Personal

/Personal

What a Man Needs – Part 4

Self Respect.

Though this may seem obvious, a man needs to feel valued and can only find peace with enough data that affirms him, whereas lacking that he will pursue self destructive behaviors.

A young man passes by a window and looks at himself to maybe catch his own eye. Is he narcissistic? No, he’s looking for data. Data that will affirm that he’s doing ok, that he’s on the road to respect. Self respect? No, that’s too self absorbed and lacks context. No, he’s checking in the reflection to see if he’s respectable among men, desirable among women, so that then, and only then, can he find self respect. Charles Cooley introduced the idea of “Looking Glass Self”, a concept that essentially says a man’s self-concept is an aggregation of what he thinks others think about him.

The desire to win is a desire to be seen as a winner in the eyes of others. The competitive spirit is early and often a drive to best others and receive data that validates one’s worth. Later, the competitive spirit adds the desire to self-improve and grow – initially to be a better competitor and thereby receive more validating data of superiority, but hopefully eventually just for the sake of enjoying growth. Competition in sports, economics, women, material display, intellectual ability, academic credentials at early levels are efforts to rise up in esteem so that respect is reflected in the eyes of the beholder. Self respect is derived from the aggregation.

And yet for some, for many, it doesn’t remain. Competition is a state of the environment and is unceasing. A man must “compete” for everything. A woman won does not stay won. Sure, a man and woman may remain married for a lifetime, but to win her heart for that lifetime a man must grow. He can’t stay static. He therefore must compete against his own nature of procrastination, or obstinacy, or just plain youthfulness. He must become successful in any endeavor whether in ministry, military or social service, or economics to earn her respect. And that is what he needs to be content – her respect – without which that relationship cannot thrive.

A man must compete in economics because economics never ends. To start a career is only to learn the ABCs of business and to trade time for gas money. However, contribution is about value. It only takes a few years in the economic world to have learned enough ABCs to begin to “compete for success”. The quotes mean that it’s not all about caricature money chase and cutthroat climbing. It’s about figuring out what value the world needs and how you can contribute towards that end. For me that means not competing head to head, but trying to make a better mousetrap. All told, gaining success, climbing the ladder, adding more value, earning a larger paycheck, building an enjoyable lifestyle is aggregating data towards building self respect. The man born to wealth can be challenged because the data towards self respect is warped by a sycophantic mirror. The man born to scarcity can also be challenged because the data toward self respect is tainted with bias and disrespect. And so the wealthy man and poor man who cannot gather enough data to support feeling positive about himself develops self destructive behaviors. I knew a born-to-wealthy man who literally wet himself at a party as a joke. Sad joke. And the number of stories of poor men in self-destruction mode are legion. Certainly any man who cannot find positive data in the eyes of those who look upon him will struggle.

And so, as do so many of my posts, I am led to what I think is an inevitable relationship. Though I am not evangelical in the least, I conclude that some active idea that God exists and can provide manifest guidance in this regard towards self-acceptance and eventually to self-respect. There is a secular pull that is a competition for a man’s mind that he must overcome to gain himself. The competition is amidst distraction, cynicism and faith. But faith in itself is shallow and tenuous, so therefore faith must be directed towards a higher object. It is simultaneously an internal and external search that ultimately, hopefully, lands on a relationship with God and results in self-acceptance and respect.

Ultimately gentlemen, your successes in life will have meaning only in context to your relationship with others, and yet, all the success in the world will have no meaning unless you derive self-respect as a result.

A bit deep today, but I hope there was something in it for you.

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | June 16th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What Men Need – Part 3

As stated in part 1 and 2, men need work and need to be on a path to pour out your best value in exchange for the best return available. Return can mean money, certainly, but clearly isn’t the whole picture. But it is an important measuring stick on keeping up with external forces as viewed through an internal lens. Let me unpack that: One’s life is an internal (mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual) endeavor that exists in an external (biological, physical, economic, political) world. In Part 3, I’ll attempt to take a longer view of man in the external world viewed through his internal lens and conclude with the next element of what a man needs. 

In your 20’s you’re essentially spit out of your adolescence into the world with the beginnings of  self understanding. Your brain doesn’t even finish its development until around 25 which by that  time you’re slightly viewed as an adult. You’ve begun the long road of finding your way with a job and the economics of your life. You’ve got a little income, some debt, expenses, and a step or two forward on your career path. Hopefully, you’ve got positive feelings – hope, optimism, and energy – for your career. Initially you may know you’re not at the right job, but at least you believe in you and have a reasonable faith in God’s plan. 

By the time you get to 30, you should be solidly on a life path. Income should meet expenses. You should have found balance with your spending habits and income and debt. You should have more responsibilities with job, marriage, and children. In other words, your competence in external life is being rewarded with more responsibilities that stretch your internal skills to manage them.

By 35, you’re fully an adult. Fully engaged in work, fully engaged in family, and being pushed and pushing the parameters of both. You’ve had to trim some non essentials in order to focus on your priorities. You’re now 10 years solidly on your path. Time to assess. Are you on track with economics that you had naively imagined when in your 20’s? Had you made implicit promises to your wife as to the life you’d have? This is the beginning stage of Compressed Expectations.

Compressed Expectations is my made up term for the expectations you consciously or subconsciously set awhile ago that are coming up on some future deadline (maybe 40-45). If you’re not on trajectory, then pressure builds in the marital relationship and in the relationship you have with yourself. I’m not talking just economics, but lifestyle. This is the socio-economic expectations of a relationship that is deemed “satisfying”. However you define satisfying lifestyle, it is likely some ‘equal to or better than’ version of your childhood. As that unstated deadline looms and you aren’t meeting your expectations, those expectations compress and pressure builds. How you and your wife react to this pressure, particularly when there are other pressures – children, sex life, changing bodies, keeping up with the Joneses – will affect your marriage. This is the crucible of marriage and I believe unavoidable, in a sense.  Think of it as on a backpack trip where you’ve added lots of unwieldy items to your pack. Your mid-30’s is where you shift the weight through conflict, reestablishing new expectations, and discarding old items that don’t fit the journey. Yes, unfortunately divorce is a real possibility as you conclude incorrectly what the problem is.

The issue is, your expectations, motivations, intentions, ability to articulate your vision, the idea of even having a vision, setting goals, and all your actions towards creating a life that is satisfying to you and your family are mental constructs – the internal world lived out on an external plane. To help you with avoiding the echo chamber in your head, you need help. And so… 

Men need men. Men need other men to confide in, to practice internal articulation with, to measure by, to bond with, to define truth through, to brainstorm with, get counseling from, and to sharpen against. This is the idea of Ironmen. It is counter-intuitive to say that men need men in order to succeed fully in marriage and work, but that’s what I’m saying. Even if your economics and marriage are a 7, regularly engaging with an Ironmen group will push you towards a 10. Because a 7 today might compress into a 4 down the road. 

Shake it up men.  

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | June 9th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What Men Need – Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

To fulfilling your needs,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | May 26th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Don’t let Your Frog Boil

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your healthy abundance,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | May 19th, 2017|Personal, Physical|0 Comments

Feel the Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To feeling the fear and doing it anyway,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | May 12th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What a Woman Needs part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To an abundant harvest,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

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

What a Woman Needs part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next week, Spiritual Security.

To your psychological abundance,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 29th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Victimized by the Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your maximal life outcome,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 14th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Ubiquity of Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your abundant life,

Dave Marr

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | April 8th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Incomes and Outcomes

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

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

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

Ok nice preamble.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your reaching the stars,

Dave Marr

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

Subscribe to Ironmen

Get an encouraging letter each week to provoke your thinking.

Every Friday you'll get a short reflection on life intended to get you to think about things a little differently.

Subscribe to Ironmen
By | March 31st, 2017|Financial, Personal|0 Comments