Personal

/Personal

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

Leaving the Comfort Zone

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your continued success,

Dave Marr

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 18th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

Flying Monkeys

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

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

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

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

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

So for example,

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

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

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

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

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

To your life without flying monkeys,

Dave Marr

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 10th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

The Gordian Knot – Whom Should I Wed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your slicing through the knot to tie it.

Dave Marr

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 3rd, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Noledge Don’t Mater

Knowledge doesn’t matter….apparently.

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

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

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

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

Here are my top 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your energized success,

Dave Marr

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 | February 17th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

One of the most impactful things said to me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Gentlemen, to your evolved relationships with your fathers,

 Dave Marr

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

Creating a Masterpiece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your greatest of blessings,

Dave Marr

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

Captain of my Soul

Resolve.

I recall being about 38 when I achieved relative independence from the enslaving qualities of youth – poverty, ignorance, arrogance, conflict, victimhood, and arrogance (yes, twice). Of course, you overthrow one master for the confines of another, but hopefully one more benign and a bit more cooperative. Ignorance and arrogance are as deadly a despot duo as can exist to which I can truly say I needed to overthrow that unruly team. That is the theme of today’s message: For you to become the man God has intended you to become, for you to fulfill and extend your potential, for you to achieve something that will bring you respect and satisfaction, you must have a revolution of the mind and spirit.

And how do you do that? A declaration of resolve. You have so much potential, but in today’s world of distraction it will take significant motivation and resolve for you to choose a book over a video game, a run versus a beer, a conversation instead of a text. If you were enslaved in oppression it might be easier to find that consistent resolve; however, in this day of easy living, it’s very difficult. How will you find the resolve to make something meaningful of your life and stick with it?

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Though I am not beaten

With rod held in scorn,

I too appreciate

The fact that I was born

In the mild waters of indifference

I jostle amidst the crowd

Head anointed with comforts thus

I emerge face up-turned and proud

Beyond this place where distractions play

The siren’s song of strife

I stand firm and resolved

To bring meaning to my life

It matters not the allure or static

Nor chance’s dice that roll,

I decide what goes inside

For I too am the captain of my soul

David Lawrence Marr

Gentlemen, let me say that lessons continue long into life, the mountain continues ever upward. I am 54 and continued to be humbled by my past arrogances. Just today, I had some feedback on perceptions of who I am that was disturbing. My personal goal in life is to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of everyone I meet. And here, today, I got feedback of just the opposite. Here’s the point: We are put on this planet for goodness sake. Feedback is designed for improvement, even if it isn’t positive. In fact, positive feedback doesn’t help as much as negative because it tells you you don’t need to improve versus you’ve got a ways to go. Listen, as Einstein said, “God doesn’t roll dice”, therefore, you being here isn’t some happenstance mistake. You are the Captain of your Soul. To where do you sail?

An Ironmen group of three men meeting weekly will provide you the forum to declare your resolve. It provides the accountability you need to your future self to make you the captain of your soul. You have set goals for the year which is now halfway gone. Have you kept your resolve to keep up with the discipline on your physical goals, your personal goals, your relational goals? Are you moving forward on your financial goals? What about your spiritual life?

To your continued success,

Dave

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 | January 27th, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments