Taking Control

“Do you want to know who you are?  Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”                          Thomas Jefferson

Recently, my two daughters were in town.  What more can a Dad wish for.  Lots of laughs, informative and lovingly meaningful.  It’s the best.

My older daughter is a funny and brainy college professor in Connecticut while the younger daughter is a Texas oil baroness-in-training and the mom to the greatest little guy a granddad could ever imagine.

Unfortunately, both of them suffer an inherited disorder.  Originally regional in nature, but like most things these days, the condition has permeated and infected most precincts and bailiwicks across our great nation.

In scientific circles, the acronym for this malady is “NYSAS.” Others know it for what it is, “New York Smart Ass Syndrome.”

Our conversation turned serious.  I’m over 50, in pretty good shape and definitely too young to be old.  But I brought up a “what if” scenario.  I told them if I were placed in a prolonged unconscious, comatose or a vegetative state, tell the medical authorities without hesitation-DNR. Do not resuscitate.

Both of them nodded agreement and said they would follow through on my request. Then they asked me, “But what do we do with you now”?

Revenge of the Descendants.  Genetics can be so cruel. 🙂

It’s tough out there. What makes it even harder is realizing it’s time to accept and craft necessary changes in life.

In other words, what are you doing now?

If there is no plan currently in motion, unlocking one’s own hidden aspirational code is nothing short of onerous.

Self-revelation can be extremely painful. It demands definition with no BS.

But, what’s the choice?  Forfeit even the slightest indication of opportunity or passively embrace “the inconsequential whatever?” Talk about DNR.  Is it all over for you?  Of course not.

So what do you do?  Stop comparing and start preparing. Props to Actress/Author Swoosie Kurtz.  In her book, “Part Swan, Part Goose”, she nailed it; “Compare and Despair.”

Wow!  That is strong!  Think how much wasted time has been spent comparing ourselves to others through jealousy, envy, deception, scheming, or bad luck, disappointment, timing, lack of preparation, etc.  You name it.

Here’s a secret: No one else cares.

We are the only one bearing the extra weight, and this ain’t no handicap race.

The truth is we are competing with no one else but ourselves.

Call it “Accountability Transference”.  How do we get to the root of personal progress if we allow ourselves to be distracted by the actions of another?

It’s a life long struggle between our good and disquieted self.

What has happened in the past, let it remain there.  Allow the good and meaningful lessons of the past to act as fuel and then, jettison the rest.

It’s time to get in shape by defining specifically who we are, how and what we do better than anyone else.

We are the best at who we are.  Now bear with me on this.  Not too long ago, while preparing for a workshop presentation, I came across one of the toughest interview questions: “compared to others, why would I hire you”?

Now, bad-mouthing others has never been a jump starter to success.  And, most don’t even know the other job candidates up for consideration, so all we have is ourselves, who we are and how well you do what we do.

We can’t compare ourselves to the unknown.  Deal with the now. And, right now it is just you at this very moment.

Respect and value of ourselves. It shows. It’s part of body language.

Most of us have achieved or surpassed the half century mark.  We have made decisions. We have experience and social skills most likely better than average.  And, you know it’s true.  How’s that for starters?

And, you are not Average.  There is no one exactly like you. Don’t make light of that.  Discover the exceptional you. Unearth it. Take control of it.

So, isn’t it time to take the time to define yourself and not allow others to do the branding of you? When is a good time to define precisely what you want in life and how that change will emerge?

How about now!

This is the “Master Plan.”  Write it all down and know that writing is alllll about re-writing until you get it right.  Yes, it takes time.

But, in a world that is “conditioned to the immediate” where taking time for self-realization and repurpose are regarded as negligence, it’s extremely difficult to overcome this hurdle.

We have instant coffee and minute clinics.  Prompt attention demands split-second decisions.  We need to be on a fast-track career path.

We get pissed off because microwavable meals take too long.

And then, in retrospect, we beat up ourselves for making so many hasty decisions by allowing the “distraction of now” to suppress and contaminate our desire and intention for clarity.

We are not a data entry.  We are human. We take time.  And the beckoning calls from the sirens of distraction are not only  daunting and alluring but also vacuous and unworthy.

It is about selling yourself on you. If you have been in Sales, you know the following steps quite well:                                                                                                                               1). Awareness, knowing what you want.                                                                              2). Understanding, knowing what you’re getting into, what it takes to get what you want.      3). Digestion, taking the time to refine and define.                                                               4). Execution, get out of theory mode and go for it.

We are over 50.  We are competing with ourselves.

Lack of motion is commotion.  It’s havoc.  Recently a woman that I was coaching referred to the status quo as “a rat on a wheel.”  Now that’s imagery!  And, she’s right.

The time has come to transform Intention into Action.  Getting a medal for a 6th place finish in middle school competition means squat in the competitive world in which we now reside.

We are in competition with ourselves.  All we can do is be the best at who and what we are.

If we don’t love and respect ourselves, why would others take up the banner on our behalf?  We are a reflection of who we think we are and what we believe we deserve.

Again it’s rough.  Tell me about it.  I just finished my 4th kidney stone surgical treatment in 6 weeks.  Ouch!  But, my surgeon, who is very promotion minded, has a great incentive plan.

He told me if I do just 3 more procedures, I’m in the running to win a pair of roller skates and a bugle.   I’m thinking.  I’m thinking it over.

It is difficult and painful to get into action mode. Along with distraction, there are the Incidentals that seem to override the Essentials.

When you get down to it, it’s amazing that anything actually gets done in life.

But, what’s the choice.  Do we really want to be in the position where others are in charge and left to decide, “what do we do with you now”?



The Holidays, Surgical Procedures and Lessons Learned

“The Road to Success is always under construction.”      Anonymous.

What is with Hollywood?  I don’t get it.  Here we are just coming out of the Christmas/Chanukah Holiday season and many of us are going through some very tough times.  How ‘bout some inspiration, huh?  How about some giggles?

It seems the only thing enlightened Movieland Mandarins provide these days are dire formulaic crap and unfettered corporate hack access.

There is very little in any flicks released today that is uplifting, much less humorous.

And, then they wonder why box office receipts keep heading in a southerly direction.

Sure, I’m over 50 and don’t fit the flick-biz prime demographic. OK, but even Millennials are staying away from Popcornville in droves.  What does that tell you?

I’m not looking to bring back the “good old days.”  Just give me something to enjoy, especially this time of the year. Please?

For me, the months of November, December and through the beginning of January are insufferable times.

I totally agree with Actor/Producer/Talk Show Host Craig Ferguson who said, I think holidays create so much pressure because people feel they should be having a good time. But you shouldn’t. ”

Normally, I try to keep these pieces motivational, aspirational and a bit humorous. On this go-round, it’s a wait and see proposition.

I’ve spent so much time looking for some smart, light and amusing quotes to start this piece but can’t seem to find one that is appropriate. And, maybe there’s good reason for this.

Bear with me, I’m venting but leading up to something more positive and resolute.

For me, I give thanks for the Holidays.  I am grateful they are finally over.

It’s a season where I shut down. For me, it’s the most painful, most abhorrent and dispiriting time in the yearly calendar.  It is like some loathsome monstrosity, an energumen, invading my normally upbeat manner that crushes any elements of personal joy, gratitude and expectation.

There is no religious significance nor bias attached to this misery.  I believe in a higher power and will leave it at that.

Sure, there is the over-commercializaiton aspect of the Season; that can wear anyone down.

Then, there is Holiday Standard Time (HST).  For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to those yearly commemorative occasions that spawn disregard, suspend accomplishment and creates “an aura of coerced placidity.”  The Germans know how to sum things up.  Check out the word Gleichshaltung.  It sez it all, baby cakes.

On a smaller scale, there’s July 4th, Labor Day, Easter, Passover, Memorial Day, etc.  But, it is not just the festive occasion itself.  It’s the days prior and subsequent to the respective Holiday.

And the biggest HST culprit is that month and a half stretch leading up to Thanksgiving, going through Christmas, Chanukah/Kwanzaa and persisting non-stop to the week succeeding New Years Day.

HST is when most people are going through the motions.  Why?  Because, it seems to me that most everyone has ceased to function.  In my line of work as an Author, Speaker, Trainer and Coach, most everything comes to a screeching halt.  Nothing happens.  Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.  If so, I beg your indulgence.

Reading this, it probably sounds like I’m having a bad day at the Happiness Exchange.  That disposition is a “was.” It is the past.  The Season of Shutdown is over.

Thankfully we are into a new year, which bestows the acknowledgment and promise of a new beginning.  It is the initial, although meager, “ray of hope” beginning to glimmer.

Let me put it this way, lately my life has been arresting.  I use that word in connection with the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”   It’s been very interesting.

Health wise, the last few years have been a bit challenging.  Without going into boring detail, I’ve been experiencing abdominal pains; sometimes uncomfortable, other times extremely painful.

I have seen so many doctors, specialists, surgeons, herbalists and even 2 notary publics.  I have gotten so many second opinions and the one thing on which they all agree is “you’re ugly too.”

I been over examined, probed, prescribed, x-rayed, MRI’d and scanned.

So much so, that if a cannibal reviewed my medical records prior to ingestion, he’d probably consider me too genetically modified for human consumption.

However, a recent scan and x-ray discovered 3 large kidney stones that had gone previously undetected.

Well, a few weeks ago, I went in to have them emulsified, smashed and crushed.  Unfortunately, the procedure didn’t get them all.  So, next week, it is back to the hospital for Round 2.  Love those slipper socks.  I prefer blue.

Hey, bear with me. Things do get better.  I don’t want to turn this into my personal pity party.

And, in between the two procedures, my wife had hip replacement surgery that hasn’t gone well.

So, what’s the point to all this?

Sometimes in life, there is nothing you can do at the time.  For me, getting through the end of year holidays is normally my biggest struggle. The surgery and procedures have been icing on the cake

But, life only gives you what you can handle.  No medal, just reality.

Woody Allen once said, “death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.”  So, slow down, stick around, don’t give up. Things do get better.

Is this the answer you’ve waited patiently for?  No, of course not.

Going through tough times can be unmerciful and seemingly unending.  However, tough times do come to an end. And, just like you, I have to overcome these challenges.

It’s like the story about the old man immersed in agony who looks upwards to the sky and pleads, “why me”?  Then, out of nowhere, dark, black clouds appear, massive lightning strikes occur, torrential rains begin to fall, howling, tornadic force winds level everything in sight.  Suddenly, from the heavens, comes a sonorous, booming and thunderous voice which says, “because you piss me off.”

As I said, there are times in life when there is nothing that can be done.  In fact, nothing at the moment is just about everything you can do.

It sucks.  Believe me, I know.

It’s a time to reflect on choices, on life’s options.  This is not a time to be so hard on yourself that you diminish vision and promise. Hey, it’s cold outside even in LA and pity parties don’t attract crowds anymore.

The only compensation: as with everything in life, eventually, the pendulum does swing back in our favor.

Here’s one of those “ain’t that the truth” comments from Artist Jennifer Yane who summed things up nicely, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.”

Amen to that.

Author/Speaker/Trainer and Coach. That is who and what I am. How can I do what I do if I can’t help myself?  So, I have vested interest in overcoming my own challenges so I can help others.

I’ve been there and overcame this and that but still have a ways to go.  And, perhaps like you, every now and then, I get lost but find a way to get back on track.

I can’t give up. If I do, then I’m a fraud. If I’m a fraud and, let’s face it, those of us over the age of 50 can whiff BS a country mile away.  If what I offer is not truth, then what right do I have of even considering assisting others?  That becomes a case study in self-delusion;  kidding no one besides myself.

We are over the age of 50.  We have our faults, our shortcomings and have lived long enough to know wisdom when we see and hear it.  And, what is wisdom? Wisdom is the quality that comes from experience.

Guess what?  We have experience.  We have wisdom.  That is what we bring to the table. That is our worth and value.

Consider your options.  Don’t be so hard on yourself. How can you help others?  Things do get better.  Unfortunately, it’s rarely on our timeline.

And, let me know if you hear of any good flicks.