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So far Dave Marr has created 167 blog entries.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

I believe that all advances in the world have come from people who are contrarian by temperament. Think about it, if you agree with something, you’re not out to change it or improve it. Einstein completely understood classical physics, something that had existed as immutable “laws” since Isaac “Fig” Newton postulated them in the late 17th century. But Al was contrarian by not accepting what everyone else knew to be true. What resulted was a long mathematical formula that proved with certainty that a minute on a hotplate was longer than a minute with a pretty girl. So we got that…which is nice.

Do you think Steven Jobs was a guy that went along to get along? Though I haven’t read the book, I’ve heard enough to believe that Jobs didn’t go along whatsoever. How about Alexander Fleming? Anyone? Anyone? Fleming? No? Fleming pursued a solution that would help soldiers who had deep wounds that got infected during WWI where countless soldiers died from infection. His contrary nature believed the medical status quo was unacceptable. On Sept 28th,1928 he discovered penicillin.

How about William Wilberforce, the driver for getting Britain out of the slave trade. It took him 40 years of swimming upstream against economic and political currents to achieve the universal moral good of abolishing slave trade on British ships. Contrarian. Watch Amazing Grace, a terrific movie that captures his journey.

This Christmas a movie is coming out called “The Big Short”. The trailers look terrible because it’s the same trite story of the “little guy against the evil big bankers” played by the same old Hollywood PC posers. Gag. The story is about the mortgage meltdown of which I know a bit. The book by Michael Lewis is fantastic. He wrote Moneyball, The Blind Side, Liar’s Poker, and others. Very good writer. But The Big Short is about how contrarians made billions of dollars not accepting at face value what everyone else accepted. And that’s the point of this Letter – not accepting at face value what everyone else accepts.

This Letter is intended to be about business, that you should not completely go along to get along, that you shouldn’t swallow today’s “truths” as the way business is conducted, that you shouldn’t sit in your cubicle punching a clock in someone else’s game (tongue in cheek). The world isn’t done evolving yet. Mankind has a ways to go in becoming what it is capable of becoming. The company you work for is not perfect, and the role that you play can be bigger in ways that are hard to imagine. Imagine nonetheless.

In The Big Short, Lewis describes what I interpret as “Group Think”. Everyone in the industry thought someone else had thought this whole thing through. Everyone in the mortgage industry was just playing in a game that someone else had designed. No one person designs society’s games.  “Reality” is a collective consciousness. As such, no one person has “Smart Money” or the inside track on how things are (Which is why conspiracy theories are a bit whacked). So often youthful (and not so youthful) perspectives range from naive perspectives (there are responsible people in the know controlling this, or God has this all in control) to cynical perspectives (there are irresponsible people in the know controlling this, or there is no God). I believe the truth is none of those above (although the God in control one is a worthy conversation). We are all so busy with our own lives and internal monologues that we buy into group think because we don’t have enough information, time, or perspective to do otherwise. And so it will always be for everyone. Everyone.

 So what to do?

First, take comfort in the idea that you and everyone else are on the same playing field, all talking within your lonely cranium with limited data, limited time, and limited perspective. Second, believe that you are here to play an important role in something, that no one else has your particular vantage point. Third, understand that it is human nature to think as others do. It is comforting to be a part of a crowd. That’s ok. But have the ego, the strength, and commitment to be your own man. Eventually you will have lots of information to form an opinion of your own that isn’t just a summary of someone else’s. That takes time.  But, fourth,  in the meantime, have the ego to stand back from “the way things are” and evaluate what’s wrong (because there is plenty wrong). Group think is taking place within you and outside you and you can point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Is it possible to urge someone to be a contrarian? Who knows. But the worst case scenario here in this Letter is you work on becoming your own man.

To your continued success,

Dave Marr

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By | October 28th, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

Attitude

You may remember the list below – Factors to your economic success. Of the list, which factor do you control that plays the largest role in your success? Softball, true, but I can’t move forward in this discussion without addressing the easy fundamentals, right? Of the items below, the one you have the most control over that you can turn on immediately and when compounded daily in your life plays the greatest role in the success and happiness of your life is, without a doubt, attitude. Sure, God could smite thee or politics could imprison you; you could be dumb as a dairy cow or have the ball bounce the other way on every attempt, but with a positive attitude, the game isn’t over regardless of short term difficulties.

  • Luck
  • Intelligence
  • Attitude
  • Politics
  • Spirit World
  • Character
  • Relationships
  • Wisdom
  • Expectations
  • God
  • Psyche
  •  Laws: Spiritual, Physical, Economic, Political
  • Beliefs
  • Faith

I have known several guys over the years whose demeanor was one of intense…judgment I suppose. They’d look out on the world with a sense of superiority and judgment leaving a wake of negativity and pessimism. Attractive, intelligent, often funny, competent, but at the end of the day, not enjoyable company. And looking at the path of their trajectory – divorced, unemployed, estranged from kids, few friends, one of them dead – not a path you’d want to emulate. If I were to guess, I’d say they overemphasized intelligence as a factor of success and under emphasized attitude.

Your attitude is such a big deal. The qualities of attitude that I admire are openness, growth orientation, an appropriate balance of humility with ego, optimism, personal direction, contribution, willingness to fail therefore willingness to try, perseverance, and a continuous state of learning. Now sum all that up in a word – attitude – and compound that day after day for years. What could possibly be the outcome?

Attitude is a muscle. The more open and optimistic you are, the more open and optimistic capacity you have. So to the question I posed – What could possibly be the outcome? The “Realist” might say optimism that hasn’t been worn down a bit by experience is just delusional. For example, the guys mentioned above would have been optimistic had their company not been sold and they not lost their jobs. If their dad hadn’t fertilized their soil with bitterness, alcoholism, and bad advice, then the obstacles to happiness wouldn’t be so insurmountable (I am thinking of specifics guys here). “If I hadn’t smoked so much pot as a kid I wouldn’t be so ADD today”. These are real guys with real issues. They think “Reality” formed and justified their attitudes.

Mmm, maybe. I contend otherwise.

You will have difficulty in your life. Of that, I’m sure. The question you should ask yourself when rain does fall is “Is this happening to me or for me?” Are challenging circumstances randomness (luck) or Providential (God-sent)? Your answer to this question is revealing. If ‘Attitude is a muscle’, then running down hill doesn’t get you as in shape as running up hill. It’s easier to have a good positive attitude when things are easy and going your way, but if times are tough, then what? Your attitude sucks? Are circumstances sent to you by God to have you develop resolve in your attitude? How does one become resilient without difficulties?

You interact dynamically with your environment. Wherever you are, however you are, the world reacts to you accordingly. A positive attitude creates a positive response over time. It takes energy to provide that open, optimistic, positive lift to others. The world notices and feels the vibe you send off and reacts accordingly. I contend that God/the universe will provide you with a like response to your attitude, positive or negative. That’s my reality.

To your positive reality,

Dave Marr

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By | October 21st, 2016|Financial, Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

Portal of Choice

Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Conflict has existed from the beginning. It is an inescapable aspect of being human. This, my last commentary on the world of politics (prior to the election) which presents the continuous “state of the world” at your front door. Your literal front door represents the boundary between you and the outside world. Your effective front door would be your browser that separates you from the world of data, information, and knowledge out there. And your conscious mind is the door that separates you from all of existence. The portal of choice.

You choose what to think. From that, you choose what to do about it. You choose what data gets to your mind and what your reaction is to that data. Of the infinite amount of events that are happening right now outside your door, you get to decide what is relevant and what, if anything, you’re going to do about it. This is a powerful position to be in. Of the 100+ billion people that have ever been born, you are here today. Kind of weird when you think about it. If all souls are unique and no re-dos on existence, then youherenow is kind of a big deal. You are carrying around this portal that looks out onto existence and are given power to choose what to think and what to do about it which is no small matter. What to think? What to do?

Every single thing on God’s earth that is not part of nature started at this juncture. Everything. It was once an idea that existed at the portal of consciousness asking the question of what to do. This external need or opportunity (synonyms) sparks in me an idea from all the data I’ve gathered, so now what? Here you are in the moment of now with all eternity behind you and all eternity in front of you standing at the portal of existence with the power of your life in your hands and you get to decide – now what?

A big part of what you and I are doing is trying to create an enjoyable and prosperous life with all the pleasant accoutrements and meaning of that. Every morning waking up you blow by the portal of choice because momentum is carrying you forward in trying to fulfill the above agenda of creating that life. But this election stops the momentum because of the not so obvious choice of what to do. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is the famous reply from Cain as to his brother’s whereabouts. In a competitive world of God’s favor, Cain came in second place which resulted in the world’s first birth committing the world’s first murder. In an abundant world where you are attempting to create a life of abundance, can you ignore the strife that exists outside your door? Are you your brother’s keeper?

This election has evoked in me an amazing amount of disgust. My Sudoku skills are superior as a result. But I know what I’m going to do. It is naive to think that I can create a personal life of abundance and ignore everything that makes me uncomfortable. What can I do about all the conflict out in the world? Well, I can do everything I can to bring positive goodness, light, well-being, and empowerment outside my door. I can marshal my energies and resources to create an environment in my home, in my business, and in my country where goodness has the best opportunity to thrive. And so I choose. I act. I vote. Eric Metaxas’ WSJ article frames my mindset well in helping me overcome my revulsion at the portal of decision and not just close the door on the outside world. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t create well-being in our lives without also being our brother’s keeper. Cain’s sophist words couldn’t hide his responsibility.

For you to be a man of substance, tough choices are presented for you to decide. That is what it means to be substantive. You can’t develop into the man you are intended to be without weighing all of life, the pleasant and the distasteful. You stand at the door – what to do?

To a life of meaning and difficult choices,

Dave Marr

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By | October 14th, 2016|Economic, Events, Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

Known by your Fruit

I’m continuing with the Abundance Series. This is the 6th Letter in this series providing practical guidance on how to create a life that overflows with abundance of every desired kind. Every desired kind expands the idea of abundance beyond just a money grab and into such nebulous life expressions as significance, reputation, influence, wholeness, family connectedness, maturity, peace, and giving, among others. The boy born into affluence doesn’t necessarily attain abundance just because he may be afforded time to explore life’s nuances; his challenge may be a distraction by materialism and ego satisfaction and thereby drift into superficiality. No, every man has unique challenges to creating the desired life. This series is designed to walk you through the foundational logic necessary to owning your mind so that your thoughts, words, and deeds are in alignment with building abundance.

In my last letter, I stated that your life arises from the patterns previously laid out. We are animals that follow Pavlovian behavior born into a heritage pattern from our family, our genetics, our culture, our gender, and our economic era. Though we may have unlimited freedom to choose, we usually choose within the pattern. Therefore, the Marr family heritage of drinking and taking life’s frustrations out on the Mrs took several generations to break free from to which I and my wife are thankful. We are more than just animals locked into patterns though, but we must at least recognize that they exist in order to lay down a new pattern.

Also in last week’s letter, I wrote of the layered essences of you. “Spirit – Life Force – I Am – Subconscious – Conscious – Reality” are the layers of you, or some such theory postulating the idea that you are spirit and you are physical with psychological elements in between. But importantly, I include the life you are experiencing, even events seemingly external to you, as part of you. Your reality is unique to you and is a function of your spiritual purpose, your psychological make up, and your mental map. This should cause you to pause and question my sanity. It certainly is a stretch, isn’t it? But I am serious as this is an integral component to the development of an abundant life. Let me explain further.

How do you know if you have some eye goop? Something in your teeth? A bat in the cave? How do you know if your hair is sticking straight up? Of course you look in the mirror. The mirror, a thing external to you, reflects something about you. Another way to know something’s amiss with your desired projection is that someone might say something and then you could adjust. But this is a trivial example. For more substantive issues, you must look to the pattern of your life to reflect back to you the qualities of who you are. Those qualities are called the fruit of your life. Jesus talks of this in his sermon on the mount, “ Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”

I knew a guy who always drove an expensive car. I also knew he couldn’t afford it. He was hand to mouth in his financials, deeply in debt, behind on his promises and behind on his life’s expectation. One of the interesting things about being in the mortgage industry is you get to see how much people make, how much debt they have, how their divorce decrees are written, how long ago their bankruptcies were filed, how much is in trust from their parents, everything. So this guy was a good guy, nice guy, smart guy, and had seen his share of successes. Somehow he was not able to keep any of it. He was broke and didn’t want the world to know it. So he essentially presented a false image by driving a nice car. However, his world could somehow tell what his fruit actually was and didn’t reward him positively. He continuously ran afoul of men that took his lunch money. His marriage was mostly functional, but only recently stable. This guy grew up with wealth but a dysfunctional family life and had not been able to overcome his psychological house on sand. Now, it’s not over for him and he’s still working to reverse matters, but I assert that until he finds alignment with the truth (i.e. dealing with his psychological upbringing and overactive ego), an abundant life will go missing. Mostly I’m not talking about the car he drives, but the small pattern of lies he tells.

This letter is to highlight the well known idea that the only person deceived by a lie is the liar. Think on that. This guy I’m talking about above illustrates my larger point that the life we experience is a reflection of who we are – life comes from us more than it comes to us. For insight on how to create an abundant life, look to the patterns in your life that reflects back to you critical information as God’s answer.

To review:
Declare that your life will produce abundance. Expect that your experiences will provide you with feedback to help you determine if you are deceiving yourself;
Adjust your thoughts, words, and deeds to align yourself with universal principles and break free from limiting heritage patterns;
Repeat laying down integrous patterns in all areas of your life: Health, Wealth, Relationships, Spiritual, and Personal.

To your continued abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | February 19th, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

Catching a Bullet in Your Teeth

You ever wonder how a guy in the circus that catches bullets in his teeth gets into that? I mean the first couple of times he practices by having a friend throw the bullets and he catches them in his mouth like catching popcorn. “Hey, that wasn’t so hard!” Then his friend says as he aims the Glock, “Ok, this one’s gonna be a bit faster…”. This letter might come in a bit faster than the last two.

In this metaphysical discussion about how you can achieve and maintain a life of abundance, the first two steps I describe are foundational: 1) You must positively expect that your life will produce goodness and that your efforts will be rewarded with abundance. 2) Your words and actions must be consistent with the type of abundance you’re expecting. So now for the bullet – Ready…Hold!!! And 3) Repeat.

Weeelll, that wasn’t so fast, was it? I mean hardly even a Peyton Manning floater over the middle much less a speeding bullet. Ahem. Yes, well, taken at face value it might seem pretty straightforward, but alas, it’s not. What we’re talking about is the relationship between a concept held in your mind for an extended time (See Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich – “Thoughts are things”) and the response God provides to you in your experienced “reality”. “Hey God, I want a million dollars so winning the Lotto would be just fine, thank you. Amen.” Easy formula, right? But there seems to be a disconnect. That’s why self help books are such big sellers, to connect the disconnected. Just holding a thought in your head for an extended period doesn’t create your reality like so many New Age gurus claim.

Because you are not your mind. Despite being comfortable with that voice inside that huge melon of yours that recognizes thoughts and images, you are not that thing, just like you are not your elbow. You are more than that, more than just your mind. You exist on multiple planes, planes of existence that range from non-dimensional spirit to the physical form. Each real; each you. From the insubstantial spirit, to the Life Force, to the “I Am”, to the more substantial subconscious, to the even more substantial conscious, to the most substantial physical form, and lastly to the life that you experience as your “Reality”, these planes of substance comprise the totality of You. The “mind” is not only just a part of you, it’s a small part of you. It just happens to be the aspect you have the most control over. Each of these elements (Spirit, Life Force, I Am, Subconscious, Conscious, Physical, and Your Reality) work within patterns of existence. There are spiritual laws, psychological laws, and physical laws – or patterns. For you to bring abundance into your life, your mind has the job of recognizing those patterns and harmonizing them with your desires to achieve meaning and abundance. Your mind is a tool God has given you that is good at recognizing patterns, as well as laying them down.

Ok, I’ve said a lot there. I intend for this to be a practical philosophy, so let me give you an example to illustrate what I’m talking about. You come from a family pattern. Your great grandfather had DNA traits, cultural traits, and psychological traits that he has passed down to you. He was constrained to some degree by these traits and you to a similar degree. Your father had a different mix of traits, but many strains that he inherited from his parents. And you come to the world in their context – Sins of the father so to speak. In my family, drinking to excess was one such biological, psychological, sociological heritage that was passed down from my great grandad, to my grandad, to my dad, but not so much to me. In context, my grandad hit my grandma when he drank. My great grandad similarly. My dad, not at all. Me not even a possibility. That family pattern of dealing with stress by going to the bottle and hitting your wife has been overcome with a new pattern of releasing frustration in a less destructive way. Other aspects of my heritage includes my intellect, my skin color, my relative economic standing, my temperament, my eye color, my education, my childhood experiences, and my ability to accept and give love. These are all examples of patterns from which I arise. They are my heritage pattern. Think on how each of these patterns interact to influence a unique you.

Ok, let’s catch this bullet. 1) Expect abundance in your life. It starts with you intending to have a life of abundance. It’s a declaration that your life will utilize your heritage as a blessed stepping stone rather than a cursed stumbling block. 2) Be consistent in your thoughts, words, and deeds. Hypocrisy is mentioned in the Bible 38 times and means a man who lives a lie. Hypocrisy lacks alignment in order to protect your ego, so instead, be integrous. And 3) Repeat these actions continuously so that every aspect of you lays down a consistent unambiguous pattern. There are so many ways for you to display character, it will take practice to develop substance in all situations. Years of practice.

Boom. Drop the mic and walk away. Abundance is right around the corner. Cha!!!

……Crickets.

Hmmm. There’s a rub. Gents, till next week.

To your continued abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | February 12th, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

The Cave

The starting point to building a life of abundance is to expect success. That was the point of my letter two weeks ago. It should be your go-to base, the foundation of who you are, the continuous self talk that says “come what may every instance is designed for my greater well-being”. It’s the perspective inherent in James 1:2-4 when he explains that you should consider it all joy because the difficulties that confront you are designed by God to beneficially develop your character. Today’s letter intends to go deeper into the framework of how to design your mind. For it is your thoughts on reality that will define so much about who you are, how you respond to the big questions, and what you think you deserve of life’s outcomes.

Last week’s letter introduced the idea that the world of the senses is largely an illusion. The tangible world, the 4 dimensional universe, the perspective derived from our senses isn’t what it appears to be. The movie screen of our mind’s eye is a compelling virtual drama that God has created for us to participate in for His purposes (which we’ll touch on at some point). Last week’s letter walked through the logic that you exist and are not an illusion with DesCartes’ proposition “I think, therefore, I am.. (No doubt that must be comforting to you.) But there you sit watching the movie screen in your mind that has fooled you for so long and does so every day; a virtual reality that you can affect, but the understanding and tools to do so are elusive.

So I’m belaboring this point because I think it’s the hardest to truly get. Sure, you can “see my point” intellectually, but fully concluding that every point of data played out on your mind’s eye isn’t real can be quite a step. Plato discussed this in his famous essay on The Cave in his epic work Republic. He postulated a scene where we are born in a cave and live our lives only seeing shadows played out on the cave walls. “Reality” to the cave dwellers isn’t the thing casting the shadow but the shadows themselves because that is all they have known. The Wachowski brothers plagiarized Plato to come up with The Matrix.

Again, going back to you sitting in your mental cave watching the movie of shadows playing on the screen. The trick is to imagine what reality “looks” like without using data from your senses. Can you mentally picture a universe with no dimensions? No breadth, width, or height? Nothing moves, ergo time does not exist? What would that look like? By the way, you do this every day. What do you carry around with you constantly that has no physical dimensions whatsoever that is part of your every day experience?

Spirit? Sure, but that’s a little nebulous even for this conversation.

Yes, a thought. Your thoughts are without physical dimension. Your consciousness is without physical dimension. Your psyche, ego, willpower, maybe even your emotions are all non physical phenomenon that are part of reality that cast a shadow on to the cave wall. These are what the Greeks (Aristotle I think) called noumenon which are ‘things discerned without the senses’ as distinguished from phenomenon which use the senses.

Other noumenon that are not personalized are ideas and concepts. A concept exists outside of any one man, but does it exist on its own outside of mankind? For example, math exists as a concept. I don’t know no mathy stuff. But collectively mankind has added to the store of number combinations to help derive understanding of the physical universe. Does it exist outside of man’s experience? How about music. Does music exist only through man’s creation? Is music just the vibrating of this string or the beating of that drum that sends sound waves through our senses to our inner Bruno Mars? Or does music exist external to mankind only to be tuned into like a radio to a frequency? I think both exist outside of man’s experience. They are universals. For proof, watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Ok, how about Life itself? What is the Life Force? Is it tied to consciousness? If you argue that math and music are only observations of the physical world and nothing more than a creation of man’s intellect, you can’t say the same for Life. Life certainly is a noumenon (a non physical thing that has an essence) that is undeniably outside of man’s doing.

Let’s not lose track of where we’re going in all this. I believe for you to design a life that overflows with abundance you have to work through a few fundamental things: What is life? What is abundance? What are you? These are the questions that philosophers have been debating for eons. And for good reason. By understanding the nature of reality as to what is real? how can I affect reality? what role does God play in this? you are able to see beyond the shadows on the wall. If your goal is to create abundance and keep it, I believe this is the path. The answers are bound up in your current view of reality which I intend to challenge.

I leave you this week with a question: In this exact moment of reading these words you could be doing one billion other things…and you’re not. Why? It’s a real question.

To your continued success,

Dave Marr

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By | January 22nd, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

2016 Perspectives

In the late 80’s, I was at an awards ceremony where my uncle was being feted for his accomplishments in philanthropy. As many of you know, he’s a pretty big player. I was 27 years old at the time. In listening to his speech, which I remember quite clearly, he started down this path about opportunity, then abruptly stopped, paused a moment, and didn’t finish his thought. He finished up the speech by accepting the award and sat down. The next day I bumped into him and asked him about the speech. He said that he was going to discuss the loss of freedom we were experiencing in society, but decided on the spot to forego that part of his message. At the time I thought I understood what he was saying. As I’ve grown up over the ensuing 27 years, I look back and can now see I didn’t really understand his perspective and what he wanted to convey but decided against.

Today marks the last quarter finishing up my 3rd year writing these letters. As we enter 2016, I want to restate why I am doing this and what I hope to accomplish. Not too complicated really: I am a student of history and of human nature, of business, opportunity, and freedom, and desire to be a keen student of life. As such, it occurs to me that your generation might be getting a bit of a raw deal. This is my small effort to ameliorate that, thereby watering the garden within my reach.

These letters are intended to give you insight into what I think are “adult” topics: Self management (mind, body, spirit, habits, character, attitude, perspectives, finances), family management (girlfriend/wife, kids, parents, siblings), career management (direction, motivation, money, politics, strategy/tactics, opportunity), and general topics (society, economy, politics, other). In other words all the areas of your life that require experience, study, contemplation and insight in order to navigate the increasingly complex aspects of life. Contemplation, which I have done, and insight, which is a subjective evaluation, can only be shared with others if you have the same specific language in order to connect. And that takes time. So over the last 33 months within these letters, I have attempted to share with you concepts that provide you what I consider adult ideas. These letters are a drip campaign to water your roots with small inputs over a long time versus writing a book that has concentrated but ephemeral value. In this effort, I try to keep the concepts relevant and short (which significantly stretches my abilities). One reader commented that the letters were too long. Alas, I am not intelligent enough to tweet insightful content of this nature. Nonetheless, this shared language allows you and I to connect over time so that you benefit by having my synthesis of what’s important. You don’t have to agree with me, but at least you have the data points on which you can sharpen your own sword.

I started this letter with the perspectives of a man I greatly respect as hugely successful largely because he is so insightful. He offered me his thoughts many times over the years that I was not able to appreciate until I had more experience to feel the weight of the insight. Such is always the case between younger and older. Only in mentoring relationships can you download enough data to understand the intimate language and context in order to derive the wisdom. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a mentor then you have to create an environment to squeeze all the value out of life itself – ergo my push for you to have a group of men to meet with regularly to dive deep on topics which I call Ironmen (Proverbs 27:17).

How then are you being shortchanged today? My uncle’s point is just as relevant today as it was 27 years ago, maybe even more so. You and I don’t miss freedoms we’ve never known, opportunities that don’t exist, nuances that our minds aren’t capable of seeing. We just continue along the path ignorant (for a time) of what might have been. Let me give you an example – the CFPB. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was born out of the financial crisis and the ensuing legislation called Dodd Frank. Of the many, many, many, many implications of this, lending has been dramatically curtailed. Money is not available to lend to small businesses and individuals because of the well-intentioned regulation to “be fair and safe”. As a result, money is costlier and more scarce. The compound effect on society is a dramatic reduction in economic opportunity and resulting freedom from want. The implications are too numerous to articulate here, but suffice it to say, you are negatively impacted without even knowing much about it.

And that’s how you are being challenged. There are significant forces at play that I think will  affect you in a major way in business, with women, in health, in education, with family, and on and on, that without experienced context you’d miss what you are missing. In these letters, I intend to reflect and inspire as time will allow, skill will provide, and you will invite. This is a conversation. Between you and me. (And for those of you older readers, I encourage you to engage younger others with these letters as a vehicle for conversation.) Therefore, my goal is to continuously encourage you to be aggressive in pursuing excellence, be a student of life, use these topics to engage others in conversation to sharpen your perspectives, and be a force for good in your own life as well as others. Your comments back to me are very, very valuable.

To your continued success in 2016.  Happy New Year.

Dave Marr

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By | January 1st, 2016|Personal|0 Comments

Motivation Part 4

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 big. 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 end, like it’s an energy that exists on its own. Go Up Goal Motivation isn’t that definition in my experience. Imagine Go Up Goals being like you’re standing 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 after a time, you could say that you’re on this path, this journey of a lifetime. You’ll be able to fill in the blank. That is the Motivation I am familiar with – a choice.

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, you’re 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 trained in karate. 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 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 eventually closes. It closes when your responsibilities get to a point that you feel as though you can’t possibly free yourself up enough to pursue some desired goal. You subordinate your Go Up desires to the choices you’ve already made – wife, kids, mortgage, debt, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, all those things are great and welcome. 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 positioned yourself yet in adventure, skill, knowledge, economics, though it’s not over by any means, your path to those things might be longer and more difficult.

It’s better to just recognize that you’re in this window of time right now to fill that 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 what 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 hear Krav Maga is pretty good. Maybe music is your thing. Night school for your next degree might light the fire. Maybe in January 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 2016 that fills the blank?

To you continued success,
Dave

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By | December 18th, 2015|Personal|0 Comments

Motivation Part 3

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 rollercoaster 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 – you claim to be Christian and yet look at porn; maybe your integrity is weak; or you lean towards negativity. Flying monkeys all. Maybe you’re in a job that isn’t satisfying, a relationship that doesn’t lift you, or in a political environment that makes no sense (oh dang, that’s another flying monkey of mine). 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. The above flying monkeys represent Give Up Goals. If any of the above flying monkeys I described are in your life, they’re there for a reason. 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 2016 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 back 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, a sweet is 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 rollercoaster 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 flying bastards. 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.

Till next time – Motivation 4.

To your continued success,
Dave

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By | December 11th, 2015|Personal|0 Comments

Motivation Part 2

Last week in Motivation Part 1, I essentially carried one perspective that deserves a little more development – each of the motivating puzzle pieces I identified is one part of me tactically managing another part of me. In workouts, I have had to set someone at the gate to hold me accountable to my goals so I wouldn’t slack off or give up early. I have scheduled events like the Spartan Race or set up business meetings to force me to keep on task. I listen to books on tape or classical music to inspire me. In other words, unless I put these and other structures in my life the part of me that is selfish and pleasure seeking would prevail and I would get off track, drift down in energy and motivation, and presumably the outcome of my life would otherwise be less. One of the most brilliant writers of all time described it this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

You see we have 2 natures – the yin and the yang, the spiritual and the sinful, the pleasure seeking of the journey now and the aspirational seeking of the destination tomorrow. These natures are often in competition, maybe always in competition. And your mind is the arbiter of choice between these two competing factions. Your mind decides if it’s going to listen to the urge of porn, cheetos, and masterbation or the positive thought of going for a run. Your mind decides whether you make that next sales call or spend time on Facebook. Your mind decides between a cookie or an apple after dinner while watching TV or reading a book. It is your mind that decides which energy has the greater competitive pull – keeping to your goals or keeping to your existing self-image.

Ok…’keeping to your existing self-image’ – now there’s a chunk to chew on. You have an existing image of yourself that currently satisfies you in many ways. Ok, so apply self-image to this dualistic aspect of self. You have an intellectual self-image where you observe your life, set your goals, and determine how you’re doing. And you have a visceral self-image that bubbles up from your psychological depths, your biological urges, and your spiritual manifestations. And these two images are not the same!! Only after years of experience watching yourself (or therapy) are you able to see that your behaviors are not in alignment with your desires. Above in Romans, Paul knows the law and wants to rid himself of breaking the law and acting in sin. Yet he laments that he cannot do it. He labels it “his sinful nature” that continues to bubble up from his depth. Whether you’re aligned with his labels or not, you’ve got to admit that Paul is no slouch when it comes to discipline, understanding human nature, and articulating the duality that exists in every man.

So here you are living your life. You’re busy in your day.  Your mind is occupied with all elements external to you – building a career, studying for school, engaging in relationship with a woman, managing kids, etc. In this life, your duality exists. Your existing self-image that is below your conscious mind (visceral) reveals itself to your conscious mind through your behavior in a pattern for you to interpret and navigate. Maybe this is obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me. It took me decades to figure out that my actions were not consistent with my desires because I was often fooling myself in thinking “Hey, I set a goal. I work towards that goal. I acheive that goal.” Ah..no. Until I saw my visceral self image had shame and insecurities from childhood, that my biological urges could not be contained with just raw willpower, that my ego was often a defense mechanism preventing me from acknowledging my shortcomings; until I understood my actions undermined sustained motivation and goal achievement, I was often frustrated. I didn’t see there were two parts of me, the intellectual and the visceral, conscious and subconscious. And once I did, I began to be more strategic in my efforts to grow up.

So this seems heavy. A deep slog through “Dave’s psychological theory”. It’s not intended to be. It’s intended to be a mirror held up for you to ask yourself a question or two on alignment. You see, I’ve talked to many guys who use the word “struggle” – “I struggle with porn” or “I struggle with anger” or “watching TV”, “eating”, ”drinking”, “motivation”, whatever. By pointing out the context that everyone has a visceral self-image that holds us to a certain way of behaving like the earth holds us with gravity. And it is commonplace to have intellectual conflict with that behavior (Paul’s quote), to be unhappy with the trajectory of that behavior, and to struggle against that visceral nature.

What we want and need is motivation, a sustained energy, that fuels us to an escape velocity  allowing us to break free of this earthly bounds so we can soar among the clouds and into the heavens. To that theory, you’ll have to wait till next week for Motivation Part 3.

To your continued success,

Dave

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By | December 4th, 2015|Personal|0 Comments