are virtually endless (specifically in the Western world, especially for much of the U.S.).

But is it as glamorous as it sounds? Does it produce the life you always wanted to have? Will it meet all your hopes and dreams?

It’s not as easy as a yes or a no…

Brick By Brick: 2018 Year In Review

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”  — Lao Tzu

“Build” …

This year has undoubtedly been a year of more change than any other in my entire life. From top to bottom, everything has shifted and been made new. Much of it has felt like starting from scratch, yet, undoubtedly, there was a firm foundation already laid upon which I could build.

(“Build” was my 2018 Word of the Year - you can read more about that HERE.)

Just Be: What Nike Got Wrong

“In the hopes of reaching the moon man fails to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”

— Albert Schweitzer 

Lately there has been a lot of talk around the reality of being a human being, not a human doing. The question is: why? And is this helpful? And what should our response or takeaway be?

To begin, let’s examine a baseline question: 

Are we defined by who we are or what we do?
And are those two aspects necessarily mutually exclusive?

Good Timber Grows: 7 Life Lessons Learned From Trees

“Good timber does not grow with ease: The stronger wind, the stronger trees; The further sky, the greater length; The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.”  —Douglas Malloch

When was the last time you saw a tree?

No, really. When was the last time you actually took notice of a tree — seeing it with the childlike eyes of awe and wonder? Hopefully you will take a moment to pause and re-see a tree after reading this post, because there are more life lessons to be found in trees than anything you may be perusing on the six-inch screen in front of you.

Kingdom-Minded: Living Empowered

"God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson

What happens when your alarm goes off in the morning?

If you’re like the majority of people, your first thoughts aren’t usually of the inspired kind. More often than not we wake up with a certain level of animosity aimed towards both the noise that woke you up and the responsibilities that require you to get out of bed.

But what if you woke up with an unquenchable fire that could never be extinguished (even if it does dim to a flicker at times)? What if you woke up like royalty? Marcus Aurelius, who was royalty (the emperor of Rome), recognized the power of this mindset:

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

When Your Dream Hits A Dead-End

“Part of being wise in this world is learning to accept that we have only very limited access to the big picture.”  - David Gibson

“Persisting in one way is not a guarantee of victory. But persistence blended with experimentation does guarantee success.”  - David Schwartz

“Great opportunities never have 'great opportunity’ in the subject line.”  - Scott Belsky

"What looks inevitable in hindsight is often invisible with foresight."  - Steven Kotler

Inner Dialogue

It’s over.

… your life, that is. Well, at least it seems that way. It definitely feels that way. But you are still breathing. You are still consciously aware of these thoughts. Yet, somehow, it all seems surreal, almost as if real life isn’t that real, or at least not nearly as real as you once thought.

How did you get to here? How did you manage to come to this dead-end? And why? Why did you work so hard, fight for so long, and sacrifice so much only to wind up at a place you never wished to be?

Perspectives, Pt. 5 - Our Need For Perspective

Perspectives is a series about just that - perspectives: how we view the world; how we process the information and events we experience in everyday life.

In order to self-correct we must first be self-aware enough to know what needs correcting. Self-awareness entails an objective view of how we personally think and operate, which leads to a greater empathy and understanding towards others with whom our views and perspectives differ.

The heart behind this series is to examine the power of perspective through blog posts, to help illustrate and open our eyes to the power perspective can bring. At some point, your perspective and mine will undoubtedly differ... and that’s the point. This is my take on it, what’s yours?

“In the hopes of reaching the moon man fails to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”

--Albert Schweitzer

Perspectives, Pt. 4 - In Defense of Standing Out

Perspectives is a series about just that - perspectives: how we view the world; how we process the information and events we experience in everyday life.

In order to self-correct we must first be self-aware enough to know what needs correcting. Self-awareness entails an objective view of how we personally think and operate, which leads to a greater empathy and understanding towards others with whom our views and perspectives differ.

The heart behind this series is to examine the power of perspective through blog posts, to help illustrate and open our eyes to the power perspective can bring. At some point, your perspective and mine will undoubtedly differ... and that’s the point. This is my take on it, what’s yours?

The history of hipsters is fascinating.

With roots extending back to the beginning of the 19th century, the word “hipster” contains many layers of cultural formation. It is a term that has been shaped by an array of people and places, from the Jazz reformers in the 40’s, to hippies in the 70’s, to the modern-day version seen today in cafe’s and local goods stores across America. While this is a captivating subject and one that could take much of our time here, that’s not the point of this post. So feel free to read all about it here, here, or here.

The point is this: the culture of “hipsters” is pervasive. It has been around for a long time (probably much longer in form/function than the 19th century). Hipsters are characterized by non-conformity to mainstream culture, progressive views, and a dogged individuality. At the heart of being a hipster is the desire to go against the commonly accepted way of life, bucking the traditional norms and expectations of society. At it’s core, this is the desire to: stand out.