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 Polar Bear Club, Risk Taking and Dr. Joe Vitale

“It’s better to be in charge of Change than to have to React to Change”

Roger Ailes

Thank God, 2013 is a memory and a horrendous one at that. It was the kind of year that seemed like it would never end. And, to make sure it would not reanimate, in a “just in case scenario:, I was ready, willing and waiting in the wings to beat it with a big stick. Yes, perhaps I take “The Walking Dead” episodes much too seriously.

I don’t know about you but 2013 seemed like every time I turned around there was something going terribly wrong.  It got so bad, I stopped turning around.

So, on Day 1, 2014, I decided to take charge, and not just talk change-that’s for theorists-but undertake some serious transformations.

As silly as it sounds, I had a brainstorm of an idea while watching the news.  There was a piece about the local Polar Bear Club.  For those of you unfamiliar with the organization, the purpose of the club is for members, thrill seekers and dunderheads to gather at a lake, river or ocean and throw caution to the on shore winds and a run into shiver-causing waters every January 1.

I don’t know what got into me but I made up my mind to join in.

Hey, it was the first day of the new year. It’s best to begin somewhere so, why not start at the beginning, right?  Charge!

OK, cut to the chase:  I drove to the beach where the Polar Bear event was held and joined 500 of my newest, closest friends that had assembled at the water’s edge.

It was a beautiful Chamber of Commerce Southern California day with a predicted high of 70 degrees-Downtown. That mild forecast did not apply to beach temperature realities; that called for a high somewhere in the 50’s.

OK, not relatively frigid or bone chilling, but cold nonetheless.

While waiting for the starting signal, I was beginning to get second thoughts about this experience and thinking it was all wet; which it was.

Those on-shore winds put in a guest appearance.  That made the 50+degrees temperatures feel even colder.  Let me put it this way I was beginning to freeze my butt off.

Now Southern California January cold is laughable and wimpy compared to the frigid climates of New York, Chicago or Seattle; No argument there. But, at that moment, I could have cared less about New York, Chicago or Seattle’s chill. I was dealing with my own immediate meteorological concerns and I was freaking cold.

The signal came.  It was Showtime! With some hesitation, I joined the hundreds of-what appeared to be-fearless aquatics drive, dive and dunk themselves into the cold Pacific waters.  Immediately, my feet went numb, a wave hit me.  And then, and then……it wasn’t all that bad.  It was cool but I could handle it.

Now, I did not stick around for a lengthy swim. There was nothing more to prove and it was definitely not the time for “macho.”   60 seconds of in and out followed by towel dry, hot chocolate, picking up an official Polar Bear Certificate suitable for bragging and framing and then heading on home do not score macho points.

The experience was a learning lesson.  But, it was not what I had expected. Sure, I did it but, in the grand scheme of things, it was really no big deal.

Hitting the waters was a bit of a shock. That’s a given.  But the anticipation of cold water exposure was so much worse.  And, it made me realize how the mind to magnifies things in preconception to the actual event. Most occurrences are nowhere as catastrophic as imagined.

When you think of it, we are reluctant risk takers. It is simply amazing that we accomplish as much as we do.  If only there were a device to disable angst and dread, we’d all be masters of the universe!

We all go through times of uncertainty.  Putting aside religion and spirituality, most of us look for solutions to improve our lot. Some look for THE ANSWER.  Unfortunately it’s never that simple.  There are so many components to an answer.

Being 50 Plus, life experience has taught us there is not all that much that is really all that simple.

And, life can be very stressful.  Unless you’re a masochist in good standing, who likes discomfort?  So, it’s natural to be pain-averse especially during these challenging times.

Earlier this week, I gave a talk. The presentation was tailored to job seekers whose current status fell in the “in between success” category. That’s not meant to be patronizing.  Unemployment is a growing and festering reality.  It is also a state of mind and a negative one.  In between success denotes hope, discovery, aspiration and expectations of light at the end of the tunnel.  This is not word play. Attitude is everything. It is “taking charge.”

A woman in the audience in her 20’s who was “in between success” and had been for about 6 months asked me how to get another job.  What specific step would secure her a job?

Sometimes you just can’t help.  She was too young to understand.  She didn’t have enough experience to take charge of needed changes in her life. There is no “one answer.” There is no “secret handshake.” or :password”  that open the door to opportunity.  But, so many people, young and old, spend so much wasted time pursuing the “one size fits all” holy grail.  It does not exist and never will.  All it does is waste time and stifle advancement..

It takes experience, practice, rejection, timing, perseverance, chemistry, luck and so many other factors.

It’s similar to a car.  Just because you own one does not mean it runs.  Cars need an engine, gas, grease, oil, steering wheel, tires, brakes, battery, etc.  We know that. And from experience, we have learned there are many components working together for a car to be operational.   In other words, out of complexity comes simplicity

As many of you know, Dr. Joe Vitale is my mentor.  Years before he became a leading online marketer, best selling author, in-demand speaker, singer/song writer and now movie star, he found himself broke and homeless.

At the time, he could not get arrested even if he tried.  As he told me, things were so bad that when people asked what was it like living in a car he would laugh at that image and reveal that living in a car would have been a luxury.

His ambition was becoming a writer.  However, the scribes he admired were down, depressed and/or suicidal. Talk about inspiration.  That got him nowhere.

It took time, experience and being slapped silly by reality to finally come to grips with the notion that those he lionized did not serve him well.  What he needed was a course correction. Eventually,  he learned to emulate the lives and writings of more positive role models.  The rest is a history of success.

He took charge of his change.

Joe really is an inspiration.  If he can make it, so can you.  By the way, do yourself a favor and check out his new book, “At Zero” available at your local bricks and mortar, online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or by going to www.http://atzerobook.com.  You will thank me.

Let’s face it, take charge of your change.  You need to start someplace.  There is no one answer, no one way.  That Simplicity mindset will soon reveal its deceit.  You got to just go for it and dive in.

And, know this: Reality is not nearly as bad as the anticipation of it.. Don’t be afraid to fail.  In fact, your mission is to fail as you are on your way to success.  That’s building experience.

Go for it.