Next Step

Right after I published the last post I immediately began to think about what is the appropriate next step.  I added an update the next day that I am ceasing all improvement initiatives until I can answer why.   The next step starts with that question, Why? Not long after the posting I came across this post at Station 515, by Burkey.  I do not believe in coincidence.  It is an appropriate and very inspiring read.  I have kept it up every day since and continue to read it daily. Why do I keep reading it everyday, because it has the one question I am scared to answer because it’s not a question, it’s a decision – How far do you want to take this?  Because I know that is a painful process, Henry Sidgwick sums it up best, “One has to kill a few of one’s natural selves to let the rest grow – a very painful slaughter of innocents.”  How far are you willing to take this?  Our perception of the pain greatly outweighs the distance traveled; we can endure far more than we believe we can, companies included.  This is a question not many are willing to face, not even willing to ask.  They believe there is a clear and easy path towards their destination.  They are fooling themselves just as I have, there isn’t.  It is eloquently captured in the Pain Principle. But how do you get there, to turn pain into fuel?  You learn by putting in the time, you suffer by doing, by pushing, by asking, by ruthlessly assessing yourself. We must be willing to fail and to learn from the failures, adjust and push again.

I am fool to have listened to lust of my own talk, convinced of the easy path. It is time for a ruthless assessment of habits, habits of thinking, abilities and the solutions to problems, community, environment. They shape the view of the world.

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Why

I contemplated writing this, not here but elsewhere.  I agonized over it, talked to my wife about it, friends…should I do it.  Why am I being called to do it?  Why am I resisting?  My mind will not turn off this evening so here I sit in front of my mac pounding away what comes.  The hands know, I am letting them guide me, they have the experience.

I have been deeply troubled watching what my company is going through, struggling through; concerned about what will happen, concerned what will happen to me if I keep opening my mouth. I feel as though I am the crazy one.  Do people not see what I see? Is my view so vastly different than my colleagues?  Sure it aligns with a few, a few…not a good thing, in any company.  Where is the common belief, the cause that binds us together in moving forward through this transformation… it’s missing at all levels.  Will it come together?  The questions started as a few drops, then a trickle, now there is a constant flow.  If anyone is reading I am sure you are thinking “What is he getting at, what is he talking about?”  Getting there….I read our Vision and Mission and all I see is what and the result of how, it can’t get any more uninspiring. It doesn’t really say anything.  Where is the Why?  We are crawling in consultants fixing how and helping direct what. Why?  I see what we put in front of customers and am blinded by what and how.  Where is the Why? It doesn’t say what we believe.  Everyone produces similar whats and hows, customers don’t buy what and how, they buy what you believe. Then I see the results and witness the response by management and only see more fixing of what and how. Why?  And again we are back to being Proactively Reactive.  We are told to fix the what and how.  Why? I sit in transformational meetings and all that I hear is what and how.  Why? Because there is not a single shred of discussion about Why we do what we do, everything is centered on what we do and how we do it.  It is our lense which needs fixing.  How can we expect different results than how we have performed in the past, pure insanity in it’s more simple form.  “WHY” just keeps repeating in my head as a warning siren when the discussion gets trapped on what and how. I hesitate to go into details only because I fear the repercussions.  Nothing directed towards any single person or group of people.

As I have contemplated what to do about this I recognized something in the mirror of this image….ME.  Yes me, I have been on a journey of self-discovery myself as of late – praying, reading, meditating, reading, questioning, seeking truth, praying, reading, experimenting, adjusting, reading more, and repeat. Nothing seems to be coming into view, the path is still very fuzzy. Why?  When will I see what I am not seeing?  I can sense it is right there, right in front of my face.  Because I am asking the wrong question.  I am not asking Why.  Why do I exist? Why do I get out of bed in the morning?  Why am I where I am at?  Why do I do what I do? Ultimately, am I doing what I believe, am I following my cause?

 

Update: I am throwing all other pursuits of improvement out until I can answer WHY. Until I can see the reality of the universe around me and clearly the path forward.  Otherwise I am going to continue to get what I got, only a slightly different version of the same thing.

“I am what I am and that is all I am!”

popeye-i-yam-what-i-yam

I am back again.  What causes me to leave and return I do not know, but there is a pattern.   A place to vent, a place to share, a place to get out of my head.  It is cathartic to say the least.  I also come back to learn more about what I really believe.  Once I get it out of my mind I am called to examine it, test it, refine it, live it.

I have a different view on this blog now.  Content will not change but context will, the mask is off, No More Mr Nice Guy.  A course of events changed my perspective on how I am living my life, what I am doing, how and who I am being.

Last week I went in and met with a Urologist because of a recurring UTI symptoms when I would get dehydrated.  Initially my thought was it could be linked to the kidney stones I passed a few years back.  Everything check out ok but to be safe the Doc asked that I get an ultrasound to make sure everything was good anatomically.  The Doc called instead of his nurse…ok not good, results came back, they found what appears to be a “mass” on my left kidney about the size of a quarter.  Possibly a cyst of some sort – simple or complex but also want to make sure it is not cancer.  At first it was easy to handle, obviously the mind starts wanting to know what is happening..is this going to affect my existence? It wants to be in control.  After a few searches on the interwebs to gain a better understanding of what I potentially could be dealing with, the what if’s are running rampant. You don’t know, let’s see what the pictures say.  Late last week a bit of fear starts to creep in…what if?  What if what…I do not know anything thing yet, we do not know anything yet.   The possibilities:

  • A simple cyst – monitor it
  • Complex cyst – monitor it or cut it out
  • Cancer – cut it out and possibly treatment
  • Nothing – imaging mis-read

Regardless, I want to turn it upside down, to use it for good, to not let it control me, run my mind wild.  Just the simple fact that there is this possibility really got me thinking of how to use whatever it ends up being, or nothing, as a springboard…a catalyst.  So in the midst of not knowing what was going on I decided to start racing cross again.  I have missed the bike, the camaraderie, the scene….missed the solo rides being deep in thought, pushing myself (sometimes punishing myself) to suffer one second longer, just a little bit more.  But in a deeper  context I am looking at this to be a catalyst to change myself in a greater way to see things through the unfiltered light of who I really am and be accepting of that person.  No More Mr Nice Guy….there is plenty of work to do, always but this is about being a better man, being the man I was meant to be not the man I have become.

Come Tuesday….went in for my CT scan.  I have had one before so nothing new there or worth getting worked up about.  Colleen met me at the Dr’s office about an hour later to discuss the results.  To our surprise there was an abnormality in the reading of the Ultrasound, a shadow or overhang of another organ…UHHHH, relief.  But in the back of my head I did not want, nor want to, let this slip as a catalyst.  There is no reason to back down to change, if anything I should be doubling down.

Just as Popeye said “I am who I am”.

Hierarchical vs Territorial

I reread Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art over the weekend.  The man’s words hit, right down in your gut.  They dont hurt in a malicious way, they hit your soul and it stings like a mother. Why, because they are true and you can not escape truth.

In the last few pages of Book 3 he talks about Territory vs Hierarchy, how nature defines and organizes itself, by rank or by connection to their territory.  I’ve never fit in well with the hierarchical settings, not even in high school, not college, not even any job I have held.  But I never knew of the other orientation.  Now that I recognize not only that I do not fit, and that I don’t really care to I find myself exploring for my territory.  The part I got hung up on was asking others to validate my efforts, probably because I didn’t fit, but didn’t want to be found out either, I was a hack (by the definition in the book) even though I hadn’t yet produced anything other than what was asked, well other than my point of view.  Going down memory lane there was only a few moments when I could care less of what others thought, put in the work and loved with all my heart.  Now I know why it hurt so badly, because it was art to me, because I laid it out there. When a significant blow happened I felt as if someone pulled it right out from under my feet.  I have been searching since, wandering down all sorts of paths always running into the deadened of  hierarchy, a deadened with is a vicious cycle.  None have worked, maybe for a while but nothing has provided sustenance, left empty and always second guessing, continuing to anger my Angel (aka: Muse).  There have been no internal exercises I was willing to contort myself in and out of which produced the same feeling, not even close, it would be against my true being.  Maybe it is why I’ve had so many shadow careers and have fell into the trap of looking outward, yet the struggle for growth for me has alway been inward.  What I see now is it has always been there, and always will be, we just have to be willing to surrender to it.

I felt it before, growing inside me, I knew what I had to do and made no bones about the decisions I had to make in order to hone my skills, learn my craft…..it felt good even in the depths of physical struggle and mental anguish.  I can remember the exact moment when I made up my mind, from then on NOTHING else mattered.  I also know I did not face the obstacle that well, lesson learned.  I slowly gave up because I looked out into a hierarchical world and suddenly I didn’t like where I found myself.

So here I am, on the verge of something, I can feel the birth pangs. Can it happen twice?  Sure it can, the evidence is out there.  But what is it going to take this time for it to chose me, for me to surrender. The time and condition will be what they are but  as I wrote a few days ago, I am tired of second guessing everything, it just pisses her (my Angel,  the Muse) off and I can feel it eating away at me.  It took quite the event to wake me up last time, am I in for something similar?  Most likely is my feeling. Good, bring it. I am ready.

Shit that scares me……good I need to be scared in that way again.  It makes me feel alive inside.

Tired of waiting to arrive

All the second guessing I have been doing is not second guessing, it is Resistance. But which is the true calling.  I know it is not where I am, but am I here for some reason. A launching point, maybe so.  It will rear it’s head at some point, I can feel it winding up inside me.  I am much more honest about where I am with those around me, regardless of who, what, when, where.  I have something to offer the world and I am not afraid to say it.  I see the pink elephants in the room and I am not afraid to point and shout.  What does disturb me is that I can not see it. Clarity is not here…yet.  What else is there for me to let go of, give up or face before I can see the mountain top.  Which mountain do I want to climb, is it in me to climb?  I flip flop every day, even twice a day.  What I am certain of is it is not being in a place which is filled with fear.  I would much rather battle head on than cower.   I would much rather shout than mumble under my breath.  I would much rather question and learn than be a robot.  So what does it take to push through the membrane.  It is a decision but the indecision of which one is where I am stuck at the moment.  I can not move forward without deciding, choosing…. or it choosing me.  And how does that happen? What must occur for something to choose me?  Have I missed the sign, am I missing them? Or am I hoping for something to happen to move me into one direction or the other.  The fact that I am questioning all this conversation in the echo-chamber tells me it is Resistance.  So then, is my calling something else?  I do not know and frankly I am sick of the gossip.

I want to get on with it, I want to suffer and grind it out, I want to grow…I am tired of waiting to arrive.

 

Second guessing

Am I wasting my time?

We can’t seem to find a place to live.  The homes that come up are either too expensive, too small or need too much work for what you get.  It makes me wonder if we really did make the right decision to stay here.  But if not here, then where?  Any long distance move would require multiple trips to find a home, cost of shipping all of our belongings, plan to get the family there, then get there.  Second guessing…..

What a mess.  Then all of this gets me thinking about what I am doing, or not doing.  I have been writing, at least 300 words/day for the last 20+days, 10 more days and I go to 500 words/day.  I have also been trying to read more quality writing.  It would be ideal to get at least 90 mins/day where I could do the two back to back. Not at the end of the day otherwise I am fried.  First thing would be best as work rules the day once I open email.  I am doing work, but is it enough, I wonder if it is “the work”.  Hard to say at the moment, at times it doesn’t feel like it.  Maybe once I am able to expand beyond 500 words all concentrated on a single piece of work, then I will be able to see progress.  Am I second guessing what I am doing or just playing around?  I think I am second guessing and playing around.  Ugh.

I look at what I am doing and know I must do better work.  I must do the “right” work for it to be worthwhile, otherwise it is just wasting time, which I do not have.  Do I cast off yet to pursue the white whale, or do I keep on training?   I think it is worth training until I am at least at 1,000 words/day before casting off. The time will allow for at least a few more books  to be read to learn how to write.

I think it is time to expand beyond 300 words.  If I am going to grow I need to stretch and 300 is definitely playing around; so from here on out I will be producing work with at least 500 words and I am limited to writing about myself only once a week.  I must either work on non-fiction (manifesto, American Bushido) or fiction (Circle short story, character descriptions, short stories) and I must commit to one until completely finished.  I can jot any ideas for the others down, but those words are not counted in the 500.  These are to be concentrated focused pieces of work.  There is no way to get better if I am writing all over the place, maybe I don’t know.  I have never written before, but knowing how to get better at something there must be a focused effort or movement which can be refined, not altered but improved, just as a golf swing.  We each have our own authentic swing, we just need help learning to see the field and remove our self from the moment. The only way to do that is to put in the work and Parkinson’s law will take over.

Should I or Shouldn’t I

I am tempted to but do not know if I really should.  It could kill my job or it could elevate me, which I do not care to do out of writing it.  There are things that need to be said which are not being said.  People are afraid, they whisper truths in the shadows and speak lies in meetings.  Too many put on a good face or are oblivious to the reality of our situation.  Our existence hangs on fewer and fewer transactions every quarter.  But everyone is happy to tell the emperor how wonderful he looks as he struts down the hall with no clothes.  I have the words, they need to be arranged in the right order, in the right tone to maintain truth but not to send people into emotional hysterics.  What will it accomplish?  How will it help?  Will it help?  I want to pull together, not tear apart.  I want to build not destroy.  I want to create not put to death.  I want to people to see the power they truly have to contribute to our pursuit of excellence.

We continue to get lies.  He continues to urinate down our backs and tell us it’s raining, that the clouds will break and the sun will shine again; but what he does is what all the suits do – cut, burn, sell and run.  If that is his agenda so be it but why can’t anyone recognize he is cut from the same cloth. Has he really done anything different – rearranging the deck chairs at one level, musical chairs at another and a thinning out of the herd below deck.  It can only work for so long before the jig is up.  No growth since he has taken over.  No true signs of growth since the changes.  We are winning more deals but that doesn’t stop people from believing.  Believing in what?….a generic mission/vision statement that says absolutely nothing of who we are and what we stand for but looks good on high gloss paper.  No call to action, no higher calling.  It needs to be pointed out that while it appears ambitious it says absolutely nothing and lacks passion, it lacks true vision, it lacks sustenance, it lacks pluck.  It’s not even worth fighting for.

So, should I or shouldn’t I take it down and put up something worth fighting for?  Or is it such a risk that I am shuned and pushed out.