To Thy Own Self Be True

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The last full conversation I had with my dad was a joke.

Seriously, it was a joke. It was a groaner and I guess I should have locked it in my memory for posterity and tender memories and all that stuff but I didn’t. That wasn’t my dad.

Six days later he went to be with the Lord. He’d been living with a host of ailments for the last 6 months and contrary to those stories you read about 95 year old’s running their first marathon your body begins to wear about when you are getting ready to turn 88.

His was. Wearing down that is.

He called me on a Saturday evening and said he had a joke to tell me. He’d heard it from my sister. It was unusual for him to call. My mom always made the phone calls and when you’d ask how dad was feeling she’d pull the phone away from her ear and shout:

Tommy, John wants to know how you’re feeling!

Get my drift.

So I was taken by surprise. He told me his joke, we talked about sports for a few minutes and he said That’s all I needed. Talk with you soon.

But we didn’t. three days later my sister Mary called and said those words I didn’t want to hear. You probably need to come up here. I don’t think it’s going to be much longer.

I am not for certain how many years I have left. I hope quite a few, but when you’re almost 66 you start thinking about your end game.

I don’t act 66. I prefer to associate with younger people and I’m not much for sitting around thinking about the old days. There are folks I hold in my heart but I’m always looking ahead not backward.

That’s who I am. That’s who I’ll always be

I had a good teacher.

My dad was one thing, consistent.

You always knew where you stood and he was easy to anticipate. He never changed. Ask him a question and in most case you already knew the answer

He was we are fond of saying comfortable in his own skin.

I thought about him the other day. I was talking with a coaching client and he told me that one day he just wanted to be like…….

My in box is full of people wanting me to be just like them and for a kings ransom they will show me how it’s done.

But really, they can’t.

You see I cant be anyone other than who I am, and who I was meant to be. It’s like our DNA. There may be similarities with other folks but basically you and I are one of kind.

No matter how hard we try to emulate fill in the blank, we never will.

Look, I been there and done that and I can tell you the main reason I was so attracted to someone elses success pattern: It’s a whole lot easier then carving out your own path.

But in the end I was never as successful as the other guy.

We invest a lot of time and resource in running away from ourselves and becoming something we were never intended to be to begin with.

The key to your success is pulling apart your own DNA and seeing what suprises it has in store for you.

A Look In The Mirror

I saw Brandy this morning.

That’s right. You probably don’t know who Brandy is.

Brandy is a trainer at my gym.

A few years back I took a class she taught called Ab-Blast. Mostly, it was a grueling hour of contorting your body into all sorts of strange positions twice a week for 5 weeks in an effort to strengthen your core muscles.

I was ready to quit after the first class but I’d paid sixty dollars to be there and a small voice inside of me that sounded an awfully lot like my dad kept shouting You made a commitment!

I was the oldest person in the class. Oldest by a few miles. My partner for our warm ups was a twenty something who had enough energy and enthusiasm to light up a small town.

She told me I reminded her of her grandfather and kept telling me to take it easy.

I toughed it out until the last week. The last week was devoted to forming and holding a plank. If you aren’t aware, a plank is when you put your entire body parallel to the ground, lift up about six inches and hold it for thirty seconds. It’s supposed to strengthen your core muscles. Build character and all that stuff.

Uhm Okay.

It wasn’t working too well for me. I kept falling flat on the mat after about 3 seconds, so I devised a work around, so -to-speak.

I sorta scooted my butt up in the air a bit so I looked like an bridge rather than a plank. It took the pressure off of my core muscles and made me feel a bit more comfy.

Comfy not healthy

Brandy was walking around encouraging us and when she got to me she leaned over really close and whispered

The only person you’re cheating, John, is yourself

With that she firmly put her foot on my lower back and pushed.

Embarrassed?

Humiliated?

Sure was.

What happened early that morning long ago has never left my thoughts for very long.

Taking the short cut, cheating, phoning it in – call it what you will only provides us with a false sense of who we are or what we can do. I’ve come to discover it is one of the more selfish things I can do.

There have been times I’ve been tempted to take the short cut and when I do I remember what she told me. The only person I am cheating is me. I’m robbing myself of an opportunity to grow.

I’ll leave it there

Oh yeah. I don’t see Brandy very often anymore but when I do I make it a point to thank her. She just smiles.

Wisdom comes when we least expect it

Namaste.

5 Reasons to Meditate (And how it can help your life and career.)

I have learned that everything – our successes and our failures; our hurdles forward and our reluctance’s to grow – all emanate from the relationship we have with ourselves. It is the bruises and bumps that our soul’s endure that either motivates us or holds us back in our lives, and our careers

I heard this a number of years ago when I was on a retreat. I found it to be true. When I choose to be open and explore who I am and why I am – no matter how painful that may feel at the time – it allows me an opportunity to heal and to grow.

When I have a discovery session with someone I ask is if they have a meditation practice or carve out some quiet time for themselves to reflect on what’s going on in their lives. When they learn to seek themselves through meditation, they are always surprised how things begin to flow for them.

Over the years I have discovered five benefits of creating a successful meditation practice

Meditation can help deal with stressful situations  I have practiced meditation since the late 1980’s. It is my go-to remedy when I feel the muscles in my shoulders and lower back slowly start to tighten until I am the last person you want to be in a room with. Stress breeds stress which……… wait for it……….. breeds more stress. When I’ve worked myself into a dither over something I probably don’t have any control over to begin with I take a pause.

Okay, on top of being really good looking I read minds.

So you want me to leave my workplace and go off in a corner and chant for an hour?

Well, not exactly.

Close your eyes, inhale a deep breath, hold it until the count of five and then slowly exhale, five times.

But isn’t stress natural and inevitable? 

Yup, it is but if we learn how to deal with stress and create strategies to control it we are in control of how it affects us.

While you am concentrating on your breathing it disengages your mind for a short period of time. The whole exercise takes less than a minute.

Which leads me to my next point.

Meditation can help increase focus and attention. The phone is ringing, your smart phone is dinging, and three people are impatiently waiting to dump their issues in your lap. Your head is spinning.

I used to drive myself crazy trying to win a war I had no business fighting.

I started taking time at lunch to relax and rest my mind. I didn’t have a smart phones with apps. I had a cassette recorder with some guided meditations on tape and I’d sit in the car and take some time to reboot.

A smart phone and a good set of ear buds can get you focused and back to dealing with priority issues quicker than you think.

Meditation can boost your creativity Contrary to centuries of mythology the quickest way to advance your career is not to marry the bosses children or suck up to an executive vice president. It’s learning to think and approach an issue from a different perspective.



It’s a great way to get noticed, but…………… (There is always a but ain’t there!) you have to clear out all the useless traffic that’s cluttering your mind like the 405 on a Friday afternoon! When we’re not thinking clearly, we cant focus on creating solutions and we shut down and rather than having the confidence to take a risk with a suggestion or solution that no one else has thought of.

The operative word here is thinking clearly. Daily meditation can help you locate that nasty old clutter and remove it so you can focus on your natural creativity.

Meditation can help overcome anger and confusion I cant’ think of anything worse than being stuck!  First we get frustrated, then confused and if we don’t work our way through the issue, we get angry.

The anger is directed at ourselves because we haven’t figured out an answer to our dilemma. (Even though we like to think it’s because our fourth grade teacher never called on us.)

There are all sorts of modifiers we use when we want to describe being angry. What they mostly say is that our internal field of vision is cloudy and uncertain. Meditation allows us the opportunity to explore our inner self and create ways to deal with our anger and confusion. C

Meditation is a practice not an event. Okay technically this isn’t a benefit but if we don’t embrace this notion right from the beginning we are apt to crash and burn – big time.

When I began meditating some thirty plus years ago I almost stopped after a few days. I had this notion that I should be deep in some foggy thought process for at least an hour each day and wipe my mind totally blank during that time. Otherwise, I wasn’t doing it the right way.

Fortunately a good friend set me straight.

Like everything new, meditation takes time to get the hang of. I started with five minutes each morning and worked my way up to ten. Some days I was surprised when the my clock went ding and some days I kept wondering if the darn thing was busted. Ten minutes! It seemed like 10 years. 

Today I meditate for no longer than thirty minutes each morning.

Clearing our minds? Some days its a breeze. Some days it’s a struggle. What I’ve learned is to hang in there, brush my thoughts away very gently and focus on my breath.

I’d suggest you begin with some guided meditation. It’s like learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The key is to create a practice that benefits your life the most. When you do you will begin to see some positive changes in your life:

You’ll have more energy

You’ll focus on your goals

You’ll open yourself to more self development. 

I promise.

What “New Marketing” Really Means

Can we talk?

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the “new” marketing for some time.

Why?

I know some really honest people, chock full of integrity, not so much concerned about earning seven figures as they are getting paid for the value of what they share with the rest of us and as importantly making a contribution. Remember that passion and enthusiasm that got you started?

Then, there are the others.

I thought they’d largely vanished. They are the folks who still poke and prod, get up in our faces and suggest that we never really belonged at the cool kids lunch table anyway. They’ve located our pain and they have the answer.

I had an experience the other day that caused me to write this post.

YouTube videos are my friends. Any time I’m stuck I’ll do a search and viola, there are a host of experts willing to share their thoughts with me. Some of them have made me look like I knew what I was doing , especially when it came to fixing things around the house

The other day I was interested in learning how people were using YouTube videos as a way to build their email list. After a few abortive tries I found one that looked pretty interesting. I hit pause, went for a cup of tea, settled in and punched “resume.”

The content was exactly what I was looking for and I even registered to receive the free gift the presenter offered if I’d share my email address.

I did. I know the drill. To get something you have to give something. No problem.

I knew what was coming next. It’s called the squeeze. You have my attention, you’ve plied me with all sorts of free stuff, now it’s time to reach into my pocket……….. Again, I do not have a problem with this.

It’s called sales and it is not a dirty word.

I read the landing page I was sent to. Again, good stuff. But………….Not anything I needed right now. I book marked it for future reference. Just in case.

Now, people respond to rejection one of two ways:

When I get notice through my provider that someone didn’t click though or left in the middle of reading something I’ll respond by telling them I’m sorry they aren’t interested and one last time in an appropriate way, share the benefits of what I am offering. I close by telling them I hope they enjoy my newsletter or blog or whatever it is they gave me access to their email for.

See, that email address is gold. They may not need the program I am currently offering but down the road something may be of interest to them and they may investigate further.

(Did I tell you one of my motto’s is “Measure progress with a calendar not with a stop watch!”)

The second way of responding to rejection was how I was treated. I received an email that suggested I’d never reach my life or business goals as long as I made the choice not to enroll. As a matter of fact, I was told I was now part of the 99% who didn’t want to work hard and make commitments. It was my loss.

The cool kids lunch table was getting father and farther away.

But ya know what? That’s how they wanted me to feel. They wanted me to feel hurt. They wanted me to lift my tear stained eyes and admit I had it all wrong.

They were my hope and salvation.

There was still time to act.

Let me ask you something?

How do you want to be treated?

Do you want a thank you, see you later, hope we can connect down the road and if not no worries.

Or

Do you want to be told you’re a quivering mass of failure who’ll never amount to anything.

The old way of marketing suggests I find your pain and exploit it. The new way of marketing suggests I find your strengths and passions and celebrate them.

There might even be a happy dance involved.

New Career Creations blends the disciplines of business, career and life coaching to assure their clients have the best opportunity to be successful in all areas of their lives and careers. We partner with you to create those possibilities. A Heroes Journey is published on Tuesday at 7:30 AM CST. You can contact us at John@NewCareerCreations.com

The Wisdom of My Father

I never heard him drop the F-Bomb

He didn’t need to.

He never went along with the crowd and if the prevailing notion of the day lined up with what he believed, so be it. If it didn’t, as he often said, “tough toenails.”

He knew a lot about a lot of things but you never heard him make you look bad. If he thought you were wrong he’d put it in the form of a question and allow you the opportunity to back track a bit and save face.

In the fifty seven years that I knew him, he only recommended one book for me to read. It was Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. He, himself, never had a problem in that area.

When I was old enough I worked summers in the factory he began his career in as a timekeeper. When people saw my name they’d ask me if “Are you Tom’s boy?” I never heard a negative word about him. This high praise came from men who found fault with the good Lord himself.

Don’t ever try to negotiate something with him when he believed his position was the right one. He was never mean or nasty. He simply held his ground and if you didn’t agree, after awhile he’d shake your hand and walk away. No hard feelings.

You could never convince him to do something he didn’t believe 100 percent in. Contrary to my mothers exhortation NOT to have opinions, my father had them and he held firm to them.

If you are thinking I am beginning to make a case for sainthood you’d be wrong. I came of age in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He and I disagreed on a lot of things especially the War in Vietnam. It made for some interesting dinners.

Looking back, as loud as those arguments became he never made them personal. He would tell me my thinking was flawed but he never attacked me as a person. He told me when I was older I’d look at things differently.

My dad believed in three non-negotiable things.

Your faith in God,

Your family

Your career.

Those were the three things that came before anything else.

I was working third shift when Joan called to tell me my dad had been hospitalized. He’d become violently ill in the middle of the night. It could be his heart. They were running tests. (Turned out to be his gall bladder.)

That morning I reached him in his hospital room. I told him I was going to pack, rest for a bit and head for Milwaukee. He stopped me and said, “You have a family and a job. You take care of them. They come first.”

The last words he spoke to me came two days before he went to be with the Lord. He had an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth and every word was spoken softly. He pulled me close to him, raised the oxygen mask and said

It’s been a good, long life. But gosh, it’s gone by so fast

He was 87.

There was always a sense of who he was and what he had to offer this world. He made no apologies for how he felt or what he believed and deep inside of him was a strong sense of compassion and understanding for just about everyone he met. You didn’t have to agree with him to be his friend.

He’s been gone for seven years. When I look back I’ve always wondered how he came to be so resolute and firm in who he was and what he believed. I believe it was the unshakable confidence he had in himself.

There’s a lesson there.

Four generations My dad, me, my son Matt and my grand daughter Ava-Jo

A Heroes Journey is published each Wednesday morning at 7:30 AM CST

My Mother’s Wisdom

January 30, 2019

We’ve laughed about it over the years. The three things my mom told us every morning as we walked out the door for school.

As a kid they seemed annoying. Designed as something to inhibit the budding free spirit every adolescent craves. I guess Mark Twain’s old saying about how dumb my parents were at 14 and how smart they became in seven years when I reached 21 was accurate.

My mother was a child of the Great Depression. She was the fifth of six children who lived past infancy. Her father died when she was eleven and she left high school after her sophomore year so she could get a job with health insurance for herself, her mother and the one sibling that remained at home.

She worked in a dairy until she was twenty one when she and my father married. For the next fifteen years or so she worked in our home. During that time she developed a real passion and talent for drawing, painting, china painting, ceramic sculpture and was the best cook and baker I’d ever met.

We even had a kiln in our basement.

My father loved my mother without reservation. In other words, unequivocally. I am still in therapy because he refused to pay the additional twenty five dollars to upgrade my bike from a three-speed to a ten-speed but he paid put a 220 voltage outlet in the basement for my moms kiln.

Somewhere from those experiences in her life came the three things we heard each and every morning – Our marching orders.

Keep your eyes straight ahead. She wanted us to be safe. She wanted us to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. If you looked to the left or to the right, you’d be tempted to pause and investigate and only God knows who or what was over there. You might get hit on the head and sold to a circus.

You have no opinion. Opinions get you in trouble. Trouble finds the teacher. The teacher call mom. My brother and I would sit on the steps towards our basement trying to figure out which one of us was about to get in trouble. (Most of the time the call was about me!)

You can have all the opinions you want. Just keep them locked tight in your head and you’ll be okay.

Keep your big mouth shut! If you know me, you know this was the suggestion (?) most difficult for me to master. Along with having lots of opinions I was usually pretty vocal in letting the world know what those opinions were.

I’m driving down the road one morning trying to find a way to complete this post. It’s hung here for a few days now and I was getting worried.

Why does Wednesday morning always get here so quickly?

It dawned on me that my mom put stuff out there the way she knew best and what her life experience had taught. I mean, how many kids do you know leave school to be the sole support of their family?

So, while I was sitting in yet another meeting that showed little chance of going anywhere meaningful I re-crafted her three rules of life into what they’d come to mean to me.

Always keep looking forward. Keep your eye on your goals and don’t let anything or anyone distract you from where you’re headed. 

Keep growing and keep learning. Keep close watch over what you believe today and always compare it to where you were and where you want to go. Keep your options and your opinions open and closely held.

Choose your counsel wisely. A friend once put it to me like this: There are 3 or 4 people I’d get out of bed for in the middle of the night and get out of jail, no questions asked. They are the people I have learned to trust. A few more who I’d help; but wonder why they called me.

Finally there is everyone else.

I’d tell them I was sorry and go back to sleep.

The moral?

There are those people we’d do anything for. Keep them close and cherish them.

My mom went to be with the Lord January 1 of this year. She, along with her wisdom will be missed.

P.S. Happy Sixty Third Birthday to my brother Joe

A Heroes Journey is published each Wednesday morning at 7:30 AM CST

Oh No! Not Another Post on Goal Setting

I am sorry. I have to. I am tired of watching people get ship wrecked half way to their destination when some up front  planning could go a long way towards them being successful. 

Wanna increase the possibilities of reaching your goals this up coming year? 

Read on.

Does the goal you’re looking at going to have an impact of your life? The late Zig Ziglar once said that if you want to evaluate the level of investment in yourself all you have to do is look at a plate of bacon and eggs. The chicken, he said, made a contribution. The pig, on the other hand made a commitment. 

That example has served me well over the years. If I am not totally invested in what I am about to do I will fail. That voice inside will tell me. “It’s really not worth it.” or “You are fine the way you are!”

For years Joan begged me to drop 50 pounds or so. I have a familial history of hypertension and had a lower back injury that when aggravated caused my sciatic nerve to act up. Ya think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? 

It did not. 

It took failing down in front of roughly forty five thousand people at a college football game and having to disrupt everyone’s plans for the day to cause me to reassess not only the impact on my life but on the life of so many others. 

Setting a goal to lose those fifty pounds suddenly became very personal and reaching it was going to have a positive impact on my life.

Take small bites. I spent a better part of my adult life trying to lose those fifty pounds. If you’ve been there you know it’s really frustrating. You plunk down some hard earned cash for a gym membership or a diet program and you start off great but you just can’t seem to sustain. After awhile you give up. This may be for everyone else but not for you. (Or me either.) 

The problem is not you or how you live or what you eat or any on that stuff. It’s a vision issue. We can’t fathom whats going to happen next week much less next year.  In my case I was never sure what someone who weighed fifty pounds less than I did acted and looked like. What did they eat? Stuff like that. While it was nice to day dream about it I couldn’t get my hands around its impact on my life. 

We live in a monkey-see-monkey-do world. When we have no basis for our goals we look to the right or left and copy what the person next to us is doing because, “Hey, if it worked for them it will probably work for me!” 

Until it doesn’t. 

That’s when frustration sets in and we start to doubt ourselves and why-the-hell-did-I start-all-of-this-anyway!

We give up. 

Call it fate or dumb luck I started to figure out that my weight wasn’t what was keeping me from reaching my goal. It was my behavior. (Eating a bag of Halloween Buterfingers does wonders for the midsection.) Now, I’d spent a ton of money on working with a couple health coaches and a personal trainer so I pretty much knew the “what.” I just needed to figure out the “how.” I tackled one issue at a time and set a monthly or sometimes weekly goal.

I didn’t starve myself or deny myself.  My goal was becoming  healthy. It meant making choices that would help mt move forward. At the end of a  month I’d evaluate my progress. If things were going well I’d keep-on-keepin’-on. If I’d hit a rough patch, I’d take a step back and look at what I needed to adjust. 

Find someone to help hold you accountable. Did you know the main reason we had homework was to make sure we had paid attention in class. It wasn’t to learn anything. It was to reinforce that the real learning came when the teacher held out a book or sheath of papers and deposited wisdom into our growing brains. 

Homework made sure we were paying attention.

I bring this up because as adults our goals aren’t much different than when we were in school. There was an end game then – graduation. There is an end game now – you fill in the blanks. Homework kept us accountable on our academic journey. 

Lemme ask you something? 

Who holds you accountable in the here and now. 

Every Monday, with the exception of holidays, I wait for my phone to ring. Some weeks I answer it quickly and joyfully, and others I let it ring. 

That’s usually followed by a text message: “I know where you live.”

It’s my accountability partner. 

Each week I share my progress towards my goals. They listen to me and give me kudos if I stay on track or, on the rare occasion I’ve been goofing off they help me focus. They know me, know my business and while we like and respect each other, they are not my friend. 

Sometimes they have to ask difficult questions. Accountability partners are the people who aren’t afraid to stick their heads in the lions mouth and don’t worry about getting it snapped off. 

If you don’t have one find one. 

That’s it for this week. 

Talk to you next Tuesday