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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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

Flying Monkeys

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

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

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

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

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

So for example,

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

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

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

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

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

To your life without flying monkeys,

Dave Marr

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

The Gordian Knot – Whom Should I Wed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your slicing through the knot to tie it.

Dave Marr

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

Noledge Don’t Mater

Knowledge doesn’t matter….apparently.

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

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

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

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

Here are my top 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To your energized success,

Dave Marr

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