Friday, August 18, 2017


Those who are well read in the leadership and personal development fields are likely well versed in Greg McKeown and Essentialism - the diligent pursuit of less but better. One of the amazing ideas he espouses is PTA, Protect The Asset, and the asset is you! 

This is a wide ranging idea that covers everyone, no matter what your work, life and circumstances are like. If you have a high stress job that keeps you crippled and overextended, then PTA is the idea of making space and margin in that chaos so that you don’t burn out and and so that you can bring your best self to the work each day. If you have a high freedom job, like I do, then PTA takes a different bent.

As I was talking with a good friend/client today, it occurred to me in the middle of our conversation about PTA and the people we seek to develop, that a different acronym may serve us better - DTA - Develop The Asset, which once again is you and me. This idea came about as we were discussing that the key to successful development of others is development of yourself.

Read that sentence again. It is the crucial fulcrum of development, that I am developing me. This requires all kinds of intentionality and processes. As I wrote in my previous post about the Genuinely Wealthy, freedom to develop myself each day is real wealth. You can’t develop others if you aren’t moving forward yourself.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Genuinely wealthy

There are many many ways to calculate wealth. Most people just count the money. But honestly money does not equal wealth, at least not in my world. I have come to redefine wealth in terms of freedom. “Money pays the bills, but being able to control my own schedule and not miss out on family time is priceless.” That is true wealth in my world and in my understanding.  There are so so many ways to calculate wealth rather than with money alone.

First of all are the benefits that my current life brings me. The best perk is being able to define what I do and with whom and for how long. When I left my previous parent organization, this became one of the defining perks - that I no longer had to work with people I don’t like or care for or who are disgustingly negative with regularity. I get to work with the people that I can argue with yet not lose relationship over things, and that I enjoy. Best Benefits - the time to work out each day and develop myself each day and to invest in me each day. This alone is worth a 50% percent cut in pay, because the value is worth is 200%. Quite the payoff in my opinion.

Even though it is still 94 degrees on the balcony, I get to sit here and think and write and work on stuff that is important to ME. How do you put a price on that kind of stuff? You can’t, because it is more than a number in terms of what it means. I get to go to bed when I choose, I get to get up when I choose, I get to do what I want with whom I want each day, and that is worth more than any amount of money or financial compensation.

The genuinely wealthy don’t measure their lives in a a dollar figure. They measure their lives in advantages and benefits, and in non-monetary kinds of ways every day.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Enamel burning

There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of burning enamel, the kind of enamel that is on your teeth. In America, they numb you up so much that all you can do is vaguely get a small whiff of what is actually occurring in your mouth as they drill on your teeth. But here in Eastern Europe, four cavities filled with no novocain or pain relief of any sort, the smell and taste was keen and sharp. That was a two hour trip to hell today. I left the seat completely soaked and a puddle of stress sweat in my wake today. I had to come home and take a couple of hours to find my equilibrium again. Which included an hour long nap! Which I never do any more! That was probably my first nap in over three years, maybe longer. My neck feels like some hit me with a large hammer, and that I may never recover. I am such a wimp I know, but I totally had to come home and change every single piece of clothing today. These are the few times in my life where I miss North America.

Friday, August 04, 2017

It clings to you

Today I read, “... grief didn’t work that way. You couldn’t squash it out or get over it. You just had to get through it, but it was like a spider’s web. It clung to your skin.” So very accurate. It just clings to you and you never know how it may work itself out on a particular day. 

Yesterday was my brother’s birthday. He would have been 53 years old. I am appalled at how much that stumped me yesterday. How much that stopped me in my tracks. I had to take a long day to just grieve. So many lost moments and opportunities and moments of LIFE.  To just understand that I am alive and he is not and just be ... I am unaccustomed to giving myself so much compassion and space to just feel. It is hard to be patient with myself and let me grieve his going, and the hole that presents us in the fabric of life. 

It is not something you get over or around, just through. It clings and bites and hurts and costs and just is. Why does no one ever talk about the price that comes with grief? What it demands and what it takes? There is no calculator that can compute what price it extracts. I am not angry, just more lost than anything else. Just wish I could sleep through it all and wake up from this terrible nightmare.

When I am the first person on an early morning ride up the mountain, I catch all the webs that the spiders have spun across the road. This clings like that, nothing you can do about it but go through. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

pace and luxury

I have noticed something wonderful in the last three weeks, that my pace of work and life has coalesced into the perfect luxury. I can write! That is such a wonderful piece of life! But what I mean is that I am just busy enough that I can still write!!

Did I tell you what a great gift that is for me? It is awesome. It means that I have found the perfect rhythm, the precisely correct amount of work and tasks and activity to be my very best. The exact amount of focus and time and effort to produce the most amazing pieces. Everything has fallen in The Zone.

The best possible synergy of all things balance and life and work. The right amount of emails, video chats, calls and SMS to get done in a day. The right amount of demands and productivity to strike the perfect storm of production every day. This pace is a luxury unrivaled. Of course I am going to Ukraine next week and it will be wrecked once again. Then I am going to the States and staying with my dad and it will be a disaster once again, but this pace does actually exist. It is The Zone, that I can always strive for and toward. It will let me know when I am there, where work feels effortless and freeing and stress-free. Do you know what your right pace feels like?

This means that I say “no” pretty much to everything else that comes my way, regardless how sexy or awesome the opportunity sounds. The decisions you make about your life work and the important pieces of your life (not the urgent or loud pieces) need to be made in the cold abstract of deep thinking, not in the moment when the board is selling you on becoming their next CEO. And for clarity’s sake, I have been offered multiple CEO and other sexy positions of large power and money, and it takes me about 5 seconds to say no, because I have already decided what is important to me and life. This is not a missed opportunity, it is intentionally avoiding a horrible humongous distraction. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

July flies

As I am sitting out on my balcony enjoying a fine Dominican Republic cigar at the end of a 96 degree July day, seeing the mountain ranges to the West, and thinking about what a great month this has been, I remembered the July flies from my youth in rural Georgia. They are better known perhaps as annual cicadas which emerge in late July or early August.

I came around to thinking about those boyhood sounds and insects because I will be heading back to Georgia in a week and will be hearing them again. But that prompted me to reflect on how this month has flown by - July flies indeed. This is significant at the moment, in this cycle of life, as I have had one of the most productive months of the last 15 months, - because of deaths, weddings and the challenges of those life events.

Writing blogs is a great way for me to measure how productive I have been, because it requires time and space and the right mindset in order to write. And I have written more blogs this month, than at any point in the last three years. While they may not have been the best blogs I have written, they have certainly flew off the digital page so to speak. With my return to the States and living in the situation with my dad, this will come to a close.

That is not bad, it just is one of the realities of sharing my dad’s twilight years with him. No full attention to my thoughts and no deep work is possible, and again I state, that is not bad, because I know that I can still produce my best stuff given the right setting and opportunities. Something I was no longer positive was true after all the holes were torn into the fabric of our family these past 15 months. (I in fact wrote quite a few more than I published).

Writing blogs requires two things: the margin in which to order one’s thoughts, and the important work and experiences each day to make putting those events down in writing significant. Both are more complicated than that, yet that simple at the same time.

So yes . . . July flies . . . and has flown.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Missile avoidance??

I have to confess that although I have lived in some hairy places around the world, this was an approach like no other I have ever experienced. We were flying along, descending from cruising altitude like normal, when suddenly the plane drops to about 300 meters off the ground and begins a series of S maneuvers like I have never experienced. Either the pilot was drunk, or, the pilot was a proud Ukrainian and he wanted to give us incredible multi-G-force views of Ukrainian agricultural practices, or, the pilot was hugging the ground avoiding the Russian radar just down the road and taking no chances on meeting an incoming missile since they have already shot down one plane. My bet is on the last option, it is the only one that makes sense given the military action in the region. 

Then there was the end, which far more resembled a crash than a landing. I thought the pregnant woman in my row was gonna give birth immediately. I am not sure I have ever gone through a more painful and sudden landing in my long years of flying (over 40 years). 

Of course no information was given to us, and this is pure speculation, but it was definitely a landing approach I will never forget! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The problem of no boundaries

Most Americans who grew up in the church will immediately think of moral boundaries or ethical behavior when reading this title, and we absolutely need those. That goes without saying. But I am more addressing the infinite possibilities that the world affords us today. I find this to be one of the most pressing personal challenges of almost every leader I work with in Europe, Asia and North America.

We have almost boundless choices and endless options. The possibilities that this creates for us in our work and life are astonishing. We love having choices. We can live amazing realities with all these choices. But all these exhausting options and flexibility is also The Problem. Because you have to CHOOSE. And if you choose poorly (to quote an Indiana Jones movie) you lose. You lose all the other possibilities and options that the other choices would have afforded you.

This, my friends, is the horrible conundrum of the modern world. So so so many choices . . . this we generally perceive as a great thing . . . but we have to choose, and this we generally perceive to be a bad thing.

There are in fact so many options, that I find ordering food at a restaurant in the States to be an extremely exhausting experience. And those aren’t even important choices! The choices I make about life and love and work and meaning and eternity are the critical ones, they convey all the significance of a life well lived, or all the regrets of one poorly lived.

As Eric Barker says, “You have to make a decision. The world will not draw the line. You must. You need to ask What do I want? Otherwise you’re only going to get what they want.”

Monday, July 24, 2017


This is my organizational handle. Everyone calls me this! In my previous parent organization, my name could split a room, divide a group, foster a new schism, create anger and chaos faster than Satan himself. In my new (well nine years now is no longer new, but since I spent 23 years with the previous org. this one still feels new) organization, I am the ambassador of peace, the bringer of wisdom, the force of stability and dependability for the entire network.

What changed? Well the pool changed, and my fish looks very different in this pool than in my previous pool. I did change some, but not much. I am still the same old salty dog crusty and unfriendly as ever. But how did I ever obtain the designation of OW - Obi Wan Kenobi? The famed Jedi master from the first Star Wars film? Only Yoda has more swagger than Obi Wan Kenobi! 

It is incredibly important to be in the right pool. As Eric Barker states in his book “Barking up the wrong tree, ” . . . but sometimes an ugly duckling can be a swan if it finds the right pond. The thing that sets you apart, the habits you may have tried to banish, the things you were taunted for in school, may ultimately grant you an unbeatable advantage.” 

Changing ponds/pools did not make me a better missionary or pastor or person. But it did completely and totally change my role within the organization. Maybe after you have tried everything for decades to make it work well, you have to change the pool to be a different fish.  May the Force be with you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Something fixed something broken

Well it is Saturday and I am working hard at not working. Does that make sense?  Honestly relaxing is hard work, or effort, finding the way to just BE is so . . . seems to take so much energy! Clearly I need more practice and more success. Mostly I just need to chill I guess.

So lets write about it, that has to be good therapy, and good practice. So as I laid out my day to relax and chill, I had planned to take off to the lake for the second half of the day, spend the night, do some serious bike riding and then return tomorrow. But after I finished my sports massage I came out and the car would not crank. Not a happy experience under any circumstances, but especially after the car had been in the shop for 10 days!!

Thank God there was a battery store not too far away and so I had a new one installed and off I go. Thought I should give the old car a good test run before packing up and heading out and low and behold, I had a brake caliper or something start to freeze up and make the most awful moaning sounds and then I could smell the brakes getting hot. Got it to release by pumping the brakes some and headed back to the apartment. Since it is a stick shift, I was able to do most of the braking on the way home by downshifting. And since it was Saturday afternoon, pretty much everything is closed until Monday. So no chance of repair until then. And going out of town is now not an option.

So I made the best of a day with all the plans down the toilet and it has been good. Not perfect, but good. Another great cigar and another great view. Thus I got a new battery, but I need new brakes. And I am blogging! Another day in the hairy armpit.