Justify

What if we owned our mistakes.   Instead of comparative morality, what if we owned what we did.

What if we said, “I was dead wrong, and I did something I’m ashamed of.”

What if we stopped letting our ego stand in the way of relationships

What if we said, “Look, that was stupid, and there’s no justification or rationale for it, I’m completely sorry, and I have no clue why I did that?”

What if apologies weren’t qualified by what the other person did and we never added a  “but”.

What if we said, “God help me… I hope I never act that way again?”

What if we really admitted–and owned–our mistakes instead of using the cruel, blame-the-victim nopologies, “I’m sorry you’re upset.,” which admit nothing, and which blame the victim for their feelings (while forgiving us our cruelty).

Would we be diminished or enhanced?  Would that show how weak we were or strong?  Would others be more or less likely to engage us?

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

It doesn’t mean doing more useless tasks better and more efficiently (though that’s a help).

It doesn’t mean being a better widget maker (that, too, is a help).

It means doing the right things, the ones that matter and not getting sucked into distractionland.

It means setting priorities and saying no to stuff that isn’t a fit with your life, your goals, your tribe.

It means simply doing things, and not adding weight to what’s hard: you don’t have to think about doing something, stress about doing something, get ready to do something, do it (for a moment), then report to your boss and your neighbor, Twitter and Facebook to take the victory lap for one small task being done.

Do the work.  Shut your mouth.  Help others.  Head down, shoulder to the wheel, and go.  Be slow to speak, quick to listen.

Get To

Another idea:

Instead of thinking that we ‘have to’ do things, let’s focus on the notion that we get to do things.

Being put upon is the de facto motif in the human existence.

But what if we changed that?  What if we controlled our thoughts?

I was talking to Heather yesterday about my own failure to get to the gym as often as I wanted.  Because it feels like a chore, I’ve not gone as much as I could.  Because I have dreaded it.  Man, I have to go to the gym.  Sucks.

We rebel against that.  Our inner two-year old kicks in. We say, “you’re not the boss of me.”  So instead of going to the gym, doing our work, we do what we want.  It’s hard to shake entitlementality.

What if…

…instead of acting as if it was something I “had” to do, something I was burdened to do…

….I treated everything that I do as a privilege.  Everything.  From paying bills (I get to support my family) to going to the gyms (I get to get rid of my front-butt).   What if I changed the way I thought of each activity….to an opportunity in lieu of a burden?

Then: what if I didn’t expect pleasure.  What if I “got to” go to the gym, and considered it a privilege?  What if I trained myself where I “got to” enjoy the opportunity to help a client, to carry water, or to shovel snow?  What if I got to do things instead of had to?

If mentally, I wasn’t stuck presuming or focusing on my own pleasure, would I be test about the predictable and mundane things that try and sap our focus?

Would I be stoppable?

Now, I know that most of my readers will say things like “Chris, you can’t always feel this way.”  No arguments here. “Chris, this is purely puerile Pollyanna pablum.”   Possibly.

When we treat something as an opportunity, a privilege  we get a bounce in our step.  We lose the drudgery.  When we try to snap back to this mode, I can see it as a wonderful thing.

I love my kids, a lot, and they’re damned lucky because they can be annoying.  But in lieu of “I have to put up with Jack/Change a Diaper,” what if it was all “I get to.”

What if we put more and more of our activities under that umbrella?

“Oh, boy, I get to go to the grocery store and get some food for our family!”

is stronger than

“Oh, man, I have to go to the grocery store in the cold, driving rain, this sucks,” which makes you defeated before you start.

So that’s saying, when you decide on what tasks need to be accomplished, enhance the link between their completion and your joy.  “I get to finish X,Y or Z” is more powerful–by far–than saying “I have to do X, Y or Z”.

When we think this way–a secondary consequence is that we are generally happier.  It feels better to be doing something you relish than doing some tedious chore.

The applications:

What chores are predictable that you don’t like? How can you re-frame them (oh, boy I get to finish the laundry).

How do you know you’re doing what you should be doing–and what is part of your nature?

How will you feel when you see things as choices and loving privs, rather than bad things?

Put Upon

We live our lives with the expectation of bliss and joy all the time.  Some prerequisite to activity is the activity being fun, pleasant or joyful.  If what we’re doing, working on gets hard, we give up and lose focus.

This is sold to us by Madison Avenue.  We are led to believe that we are to tolerate nothing short of perfect joy and convenience.  And when we get less than that, our attention spans wander to something else.   We become incensed when someone trips us up with what is, at most, a minor inconvenience.

We Are Entitled.

We go to  Starbucks, and when it’s our turn, someone gets one of 11 details a little off on one of 30 trips through.  We then act as if it’s the end of our world. “Excuse me.  I’m not usually like this but, can you PLEASE get this RIGHT for once?  What will you do for me to make up for this screw up?”

When BlueHost went down–for less than 12 hours–people were apoplectic — ranting about their $6.95/month hosting service.  As if some army of people should be waiting on us for $85 bucks a year.

Our narrative is that we are these noble, heroic creatures that are constantly put upon by someone: our spouse, the clerk at Wal-Mart, or the driver in traffic who cut us off.

We’re always put upon by something, and it’s because we expect bliss.  We use pseudo slights as an excuse for anything: to snap at our kids, to be mean to our spouse, or whatever else.

What Does Entitlement Solve?

What if  we really knew world wasn’t responsible for arranging itself for our convenience?  What if the world wasn’t going to arrange itself just to please you?

What if we took away that the expectation of driving was going to be a glittering path to our destination, but accounted for reality, for humanity?

What if we knew that we could set our course but there would be obstacles?  Instead of being taken by surprise, we’d be well prepared and ready for the next thing.

What if we knew that our flailing tantrums would never get a resolution?  What if we spent that energy in an OODA loop, looking for solutions?

What if we considered our place in it as small, and worked not to be more recognized, but for the betterment of the world?

More on Personal Branding

…or moron personal branding. I know, I came out hating it.  Still do, kinda.  But it’s a useful shorthand if done right.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea lately. Inc Magazine talks a little bit about it, too.  It’s been on my head lately, and maybe for good reason.

Maybe I’m wrong about it.  Meaning this: I don’t understand–and may never understand “life coaching.”  I am a creditor to many life coaches, and pity has kept me from pursuing my interests.  (Full disclosure, as you’d expect nothing less: I myself am a debtor to a couple of ‘dull normal’ businesses at the time this is written.) I don’t get long term or lifelong coaching engagements.  I understand full-well hiring an expert to understand a particular problem: to get a job, to quit a job, to quit quitting jobs.  Hiring a coach to beat back general malaise isn’t something I get.

Personal branding–as a means to prop someone up–is vacuous and stupid.

Personal branding as a short hand for others-focused ideas isn’t stupid: “Dave Ramsey” style debt reduction, or Martha Stewart quality home dec can matter.  Those two–and many others we can name–made their personal brands about something else. Was it self serving?  Surely.  Was it worth it?

I’ve run from it because I think that part of me wants to be faceless.  Some part of me wants to remain an underground troll, oscillating in suffering from and rejoicing in some low grade sociopathic personality disorder.  I run from branding because if it’s about me then I have to engage emotionally, and care.  If it’s about flat rate, then I can leave it alone and let it go.

If it’s about me, I can be rejected,or hurt, or called out.  If it’s about a company it’s all a mere business decision.  If it’s about me there’s some connection.

Personal branding can be done without being a flake.

It can be done without being a narcissistic asshole (note: I tend towards narcissistic asshole and I make little-to-no effort at personal branding, so you don’t have to develop a personal brand to become a narcissistic asshole)

There are people that are involved with personal branding that I seriously admire.

I can hide behind some fatuous made-up company because it’s easier to do.  It’s just me shirking the responsibility to be amazing.

Hiding diminishes both me and my voice.  It takes away from what I can and am here to give.

I can help dudes like my buddy Tim Blakenship get results like this:

?  Last week I actually had 6 calls.  2 out of area that are in progress and 4 locally.  I got pretty busy this week, but am going to maintain the level of posts to my blog as that seems to dictate my level of business.  I received an awesome client testimonial that i put on my site as well.   Today i was interviewed by the Las Vegas Business Journal regarding my expertise in short sales.  ( The reporter found my blog)  My Blog is my only advertising.  Im your biggest fan. 

That’s not unusual–we do good work, when we get clients that actually work.  Which is about half of them.

But if I’m not a real connection, but some faceless service, then I can’t do that, can I?  Companies that build websites are a dime a dozen.   Amazing people that helped YOU are rare.  I want to be the second.  I want my voice to be everywhere.

I am depriving people of good work by being hidden.  By being anonymous.  People want to believe.  People want to be a “Dave Ramsey Debt Free” fan or a “Ron Paul Libertarian.”  No Drama Obama was a cool and calm meme that got him elected.   They want people, not corporations.  They want voice.  For all the shit that I’ve thought about personal branding, for all the disdain that I have for pablum peddling soft skill e-book writers, the crux is this: they want to believe.  Fathertongue/Mothertongue stuff.

So I have to come out from behind and maybe create some fame. And use my powers for good.

I help “dull-normal” small businesses get online, one inch at a time.

I  ”wal-mart” proof businesses.

To make sales, one on one and connect with people.

My discomfort with what I was doing was spiritual: what does it matter how famous I get?  (And some “famous” success stories owed me money, which hurt me this year).  Well, if I am not truly about me, if I don’t really love my fame, but want to help others, and that’s my “calling card,” and I do what i

??The people I admire that are practitioners have something more to give than “look at me,” r even “kumbaya community” and it’s clear in everything that they do and say.  There’s a “take it-or-leave-it” approach to the way they are that gets beyond the generation Y “look at me” addiction.  Some of my heroes (Boomer, X and Y).  They are dependent  on talking, maybe.  Thing is, so am I.  Thing is, running from reality is stupid.  Pretending that I am a corporation is one of my dumbest pretenses.

Gary Vee – used video to sell a shit ton of wine.  Did it with authenticity.  Did it daily, when nobody was watching.  Caught on slow and killed it.  He’s a little more “vague” than I’d like at times, but the idea is that you work your ass off at communicating and connecting.  He’s a salesman that leveraged a hard-to-leverage business by putting his soul into getting…a little better all the time.

Nametag Scott Ginsberg –  I know Scott fairly well these days.  I consider myself fortunate to be able to skype with him and chat occasionally.  His schtick is about writing.  That’s what he is at the core of his being.  That’s what he lives and who he is.  He’ll say it’s about approachability, but look between the lines at the example he sets.  I know of no better living example of pursuing perfection.

Elizabeth Potts Weinstein gets specific.  She says that she’s about Living Your Truth.  Even though it might be a sconch touchy-feely for me, she’s not hiding what she’s about.   She talks about business, smarts and stuff right away.

.:.

A personal brand–if it’s to have any meaning–has to be a symbol for a standard of care, excellence and esprit de corps.   As energetic as Gary Vee.  As Approachable as Nametag Scott.  As direct as  Elizabeth Potts Weinsten. A Nordstrom, an institution.

Excellent, but the same for others.  Like Naomi no clue what she’ll say next.  None.  But we know why she’ll say it, what the purpose is and everything else.

What this means for me (and you, eventually) is this:

  • I’m going to admit that I do what I already do. That is to coach (and oh, I used to hate that word) “normal” businesses unreal results on the internet.  No more hiding from it.
  • I’m going to be everywhere. Guest posting, making videos, making people get things?  I’m there.  You want me guest hosting on your webinar?  I’m your huckleberry.  You got a blog with 8 readers?  You want mine in? You betcha.
  • I’m going to give sound, rock solid, business building advice that doesn’t depend on social media or search to work
  • I’m not half assing it. I’m already a cartoon charachter for those that know me.  In the next 3-4 days, I’ll have a symbol for how I help and the value  I ad..  Gitomer took the mechanic’s role.  Housechick was super-girl.  Neither goes far enough.
  • I’m not waiting: The time will pass anyway, I need to be in, personally, and I’ve to my ideas as it stands.

This isn’t an announcement of the “someday-maybe” kind, it’s overdue.  I can’t stand by and watch salesmen suffer.  I’ve had–no denial–a great year.   There are things that will be better, but I’m on pace.

Watch this space for some radical things.

If you liked this post, you’ll like:

If you hated this post, hit CTRL-W or CMD-W depending on if you’re on a mac or PC.

Go All The Way – Burn The Bridges

Most of the people I know and interact with do it online.

I talk to my assistant,   every day and I’ve never met her.

Most of the people want to sell something but they want to conceal the fact that they want to sell stuff.  They want to come off as these generous souls that are all “la-ti-da” giving free things away because they fart pixie dust and are generous, you know.  Most of these people want to “give” first, and never get to step 2.

They also don’t try hard enough.  Because they don’t want to come off as needy.  They don’t really, truly and with their whole soul believe in what they are doing.   They don’t try hard enough.

You have to be sold out–personally–to the execution of your ideas, and be totally ready to endure humiliation to make ‘em work.

You can’t worry about the approval of your mother, wife, father or friends.   You have to do and promote with the zeal of a maniac.

Because– well intended or not, others aren’t on your path, they are on a path that benefits them.  And it doesn’t benefit them to see you going with the zeal required to make something happened.

Who believed, from the start?  Who is really operating at the level you want to operate at?

Those people, listen to.

More to come, as is always the case.

 

No Fear

Right now, I’ve painted myself into a corner.  I’ve burned the bridges behind me and  I can only go forward on my wits.

The nature of my relationship with money was poor.  It was a money-drunk-money-sober kind of thing.

I do transactions.  That’s what it’s been like since day 1.  I meet people, I sell them a widget, I deliver the widget, I get money, we part company, generally as friends.

That’s a transaction.  That’s not iterated.  It requires hustle.  I’ve sold mortgages, houses and websites with good degrees of success.  Each transaction matters to me, and sometimes you get the stink of despair on you.  That stink of despair, you smell it most often in car dealerships and jewelry stores.   “I need this transaction,” is what the metainformation all says, “And I’ll say anything I can think of to get you to like me.”

What’s more repellant than when some stranger tries to get you to like him?

Right now, I’ve cut myself off from the main source of transactional income: I’ve changed the pricing so each site doesn’t matter.  I want to grow a business with real recurring revenue.  So instead of doing a site that costs $799-$1500 (a nice check) I’m lowering the entry point to $149, and charging $65/monthly to stick around.

That’s appealing to me and my customers: if I can continue to enhance the lives of my clients, they’ll stay.  The marketplace is the ultimate ballot box, and the mechanism for feedback.  If my people leave en masse, then yes, it’s a problem.

See, I want long term relationships with small business owners.  I want my world to be different, I want to continue to help the same people for years at the highest level possible.  I want to be the source of “how to market your business online,” info for everyone say, from 35-60.   I don’t want to do an endless string of one off transactions, and always be hustling.

I want to always be helping and change my business into something that’s primarily rewarded for increasing the my value and benefit to others.  Because if I sign someone up who can cancel anytime (and I feel strongly about that), then I have to benefit them and communicate the benefits to them.  I have to get better every month and stay ahead of –and be of service to my clients.

This changes the hustle, and my relationship with money.  This changes my relationship with my clients from “how can I get more sales” to “how can I enhance the lives of the people that have put their trust in me.”

This is the way to go.  This is the way I’m going to live or die.

But right now it’s hard.  A couple of pushers have offered some consulting crack.  Right now, I’ve spent through my reserves in order to have enough on the ball to benefit my people.  Right now, I’ve got thousands in payroll and refunds due.  Right now the pusher is saying “here you go, give us a month of your life, do another string of transactions, taper slowly.”

But that pushes back the reality.  That’s a junkie’s “I can quit anytime” line.  You don’t want that.  ”One more hit of crack,” isn’t going to solve the need for crack.

I’ve got the shakes, and I’m nervous but I’m set.  Live or die.   Punching out $149 at a time is harder than punching out with $2500 projects o even $750 websites.  Consulting can be fine, but now it looks more appealing.  There are two jobs I didn’t have any interest in last week that I do now.

That’s not a life.  The best of the marketing books most small business owners get are attempts to kludge a transactional business into a recurring revenue business.

Quitter

There are always good reasons to quit things.

There is always a temptation to opt out, give up and start again later.

“Consider it pure joy…”

Because the trials are happening.

In my life, I’ve quit things.  It’s OK to quit when you’re in a cul de sac.  But I’m admitting something: I’ve quit.  Way, way too much.  I’ve given up because the stuff I want is too damn hard.  I’ve quit a lot of good things and deprived myself of the fruits of my abilities because I give up just a little bit too soon.

I don’t master the right details.  I manufacture drama.  To some extent, we all do.

But we have to come to the grips that the road is narrow, and few succeed.  You’ll always be cajoled into quitting: look at the stream of consciousness complaints about life that come via social media. “I can’t do this/I quit/we quit.”   We see all of that, all the time.

We start making quitting acceptable when our egos can’t take the fact that we weren’t picked or promoted.  Instead of being passed over, we pretend that we opted out.  We pretend that we’ve made some voluntary conscious choice.   And when we’re passed over, instead of realizing that there was something about us that went wrong, we say “I quit.”

And it’s OK to opt out of stupid things.  Corporate life.  Paperwork.

It’s OK to ditch a friendship that’s poison.

But it’s not ok to stop short of excellence.  It’s not OK to half ass, half do anything.  It’s done…all the time.  But it’s not OK to simply quit because it’s too hard.

Consider the achievements of the people we admire.  They weren’t done by half committed quitters.  If Socrates had quit his philosophy pre hemlock, or the Nazarene said “hey, man, this death thing blows, I’m off this cross…” or hell, if Tommy Alva had given up on the lightbulb thing after a few combinations…well, we’d have nothing.

Quit when it’s a real choice, and when you’re being pulled to make that choice, seriously doubt it.

Owning Mistakes

Today, the news is that Alberto Contrador, Tour de France champion was doping.   A positive–though minute–sample of a steroid was found.   He would have us believe that he ate some tainted meat had something to do with finding synthetic chemicals in his urine..  We are also meant to believe that Mark McGuire didn’t need steroids to make the numbers he made.

The list of absurd “no-pologies” is long.  Nobody can admit a defect in their charachter–even a momentary one.  As if we’re supposed to be all good all the time.  We all want to “look like the hero, the good guy, the only one working” without really putting the time and effort into it.  When things hit the fan, it’s better to tell a story that some people may sometimes believe than admit that we did anything wrong.

I don’t know why admitting fault is something that we don’t do.  We get trapped by past lies, and we try and paper over them for years.  It’s not as if the lies were ever believed, we just play along with the ritual.   We have to pretend it doesn’t exist for life to go on.  That the lie wasn’t told.  We all know, but we go on with the charade.

If we should happen to apologize to someone, we shift the blame: “I’m sorry something I said offended you,” is about the best we’ll do.  Or, “I didn’t mean to make you upset.” It doesn’t admit to being offensive, it just says that someone was offended.  So without owning the mistake, the lapse of judgement or charachter we’re doomed to repeat it.  We never said anything offensive, after all, you just happened to have been offended by something that happened to have come out of our mouth.

Why we can’t understand that we’re fallible, the the best of us get testy, mean, and self indulgent.  Why we can’t admit that we all screw things up is kind of beyond me.   It’s easier. It also allows for real improvement: you admit a mistake, eat it and do better next time.

Our ego requires some meaning in our lives, some heroism in our charachter when often it doesn’t exist. We’re the noble hero, the lead act in a play.  We’re always right, moral, earnest and true.  This is the fantasy we try to uphold, and courtesy requires that we afford others the same ability to maintain their fantasies.  The truth is, development only comes from owning mistakes.

 

Throughput and Finishing

Doing nothing is the easiest thing to do.  We all dream and think from time to time.  We all have goals, sometimes expressed in writing in a big proclamation.  More often secret wishes that we dast not speak else we sound silly.  I’ve sounded silly and arrogant much of the time with the goals I’ve set.  I’ve been drunk on my pseudo laurels from time to time, celebrating unrealized accomplishments.

Do-nothing goals, things that you don’t really do are a strange toxin.  They cause us to cultivate contempt for others that don’t share goals.   What’s worse: someone that has a big damn goal, but ignores the soul stirring restlessness…or someone that has few goals, and gets to the same place?   Having a goal and doing nothing about it seems easy, but it brings tension and bitterness and frustration.  In the moment, not going after it is always the easiest thing to do.

You don’t have to come to grips with your own mediocrity, and you can be a critic.

The next “easy” thing to do is abandon a goal when it gets hard.  All of the journeys get difficult.   We are sometimes surprised.  There’s always a  point where we think of abandoning what we’re doing.  There’s always an unforeseen obstacle.   We abort projects in utero.

This is not a surprise, that doing great things is hard.  It takes more than bsing your way to the top.  It takes blood, even if what you’re doing is only an iterated improvement over an existing system.  Getting things all the way done, so they are finished, is what finally releases tension and makes us stronger and better.

 

Kindness, Cruelty and Charisma

Hello, Jack and Ruby,

I’ve made loads of mistakes in my life.  I’ve always–always–gotten more than I deserved given the circumstances. I’ve been mean, cruel, depreciating and I got to have you and to marry your mom.  I’ve  A blessing, to be sure, and I’m humbled by the  largesse that God has fit to bestow upon me.  I’m grateful for the life I’ve had and for every moment I’ve been alive.  I did nothing to deserve this!  Nothing!

Of the mistakes I’ve made, the pattern that rings out is undervaluing kindness in others. There was sweet classmate named Jason.  He was someone that I enjoyed talking to, playing chess with, bantering with.  He was smart, guileless, and kind-hearted.   None of his jokes were barbed.   He didn’t grow up with much in the way of means, yet… he was kind all of his life.  I was a friend to him privately, when it didn’t cost me much.  I was kind to him when–and only when–it wasn’t going to bear some social cost.

In public, I’d join with anyone making cracks at his expense.  Yes, he was occasionally socially awkward (aren’t kind, sweet people generally)?  But he accepted me as I was…and was a generous friend to me and to many others  He required nothing of me and he was content for the times I was kind to him.  I discarded him, didnt’ treat him as a peer, but as an entertainment source.  We’d talk when I needed an ego fix.  And then when I was done with him, off I’d go.

When you’re young, you think that the whole world is watching you.  And that every interaction matters, and will either + you up the social ladder or – you down it.  The ladder doesn’t matter.

It wasn’t just him.  I was always aware of a hierarchy in my family: who’s richer, better, smarter, neater than whom.  If someone was not cool, I had granted myself license to treat them indifferently or with cruelty.  I wasn’t raised this way but there were certainly bright lines of who’s in and who’s out of our tribe.   I was cruel to a nice kid, and it was because I thought I should be. Because the praises of the other mean people were somehow meaningful.

Now, as you probably know, Jason is dead.  He died of some unfortunate circumstances, and I lost touch shortly after High School.  He was happy to see me and came up and said hi, but I was with another friend and I didn’t acknowledge him.  I felt a little pang at the moment.  I looked for him afterwards but he wasn’t around, and that was my last interaction with him, till I heard maybe 2 years later that he’d been involved in his own death.  What if I’d mirrored his kindness?  It’s not as if I’d achieved some social standing in the insane caste system of high school.   (Life is fragile, and we never know what kindness can do).

I valued charisma over kindness.  Being glib, hip, clever.  I still do to a degree, when I forget myself.  I’d guess we all do, and we have to look at intent: is someone’s intention to be kind, to be a blessing, or do they intend to just be clever?  What is clever?  What problems does clever solve?   My life is marked with people, men and women that were fundamentally kind.  I discarded so many because I perceived them as dorky.  Hell, I bet kindness makes you seem dorky.  It can be projected as weakness, or dullness.

It’s neither.  Cruelty is inexcusable, and it’s real lack of integrity to treat people one way privately and another way in public.  If you’re living this way you’re trying to hide something.  In fact, you’re probably acting with cruelty if you’d be uncomfortable if anyone found out what you were doing.

Learn from my mistakes, and be as kind as you can be.  And if someone wants to ostracize another, pity them.  They don’t know what they do, and they’ll either regret it later, or they’ll lead an impoverished life.  I’m doing what I can, and I hope that I can set a good example all your life.

Love,

Dad

Creature Comforts

Jack and Ruby,

Creature comforts are deadly.  A great post was written not long ago by Hugh that talks about death by Stuff. It’s true, and it’s real.  Evaluating your life by having the creature comforts du jour, or how you spend the cognitive surplus that humanity has created is subject to much debate.

But I’ve learned something: gadgets and creature comforts are nothing.   They aren’t a way to reflect a life well lived, they are seductive things that we believe that we need because others have them, or they are sold to us with an increasingly sophisticated plan (that includes software!).  Creature comforts as a way of life is neverending.  You want a better kitchen, that requires a nicer house, and that house requires a move to a better school district.  The better school district exposes you to more people, and those people have better cars.

All of these are good things, but when we compare ourselves to others we lose the ability to be grateful.  I am profoundly blessed and lucky, and always have been.  When I focus on “stuff” then you feel entitled.  It corrupts your brain, you think that you lack things.

But look: no matter our faults, you have two parents who love you, two sets of grandparents who love you.  We’re giving you the best education we can, and we’re leaving you wide latitude to pursue whatever interests that you have.  We serve a God who is gracious and merciful, and we live in what is still the best place on earth.

You’re lucky.  Realize that.  You’re lucky.  Be grateful.  Be indifferent to creature comforts.  They aren’t a sign of anything good.  Do what you want to do and don’t get seduced by stuff.

I am learning this lesson now, after 34 years.

It’s certainly not easy.

-Chris

Approval

Jack & Ruby,

Approval is control, even mine.  Withholding approval to coerce behavior is the lowest thing a parent can do.  I’ll do the best that I can to never do it to you–because you need me to have your back.   Don’t seek approval, and become indifferent to the approval of others.  I feigned indifference to others most of my life.  And because I did it caused me to lie, it weakened me. I was desperate to be approved of, and I had no sense of self.  I would try anything, do anything, pander like a fool to get a laugh.  For what?  Nothing is more repugnant than dealing with someone that must make you like them. Nothing is more attractive than someone that has integrity, that is indifferent to what you think because they have declared who they are.

Approval is control: people use it to get you to do things you wouldn’t/couldn’t do.

Seeking it will make you crazy.

So don’t.

~Chris