When I was about 10 years old, my grandma came to visit from Wisconsin. She and I went shopping at the now defunct Winns Department Store. As we were walking out of the store, I stepped over a stuffed animal on the floor. Not noticing, grandma stopped at the toy and called me back to it. Confused and ready for a session of Excitebike, I shuffled back. “Yeah, grandma?” She looked at me and said “Please pick up this toy and put it on the shelf.” I was confused. “Why? I didn’t put it there.” She changed me when she said “Hernan, when you pick something up or you do something nice for someone else, even when they don’t know you did it, you’re blessing them – even when they don’t know it.” Annoyed, I put the toy away. My Nintendo was calling…or paging…or whatever happened back then.
Fast forward a few decades when I’m waiting in line to pick up my SXSW badge with @lydialeavitt. I notice a pen on the ground. Without realizing, I pick it up, walk it over to the counter silently and come back in line. Lydia asks “What was that, Nan?” I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “The pen…why did you put it on the counter?” I responded with the story you read above and she nodded. Each time you do this, like anything else, it becomes a part of who you are. So, look for little opportunities to to give tiny blessings to others. Even if they don’t know, you’ve done something special for friends and strangers. You also help me honor my 95 year old grandma Lydia.
Do you have a fun story of how you’ve done this in your life? Share with us in the comments.
I’m a fixer. I’ve grown up that way, my friends have always looked to me for advice and answers and I kinda like it. The problem that we fixers encounter is that not everyone wants to be fixed. As my pal Kevin Joyce once told me “Nan, if there’s a fire, you’re the guy to get everyone out safely.” I smiled. He followed my smile by lovingly saying “…but, there isn’t always a fire.” UGH.
In Jason Headley’s “It’s Not About the Nail” video, he illustrates this perfectly. The nail is so obvious to the man, but the woman just wants to be heard. Dr. Mark Goulston’s brilliant book, which I read repeatedly, Just Listen helps the fixers in the room. I’ve found that I less frequently offer an opinion when one isn’t needed of me. Instead I use Mark’s three very powerful words – “TELL ME MORE.” Then I promptly shut up. Mark knows a thing or two about this stuff – he’s a former hostage negotiator trainer.
These three potent words help people calm down and, as Mark says, “identify the specific problems that usually are far short of catastrophic.” This statement tells people you care about what they have to say, what they think and how they feel, especially when you show them you’re genuinely listening by leaning in.
Using “tell me more” has lead to me being thanked. Not because I’ve offered great advice but because I simply listened to the person reason through their situation. Typically, people don’t need us to fix their issues, just be with them. In Chapter 1 of Bob Goff’s whimsical book, Love Does, he says “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” Thanks to these two caring guys, I’m getting closer to living life that way. Do you have something that you like to say to others to help show them how much you care?
Sometimes plans change. Saturday morning shifted from chores around the house to listening to clinical psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud, speak at Community Bible Church. Cloud wrote The Law of Happiness (Amazon affiliate link) based on clinical research which also matched up Biblically. Happiness is described as the sense of well being even when bad things happen. The research found that happy people have similar characteristics and that only about 10% of happiness is circumstantial. So whether or not you get to live in the neighborhood you want, get the new car, or the new toy, you get a boost in happiness that goes back to your basic set point of happiness. Some happiness is constitutional – you were just born that way, the rest is how you choose to live.
In the book he covers the following 13 truths about happy people, 6 of which he discussed:
– Happy people are not lazy about happiness
– Happy people don’t wait for “someday”
– Happy people fully engage
– Happy people don’t compare themselves
– Happy people are grateful
– Happy people forgive
– Happy people have a calling
– Happy people connect
Look down. You have a belly button and you were connected from the beginning. Even after birth, babies must connect. Beyond shelter and food, studies show that love and relationship shapes the child. Connection happens when your needs are revealed. Cloud shared a story where a monkey was placed in a cage during a study. His cortisol levels were measured for a baseline. The monkey was then terrorized with loud noises and flashing lights. His cortisol levels were measured after being terrorized. The monkey then had his monkey friend added to the cage and they were both terrorized together, with a cortisol measurement taken again. When the two monkeys were terrorized together, the cortisol levels were split in half.
– Happy people are givers
People who give have positive physiological changes. Cloud warns that if you are miserable in giving, you might be co-dependent. Cloud points to Luke 3:11 where John the Baptist shares …”Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” When you give, the same pleasure centers light up in your brains as when you have great food or have sex.
– Happy people think well
It matters how you think about what you think about. Optimists say “there is a way towards good.” Pessimists will:
Personalize the situation – “it was bad me’s fault”
Pervasive – “it’s all bad, my life is just bad”
Permanent – “it will always be like this”
This thought process affords less happiness but it can be fixed. When we observe our thoughts, we grow new brain hardwiring to learn new ways of thinking.
– Happy people pursue goals
Your mind already has a vision and goals, it helps you move forward when you connect with it. Maybe one goal can be found by asking “How can we get closer to God and people?” Goals with milestones start a sequencing pattern in your brain. Entertain the concept of a life mission. Cloud’s life mission is to show how The Bible can bring health instead of showcasing crazy. You can try starting with a daily goal, this could be as simple as encouraging just one person. Then work on stretch goals. Do enough of a stretch goal to freak you out, but not overwhelm you. Check out the graphic. You don’t know what’s in your heart until you start digging.
– Happy people have boundaries
We often lose boundaries with the needy and defer to rageaholics to prevent an eruption. Happy people will instead let go of what hurts them and have a necessary ending.
– Happy people have faith
These people trust transcendance, they understand they aren’t the center of the universe. These are people who look for the light and are oriented in seeking it. Those people recognize that they are not the light, they are only responsible for the light that is given to them. It’s a spiritual movement towards God.
If you want to read this in more detail, check out Dr. Cloud’s book. It’s on my list of books to read!
I’m writing this post to really get it, as a reminder to myself to read again in the future and to have the notes to review in the future.
The divorce was not fun (it was miserable) and it’s not something that you want to do again. Remember how you felt in the fights that never seemed to go anywhere, the times where you should have bitten your tongue and the grace you needed and should have shown more. You hung in there, you fought the good fight and it didn’t work this time around. Here’s some of what you learned about love.
English is a funny language where we use the word love in so many ways that it has lost it’s potency and it has become insufficient. We love the sunshine, we love the internet, we love our spouse and we love pizza. Those Hebrew homies had their ways with words, though, that described love differently. It came in three parts and built on top of one another to more thoroughly describe the relationship. It would be wise for your brain and your heart to get this. Let’s review the way the Hebrews spoke of love so you can remember it by heart.
The base of Hebrew Love, Raah (said rye-ah)
Raah is the Hebrew word for companionship. And not the “hey bro, let’s go hang out” companionship. It’s a word that’s used between humans and not between a person and an item or animal. Instead it’s the “oooh, I’ve seen the not so great side of you and I still want to continue doing life with you.” Matt goes on to say that you can’t experience raah during a first, second or third date. We can usually fake that. This is after the crazy has come out and you still say “I want to continue going down this path with you.” Without this foundation and revealing, love goes no further. This part is scary.
Stack it on top, Ahavah (said ah-ha-va)
So, cool, you’ve got raah down. You’ve seen the crazy and you’re still in. You’ve got raah and that leads into ahavah, “the love of the will.” Ahavah is were we’re in a fight and it’s hellish. We’re both furious, emotions are running high, you’re acting crazy and I still say “I’m not going anywhere.” We may be fighting, we may have issues and I want to stay with you and fight with you, no one else. This is the part that helps a woman feel secure in your relationship. Oh, by the way, God wants us to go through these steps of Raah and Ahavah and not have sex. Not yet. We aren’t married.
The cherry, Dode
We’ve got the companionship portion down with raah, I’ve still battled with you and your crazy and still want to stick around and figure life out with you, boom, ahavah. Woo, that’s a lot of work so far with no sex. We get married, now it’s time for dode. It’s the mingling of two souls and the word dode is only used when raah and ahavah are present. Dode is not sex, though it is a component of it. The intimacy that we’ve been searching for has been fulfilled. Without the raah and ahavah, the sex ends up being just technique and not the mingling of souls.
So there’s the beginning of it. Here are the notes and sermons where this came from so you remember.
And don’t worry, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. God’s mercy and grace is infinite. It’s okay.
Update: The sermons were taken offline since they were older and Matt has matured in his teaching.
This past week, General Colin Powell graced San Antonio with his presence at Trinity University as the guest speaker for the 2011 Flora Cameron Lecture on Politics and Public Affairs. General Powell caught me by surprise, with his speech being so interesting, humorous and his global view being vast. He shared stories of speeding around Northern Virginia in his Corvette, where the police frequently pull him over, greet and salute him because many of the officers are former GI’s, quickly write him a ticket for speeding and zip off. Later he shared a story where he had found himself defending a small area to make sure Russian soldiers could not penetrate, later his rank and influence grew and he had to defend a larger area against them. As time past, he found himself repeatedly defending against and working to contain Communism. Then, in the 1980’s when Gorbachev came into power and Gorbachev was interested in hosting President Reagan, Reagan sent Powell over first. Gorbachev had been working to change the way the USSR was doing business, but the USA was still working their containment angle. When General Powell went to the Kremlin to meet Gorbachev, Gorbachev ranted, shaking his fists in frustration about the USA not being receptive to their changes and shifts. Finally, after all the yelling, Gorbachev stopped, looked up, captured a thought and smiled. He looked at General Powell and said “You will have to find a new enemy.” I felt connected to a piece of history as he shared his stories.
General Powell served as a four-star general, Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With such experiences, he had some wise words to share with the crowd at Trinity.
According to General Powell, leadership is about followership. It’s the followers that get the tasks done, so find the best place to put each of them to perform. He went on to say that it is critical to give them a mission, goals and a sense of purpose. The purpose need to connect you to a greater good – an overall benefit to the needs of the society. The entire followership then needs an overall common purpose to serve. The leadership needs to be selfless and be committed to the purpose above their jobs as well. Additionally, great leaders are required to take great care of their followers. As he described, his soldiers are the ones going up the hill, so he had to ensure that they were well outfitted to take on the task. As the Secretary of State, General Powell purchased 44,258 new computers for the State Department. He knew he had to do so to properly outfit his team to perform at their best. Finally, he said “don’t just motivate, inspire with the purpose that you’re trying to serve.”
In the time we were with the General, his entire presentation wrapped around the concept of greater purpose. Does your organization have an overarching greater purpose that can be fulfilled by the activities your people are involved in daily? If not, learn from one of the top leaders in the world, find the heart behind your organization and develop your purpose so your team can push together to achieve it.
Photo from L to R: Donna Tuttle, General Powell, Nora Frost, Joe Ruiz
Life continues to prove to be anything but stable. 2010 was a very difficult year for me and produced a dramatic transition in my life. In October 2010, I was introduced to John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart, by my friend and pastor, Kevin Joyce. Eldredge, with support of modern movies such as Gladiator and Braveheart, paints a picture of what a man looks like. And not just any man, but a hero. A man that can lead other men; a man that inspires and captures the heart of his beauty. That man is brutally fierce in his battles yet showcases his grace and compassion towards others who go unloved and don’t have a voice. A dichotomy that most men are lacking. Notice that you find this with William Wallace and Maximus. Guys you aspire to be. Warriors and lovers. We’ve experienced a bastardization of this in our lives; either being filled with rage or with a passivity that inspires no one and leaves others feeling cold around you. Maybe you’ve experienced this in a friend, family member or coworker. I personally had built walls around myself emotionally. Logic ruled in my book. As I read this book, along with coaching from Kevin, I began to see the value of my logic. I also saw my flaw, which I hadn’t recognized, in my deficiency of heart. This was created by my smothering of emotion by logic. As another friend, Scott Austin told me, “Nan, you’re the perfect guy when there’s a fire in a building. You’ll get the bull horn, get on a table and move everyone out safely. The problem is – there’s not always a fire.” Scott certainly had my attention. Allowing myself to experience emotion? Yikes. If you’re like me and most other men, that sounds pretty damn horrible. Leaving yourself vulnerable? Sounds scary.
Did I really want to do this? Enter Kevin, who had me read the story of Jesus and Lazarus. You trivia nuts will know about the shortest verse in the Bible – “Jesus wept.” Here’s the quick story. Lazarus was dying and these dudes were asking Jesus to show up and save him. Jesus delayed. (He had his reasons.) Finally, when Jesus and the guys arrive, Lazarus is dead. Jesus says, “nah, he’s just sleeping.” The guys are in disbelief. They keep arguing with Jesus. It says Jesus became angry and wept. Wait, what? So Jesus, the human version of God, got angry and wept and raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus logically knew that he could and would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet still he experienced the anger and sorrow. He didn’t just brush them off and do what he needed to do. Ugh. Feelings.
So after having read Wild at Heart and doing some additional learning of who we are and who God wants us to be as men, I was bouncing around John Eldredge’s Ransomed Heart website where I stumbled upon the Wild at Heart Boot Camp. I knew it was something I needed to do for myself and for the people around me. I was going to attend in Colorado, but my mom gifted me an upgrade to Hawaii – how could I say no to that?
I arrived at the Kona airport where I met a number of guys from around the country and later, the world, where Shane had flown over 30 hours to get from Cape Town, South Africa to the big island of Hawaii. That’s commitment. We had over 300 men in the Boot Camp, men from as young as 18 to men in their 70’s, ranging from dudes that look like they never left the beach to physicians and business owners. Clearly, this message resonated across all demographics of men.
It’d be impossible to cover all that we learned in the four days that we were there, but here are a couple of highlights of the teachings I received during those emotionally and spiritually rigorous days.
Wounds Of Our Fathers
We are human and our dads, unsurprisingly, are as well (hopefully). In being human, they made mistakes and they wounded us, oftentimes unintentionally. They were wounded themselves from their fathers. How could they know better? As boys we need to know that we’re loved AND that our dad’s believe in us and that we have what it takes. Maybe our dads loved us but never hugged us and spent intimate time with us. Maybe our dads did hug us but didn’t tell us frequently enough who we were as men and that they believed in us. A boy needs his father to provide this for him on a consistent basis. This is lacking, and has been for generations. How do I know? It came from hearing a room full of over 300 men weeping uncontrollably when Eldredge talked about this on stage. The first thing we need to do about this is forgive our fathers. Forgiving them doesn’t mean that your wound didn’t hurt you horribly, nor does it make it alright. It’s a choice to release your dad. As they said, don’t wait to feel like forgiving, because forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
Morgan, a team member with John, described agreements as lies that we agree with internally. Morgan, after seeing his dad cry at a funeral without a discussion afterward, made an agreement that he would be the strongest man he knew. He would be Atlas and carry the weight of his world on his shoulders. Another guy was told by his stepdad that he was “nothing but a seagull – good for sitting, squawking and shitting.” That was the name his father gave him, so as a boy he made an agreement internally that that was who he was. These agreements that we have all made shape our existence, our relationships and our decision making process. These agreements need to be broken so they don’t continue to encumber our relationships and decision making for the rest of our lives.
I know that I carry wounds of my father. One of those that was passed along to me is the stoicism that he carries. Some could read me as cold or uncaring. I knew internally that this wasn’t true, but until I went through the book and further this boot camp, it had been difficult for me to show emotion. Things are changing for me. I’ve forgiven my dad. Poor man, he didn’t know that he was doing wrong by me. I know that since we are God’s children my dad isn’t just my dad, but also my brother. We all carry that young boy inside of us and he raised me based on his wounds, from his experiences, in the best and most loving way he knew. I also learned that God is not a substitute father if your dad didn’t provide you what you needed; He’s the primary. Your earthly father is in addition to your dad in Heaven. As Morgan described, God brings other fathers into our lives to serve and teach us. His financial father figure is Dave Ramsey, his marketing dad is Seth Godin. God uses other men as his hands and feet. Hell, Morgan even talked about his father in learning how to bow hunt – an 83 year old woman that competed in archery in the Olympics. It’s not necessarily about the gender. Recognizing the agreements that I’ve made with myself over the years from my experiences will continue to unravel and reveal themselves. I don’t know them all explicitly yet, but now when something goes awry or I’m feeling something that’s not of God, I am aware that there might be an agreement there that needs to be prayed over and broken.
I am committed to being a whole man, a man that will fight fiercely for what is right and who will show tenderness and grace appropriately. I will feel, I will love and I will fight. I know I’ll drop the ball and stumble along the way, I’m human and thankfully, we have God’s infinite grace for these instances. Men, God wants you to live a life of adventure with him. Notice that I didn’t write about being a nice guy, there were no descriptions of being Mister Rogers. Jesus was fierce, he was loving (funny too!) and that’s who God wants us to be as well – Maximus or William Wallace. It’s what resonates in our hearts. This will be a lifelong path and it will be worth it.
People, encourage the men that matter in your life to read Wild at Heart and to give the Wild at Heart Field Guide an honest try. It may be exactly what they need to help them escape their life of passivity or rage and unlock the heart that God gave them. If you have questions, please reach out to me and I’ll make time to talk to you about it.
On Sunday I experienced humanity in a way that I never had before by attending the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon and Half-Marathon. The race was a great equalizer. The distance of the course doesn’t care about your age, race, health or anything else.
As I stood at the finish line watching the runners and walkers come in, I was so impressed with everyone in attendance. There were over 27,000 participants and the spectators were cheering them all on. I saw an elderly gentleman walking the final stretch. As he saw the finish line, he put his hand over his mouth, preparing for the flood of tears that were coming. It was clear that this was something special – he was walking with an oxygen pack. People cruised in on walkers, one gentleman trotting along with a full 55 pound military pack. Others were running for loved ones that had lost battles to disease. It was striking to watch the pain, the joy, the sheer excitement of every participant and how much the onlookers were experiencing these feelings with the runners. It was amazing. As my friend Lisa said, “the finish line is the reason WHY I run.” Wow. I couldn’t ever fully appreciate what that meant until yesterday.
You’re likely in the middle of your marathon of life right now. Look towards those people on the sidelines cheering you on. Seek out the people that are going to tell you to not give up, even when giving up feels okay, because you’ve gone through so much. Reach for the right people who can move you forward when things get tough. Do it, even when a train stops the race. The finish line is so much more fun than stopping mid-race.
Steve and I sat down, via Skype, to talk about his new book Personality Poker. As a fan of personal and professional development, I found Steve’s insights especially helpful when looking at the successful growth of an organization together.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when working with others?
People believe that opposites attract. We like to be around people who are like us when we’re working, so we end up with a one sided view of the world. This is efficient for simple, repetitive tasks because people understand each other. If you want to innovate, though, you need divergent points of view and you need other skills to implement this.
What does it mean if someone sees you differently than you see yourself – and does it matter?
If someone sees you differently than you see yourself, there a few things that happen. The Pygmalion Effect happens. You’ll shift toward the way people see you. There was a study where students were given IQ tests. The teachers were given the top 20% scores. They tested a year later. That 20%’s IQ had increased. The interesting part is that the original 20%’s scores were randomly selected. The kids grew more because the teachers took a special interest in those supposedly top students.
People often see things in you that you don’t see. One guy saw himself as 100% Heart – a person who cares about people and relationships. Everyone else saw him as a Club – someone who takes charge and is results oriented. When we reassigned work to what he actually enjoyed, it freed him up to accelerate his connectedness with others
How is Personality Poker Played – and how is it different than other Personality tests?
Personality Poker is played with a deck of specially designed poker cards that describe different attributes. Before people arrive at an event, we’ll deal out 5 random cards to a person. People trade a card until the cards best describe their personalities. This helps them determine the partners in the innovation process. The big value, in most personality tests, is spits out colors, letters. This is more about the words people choose. It’s less about the label and more about the discussion around the word you choose. People can gift you cards in the way others see you. It’s a team dynamic where everyone is doing it at the same time. Because it’s a fun game, they have conversations that they wouldn’t have. People love to gift cards like ‘anal retentive.’ They have amazing conversations in a non-confrontational way.
In the book you mention four principles for creating high performing innovation teams. What are they?
Play to your strong suit. Each person should do what they do best. Make sure the organization plays with a full deck, meaning that there are people of different suits involved. Divide and conquer the work. Shuffle the deck to build creative tension making people work outside their usual comfort zone. Even when we divide and conquer, sometimes people need to come together to battle it out.
In Personality Poker, you say that the suits, the colors, and the numbers have meaning. What do they mean?
Spades – Analytical bunch
5-9 of Spades – people who are really smart and work more in solitary.
10-Ace of Spades – smart and like to show you, like professors.
Diamonds – They desire novelty
5-9 of Diamonds – like new ideas.
10-Ace of Diamonds – like new experiences.
Clubs – Doers
5-9 of Clubs – planners that get the job done methodically.
10-Ace of Clubs – doers that get it done, no matter what.
Hearts – Are all about the people.
5-9 of Hearts – deep relationships. Empathetic, great listeners and are typically more introverted. They also like more predictability.
10-Ace of Hearts – social butterflies and are more extroverted and more comfortable with ambiguity.
2-3-4 cards – these are the unproductive behaviors or the side effects of your strengths. A 3 of hearts can be oversensitive, for example. This is useful for determining someone’s overall personality.
Is there a Joker card?
I found out later that the court jester in court could make fun of the king. He was designed to be a contrarian. The Joker card will be in a future version.
What were some of experiences at Accenture that helped shape & prepare you to write this book?
Two things. When I worked w/ clients on innovation, I found there were “yeah, but people.” I started looking at different companies and how they innovated. Another is a personal experience. Oe year I got a big budget for an internal budget. I chose a guy much like me to co-lead the project. I’m a high Diamond, he’s a high Heart. We had a great time on the project but we got nothing done. It was a total failure. The next year, recognizing my mistake, I found an anal-retentive Club. Although he drove me crazy, we developed something successful. I appreciate the value my opposite brings and I am now intentional about choosing people like that. This can be the mistake a startup makes where they get too many similar people together and fail.
How do people get to be open enough to have conversations about personality types without feeling attacked?
When you make things fun, you can say or do anything.
Why does this stuff matter?
You don’t have to pay attention to it if you don’t want your business to grow. If you have infinite resources, then go ahead. This is about maximizing throughput and having the capacity to create new products and new services for new customers. When the pace of change outside of your organization is faster than the pace of change inside your business, you’ll be out of business.
At TEDxSanAntonio, my friend Alicia Arenas shared her story about being a glass child. As she described, a glass child is one that has a special needs sibling. Glass children aren’t named such because they’re fragile, instead, the parents look through them like glass and focus their efforts primarily on the special needs child instead. The glass child then does the best he can without the attention and focus that the special needs child receives. It’s an interesting phenomenon because the glass child remains needing the attention. Be sure to check back at the TEDxSanAntonio site for Alicia’s presentation so you can hear her story.
An analogous situation to the glass child issue can crop up at work. As leaders in our offices, we have high performing team members that require less supervision and who seem to need us less. They don’t seem to ask for help, they complete their tasks in exemplary fashion, they often pull off the miraculous. For their efforts, they get a quick thank you, if that, and you move along to focus your efforts on the ones that need more attention. The ones you see untapped potential in, if they could just get their work done or show up to meetings on time.
Those that you see potential in still deserve your support and attention. The key is to cherish, develop and recognize they achievers as well. They can become glass men and women in your office because you don’t think they need. Remember, they want and thrive on your attention and efforts as well, so invest in them and reap the rewards from their accelerated growth as well.
High achievers can get caught up in the perfection of their work. “I don’t want to put my name on it unless it’s perfect.” Sound familiar? I’ve said it too. It’s easy to get paralyzed by perfection. You need the words to be just a little better in this email or you need the shot to pop just a bit more before rendering the video. Here’s the truth – people will notice that you didn’t ship your product but they might not notice the extra effort that you invested to meet your own level of perfection.
Sometimes, your level of perfection is important. It can be critical…if you’re a brain surgeon. For the rest of the population, choose to avoid the perfection paralysis and ship your product instead. Do great work and ship. Get better on each iteration of your product and notice what people comment on and care about instead. This will be a much more valuable use of your time and you’ll have something to show for all your hard work.