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So far Dave Marr has created 184 blog entries.

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

Never, Never, Never, Never…Never give in.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  – Calvin Coolidge

“Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  – Winston Churchill, October 29, 1941

These are two of my favorite quotes. I have many that guide me, but these two stand out. You can easily see how they relate to one another. Resolve. Will power. Persistence. Internal fortitude. Character. If that were all, they’d be great quotes. But there’s more. Much more. To wit:

When you hold yourself to account I’d bet everything I have that you don’t see yourself as some obsequious fool bowing down to gain favor until the slightest sign of difficulty arises. Rather you see yourself as up and coming, with direction, eyes held firm on the long road towards a life of significance and well-being, relative wealth and influence, connectedness and love. That is a good and appropriate vision, and manly so. Assuming you’re on the front end of life, that vision you hold has yet to be tested with any real tribulation. You know it will, but not how it will. You know you’ll face difficult times, but not the depth of that difficulty. And you may fear you’re not up to the task the day your mettle is tested in the fires of adversity.

Difficulty comes in all shapes and sizes. Being in a job that requires you to perform consistently to the vision of the company is the most common. Coolidge speaks to that. Talent, mental acuity, and education account for little if you don’t persist from moment to moment in your daily tasks. It is so easy to get up and take a coffee break to ease the burden of enduring mental effort. In sales, facing yet another “no” requires fortitude to make the call anyway. Keeping your mind and attitude positive and uplifting is more an internal discipline rather than a consequence of ease and pleasure. Coolidge rightfully says that these qualities of persistence and discipline alone will determine the likelihood of fulfilling your life’s vision.

And then there’s the Churchill quote. Sometimes events present themselves to you that will require more than everyday diligence. I have been moderately tested. When my wife broke her back and couldn’t lift our 2 year old or stand for more than 10 minutes, couldn’t sleep, and was dealing with serious pain which drained much joy from our life, that was a 7 year journey I couldn’t anticipate. It knocked me off the vision I held for my life. When the housing and stock market crashed and it was raining fire, that was another 7 year detour from my vision.

But here’s the thing, in the quotes above, each infers a vision, a hope, a way of life that you must steel yourself to. In the speech in which Churchill is quoted, he talks about how the nation “stood in the gap” with no flinching or thought of giving in. He gave words to his nation to inspire them to the struggle at hand. People need inspiration. My wife needed inspiration that she would come through. And through the difficulty with faith and encouragement, she did. My company needed inspiration that sterner days would lead to the sunny uplands (from the speech). And through perseverance, we did.

2017 offers you the opportunity to prove your mettle in small and meaningful ways. Your desires, your goals for the year, are but a Coolidgian training ground. You are developing your character, your ability to press on in the face of everyday challenges. Should you need that character in some Churchillian future where the flame of hope is a flicker in a storm, you will have the tested strength to Never, Never, Never, Never… Never give in.

 

To your growing character,

Dave Marr

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By | January 6th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Taking it to the Next Level

Here we are yet again. You’ve evaluated 2016 and have seen yourself in action. You’ve set annual, monthly, weekly, and daily objectives and now know better how you perform. For me, I have high energy in the morning and it diminishes as the day progresses. So my eating goals fall apart after dinner. I need to change my thinking. At work, I have come upon roadblocks that now will require more of me than I first thought. I must adjust. The weight of past challenges have diminished, so I feel buoyant to get after new objectives.

What will make 2017 a Happy New Year? More disciplined health? A more intimate female relationship? More success at work? Stronger faith?

You have the power at this exact moment to affect your 2017. Declare your intent. If in prayer you were to ask God for his favor and He were to respond to you “Well, what do you want?”, then you’d need to declare your desires, your intent, your willingness to take the next step even in faith. Take the step. Act in faith. Ask more of yourself. And I think God will respond positively.

I ask for God’s favor. I adjust to my past naive self understanding. I resolve to keep my motivation high so as to develop stronger disciplines. I show up every day and do my best.

What else is there?

Take this weekend and design who you will become in the coming year.

Many Blessings.

Dave Marr

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By | December 30th, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

Get FROM, not THROUGH

Subtle distinctions make all the difference in your world.

My youngest son Kevin, as many of you know, has graduated college. After 22 years of preparatory school, he has now entered “the real world”. Congrats to him. See if you can relate to this next part – so he gets a job where he must…pass licensing tests. He’ll be working for a financial company where he must pass a Series 6, 7, and 63 within the prescribed time in order to get a raise and retain employment. Do you see the difference between his formal education and now this first chapter in his adult life? Prior, Kevin needed to get through each level of school in order to move on to the next stage in his education. But here, he must get from his study materials in order to move on to the next stage of his career. Through…From….a subtle but incredibly meaningful distinction.

Jim Rohn exclaims, “Don’t get THROUGH the day – Get FROM the day.” His classic message in “The Art of Exceptional Living” is one of those daily inputs that is not only enjoyable to listen to and energizing, but lifelong in its practical wisdom that you can cheerlead your family with. Still, you may ask, where’s the subtlety? Through vs. From is certainly meaningful, but kinda straightforward, right?

No, actually it’s not. Here’s the challenge we have, you and me. I am often afraid of making a point that I feel is profound only to have a friend say “Oh yeah, I learned about that in 6th grade.” Sometimes I think I make a good point, but nothing outstanding, and I get quite a bit of positive feedback. The profundity of today’s message is this: Getting FROM the day and not just THROUGH the day is a truth for those that want abundance in life. All truths have depth. All depth has layers and facets and nuances.

Let me give you an example. I am using words to convey a message to you to the best of my ability. Shakespeare did the same with his writing. No doubt you might notice he and I are on slightly different planes. Because I aspire to be a better communicator, I listen to a Dartmouth professor cover Shakespeare’s plays in this 30 hour podcast I’ve been listening to…for 2 years! I’ve listened to the same 1 ½ hour recording on Othello for 3 months. Over and over again I listen to it, think about it, memorize it, let it inspire me, change me, lift me. I did the same for Hamlet and King Lear, etc. where I have paid with my mental “pound of flesh”. Shakespeare is as rich a writer as the English language has ever produced and I want to get as much as I can FROM him. (This is why men of great intellect read the Bible again and again because in it there is Truth, depth, subtlety, wisdom.) Shakespeare writes about the human condition; it is truth. And truth takes time to unpack to understanding.

Here’s the nuance: Kevin has not really been in a situation where he needed to study for life-long retention. Certainly, once he passes the test at work, he might not be tested every day on the material, so he won’t really know upfront what material is important and what’s forgettable. As he’s studying, he must read with intention. The word “Intentionality” is often overused, but here means mindful focus with the intent to truly understand. Now, there’s another word, understand, that could use some definition. To understand is to stand under, like standing under a waterfall, where the awareness of all the perspectives and information showers you from head to toe till you’re drenched. That’s what it means to understand. A full immersion in knowledge. Studying material with the full intent of getting it all, leaving nothing behind, gaining full understanding is what you get when you read “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler. It’s the same approach to reading what I’ve been doing with Shakespeare. And it’s what Kevin would be wise to pursue – an immersion.

So what is this Letter about? 2017 is here. In the coming year, I challenge you to move away from just getting through ephemeral data as it streams by your conscious mind. Don’t check the box on small to medium accomplishments, but instead go for the big dive. Decide in the waning days of 2016 that you’re going to go deep on the main elements of your life – work, health, relationships, and God. As you finish up your goals for 2017, which are no doubt neatly typed up and taped to your bathroom mirror, underline in red the goals that will require total immersion, complete understanding, absolute dominance. When the notion of expert arises, people will look to you. What topics are you going to dedicate FROM which you will get everything it has to offer? Here’s a suggestion – Get the Rohn CD, get the Alder book, start an Ironmen group and commit to standing under till you are drenched.

2017 is here. How will you be different?

To your drenching wet life,
Dave Marr

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By | December 23rd, 2016|Personal|0 Comments