Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Ways To Fail in Love, Life & Business

A large misconception I'm trying to overcome is making it seem like I somehow have it all figured out.  The majority of what I write about comes from a place of guilt and lessons learned the hard way.  Not from an angle of superiority.

My BEST half told me a couple weeks ago that I should write about my failures.  Not what "other people" should do. 

Which is what I thought I was doing.  Sometimes though, saying the same thing in a different way can make all the difference.  So, here we go - 10 Ways to Fail in Love, Life & Business.....from personal experience.

1 - Stop Growing
   John Wooden once said, "Once you think you're through learning, you ARE through!"  I was successful.  I was good at what I did.  I made money, and had the title to go with it.  I was young, had all the superficial stuff that I thought mattered, and took my eye off of what really did.  Learning.  Learning what to do when times get challenging.  How to bounce back.  How to avoid the pitfalls.  How to plan for when I couldn't. No matter how high you get, or how good things seem to be, never, ever stop improving.  Become a life long learner.

2 - Turn Into a Human Trash Compactor
   Ready for the obvious?  What happens when you stop working out?  You get rounder.  What happens when you combine that with eating like a dumpster?  You get rounder, faster.  This is one of those "simple, but not easy" deals.  Work out, and watch what you eat, and you will feel better - in almost every way.

3 - Focus on Yourself
   The entire universe, with one VERY minor exception, is made up of OTHER people.  Focusing on myself was maybe the most destructive thing I've done.  Sure, at times you need to.  But, when you're already a selfish person by nature, and you compound that by ignoring others feelings, you become an impossible person.  People don't want to talk to you, be with you, and they no longer care about you - they simply feel sorry for you, and that's if you're lucky.

4 - Scrap Your Goals
   This world eats people up and shits them out without batting an eyelash.  The "world" doesn't care if you are sick, tired, sad, happy, nervous, afraid or whatever you feel like feeling like today.  It only cares about your value.  Bring value to the day, and your marketplace, and it will reward you.  The second I stopped focusing on my goals, was the second I started to fail.  I didn't know it at the time, because it wasn't instantaneous.  But if I'm not moving towards my objectives, I'm moving away from them.  There is no neutral.  The days I didn't make count are days I wasted, and can't get back.

5 - Forget The Dates That Matter
   Dates, anniversaries, birthdays, or any other day/time that is important.  Go ahead and just forget those.  Don't write them down.  Don't put them in your planner.  Run late, or just blow it off entirely.  This has been a HUGE downfall of mine.  I used to think that those kinds of events just didn't matter that much.  What I wasn't grasping was that it didn't matter because I made it not matter.  I could have made that date night, that birthday, that weekend mean the world to her.  But I didn't.  Because it didn't matter.  It wasn't that important.  I'm learning now that it can matter a whole hell of a lot, if I remember, care, and MAKE it matter.

6 - Live Reactively
   Sitting back, waiting for things to happen, and then deciding what I would do, say or think is a recipe for disaster.  In a relationship, and most things in life, you need to take the bull by the horns sometimes.  Be proactive.  When I did little in advance, and refused to take a "pay it forward" approach, opportunities were missed.  They say it's never too late to do the right thing.......sometimes it is.
7 - Refuse To Own It
   All of it.  Now, I'm not talking about the cars and the clothes and that kind of crap.  I'm talking about owning all of whatever comes your way.  The good.  And definitely the bad.  I wasn't failing, it was the economy, the marketing company, the sales reps, the demographics....blah, blah, blah.  Yet, when it was going well, guess who was taking all the credit??  Yours truly.  Only when I owned my failures and took total 100% responsibility for them did I turn a significantly important corner.

8 - Never Apologize
   There are a few words that I honestly regret not saying every single day.
  • I'm sorry
  • You were right
  • I was wrong
  • I love you
  • I appreciate you
  • Thank you
Along with the other things that we, as individuals, just love to hear.  Its amazing how my ego/pride/stubborness has prevented me from saying 2-3 words that could make a huge difference in someone elses day.  Whether you're a family member, friend, co-worker, etc. I screwed up when I kept my mouth shut during those now obvious moments.  For that, I'm sorry.

9 - Make Excuses
    Maybe this is an extension of refusing to take ownership.  Either way, it's worth exploring further.  There are excuses, and then there are reasons.  I chose to live a life with more excuses then reasons.  From the small things, like not doing more around the house because I was tired.  To the larger things, like justifying mistreatment of someone I care about because I was in a "bad mood".  We can justify and convince ourselves of whatever we want.  "I'm out of shape because I work too much."  "I don't have time for that because _______."  or "That's not my job".  Are all things I've allowed to leave my mouth and wish I could take back. 

If I could, I'd go back and remind myself that those are REASONS, not excuses.  Because I have a lot to do, I need to finish up more "honey-do's" around the house.  Or BECAUSE I work hard, I need to make sure that I'm in better shape. 

To be successful, truly successful, I needed to start to turn more of my excuses into reasons.

10 - How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything
   If I procrastinate in one area, I'll likely procrastinate in most areas.  If I'm disorganized at home, I'll likely be disorganized at work.  If I'm inconciderate to one person, I'll justrify being that way to others.  I needed to understand that the type of person I want to be is not part of my genetic make up, but a result of habit and practice, and a conscious effort to be that way. 

Happy people are happy because they choose to be happy.  Healthy people aren't born healthy - they get their healthy asses in the gym.  If you really think you can differentiate how you are in one area of your life, and seperate that from other areas, you might be making the same mistakes I've made for years. 

They say there are a handful of ways to be more successful, and a million ways to fail.  If it's true that the most successful people on Eart are the ones who've failed the most, the fastest - then I must be making some serious progress!  I hope you are as well, and are willing to share......

Friday, March 8, 2013

18 Ways to Be A Better Man

This is not an attempt at making it seem like I have life figured out.  Don't fear; I will not be getting overly emotional or challenge you to "dig deeper" while summoning my inner Paulo Coelho.  You don't need me to tell you to explore the deepest crevices of your spiritual being until you locate the child-like version of yourself so you two can cry together.......huh?  This isn't complicated.  There are simple ways to be a better man, and this will probably serve more as an admission of guilt than as a tutorial.....

#1 - Stop Acting So Tough
       Yea, I'm talking to you psycho guy in the red mustang that's driving like a maniac because the soccer mom in front of you is doing the speed limit.  Relax.  Refusing to cry, being unable to show emotions, or hating kittens doesn't make you a tough guy.  It makes you an asshole.

#2 - Wear A Suit Once In Awhile
      Whether you work on Wall Street, or you're a mechanic, nothing is better than putting on a well made, tailored suit. It's Saturday night, you're about to enjoy a night out with your better half and you're trying to decide between those dirty khaki's with that wrinkled button down, or your dirty khaki's with your Jets jersey......Knock it off.  You're a grown man.  Dress like one. You may think wearing a well-fitted, classy looking suit is not your style......but I bet you she would say differently.

#3 - Learn Something New
     The older I get the more I understand how it is that people get complacent.  Life is tough sometimes.  And sometimes old problems are more comfortable than new solutions.  Challenge yourself to learn something new.  Something you never thought you'd know how to do:  a sushi class, a foreign language, how to scuba dive, paint, an instrument, etc.  It's amazing how little we actually know.

#4 - Stop Competing With Everyone About Everything
     - Nobody cares that you're better than them at something.  Actually, it makes them feel bad about themselves.  Now, maybe that's your goal sometimes - to beat some body at something.  And I'm all for that.  But to beat your six year old into submission over a game of Connect Four is unnecessary.  You know that guy who always wants to one-up everyone?  Everyone hates him......Don't go through life competing with everyone about everything. 

#5 - Do More Than What You Get Paid For
     -  There's a saying that goes, "If you never do more than what you get paid for, you'll never get paid more for what you do."  It's cliche', but when was the last time you under-promised on something and over delivered?

#6 - Spend More Time With Your Family
     - I'm constantly trying to balance work-life and business with family time.  But the numbers are against me.  Eight to nine hours a day at work, sometimes more, and an hour or two per day with the baby during the week.  I know this is typical for most families that require a breadwinner or two.  But the average American now watches TV for six hours a day, works eight hours, and sleeps eight hours......I'm not a math wiz, but can someone explain to me a) how this is logistically possible if you have an eight month old  and b) when you even acknowledge your family or children???  During commercials??

#7 - Stop Staring At Every Girl That Walks By
     - Seriously.  It's creepy, borderline disrespectful, and the decent ones hate it.  Some of us use whistling, facial expressions and our car horns like its some sort of mating call.  Good luck with that.  Talking to you again dude in the red mustang, blasting Pit Bull, with your're a real catch, I'm sure.

#8 - Live Passionately
     - Life is so much more than football, cars, and women (I know, hard to believe).  Its ok to be passionate about those things, but expand your horizon.  Be interesting by being interested.

#9 - Be Ridiculous Sometimes
     -  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Nobody else does.  Especially if you have children.  One of the biggest things that I've learned since becoming a father is that it's totally ok to act like a damn fool.  He doesn't hold it against me, or think I'm being annoying (yet).  He just laughs hysterically.  Mission accomplished.

#10 - Don't Tattoo Your Face
      -  Really no need to elaborate.  But I'd like to add the following to that list; tramp stamps, neck tattoos, someones name, a tear drop, a Chinese symbol, Osama Bin Laden's face, or a tribal tattoo.  They're all stupid.  And you'll regret it.  Or you're in jail - which you'd probably would rather not be in.

#11 - Remember What Your Mom Taught You
      - Chivalry isn't just dead.  It was murdered, brought back to life, then poisoned before being stoned to death by clowns.  It's bad.  Real bad.  What happened to opening doors, saying please/thank you, or yes ma'am and yes sir??  You still shouldn't chew with your mouth open, bite your nails, dirty your clothes, and is it too much to ask you to slide a chair in for her??  It's amazing we get as many of them to agree to a second date, let alone marry us.  Wait...... the divorce rate is what???!!

#12 - Compliment People More Often
       - We all know someone who just lifts people up.  They aren't interested in themselves, and seem genuinely interested in what's going on in your world.  Not only are they interested in your mundane day-to-day activities, but they're impressed by it.  Again, GENUINELY.  I don't get it, but if you think that it's awesome that I ironed my shirt, or scored tickets to a Heat game, I'll take it!  And so will others. 

#13 - Get Your Finances and Health Under Control
       - There is nothing more debilitating than being unable to enjoy life because of a lack of money or poor health.  Poverty and illness aren't things that happen to you.  More often than not, they are things that happen because of you.  Pay now and play later, or play now and pay later......either way you have to pay.  Be proactive with both.  Nobody put a limit on what your net worth can be.  There is nobody preventing you from living healthier besides you.

#14 - Learn To Disconnect
       -  There's a commercial out now where a group of guys jump in their truck and head out for a weekend in the wilderness.  The further they drive off the beaten path the worse their cell phone signal gets.  Until, finally, their phone says "No Service".  At which point, they park, start unloading the truck and say "Finally!".  It's honestly been years since I was totally disconnected......and I miss it.  From one man to another, nobody cares about where you're checking in from, or that tweet you sent out about Dancing With The Stars.  40% of iPhone users say they'd rather give up brushing their teeth for a week then their phone.  Seriously?? 

#15 - Listen To Her
      -  I know.  It's hard.  She wants to talk about the new girl at her office that came in with a plaid skirt (OMG....So gross!), and you just walked through the door.  Now, maybe in this instance it's not going to bite you in the ass, but one day, it will.  We're men.  We like to act.  Not talk, or share feelings.  I get it, and I'm with you.  But she needs it.  And if you don't want to listen to her, trust me, someone else will.

#16 - Stop Walking Around With Your Bluetooth In Your Ear
       - You aren't talking to anyone.  You're just standing in line at Starbucks.  You're not even on the phone.  I don't walk around with my golf clubs because I might use them at some point.  Why are you walking around looking like a blinking idiot and you're just buying groceries??  Are you on a conference call that's of the utmost importance?? 

#17 - Know How To Catch, Clean and Cook the Fish
       -  This world is mostly divided up into two types of men.  Men who can cook and gut a fish but only know how to fry it in beer batter and cigarette butts.  And men who think fish are icky, but would love to prepare it with a bed of fresh spring greens and a raspberry vinaigrette.  Wow.  If you can do one, you can do the other.  Trust me.

#18 - Do The Right Thing, and Don't Complain
       -  I've always felt like an old soul in some ways.  I know older people feel like our generation has it so easy these days.....and they're right.  In the "good ol days" you worked hard, took care of your family, did the right thing, and never complained about it.  Today, we want to cut corners, bail on our responsibilities, do what's easy, and then bitch about it.  Any one can quit and complain, but it takes a real man to do the right thing, even when it's not easy, and not have a Facebook meltdown about it.

This will likely be an ever-evolving list.  What do you think makes a man a real man?