Monday, July 29, 2013

Are You Ready For The Back Nine of 2013?

It's really ironic that I use a golf term to describe the remaining time in 2013 since I haven't picked up my own personal clubs in more than a decade. But it's always been my favorite golf term as a hacker so I keep using it even though I don't golf anymore.

I like the term for what it always stood for when I did play: opportunity

Regardless of how I played the first nine, the back nine was always my chance to make it right. If you are an avid golfer you will argue that point but stick with me. Notwithstanding the course or how it may or may not be my favor on the back nine, think of it purely from a physical standpoint. If you don't golf daily (and if you do golf daily, stop reading  - you are not my audience. Thanks.), then the first nine holes tend to be getting your body and muscle memory back into the golf groove you have - bad or good.

You focus more on mechanics and the particular details of the game. You can be irritable as you realize what the extended time away from the game - be it weeks or if you live in the midwest, months - can do to your swing and mental stamina.  You nit pick yourself and others you golf with. The front nine can be painful. But not the back nine.

You are more relaxed. Your body and muscles have had ample time to warm up and acclimate to the game. You play with abandon because either your front nine score was so bad it doesn't matter what you do from this point forward or you played close enough have a great shot at winning so taking a few more risks might bring the reward.

I just described myself on the golf course but I also described myself the entrepreneur. The first half of the year is in the books. Done. History. Many of my objectives are still there and within reach while others are just blown away. Regardless - I am stoked for the back nine of this year. My relationship with my goals is a fluid one. I have set goals but I am flexible to new ones that always seem to appear - like this year's fiction novel. If you'd have told me in January that I would be writing a fiction novel in June, I'd have laughed at you and thrown you out of my office.

I lay out objectives at the beginning of every year and each July, I stop and reflect on where I am and how I can end the year in the best possible manner. I review action steps and course correct as needed. I also delete or postpone items that no longer fit into my year plan. By August, I refuel my leadership tank at a conference. By mid-August - I am ready to punch the gas pedal to end the year ablaze.

It is not too late to hit some of those objectives of your list. Take some time in the last few days of this month to review and re-energize yourself toward your 2013 goals.  The back nine is green and waiting for you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

3 Things Necessary To Truly Discuss Race in America

Unless you live under a rock, there was no escaping a discussion on the topic of race in the United States last week. Our country has a painful and long history of racial discord and while there have been many strides made, there is still a long long way to go.

Nothing tells us this more than when we have a lightening rod event such as the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 death of  Trayvon Martin, an unarmed  17 year old,  last week. The emotions on all sides of these issues run deep and wide.  Both sides are asking painful questions:

Are all white people racists?

Are all black males criminals?

Could I have been George Zimmerman? Am I biased, bigoted or prejudiced because of race?

Could I have been gunned down just for walking down the street in a hoodie? Could that have been my son?

What about the violence in black communities? Why aren't they mad about that?

Why is the country split on this decision about George Zimmerman? Once again along racial lines?

I don't have the answers to all the above questions but like everyone else, I have an opinion. An opinion reached by the perspective of my experience in this country to date.  Regardless my opinion on the Florida case, my contribution to the overall race discussion is a follows: We will only resolve race relations in our country by building genuine relationships across racial lines.

This whole conversation on race changes when three things are present; trust, respect and love. It is impossible to have a honest dialogue about race with someone if all three of the above are not present. This applies even within the same racial circles.

Trust equal safety, safety from fear of judgement or retaliation. When you can speak your mind to someone you trust, you don't have to preface anything. You can say what you need to say as well as hear what someone else has to say, the trust opens the door to honesty.

Respect equals validation and validation empowers more discussion. When you respect someone, it only means you give them the freedom to express especially when you disagree. Respects allows the space to dig deeper and deeper into issues and that space produces productive opportunities for resolution around the sensitive topics related to racial issues.

Love wraps it all up. Where there is love there is no fear. Where there is love there is a genuine interest in preserving the relationship above all else. When you love someone, you can empathize with them easier and empathy allows you to feel what they feel. It is difficult to say destructive words of generalization that may fall on someone you actually know, care about and love.

The next time you find yourself in a discussion about race, run the test of trust, respect and love across the relationship before you utter or type one word.

We can change America, one relationship at a time.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Choose Wisely

We all have them.

Hundreds daily, tens of thousands weekly, yet we often don't even realize it.

Many think that ours are more important than those of others.

Some criticize those of everyone else and never reflect on our own.

Some of us avoid them at all costs, yet our avoidance is actually a selection.

Many think ours do not effect others, while some folks make all theirs based on others.

Some of us barrel into ours heart first, thinking later.

At any given moment, we have been all of the above as it relates to choices.  Choices are plentiful and that is especially true in the United States of America. However, it is important to focus only on our own choices. They are really the only ones we truly have control over. They are the only ones we should be discussing extensively. Our own relationship with choice really determines how our lives go. Clearly, many things happen  outside of our control but we choose how we face those things, how we move through them.

I have been especially challenged this year with this concept in every role in my life, wife, mom, marketer, and public servant. This past week, no less than 4 times, in interactions with others, I acknowledged and owned that I could have made a better choice. I fully own my choices and spend a great deal of time examining them. My theory is that we'd have a much more peaceful and enlightened society if everyone took some time to look at and own their choices in life. If we all paused to acknowledge them, examine them and learn from them - I am certain we'd all be healthier in every way.

Take a moment to reflect on the last week and the choices you made. Can you see areas for improvement? Can you foresee opportunities this week to make better choices? Review all areas of your life, personal and professional.

Let's all make an effort to choose more wisely how we live.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Best Parenting Advice Ever

Yesterday, my son had his first communion. We are not Catholic so this was not the "first communion" in that sense but it was the first time my son has participated in the sacrament of communion at our church.

One thing I noticed, right away, was how he observed his dad and I.  He watched each of us closely. Our posture. How we held the elements. Then within an instant, he was sitting holding his elements exactly as we were.  I caught his eye and he smiled broadly as if to show me he was ready, like we were.

This struck me and has continued to touch me ever since. The rest of the day was normal but I was on guard. Thinking about my every move.

How do I react when my kids ask me for something? What is my posture? Tone of my voice?

What is my "go to" expression when they ask something I'm not too enthused to answer?

Where is my heart?

I asked all of this because it all matters. Not just on the big things like communion.

My son and daughter are building their cues on how to live by the way I live.

Am I grateful?

Am I humble?

Am I fearless?

Am I real?

Those are all traits I'd love to be know for but do I live them? Daily?

Well I can look no further than my own kids to see the answer.

Be the people you want your kids to be. Best parenting advice ever.