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What Men Need – Part 1

Men are fairly simple creatures. Our “needs” are straightforward if we are “in” them; rather, if we have those “need” elements actively working in our life, then our life is moving forward. However, if those elements are not present, our life becomes more complicated, angst ridden, and lacking in direction. I suppose then I must define “needs” as I mean them so as to separate them from mere wants and desires. A man’s need is something that must be present in order for him to fulfill himself without which a man cannot become what he is capable of. It doesn’t mean though that a man WILL fulfill himself just because some need element is present. It just means that if it is not present, he is incapable of fulfilling his potential. Ergo the idea of need.

Like, for example, work; Man must work. And not just get up every day and participate in labor, though that’s a step in the right direction. And certainly not living a life of leisure because economics are already met. That is a recipe for self destruction. No, a guy has to spend himself on multiple levels. The word “spend” is appropriate – Man must pour out his energies regularly in work. It is a fundamental need that man must truly endeavor towards some end. Rest very little. What is the point of weekend? To escape from the drudgery of one’s job? No, the weekend is an interval to rest and restore so that you may go again and spend your your mental, emotional, psychological, relational, and perhaps spiritual capital towards some worthy endeavor. Those men who think TGIF is an escape from the burden of work are woefully misled. Those are the kind of guys that work to retire some day, whose lives are on hold until…until some unknown thing happens. Then, within 1 year after retiring, they will be dead, surprised at their death because they were waiting for life to begin. No gentlemen, work is a God-given blessing that fulfills a fundamental aspect of man’s being. Man needs work.

Does that mean that all work is equal? Is digging a ditch the same as brain surgery? I suppose in a Buddhist way you could make that case, but here in the Western world that’d be a tough argument. Each man’s potential capacities must be challenged through work. So in fairness, a ditch digger could be challenged to the same degree as a brain surgeon given their capacities. There is the notion of “Highest and Best Use” where a man’s efforts are more valuable to himself and God being poured out in alignment with his gifts and interests, i.e., the area of his greatest potential. So some men’s potential are more aligned with physical labor, some musical labor, others mathematical labor, and some evangelical labor. I, for one, could be more fulfilled digging a ditch than leading a choral ensemble, but not as much as building a business.

So the idea of “Highest and Best Use” is a step closer to understanding another fundamental need – Reason. Man must have a reason to work, a reason to get up energized for the day to spend his energies, a reason that engages his full being towards some directional end. It’s not enough to just work – man must have underlying his work a compelling reason to work. And this is where is gets complicated. There are economic reasons, psychological reasons, and there are spiritual reasons – Body, MInd, and Spirit. These reasons for working are dynamic, layered, hidden, and somewhat elusive. A man needs a compelling reason, a vision, to spend his energies that will define the “Why?” of his life. Pursuit of the answer to that question is to hold a compass and set out on the journey of life. Man must work in order to find out why he works and what are the motivating qualities of his life.

Men are designed to work, but we are not pack animals. It is these Body, Mind, Spirit elements that inspirit us to work harder, smarter, and more effectively. In my future What Men Need letters, we’ll discuss money and freedom, respect and competition, love and passion, and societal and Godly contribution as compelling reasons.

To fulfilling your needs,

Dave Marr

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By | May 26th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Don’t let Your Frog Boil

You all have heard about Boiled Frog Syndrome right?  Put a frog in a pan of boiling water and it jumps out immediately because of the immediate pain.  But put it in tepid water and slowly turn up the heat and the frog will cook to death because it won’t notice the gradual changes in temperature.  I’m not sure if it’s true, but The Syndrome is universally acknowledged as an analogy worth knowing.  You don’t want to be caught unaware that you’re boiling to death and one day wake up and your metaphorically-mixed goose is cooked.

I remember coming back from vacation one year.  We had purchased a new video recorder. We took videos of our young family frolicking in the surf, we were new parents with our little kiddies and “HOLY CRAP!!! Who’s THAT FAT TUB?!!!”  I couldn’t believe I had gained so much weight. We were in our 30’s and inactivity had snuck up on us. The busy days and exhausting nights of constant management of the lives of little people. But that video, what an eye opener! From that point on we turned it around. Keep in mind, you may recall I had run marathons, competed in triathlons, at one point was a black belt in karate, and felt like I was still a young stud. Ahem, the facts didn’t support my self image. I had become near boiled and, fortunately for me, got going again before my lifestyle calcified. I thought I was doing great because when I looked around and saw some really overweight people, I looked good. I was delusional. Interestingly, this period was one of the few times I wasn’t in an Ironmen group.

It didn’t have to be that way.  Since then I’ve learned that leading the family is more about how you model family identity rather than providing and protecting. Family character is about trust, honesty, openness, adventure-mindedness, integrity, perseverance, and HEALTH. How do you want your family to be characterized? It starts with you and your mindset. By leading in physical exercise, by devising a family plan for being active, you are actively choosing to be a healthy family. This leadership has no downside: Your kids will absolutely learn about themselves, about their own limits, based on how you model behavior and lead them in activity. Your wife will benefit by having a husband who leads in creating outdoor activities. You’ll be conscious about eating habits and hypocrisy. By modeling health, you’ll be establishing a pattern for your kids that will be their baseline.

Bike rides, hikes, camping, health events (I had my entire family enter a 5k).  Even though we mostly walked, it was great. In addition, the kids played soccer and I played in the backyard with them. We played football in the street and got other families and played at the park. To my regret, there were too many times when I turned my kids down for going outside and playing. Major mistake. I could have and should have done a lot more.

What if your wife isn’t into the physical stuff? Do you just leave her behind? No clear answer here. But I would sell her on the vision of a happy, healthy, active family and how her behavior will model how your daughters are going to grow and which kind of woman the boys will be attracted to. Leadership doesn’t condemn, but encourages small successes. So take the kids to the park and invite small participations and respond without guilt if the answer is no(t now).

So for you Dads, setting goals about losing 5 pounds by running 3 times a week is good, don’t get me wrong. But figuring out how you can design a plan so that your family name is synonymous with health and activities is a magnitude better.  Be strategic about health. It’ll pay dividends for you over and over again.  1) you’ll be different than just about everyone else in the country; 2) you’ll push your known boundaries; and 3) you’ll be establishing for yourself, your (future) mate, and your (future) kids that you are characterized by creative health. Better to be intentional than boiled.

To your healthy abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | May 19th, 2017|Personal, Physical|0 Comments

Feel the Fear

I asked Ironman Lou “Why do you hesitate?” with respect to his girlfriend. He replied:

“Fear…Fear that there is someone better out there for me, fear that it will end in divorce, fear that I’m taking on a liability and not an asset. Concerned that I do not have that head over heels feeling (which I’ve never really had with anyone), concerned that I am not 100% and they say you need to be 100% or that you’ll know when the time is right.”

Ironman Adam sent me this to an email exchange about fear and excuses:

“When I encounter a barrier, I often think about what I am afraid of; what is the fear.  For example, I have been doing a great job with planning out my work/life to meet my goals; such that, when I plan a week and do it, I have a really fantastic week. I move things forward substantially. However, I don’t always execute. I would say 1/3 of the weeks I kill it with doing 90% of my tasks. 1/3 of the weeks I do terrible with maybe 20-30% of the tasks. 1/3 of the weeks I do maybe half. I haven’t figured out this execution piece, but it caused me to think of what is my fear in this excuse of not doing it. One thought was fearing what state I would be in if I do 100% execute and then I didn’t get what wanted. By not giving it my all, I always have an out of: “well I didn’t really want it, otherwise I would have given it my best; like I always do”. Even though I have only given my best in a very small subset of my life. I hope to start asking myself more explicitly: did I do my best today?”

Fear, we all have it in one or more of its many expressions. Fear of failure. Fear of Success. Fear of making permanent mistakes. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of lost opportunity. Fear of incompetence. Fear of being thought less of. Fear of becoming someone not desired.  I won’t waste your time on discussions of how a healthy fear can save your life by not jumping off the cliff or staying out of the bull ring. There’s a difference between feeling a rush of adrenaline and being an idiot. Alcohol blurs that line. Fear is a God-given tool to help us pause and reflect since there are no mountain lions chasing us anymore. Today’s discussion is about the balance between healthy and unhealthy fear in everyday life.

Because fear makes us pause, it can also freeze us in place which can be a general problem. Take Lou’s dilemma. He doesn’t want to make a permanent mistake that he’ll come to regret later. Fair enough. Will he find someone else after he marries that could have been a better fit? Maybe. The grass always seems greener elsewhere. But importantly grass grows where you water it. There are thousands of women Lou could love, but for some reason God has placed this one in his midst. The issue could be hesitation over growing up and moving to the next level. Lou has no idea who he’ll be in 5 years, what challenges he’ll face, and how competent he’ll be when the time comes. It would be great to have a partner that will grow with him suitably sharing the load. In all the unknowns of tomorrow, a degree of faith is required. Faith in God helps. Faith in self is always good.

So too, in life’s many decision points it would be nice to have a conviction that your actions are destined to turn out great. Lacking that feeling, it’s easy to interpret uncertainty as fear. And with that uncertain feeling as a starting point, you try and put words to it and come up with reasons. Feelings first, rationale later. But the essence remains “Do you have faith that it will work out?” Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway is a great book I read in my 30’s that helped me overcome hesitancy.  Should Lou marry this girl? I don’t know. I think one’s partner should be a great friend and enjoyable partner; but putting the question into context of faith in his future and in himself that he can create a great partnership would be an important starting point. In the end, no matter which woman is in front of him, Lou will need this as a starting point.

Adam’s situation is every man’s plight. The Apostle Paul (Rom 7:19) struggled with this 2000 years ago in not doing what he sets out to do, but instead does lesser things. Adam is ahead of the game by making a plan, but he is inconsistent. Anyone relate to that? Are his expectations too high? Or does he fear success so therefore is inconsistent? Probably a little of each and more. However, how is he characterized? If he is performing 50% of his tasks, then he’s on a trajectory of being…what? — Average? So in that sense, Adam is also at a fork in the road yet to decide if he’s going to be that guy that just misses opportunities because he’s not fully prepared or that guy who is well prepared because he was harder on himself when he had the chance. That’s what’s key about this time in all your lives; now’s the easiest part of your life to grow and get ready for the next level. Do it now because later won’t be easier. I had the same feelings, but step by step was able to overcome.

In the end, fear was my friend because it provided useful information from my subconscious and God about who I wanted to be. And importantly it provided useful motivation to keep me on track. As did my Ironmen group.

To feeling the fear and doing it anyway,

Dave Marr

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By | May 12th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 3

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

This 3-part discussion, “What a Woman Needs”, is intended to provide you insights into the woman you have taken to become your suitable helper, the one you’ve empowered to speak into your life, and who you’ve promised to love, honor, and cherish till death do you part. Those words, * love * honor * cherish, generally are taken as feelings and perspectives – where you look upon your wife through loving eyes; you honor her with a gentle touch; you cherish every word brought to your ears, or some such thing. Yes, it’s wise to do those things.

But if that’s all you do, you could have difficulty. Those actions on your part to love her, honor, her and cherish her are vital, but they’re not enough if taken as passive. You must take careful steps to lead her in bringing forth the spiritual qualities listed as the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – and you can’t do that without fully engaging in them yourself.

Whoever said “Women are the weaker sex” lived in a cave. Women are strong. And even the strongest of them would prefer to be with a man who leads. Yes, a nod to the smallest portion of the populace who think men are a waste of space, but for the most part, women want men to lead. A strong woman would rather be a strong wing man than on point.

Ok, you’ve heard that before. So what’s new with this post that isn’t obvious?. As I said you must take careful steps, particularly with a strong-willed woman, to lead in bringing forth qualities in her. Careful steps because you’re not going to be just handed over leadership in the areas that need leading. Each of you must grow and therefore you must solve the question “Why can’t you accept me for who I am?”. Speaking of careful, I need to be delicate in my words here, directional but not condescending. So these examples are caricatures in answering that question.

Here’s one hypothetical: Let’s assume she engages in gossip, or saying negative things about other people; for example when she tells a story, the way she represents her side is all sunshine and light and the way she characterizes the other side is snide and bitchy. Does that trait serve you and your family to have a wife who does that? No, because it does not build up people or friendships. It forms cliques and is competitive. Her storytelling is an actual representation of the way she thinks. So you decide to “lead” her out of that catty trait. How should you do that?

Or she worries. She agonizes over the kids, money, health, relatives, friends. It’s not like there isn’t reason to have concern over the factors of life, but that’s life. The issue though here is she fixates beyond reason and is not fully able to release. Her nature is to nurture and that somehow justifies all worry. If she worries, she’s not at peace and her anxiety energy replaces her love energy. How do you lead her out of that trait?

These are spiritual qualities. Life is a spiritual endeavor. To lead is to create a vision of a better world and then work to bring that world about – A better environment, a better marriage, a better you, and a better her. And because you may not have a clear idea of what that might look like or how you do that, you should go somewhere where that is discussed and on display, maybe not perfectly, but available. The statistics are overwhelmingly one-sided on this. The divorce rate on average is about 51%. For those who go to church it drops to 31%. And for those who pray regularly it drops to the low teens.

Those stats are incredible!! My proposition is that the qualities of a good marriage are discussed at church and in the Bible. At church spiritual fruits are watered and nourished regularly. Divorce is lower among church attendees not because of societal pressure, that’s absurd; no, those who attend church regularly are given the opportunity to be self aware where the fruits of the spirit are traits of maturity. What is the answer to not accepting her the way she is? Her potential is so much greater to bring her love and nurturing to the world. Don’t get me wrong, church is not de facto spirituality, heavens no. But it’s directionally a clear way to create the environment and relationship for meaningful spiritual growth.

A woman wants to be wingman to a man who will pick a direction and go there and not get caught in his own bound up struggles. A woman can be trapped in character traits that diminish her capability to nurture and love and needs a partner who will lead in spiritual development and accept wingman feedback. This mutuality is at the heart of being a suitable helper. Loving, honoring, and cherishing the woman who she is capable of becoming is where you should be leading.

To an abundant harvest,

Dave Marr

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By | May 5th, 2017|Personal, Relational, Spiritual|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 2

Today I tackle the easy discussion of psychological security as the main driver of a woman’s needs because there is no better word to describe a woman’s psyche than “Easy”. Am I right?

Man is not meant to be alone. Nor is woman. In the discussion on the security needs of a woman, psychological security is all encompassing. What I mean by that is a woman’s sense of well-being, when she is the most able to pour out and feel good about her life, is when she feels connected – connected her family, her friends, her work, and connected to her marriage in partnership in creating a life. When you think about security, what are the implications of feeling secure if not the deep seated comfort of expressing yourself in various situations, feeling competent, feeling accepted, and being a team? Isn’t that what you want for your mate? For yourself?

A woman is designed to be more sensitive to the environment than a man. It is a blessing to be so, but that blessing comes with the corresponding challenges inherent with a nurturing composition. A woman’s nature is geared toward care. Obviously caring for children is at the top of the priority list, but the list is likely long. Pouring out in care isn’t a hobby but rather a function of her nature. And so pouring out, expending energy for the welfare of others, is expensive. She must be rejuvenated. In order to provide nurturing energy to others, she is restored by connecting with others. Primary in that restoration is the connection she has with her mate.

The optimal scenario is when a relationship pours and restores mutually at the same time. Young love does that. The acts of selfless love are immediately restored with appreciation and an array of love languages set the standard for a person’s life – this is the way it’s supposed to be. But when children arrive, they require an endless physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual pouring out, so other relationships that are less demanding, move down. The demands can be so great that women can by and by empty out. Men, whose ability to compartmentalize and who do not spend their emotional energy in the same way, do not pour out to the same degree. It is this reason that men can be more strategic and global in their perspectives. Men are not to just share the load, but to importantly lead the family out of the low points in family development. A man must look at the entire mix of factors to guide the family – physical, psychological, social, relational, economic – and be engaged in the effort. It’s this engagement that is a restorative connection, where a woman doesn’t feel alone when she is most vulnerable, that a man earns the trust in a woman’s psyche.

Maybe this sounds like psychobabble from some paternalistic, traditionalist, know-nothing. Ok, granted. But the number of times Lis was at her wits end calling me to talk her off the ledge because the kids had drained her last ounce of reserves; or the number of times I’d come home to a wife needing to tag out; or the times our evening plans were immediately changed because the kids were sick; or the number of times I was looking for some lovin’, but there was no more asymmetric energy in the cup – clearly established the hierarchy for Lis’ energy. Regardless of her overall desires, the demands on her caring, the energy she poured out, left me strategically needing to figure out how to restore her for her sake as well as my own.

This next comment requires a bit of delicacy. It’s beyond obvious that when a young man and young woman connect and become a couple, the journey together will require personal growth. Growth isn’t just learning facts, it’s about change, letting go of less mature perspectives and developing more mature ones. Change, for the most part, is a reluctant endeavor. Sometimes change comes as a result of hot coffee and a warm muffin discussion, but not usually. It’s usually on the back end of conflict. As described above, men have different perspectives than women. It’s not easy for men to articulate global perspectives that win over a woman’s psychological energy if there’s ongoing conflict or pressing needs.

And so it’s not uncommon that men abdicate their position in order to placate the situation. If a woman’s concern is easily articulated because of pressing needs and a man is not able to articulate a vision that may be less pressing but overall a better direction, then a man is providing a disservice to the woman and family by just giving in. A man must grow up in order to figure out how to navigate a woman’s insistence and become the trusted leader of the family. Leadership doesn’t come just because you’re male. Leadership figures out the timing and method to jointly take the family in the best direction, overcoming smaller versions of family well-being in favor of a grander vision. You’ve seen dysfunctional extremes where either the man or woman is totally cowed and little balance between the two exists. Leadership is about engagement, not domineering.

And so, what is the point of all this? Regardless of which stage of a relationship you are in, you have more to grow, both personally and as a couple. A woman’s psychological needs don’t end when children stop being 24/7 energy consumers because a woman’s nature remains the same. Her need to pour out in care and her need to restore in connection with others doesn’t change. You honoring her nature and welcoming the blessings that come from that as long as it’s channeled to the family’s overall well-being is a form of leadership and will create a marital environment of security for you both. In this way, at the deepest psychological level, neither of you will be alone.

Next week, Spiritual Security.

To your psychological abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | April 29th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 1

I can think of nothing more dangerous to my health than addressing this topic. I feel like a conservative speaking at Berkeley. The hubris of the idea that I can summarize a woman’s needs in a page and a half is laughable. But here I go. Wish me luck.

With no data to support my thoughts other than my observations in life, I say that most women fall within a couple standard deviations of this idea (I say “standard deviation” with tongue in cheek) – Women need security. There are different kinds and varying levels of security which is what this Letter is about because you are the one who will be asked to supply said security. So you better know what the game is about.

Physical security is obviously paramount. One Christmas a long time ago, Lis said something to me in front of the kids that I interpreted as dishonoring and I went ballistic. I was irrationally angry. Lis reacted to my anger with some confrontation and I pushed her. Adrenaline-filled physicality is a dangerous thing. My push resulted in no physical damage to her whatsoever, but the strength of it caused her deep concern for her own security. I left for a while and when I returned, we fully discussed what happened, reconciled the misunderstanding, and came back together. But, and a big but, I was capable of being THAT guy. Since that time, I’ve grown up to the point where nothing relationally gets me upset. Nothing. Maturity, in general, is such that you respond to stimuli relative to who you are inside instead of react to circumstances that don’t suit your ego. The locus of control is internal instead of external. I matured that day and Lis has ever since felt physically secure in our relationship.

Emotional security in a relationship at its core is about power sharing and trust. Each person has a role to play to develop a life together and gain efficiencies. In that role you are expected to take ownership and therefore initiate action, i.e. lead, and are entrusted to consider what is best for the relationship versus just the individual. Once roles are established, often along traditional and gender lines, power is gained through specialization. My role was to go out into the marketplace and figure out how to make money and bring it home. Lis’ role was to manage the household and take the tactical lead with the kids. Each of us trusted one another to subordinate our individual urges to our relational health. So I didn’t go to the movies at lunch or take Saturdays to play golf. Lis didn’t squander family finances on shoes and kids’ events nor did she try to gain prominence in the kid’s love. She never talked poorly of me to the kids. With power comes ability to use or misuse. Therefore to misuse power in order to gain the upper hand is to manipulate, deflect, lie, and act selfishly. Any sustained action that highlights the self over the relationship violates the implicit agreement, loosens the bonds of trust, and creates a state of emotional insecurity. Clearly, it’s not simple. A man that excessively spends time at work can rationalize that he does so for the family. A woman that does not bring her whole being to the sexual relationship can easily point to a dozen reasons for not doing so. These two examples are grey examples in the dynamic of relational ill health where emotional security is weak.

Relational security answers the question: “How are we doing?” or “I”m happy with us. How about you?”. The answer that says: “I told you I loved you when we got married. If it changes, I’ll let you know!” somehow just doesn’t quite satisfy relational security. Silence is deadly to relationships because it violates security needs. Words, actions, touches, gifts, and time together are all forms of relational engagement. There has to be a good mix of all the love languages for a woman to feel relationally secure. A man too. It wasn’t until Lis and I got this part right that our relationship went from a 7 to a 10. It was good, but not great. I didn’t need sex every day. I needed Lis to touch me as she walked by me. I didn’t need her to say “I love you” constantly, I needed her to say “I am proud to be your wife.” Those were my relational needs. As for Lis, she needed me to notice what was important to her and engage her there. Yes, she liked it when I said she was pretty and that I loved her, but what affected her feeling of security was when I helped around the house, played with the kids, spent time one on one with her, and led the family strategically. The difference between a 7 marriage and a 10 marriage is the difference between a glass half full and a cup that runneth over.

A woman that feels secure physically, emotionally, and relationally is a woman that can risk pouring herself out fully. But there’s more, of course there’s more. Next week: Psychological and Spiritual Security.

To your abundant life with a woman.

Dave Marr

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By | April 21st, 2017|Relational|0 Comments

Victimized by the Good

Not that all my previous Letters have been a waste of time and I’ve been saving myself, but I think the following is important and subtle to claiming a more substantive life than the one you’re currently living. I am making an assertion in this Letter, which means that what I’m about to say is arguable. Which means that I am either seeing something you’re not or I’m seeing something not there. Or, I suppose, what is subtle to me is obvious to everyone else and I’m a drama queen. Regardless, it’s all for you to decide anyway. By setting the stage thus, I am asking you to see just past where you’re used to seeing, stretch your mental fingertips out to touch a new sensation and categorize it as new. That’s where growth comes from, a categorization of something new.

In talking to a fellow traveler in marriage, he is having difficulty in connecting with his wife on important stuff. He loves her and believes she loves him. They have been having years-long difficulty for all kinds of reasons. Seemingly, by his description, the challenges are mainly because of an inability to connect, to feel like they’re on the same page, to have their cups filled by each other. Given his current approach with her, she is not responding to his efforts in such a way that makes him feel as though they’re making progress; rather, they’re just struggling for power. And here’s the real thing, because this has gone on for so many years and hasn’t changed much, he feels powerless to change circumstances or change her. Life is happening to him.

Now, I could cut to the chase and detail the advice I offered him about Languages of Love drawing small value in this story even though that information is a critical piece of the marital puzzle. There’s no subtle revelation in that. In fact, by characterizing his life as a treasure hunt where he’s just in search of that missing clue that will allow him to read the map and thereby find happiness is a losing perspective. It perpetuates the victim mentality that he faces, that we all face.

Life is not happening TO him, but THROUGH him. It’s that misconceptualization of his life that is at the heart of his issues. He’s not powerless. He can change himself. In fact, that’s the only thing he can change. He can change his perspectives. He can invite new ideas, new information, new priorities, new reactions, new habits, and most importantly, new disciplines of the mind. He can pursue an elegant solution that lifts himself and invites a path for his wife to lift herself. Even though he can’t see an immediate way forward, he must believe there is a way forward that leads him to the life he desires.

This Letter is not about marriage, or about this guy; this Letter is about you mentally capturing tomorrow what you can’t capture today. The blessing this guy has is that he’s really unhappy. Pain is a great motivator. For that pain, he’s willing to explore ideas with someone else. Even though his perspectives currently place him as a victim, he’s trying to push out. If he persists, he’ll find a path forward. But what if he weren’t so unhappy, but just happy enough – kind of a lukewarm happiness. What then? Wouldn’t he continue in his victim mentality? And, what if he takes this Love Languages idea and finds some growth and marital happiness in the short run, but settles back into old victimizing habits later and concludes that Love Languages were a passing fad?

The Good is the enemy of the Best. You can’t hear this aphorism enough. The above scenario is a challenge to you who might look at this guy’s marriage and conclude “That ain’t me. I’ve got a good marriage, a good career, a good life. He’s a victim and I am not.”  If you have that thought, then you might be running the risk of complacency. You might be missing a perspective that will lift you to a new level of maturity and wisdom that you don’t currently possess that is just barely at your mental grasp if you reach out.

The topic can be in marriage or business or health. Health is classic for the subtlety of my point – just because you don’t hurt today doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Good enough isn’t good enough, really, because in the end, good doesn’t last.

So, where’s the subtlety? There’s no telling whether you get my point or not because the subtlety is in the implications. I can only write out so many scenarios and none of them will apply to you. So you have to extract the point, apply it to your spectrum, age, energy, motivation, etc. and seek what I think is Godly direction ever propelling you up the mountain. Then experience will draw out the nuance of avoiding being victimized by doing good enough.

To your maximal life outcome,

Dave Marr

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By | April 14th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Ubiquity of Opportunity

Windows of the soul. What do you see? What does opportunity look like?

Some men cannot see all colors. They are said to be colorblind. The X chromosome doesn’t produce photo-pigmentation in eye receptors so that a certain spectrum of light bouncing off a red blouse doesn’t capture the red, just the bounce. In other words, to make the analogy, red exists continuously, but the perceiver doesn’t perceive.

As is opportunity. Opportunity ubiquitously exists in our world awaiting the perceiver around every corner, with every chance encounter, in every phone call, with the morning news feed, email, or snapchat. Opportunity to move you forward in your goals and life is but a perception away. And yet, often, most often, we are blind. Why? And what to do about it?

To answer that we have to set the stage. First off, what is opportunity? Many who might be victims where the world happens to them would call it luck. Some who are irreligious where there is no guiding hand would say it’s serendipity. Others who ascribe to a Divine Being would say that opportunity arrives as Providence. Under any of those definitions opportunity is a beneficial happening that aligns with an agenda already in existence. And that’s the key to perception.

For example, Garrett Townsend is a manager that works in my office. He leads a team generating loan business. Garrett is all in. He is highly motivated and energized to build a successful mortgage business and does a great job. Recently he told me the story of dropping his daughter off at an event. He was coming up to the check-in station and as he was arriving as a woman was leaving. She looked up and they caught one another’s eye. Now if it were me, I’d look away as like normal. But not Garrett. He smiled and said hello. Just hello. She responded in kind and they talked. Come to find out she worked for a company that dealt with dozens upon dozens of builders. She knew them all. Garrett had been trying to break into that area of the mortgage business, so this chance encounter stands out. They exchanged contact info and agreed to get together.
When you analyze this moment of …Providence… all one has are assumptions and assertions. Pure conjecture. Of course you know how I look at this:

  1. Garrett has declared his life is one of God-given abundance. That is his frame of reference, his starting point. He has declared to God and himself that he is on an upward trajectory.

  2. Garrett devotes his waking hours to working on his business, but mostly on himself to be a Catalyst for Positive Change in the lives of everyone he meets. That’s the company mission statement and, I’m glad to say, Garrett’s as well. He is an agent for well-being.

  3. Garrett projects positive. Lives positive. Expects positive. Creates positive.

  4. Garrett wasn’t saying hello in order to squeeze out any selfish benefit that might exist from this woman, he was just being nice. Being nice, having an agenda, and being aware, opened the door to opportunity.

  5. Garrett would have thought nothing of missing the opportunity had he said nothing. We don’t miss missed opportunities. But in saying hello he was in the flow of opportunity. Garrett is not colorblind.

The man who is colorblind lacks the physical properties necessary to see the world as it is. He doesn’t see the world as IT is, he sees the world as HE is. Think about this statement as it pertains to your life: You don’t see the world as IT is, but as YOU are. Any challenges you face are filtered through your imperfect lens. Opportunity is a God provided enticement to polish your lens.
When it comes to capturing opportunities that will improve our lives, we must have a plan to move forward, be in a state of action moving us forward, and seek perspectives that give us a clear lens. Opportunities abound. Ideas are ever present to improve your financial situation, create that ideal female relationship, build your body’s health, find a spiritual mentor, and create life of flow. Perspective comes one sentence at a time. What I mean by that is that at this stage of your life, you’re not going to have wholesale change in your perspectives, instead just small course corrections. So any epiphany from a new perspective will catch you as one insightful sentence in an otherwise ordinary paragraph. You’ll take that one sentence and throw away previously held limiting perspectives whereby your vision perceives at a different wavelength.

To see opportunities you need to change perceptions in your mind’s eye. I recommend you listen to Zig every day while getting ready for the day, while working out, while in the car or on the train. Listen to the classics: Jim Rohn. Denis Waitley, Brian Tracy, John Maxwell, Wayne Dyer, et al. As a daily activity it will mature your perspectives on motivation and abundance and result over time in your ability to see the full spectrum of color.

To your abundant life,

Dave Marr

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By | April 8th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Incomes and Outcomes

A job leads to work that moves you into a career that matures you toward a purpose.

It certainly is possible to work at a job your whole life and not have a career. A job is where you exchange your time for a paycheck whereas a career is something you identify with. In a career you grow, you take on skills and nuance, levels and proficiency, where you own inputs and outcomes. A career enhances your identity because it is an expression of what you’ve chosen to “do” with your life. A job does none of that.

It is also true that you can be in a career your whole life and never find your purpose. Purpose is more than being in a career. Purpose indicates a reason for being. What you do and why you do it is aligned to a much higher degree when you are living with purpose. People change careers. People don’t change purposes. Because when you’re living with a purpose, every waking moment presents opportunities for you to add to your store or pour out of your store of well-being.

Ok nice preamble.

Today’s letter offers thoughts on pushing through the gravitational pull of a job and into the open space of a career. We’ll tackle purpose later. I talked with a young man this week regarding his work path and he said he wanted to work with guys he respected and admired on a project that lifted him and earn enough money to help him achieve his goals. Let’s call that the A list, as a good a description in starting a down the work path as I’ve heard. In my discussion with him, up to this point he’s got the first two going, but lacks the third. And as good as working with good guys on a project you really enjoy, if you lack the prospect of sustained, meaningful income the first two won’t last that long.

As we’ve talked about, earned income is a bi-product in the exchange of value. Great guys gravitate to growth and greed. (Actually, just kidding on greed, but I couldn’t help but throw down that alliteration staring me in the face). But solid substantive people are attracted to environments where their contribution leads to meaningful income. My list is designed to get you from entry job towards a career.

1. Pick an industry where you can see men of substance thrive. It’s not an insult to say that you lack perspective today. Between 25-35 we all do. Picking an industry where you can see men have found a rich environment to grow and become well off is a good start. You won’t be stuck there if you don’t like it.

2. As you search for a job, it’s likely you’ll take one of the first one’s that come your way. All good. Pour yourself into that job. If another job comes along that sounds good, stick with the one you’ve already picked. It’s better to fulfill your commitments for the first 2 years than chase a shiny object.

3. Identify the levels above you in the organization. What licenses, levels of education, professional organizations, skills and knowledge do they have? That is the ladder to climb on. Until you can at least see what they see, you can’t climb past them. If you can get a mentor, wonderful.

4. Work your butt off. If you’re young and up to the point of having young kids, you have the time to invest in getting up to speed from a value standpoint. Learn your company. Learn its value proposition. Learn to be valuable, then you’ll become invaluable.

5. Stay away from drama. Create a no drama zone. No gossip. No snide remarks. Nothing. Just work.

6. Ask for more responsibility. Don’t wait to be noticed. Indicate that you want to grow and you’re willing to pour out to gain mastery. Regardless of the rung you’re on, there’s another rung above. Climb as many as you can early so it’ll make the later rungs easier and better to be on.

7. Once you’ve put in your 2 years, you will have long ago decided if the company can sustain your goals and objectives. You can jettison the booster rocket once you’ve reached escape velocity and can explore the heavens on your own.

Maybe this is all too obvious for words. But I see angst out there about whether the current job is the right thing. It is if it’s a booster rocket. The outcome you’re looking for is enough value you can exchange for income to live your life with relative freedom – freedom to get the girl; freedom to have the kids; freedom to create the nest and fill it with comforts; freedom from want and debt. I’ll talk about the timing on marriage and kids soon. And of course you can work with great people on meaningful projects your whole life without the prospect of a big paycheck and be fulfilled with substantive purpose, look at ministerial work. But you can have ministerial work has a side gig too.

I am a proponent of the idea that work fills a need in men to be productive, to strive, to create, to overcome the obstacles of the external world. Ultimately, work is a spiritual endeavor of incomes and outcomes.

To your reaching the stars,

Dave Marr

P.S. Today’s letter marks my 4th anniversary of writing every Friday.

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By | March 31st, 2017|Financial, Personal|0 Comments

It’s Getting Real

Not every conversation is roundly accepted at every cocktail party. Some topics are bodily in nature or so intimate that people just would rather not. This is one of those. The people who would find the most interest in wading through the discomfort of real talk are the dads and moms of boys on the cusp of becoming men. The issues Lis and I faced with our boys and how we handled them might give parents some small comfort that they’re not alone.

Moodiness is a combination of hormones, social isolation, the newness of the latest mental leap, and a child’s particular temperament. A sulking child needs comfort and understanding, encouragement, talking with them given the confusion of feelings versus talking at them on their unacceptable behavior, and the occasional kick in the butt to ‘fake it till you make it’. It’s important to remember and advise them that you, the parent, are helping them develop their mental model of the world which includes character development. So moodiness requires them to resist the temptation to feel sorry for themselves. So at about 9 years of age, dads should begin to prepare boys to become men. Particularly if the child leans toward a melancholy disposition, but in general, dads should visit their son at bedtime and begin the long conversation about manhood. The discussion should cover unexplained feelings, new sensations, hormones, girls, technology, and how communication between son and dad needs to get stronger. The line to use – “No one on the planet loves you more than your mom and I do, No one.” So therefore, don’t think your friends can tell you more about life’s issues than we can.

Bodily changes, hair, smell, morning blood flow, begin to emerge from boyhood around 9-11 years old. Fast starters and later bloomers notwithstanding, puberty is around 11ish. Your conversations around secret subjects called “The Talk” should begin in advance of that age. Open, wide ranging questions investigating his knowledge, offering insights, not pushing an agenda, should create a confidential atmosphere. Any question, any question at all, should be answered with the feeling of openness. Occasionally, you might start at 30,000 feet and come back to the question again another time. Questions should be met with questions – “What do you mean?” – so that you don’t answer a question they’re not asking.

“Daddy, where did I come from?”
“Well buddy, when I put my penis in mommy’s vigina, my sperm fertilized your mommy’s egg and she became pregnant. You grew inside her womb for 9 months and then were born.”
“Oh. Because Stevie says he came from Cleveland.”

Hygiene is a requirement. Starting at 9 years, an increase in parental attention to hygiene should be in advance of when hormone smells become an issue. Using deodorant, airing out tennis shoes at night, brushing teeth, showering regularly, washing excess oil off face and scalp all need to be reviewed and strengthened. Taking laundry seriously, making sure that clothes are put in the proper spot post sports and post laundry day. Every stage of maturity requires more balancing of new efforts with old lessons. Get ahead of it.

Technology is a convenience, not a requirement. Allowing your son access to his own personal link to the world is dangerous to say the least. Insofar as porn can start as a small accidental leak into your son’s life and become a raging flood sweeping away the wonderful person you once knew, technology is Pandora’s box. Even if porn weren’t an issue, having his friends text your son all hours of the night is a distraction to concentration and sleep. You can’t control the world, but you do pay the bills. Phones are for you to communicate with your child – period. Smartphones are misnamed. Early in life, you want to have blockers thereby creating a safe zone. No sense in the real world breaking in too early. But later, blockers on your technology will create a false sense of security. Instead, you want to put a blocker on their character, on their heart, where they develop the strength to withstand the temptation. Difficult, but critically important for when they are away from home. All internet use, laptop, smartphone, iPad should all be used in the main part of the house.

Masturbation. Gonna happen. This touchy subject has larger ramifications in writing about it. So if your religious beliefs are different than mine, I respect that. If you’re wiser than me, which is likely, then I would yield to a better idea. But as a father, I don’t want to condemn the act or fact that my child is a sexual being. I don’t want to burden him with guilt or shame beyond what society is going to provide him. What I am interested in is getting him to self control and time management. My advice to my boys was “Don’t waste 2 hours thinking about it. Git ‘er done and get back to life.” The problem isn’t the act itself, it’s the mental activity and wasted time surrounding the activity. Young men can masturbate 2-3 times per day. If each time took an hour with all that mental imagery, that’s not a positive or Godly use of that energy. “Git ‘er done and move on” is my advice. It worked out for our family. It’s a delicate discussion, for sure, but one in which dad is understanding and is a ‘go-to’ for advice.

Some periods of life are just what they are, periods of life. There’s a beginning and there’s an end. Your child does not know that, whereas you do. So when guilt arises because of the all too common aftermath of masturbation, dad’s should address the feelings as much as the activity. Normalize the transition into manhood. I don’t buy into the idea that this is a sin. There’s no upside to that idea and only downside. Instead, as human beings, we are what we are and must deal with that. Going from boy to man is fraught with turbulence. Cementing self concept in guilt is not my idea of being a good dad. Loving transition into self control is better I think.

Attitude. What does “Bad Attitude” mean anyway? When my dad used it on me, it meant I had a tone in my voice or a look on my face that conveyed disrespect or maybe an attitude of entitlement. I’m not sure because I didn’t know what it meant at the time. Kids shouldn’t ever use hurtful words, disrespectful tones, and other actions that express exasperation with an adult, particularly their mom. Instead of immediate reaction that condemns their seeming disrespect, there should be a question: “Your tone came out as disrespectful. Did you intend to disrespect your mom?” Or, “In your frustration with this situation, you sounded like you’re blaming your mom for this when you’re the one that has caused it. It’s not appropriate to project your frustrations on other people. Did you intend to do that?” In other words, as the adult you are able to respond rather than react. Responding as an adult has you disengage your authoritative emotions and engage your wiser intellect.

Lying becomes more sophisticated. The foundation of the family is built on trust. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the cement within that foundation. Everyone within the family perceives reality based on their ability to trust the data they are collecting. So dad’s modeling of truth sets the tone. An extreme example, infidelity rises to the top of lying. A child’s definitions of love, trust, security are upended when it turns out that dad was crossing his fingers. The billions of data points a child has collected so far manifests in their own relationship to the truth when confronting a reality they don’t desire. Let me unpack that statement – When a young teenager messes up, which they will, and must come clean with what happened, their relationship with the truth will be a matter of character. That child will draw forth from the essence of their childhood experiences on how you play the truth game. I used infidelity as an extreme example of falsity, but it’s a spectrum. Manipulating words to manage the consequences is a character relationship to the truth. Character comes from mom and dad. So your teenager will express his character as a new intellectual exercise. You must provide consequences (Never punish. Punishment is punitive. Correction provides consequences) for violating family conduct and then explain and declare what your family identity is on speaking truth.

Engagement is key. I mischaracterized my role in life during the period my kids were transitioning into young adults. I was doing well at work and thought I was a big deal. My dad had his work persona that I dredged up from childhood and re-created at home. “Dad’s a big deal” was the image I was going for.  I messed up, not massively, but enough to have some regret. Instead, my “job” was primarily to be all-in with my family. It wouldn’t have robbed much of anything from work, but my engagement at home would have looked differently. I was in my head and should have been in the game instead. Initiating time with each child to talk it out, explore issues, play, encourage, explain, question would have been the ‘great dad’ image I would have preferred.

Young men are subtly and flagrantly attacked by society for being male. Masculinity certainly needed to be modernized from the John Wayne 50’s and 60’s. But today’s “Girl Power” has gone too far by not just encouraging strong women, which is great, but also by characterizing men as doofuses (doofae?) seems to be standard fare. This should be resisted and modeled otherwise. Men as men are critical to a harmonized society. Women need men to be men. It is now up to today’s father to re-generate the idea of masculinity for the next generation.

To molding tomorrow’s men,

Dave Marr

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By | March 25th, 2017|Parenting, Relational|0 Comments