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/Dave Marr

About Dave Marr

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So far Dave Marr has created 167 blog entries.

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

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Go Up Goals are goals where you get to fill in the blank. “I am a _____________”. These are the goals where you climb with persistent effort over a long period of time and achieve something worthwhile. Go Up Goals are big. You fill in the blank with something descriptive that you hold as close to pridefully as you can without overdoing it. “I am a marathon runner.” “I am a black belt.” “I am an MBA graduate.” “I am a business owner.” “I am husband.” “I am a father.” “I am a man of character.”

This Letter is about Motivation. Motivation is a term that is usually interpreted as this compelling desire that makes you want to drop everything else and pursue some objective, like it’s an energy that exists on its own. Go Up Goal Motivation has not been that in my experience. Imagine Go Up Goals being like you’re on a mountain path that forks up ahead. You have to decide whether to take the wider path that is well trod that leads easily around the bend and poses no obvious challenges. The other path is much less traveled. You can see immediately that it would be a challenge, steeper, require skill and dexterity that you’re not sure you have. But having risked your comfort zone, you’ll be able to fill in the blank. That is the Motivation I am familiar with – a choice that pushes you out of average.

To some, this imagery is all that is necessary; to be able to state that you’re different than other guys, willing to go off the beaten path, an individual. That feeling is exactly why I went to Sweden as an exchange student out of high school – to be different. That’s why I got my black belt when I was young and had the freedom to explore and be different. But as I got into life, it became more challenging to take the road less traveled. The MBA was when I was married, but had no kids. The marathon training was when the kids were asleep. Starting the business was because I had run out of other acceptable options and I had to make self employment work. I do understand Go Up Goals – In my head and ego each goal was me getting out of my comfort zone to become something bigger, something that the average Joe wouldn’t get off the couch to do.

There is a window in your life that you’re in. This window is the essence of youth with all its energy and optimism and relatively light responsibilities. I wish it lasted forever, but this window does narrow. It narrows when your responsibilities and comforts get to a point that crowd out younger desires. You subordinate your Go Up desires to the choices you’ve already made – wife, kids, home, debt, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, all those things are important and are life’s true desired realities. But if you haven’t pushed yourself in advance of that responsibility, if you haven’t tested what you can do before the weight settles around your shoulders, if you haven’t pushed yourself yet in adventure, skill, knowledge, economics, though it’s not over by any means, you could be in your comfort zone a bit too much for your own long term liking.

I think youth should recognize the blessed opportunity in this window of time to fill that
“I AM ______” blank with a recognition that you only have one life, so don’t put off something big for later. Start it today. Do it now. And if you don’t know what big thing you want to take on? Then you are not alone. Most people don’t know what will juice them up and get them going. So in the meantime, until God provides you with a destination that is worthy of your energies, substitute something else, anything else. Be a man of action. The best thing to do is become proficient in a physical skill because of all the mental, spiritual, and psychological spinoffs it provides. Karate was a hugely maturing, confidence building, toughening experience for me. Any martial arts program would be beneficial. I ran marathons as well because it was big. Maybe music is your thing. Night school for your next degree might light the fire. Maybe this year you talk with 10 older men about their life stories, the highlights, the big influences, the regrets, and take away the best thoughts and apply them to your life.

Bottom line, if you’re reading this email, then God could be talking to you. What can you do with 2017 that fills in the blank?

To your continued success,

Dave Marr

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By | March 18th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Flying Monkeys

Gentlemen, you are not of one mind. You have at least two mindsets, probably more depending on the occasion and your mood. You are old enough to look back on previous versions of yourself and see how your efforts at goal attainment went. If you can look back with 100% satisfaction, you are alone in the world. To say that we perform less than our desires is to say that we are human. And with that understanding comes introspection – the ability to see into the multi-faceted aspect of our nature – so we might adjust our approach, figure ourselves out, gain meaningful perspective, and thereby get traction on our path to the good life. Today’s Letter offers a practical strategy that will resolve this two-minded roller coaster approach to motivation. It is a strategy to help you get traction along the yellow brick road.

First, kill the flying monkeys. Before you can hope to get to Oz, you gotta deal with them damn monkeys. As a kid, those things scared the crap out of me. My gosh, flying monkeys! What sick mind would put that in a kids movie. But nonetheless, any flying monkey that can carry you away from your intended goal has gotta go. A big flying monkey for me – TV. What a time waster and energy suck. When I was in my 30’s, TV was my ‘go-to’ for relaxation. Today I have quite a bit of regret around that. But for you it might be social media, youtube, Netflix, or some other monkey that carries you away.

Maybe the flying monkey in your life is lack of energy because you stay up too late and don’t get enough sleep. Maybe not enough energy because you eat like crap and your system is taxed to convert faux food into energy. Maybe you have inconsistencies in your life that rob you of energy – If you want to move forward along the brick road you’ve got to kill the monkeys.

How do you do that? There are two kinds of goals: Give Up Goals and Go Up Goals. Give Up Goals are things in your life that you’d do well not to have dragging you down. Of course Go Up Goals are destinations you are pursuing. TV plays in the desire to relax and be entertained, social media to be connected, etc, etc. But if you have identified whatever that monkey is, it’s gotten out of hand and is tugging at your clothes to drag you away.

The strategy to get past those monkeys – you’ve got to:
1) Make a statement about this particular flying bugger that you intend to change and why you want to do so. Put it in writing. “My 2017 Give Up Goal
2) Replace it with something you intend to do instead.
3) Engage as many people as is prudent to hold you accountable to your behavior who will speak positive words of life into you.
4) Make the change a part of who you are and not just a box to check with the monkey in your life later.

So for example,

1) I want to lose 3% in body fat because I’ll enjoy myself better, feel sexier with my wife, lead by example with my kids, and live a more well-rounded healthy life in trying to drop the weight.

2) Instead of watching TV and eating, I need to not eat after I get up from the table. I need my wife to join me in this. Instead of TV, I can stretch while reading. We can play cards. I can get on the lifecycle and read or even watch TV. I need to begin running again on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This will help me with my Spartan goal. I need to limit my alcohol consumption to Fri and Sat and get my friends to support me in this. Once I have a drink, sweets are not far behind.

3) I need my wife to understand she plays a critical role in what I eat, where I eat, what I do after I eat, and our lifestyle in general. Getting her to have similar goals will help me. My friends can help at minimum by asking for their buy-in and encouragement, but also maybe their participation. My kids can help. My co-workers can help. I need to get the appropriate number of influencers to help me get this monkey off my back.

4) I am not a zealot. In life, I will watch TV again. I will drink alcohol (insofar as I don’t have a problem, so if you do the answer might be different). I will have sweets again. But not today. Today I need to change how this food/alcohol/TV/workout combo affects me and manifests around my waist. And so that I don’t ride a roller coaster throughout life, I am deciding that I am healthy and live a healthy life supported by good food choices, good exercise, and good personal habits that support that self image.

This is an example of a strategy to defeat those annoying flying monkeys. It works. It is universal in that it will work for me and for you on small Give Up goals and big nasty Give Up goals. But it’s not the only thing you can do for your motivation. This strategy is a first step in a larger conversation about who you are becoming with your Go Up Goals.

To your life without flying monkeys,

Dave Marr

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By | March 10th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

The Gordian Knot – Whom Should I Wed?

This Letter is to all you reluctant warriors whose current mindset is biased towards marriage… but just not yet. There are good reasons to postpone nuptial bliss, the two interrelated ones topping the list are:1) I haven’t found the right one yet; and, 2) I’m not ready. I’m sure you don’t have to be sold on the idea of lifelong companionship with a best friend. You don’t need more stats telling you that happily married men live longer and have more disposable income than their less happy or single counterparts. You undoubtedly believe that you can’t grow into the man you see for yourself without a woman there to inspire you, coax you, compliment you, satisfy you, support you, balance you, demand of you, love you, and in turn receive all those elements from you. I’m sure you see that. But for some reason the tipping point hasn’t arrived for you. Gentlemen, I propose you cut through the mental knot that binds you to the unmarried post (click here for Gordian knot reference) and move forward with conquering the uncharted territory beyond (Alexander reference).

What about criteria for a woman? I’ve talked with a bunch of guys that have described a somewhat long list of criteria that a woman must meet in order to qualify as their lifelong partner. There’s an obvious problem with that – it is unlikely one can check all those boxes – which may be the point of the list thereby allowing comfortable delay in proceeding. Here’s my criteria that I related to a young Ironman recently:

“Of the two women you’re dating – You can pick either and be happy. There is hardly the ability to discern between happy, happier, and happiest, because a jar doesn’t fill full, fuller, fullest if the dang thing is topped off in each scenario. I’d look at the family life with the parents and siblings and pick the one with the best home life. That’s what she’s going to recreate, her home life. The question is: What will you discover down the road that ends the marriage that you could have seen if you knew what to look for? 1) Crazy (does the weird stuff she does excite you because she’s attractive but with 20 more pounds will just be weird?). 2) Subconscious man-hater (father issues). 3) Victim (excessive amounts of drama). 4) Psycho/eco (she buys shoes and purses to fill her need for security). 5) Religion (too much, too little, wrong kind). You’ll be better able to discern this stuff by visiting with her family and seeing how they interact with one another and the whole context of her life.”

The above was my response to his question on who to choose among the beautiful women he was currently dating. He went on to describe that in each case, he had a nagging doubt that he was the better catch and maybe he should keep the search going. I think this Uncle Rico thought is common but also a bit delusional. It is difficult to pick a partner that will be equally yoked when you don’t know who you are nor have keen enough insight as to who she is or will become. So the mistaken thought is to keep looking for someone who knocks your socks off while you figure yourself out. Some of that searching makes sense, but not too much. It is the nature of things with no way around the dilemma, therefore too much searching is just a delay tactic.

A young man has not been helped over the last 20 years by society’s characterizing him as being a man/child. Millennials are viewed as wimps. I’m not sure if it’s true or what, but I do see a bit of selfish confusion in the young men I see. Standards for a woman are unrealistically high and self evaluation too low. Reality is today as it’s always been: By the time a man is mature enough to make the “right” decision, the window for that decision has long been closed. Then how do you know who to marry, when to marry? You don’t. You risk. Life is an uncertain adventure where you must hazard your happiness in order to gain it.

Legend was that he who could untie the knot was destined to rule the world. Decisively UnMillennial, Alexander sliced through its complexity with bold resolve. Should you not do the same?

To your slicing through the knot to tie it.

Dave Marr

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By | March 3rd, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Deciding Confidence

There is no bigger turn off for girls than a guy that can’t make a decision.

I should just stop there and let that statement stand alone, but who are we kidding? Me leaving all that white space is like the government leaving a bunch of money untaxed. To be sure: a guy’s ability or inability to decide sends all kinds of meaning to the world, and girls are particularly attuned to that message.

Decisions are forks in the road. Small ones (Steak or chicken? Have friends over or go out? Go to a movie – Which one?) are irrelevant. They won’t affect anything but the moment of pleasure. Standing there evaluating the tiny fork like it’s some complete diagnostics screening to determine which sensation will absolutely capture the maximum amount of pleasure—puhlease! If you’re on a date and can’t look at a menu and decide what you want to eat in under a minute, the girl is going to pass.  Make decisions on irrelevant things quickly and don’t look back. My daughter dated a nice young guy for a while, but eventually broke up. Why? He wouldn’t make any decision whatsoever.  For example, she gave him 3 choices of movies that she’d like to watch and he refused to decide, actually getting upset with her and insisting that she choose. That was the last straw. Who knows what he wanted, but it wasn’t a co-equal relationship. Sorry, bub. No spine; no chance.

So what’s the deal? Why is it so hard to decide on trivial things? Or, and here’s one of the questions that a couple guys have asked, ‘Why is it so hard to talk to a (pretty) girl?’

Those points are highly correlated.  It’s because the guy isn’t comfortable with his own value. “Why would an attractive girl want to talk with me? She’s hot, I’m not.  She looks put together.  Have you seen me?!  I’ve got a zit, or, halfway through a conversation with her, I’d get one. No, better to go home and rub one out than risk her thinking I’m a loser.” You lose the game without even getting in. Self esteem can be a “fake it till you make it” endeavor. And decision making is a component of that. Being assertive doesn’t mean you need to be a jerk about decisions or that your ego inflated. No, girls are very ok with men that are comfortable in their own skin. It takes the pressure off them.

So here’s the thing: If you want to talk with girls, practice being decisive. Get good at deciding what you want. Don’t vacillate on small things; dinner, movie, anything. Challenge your day to find how you can evaluate your likes and dislikes quickly and practice deciding to avoid sending the world the message that you’re a walking question mark. Then, work on being interesting. Have activities. Make sure you work out, read, and pursue a life worth living. All these things will build on themselves and build up your value, your confidence, and your ability to take action and live with the consequences.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a huuuge shortage of substantive guys. There are so many mama’s boys and jerks out there that quality women are opting out of relationships altogether. So don’t worry about finding Ms. Right. You build quality within and you’ll have plenty to choose from. There’s a surplus of quality, good looking, fun women out there waiting for you to become a man. Personal traits you want to develop are: Purposeful, Decisive, Open-Minded, Action-Oriented, and Fun. You do that, a good woman and good life await you. A very good life.

To your continued substantive life with a fun, good looking woman success,

Dave Marr

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By | February 24th, 2017|Relational|0 Comments

Noledge Don’t Mater

Knowledge doesn’t matter….apparently.

I know for a fact that when I eat sugar, it’s not good for my body. In the morning I know with certainty that I would look better and feel better and be healthier if I didn’t eat sugary foods, but in the evening that knowledge doesn’t seem to matter. I know for a fact that I have more information at my fingertips today that at any time in my life to enrich my life a dozen times over, but NFL.com, RealClearPolitics.com, and Sudoku apps consume my spare time. I know for a fact that if I were to call 10 prospective clients every day so that out of the 220 I called in a month, I would capture more than a half a dozen new clients.  And yet I don’t because there are so many little urgent priorities that consume my day.

Yes, knowledge is valuable, without a doubt, but it isn’t a driver for life’s betterment. Knowledge doesn’t even make the top 5.

This idea that knowledge didn’t matter occurred to me when I saw a pudgy doctor outside a hospital in scrubs smoking a cigarette. Clearly, knowledge didn’t matter to that guy. His vision, I’m guessing, was to be a doctor, not to be a purveyor of health. A small but meaningful distinction. I’m not saying he’s a hypocrite, just picked a vision that lacked coherence.

So why this topic? Because I’m reacting to that tired adage that “Knowledge is Power”. I wish. Certainly ignorance isn’t power either, so I’m not promoting Know-nothingism. I’m saying that there are more defining things for your life than the accumulation of knowledge.

Here are my top 5:

Vision – Have an image in your mind as to the kind of life you want. Respect, Character, Wisdom, Freedom, Love, Power, Significance, Sophistication, Friendship, Fun, Adventure, Family, God. (Obviously in no particular order of importance.)

Plan – Is your vision something you’re actually intending to bring into existence? How?

Willpower/Motivation – There will be ebbs and flows to working your plan. How do you plan on being consistent in the busyness of everyday living to achieve your plan?

Feedback Loop/Habits – Every time you fall down, you should learn something. Every time you succeed, you should see yourself more clearly. Your vision will come about if you gather up your successes and failures and improve your plan. This will help you build correct habits.

Support – Gather confidants with whom you can share your vision, someone or some few that will encourage you and hold you accountable to your highest version of you. Everyone is a work in progress. Everyone. Help each other.

I shared with you a poem I wrote that declared that I matter. I do matter. I still aspire to higher versions of what I am capable. I am not going to go quiet into the night. You gentlemen, can blow my socks off with your capability. Since I know a good many of you, this is not an idle compliment. But here’s the thing – are you reading today’s message like so many previous… “blah, blah, blah, encouragement, encourage blah, humble brag, blah, blah”? Is my encouragement penetrating your outer shell and getting into the real you to ask the toughest questions? Are you just reading these Friday emails pretending that some day you’re going to give your all? That some day you’ll go deeper in relationships, some day get in shape, some day get your career plan together, get your bucket list on the wall?

Life is short gents. With these letters I send my prayers and highest positive energy to you that you catch fire in your life. What matters in your life?

To your energized success,

Dave Marr

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By | February 17th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

One of the most impactful things said to me

It was in the early to mid 90’s, so I must have been in my early 30’s, maybe 33. I was at a family event when my uncle came up to me and asked how my parents were doing. I must have grumbled something about how my dad and I weren’t speaking much. My uncle, who’s opinion I value greatly, offered an insight in his direct way, “You’ll have to make that work.” That’s all he said. No long exhortation on “Father Wounds” or Honoring Your Father, just a pithy insight into the nature of fathers and sons. Thus ending the years-long struggle I had with my dad.

I really don’t know now that I look back on whatever it was between my dad and me. I suppose it was a combination of things: I wanted to be my own man; I wanted my dad’s respect; I wanted acknowledgement from my dad that my value and opinions were adult and therefore worthy of equality; I wanted my dad to change.

But my dad wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t going to open up. His “way” of doing things didn’t meet my next generation standards, so comments of mine must have built up a residue of sand in our relational gears. My dad had a very strong-headed style that sometimes, oftentimes, was off-putting. When he decided things, it wasn’t up for review or discussion. So for me, a husband, a father, a worker, and supposedly an adult, I didn’t feel like he considered me an equal.

What a joke. I wasn’t his equal. My dad had graduated from the Naval Academy, flew F-100 Super Saber fighter bombers stationed out of Japan, raised a family, started several businesses, suffered through business decline, and was in his 60’s. His experience in life was so much more hard scrabble than I could image. For me to immaturely think I could bend him to my desires was really inflated and naïve. The only tools I had for the fight was angst and silence. From my mom’s communication, despite the pain in the relationship, my dad’s response was “So be it”. This from a man who physically fought with his dad when his dad got drunk and hit his mom. He was inured to relational unpleasantness.

That’s what made my uncle’s incisive comment so accurate, he spoke to the father and son dynamic in context. If there was a conflict, if a distance existed between me and my dad, then it would be up to me to reconcile it. My dad wasn’t going to change, so, the insight was, I would have to be the one to close the gap. What a powerful thought. It was as if he said, “Time to grow up.”

Father and son relationships, at their best, evolve over time; at their worst, don’t. People grow up in the era of their lifetime. The inputs, the economics, the culture, the temporal memes, the family context are all the soil from which we grow up. My dad’s early life was dedicated to raising a post-war post-farm modern family and had to navigate the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s with all those complexities. I had none of that. My soil was so much free of rocks no wonder I was naïve.

So here I am now a handful of years short of where my dad was at the time. He’s been gone now for 10 years. I am very glad that I walked the relationship back to functioning. It gave us almost a dozen years together where we slowly got to an enjoyable footing. I swallowed my positions, whatever they were, and prioritized the relationship ahead of my ego. I ate crow or humble pie or whatever I needed to in order to reconcile. And for a time, it was an effort. But eventually my dad acknowledged the effort with effort of his own. I, he, and our relationship evolved. My uncle’s insight said, “You have the flexibility and should take the lead to ensure that the relationship remains active; you should honor your father because that’s the right thing to do; because you will live to regret not doing what is necessary to make it work.”

 As Robert Frost’s poem so eloquently lays down this sentiment:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 So as it pertains to my ego, I took the road less traveled.

 Gentlemen, to your evolved relationships with your fathers,

 Dave Marr

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By | February 10th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Creating a Masterpiece

For the most part my entire Ironmen writing has followed a fairly uniform path similar to the U.S. Army slogan – “Be all that you can be”. After this my 200th writing, you might get the idea that I only sing one tune. But there’s certainly a purpose to my effort which has gone understated and mentioned only by reference. Many of you gentlemen are fathers, quite a few of you new fathers, and the rest probably intend to be fathers some day. Today’s Letter opens up that incredibly important topic for deeper evaluation and at the end a suggestion that will pay huge dividends.

As many of you know I have been blessed with 3 children whose stewardship I have taken very seriously – Dano, Shelli, and Kevin. When Dano was born I was a week from 28. If you were to ask me then if I were an adult, I’d think so. Since then, it’s beyond clear that I wasn’t. Ask anyone over 50 when a person is considered an adult and 28 is never cited. Intellectually engaged, sure. Physically finished with my development, yup. Legally responsible, indeed only in the legal sense. Not an indictment against my character, just calling out the reality of being young.

When a baby is born, so is a father.  There is something very maturing about becoming a father. There is a difference, a big difference, between theory and reality in this realm. All of you fathers know what I’m saying. You look at that infant lying there all helpless and pink and feel a new reality, a weight, a motivation, a purpose. From this day forward, your actions have generational consequences. The body, the mind, the spirit in that crib is your responsibility to love, teach, develop, disciple, encourage, fund, engage, mature, and release a couple decades hence. From whatever resources and capacities you have you are responsible to pour into this little life so that they are prepared to meet whatever challenges they will face along the way. And the key here is that unless you yourself grow up the task will quickly overtake you.

Fortunately you will grow. Unless you run away from this role, which is a sad commentary on today’s endless summer approach some men have regarding pursuing superficial sex, unless you run away from taking root in life, you will grow.  Children are God-designed gifts whose very nature compel you to the next level of maturity. George Will wrote: “We raise our children physically; they raise us spiritually.” What a blessing that is. Children give you reason to grow faster than you might otherwise. Whatever pace of maturity you currently possess becoming a father creates the realization that your input into this perfect little life might be, just might be, inadequate for the job. Based on the maturity of a 28 year old, I hope you feel inadequate. So upward you go.

Question: Do you own that baby’s potential? Clearly not. You are the steward of that baby’s potential. God and that baby own their potential, but you have been gifted with the opportunity to steward it into self management. And when you look at your own self management, how’s that look? If my point hasn’t become obvious at this point, let me be clear – you can only take your child as far as you’re able to go yourself. God can take them further, but the weight of your energy could be a parachute on their trajectory. Not a fair thing to say, but the opposite is true as well – your energy can define them positively. Exodus 34:6-7  Iniquities of the father is visited on generations to come … as will blessings.

This is a defining topic. It will define so much of your life, so much of the satisfaction you have, so much of your emotions and concerns, and so much of your relationships. When people look upon you and judge your character, they’ll look at the fruit of your life as the embodiment of your maturity. Yeah, I know, but it’s what people do. You have created a canvass on which your child will use the colors and strokes you have provided. Their life is a masterpiece.

So here’s the idea. Make a declaration. Write a letter to your child today, sign and date it. If your child already has many years in the bag, do it anyway. The style of this letter written as to an adult who currently is in baby form should declare who you are today and who you intend to become. It should cover your journey to this point, history of your life, and the relationships that your baby comes into. The letter should be a philosophic statement of your beliefs, your view on the world, and your role in it. It should declare to your baby what you intend to do as a father and how you intend be there for them to the best of your ability. And this love letter should be the most mature, well written piece you are capable because your child will keep this treasure forever and will use it as a template to write their own. The letter should be long and take effort to get it out. But it will be worth it.

And then you give it to them when they become of age. When they turn 13, take them away to a long weekend and give them the letter. Sure, they won’t understand much of it, but that won’t matter. They’ll read it again, and likely again and again. The older they get, the more they’ll get from the letter, and they more they’ll see you as a father who has stewarded them to the best of his abilities.

I have made many mistakes, but this one I got right.

To your greatest of blessings,

Dave Marr

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By | February 3rd, 2017|Parenting, Personal|0 Comments

Version 2.0

Control/Alt/Delete.

I received the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill from my uncle when I was in college and I fell in love with the structure and formula of success. It was a revelation to me that there was a path to success which resulted in a life of substance and significance. That was the summer before my junior year. In his book, Napoleon Hill describes the Mastermind concept, and all these industry icons had one. Therefore, I had to have one. So I asked my two buddies, Dave and Rob, if they wanted to join me in starting a group. We agreed to meet every Monday at 6 am for two hours and set our goals for the week. We met for two years setting goals, dreaming about the future, and discussing all kinds of things. We goofed around a lot. I remember one week’s goal: “Clip fingernails, turn 21.”

In the course of things, we graduated and I moved away. The initial effort was great, but it obviously ended in undetermined success. It wasn’t until I started my second group that I established a pattern for success. Alan, Clark and I also met at 6 a.m. every Monday and covered pretty much the same stuff, goals and figuring out how to succeed in all aspects.  Why not have it all? We met for four years. It was this Ironmen 2.0 that made the most difference in my life. It got me motivated to get my MBA. It helped me in my career. The conversations we had made me look at myself and my hypocrisies and identified how I thought of myself as a victim to circumstances. My marriage benefited as we discussed the many perspectives of relationship. We were young and discovering. Subsequently, Ironmen 3.0, after I started my company, lasted a year or so. 4.0 was a few years. This last group I’ve been in with Brad and Rich has been over 10 years. The Ironmen concept defines me. Here’s my point, the idea is worthy of you. Take it on as your own and even though your life changes, always be on the lookout to reboot your thinking as your circumstances change.

I’ve received the question from a handful of you guys on how to find guys to meet with. You may have some friends that come to mind that you might feel comfortable with opening up to. But possibly those guys may be limiting. Your current set of friends think of you a certain way, maybe Version 1.0 that is in re-development. They might even have an interest in you staying the same. That way they can feel comfortable about themselves not growing to their capacity. These guys might have a mild competition with you and if you breakaway in success that’s not going to look so good on them. Therefore, if those guys put you in a box, you’ll need to find someone else to help you build your mental structure of success.

Where can you find them? Work. Church. Gym. Vendors. Customers. Neighbors. Husbands of your wife’s friends. Father’s of your kid’s friends.

Here’s the major point: If you desire a destination of success in business, health, marriage, parenting, and the heavier lifting of personal spiritually, the Ironmen concept is a vehicle that will take you there. However, the idea must be yours. You must own it. It can’t matter that the guys you’re going to meet with aren’t currently in your sphere, you must own the idea for yourself and the guys will appear in time. Whether it’s 1.0 for 2 months and 2.0 for 2 years doesn’t matter. It’s you and your path that matters. Each group builds, through success or even through failure, experience upon experience, a platform from which you will view the world. Stick with it.

Can you do it with one guy and not two? Of course, but it’s not optimal in my opinion. Can you do it in a group of 8 guys. Sure. But three is the best. Two guys aren’t a group when one guy doesn’t show, plus the mix of ideas can get stale. Four or more guys doesn’t allow for individuality and equal contribution. Some guy could dominate all the time or someone could hide and never contribute. That’s not for you if you’re looking for success. Each meeting needs to have equal contribution, accountability, vulnerability, transparency, follow up, follow through, and openness to feedback and growth. This format will be the foundation for your personal success in all aspects of your life. How could meeting for two hours every week with like minded motivated guys discussing goals and strategies for success result in anything less than a fantastic life?

Therefore, you must lead.

Begin your life’s leadership by deciding the level of success you’re looking for. Then agree with me that Ironmen will greatly enhance your ability to achieve that success. Then develop a strategy to find two guys to join you. If you do these things, you will absolutely be on the path to significant success in life.  Let me hear from you.  Tell me what’s going on.

To your life of continuous pursuit,

Dave Marr

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By | January 20th, 2017|Getting Started, Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Bourne Identity Crisis

Jason Bourne (The Bourne Identity) is a lone wolf.  The character (not Matt Damon) is the epitome of manliness, mystery, danger, skill, toughness, detachment, sexuality, and is an island of self containment.  He’s a little more mysterious than 007, but still has a license and ability to kill.  Jason Bourne, James Bond, Dirk Pitt, Jack Ryan, Mitch Rapp – all characters who exude the independent, “I can do it on my own, no one understands me because I’m so tough and dangerous, I’m usually three steps ahead of just about everybody, and women really dig me” kind of guy.  He has power.

Ok, that’s cool.  I love those kind of movies.  In fact, I was in a Dirk Pitt movie (Sahara) as the iconic lone wolf waiter.  But that’s another story.  Those movies sell really well because they touch men at an inner level of self imagery.  Men want to see themselves as heroic.  They want to be desired by women.  They want to do it on their own, to be beholden to no man, wear the cool watch, drive the awesome car, and be free to satisfy themselves on the next female conquest.  Working in a cubicle 2080 hours a year, sack lunching it because your student loans and car payment suck up your cash flow, playing poker video at work to escape responsibility for a short while, going home and scrambling to get the kids fed, bathed, jammied, read to, and in bed for the night with hopes that your wife isn’t too tired to respond to your begging for sex – doesn’t seem like the life of danger and adventure.  Men’s minds wander.  Of course your life won’t be that way.

I don’t know any guy that hasn’t had some variation on the lone wolf idea.  Taken to the far end of this thinking (not even extreme far end), men do have sexual affairs outside the marriage, men do go it alone by turning a deaf ear, men do wall out the world to those who would bring them love and happiness.  Men do become dispirited.  They make movies like Hall Pass because of the commonplace contrast between men’s youthful expectations that continue to live in a middle aged body. Men can wake up one day disappointed in how little they’ve done in their life. The manly imagery they once held comes to crisis against the mundane workaday life they now lead.  Don’t think this is late 40’s stuff and is too far away for you twenty-somethings to worry about.  It becomes possible the day a man sees himself cemented in a life as a mere provider with no way out.

Thinking that way is a misperception of “reality”. First of all it’s important to understand that the lone wolf imagery is a fantasy that doesn’t truly exist (as I know you know).  As you mature in life you recognize the compromises necessary to balance self expression and family fulfillment – adventure of travel or little Joanie’s braces; being in top shape or keeping a job that requires travel; and recognizing that your wife will have ebbs and flows that are a function of the female life – are all realities of life.  That’s how life goes. So starting with an understanding of how life channels you down that potential pathway at least gives you a heads up.

Secondly, and this is pretty much my main driver with Ironmen, the more you take ownership of your life by showing up every day with the intention of succeeding in marriage, business and finances, health, and all the rest of it, the more likely you will succeed; and, in succeeding, have a greater likelihood of a life with more choices.  Everyone recognizes that 5 years ago you were less mature than you are today.  What is harder to understand is how much more mature you’ll be 5 years from now. It depends. If you get excited about your life; write down your goals for this year; include your wife (or girlfriend) in your plans; meet with like-minded guys every week and brainstorm success; measure your weekly successes against your plan – this will maximize your potential and your maturity.  This path will create a dynamic, energized, intentional, adventurous, fun existence.

The result will be that you will have too much personal momentum to mess with some extramarital woman, some superficial auto bling, or some job drama, or anything else that will remove you from the path of substance. Yes, you can be that man of power.

Fantasy is fine.  Enjoy the movies.

To your continued success.

Dave Marr

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By | January 13th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments