Relational

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It’s Getting Real

Not every conversation is roundly accepted at every cocktail party. Some topics are bodily in nature or so intimate that people just would rather not. This is one of those. The people who would find the most interest in wading through the discomfort of real talk are the dads and moms of boys on the cusp of becoming men. The issues Lis and I faced with our boys and how we handled them might give parents some small comfort that they’re not alone.

Moodiness is a combination of hormones, social isolation, the newness of the latest mental leap, and a child’s particular temperament. A sulking child needs comfort and understanding, encouragement, talking with them given the confusion of feelings versus talking at them on their unacceptable behavior, and the occasional kick in the butt to ‘fake it till you make it’. It’s important to remember and advise them that you, the parent, are helping them develop their mental model of the world which includes character development. So moodiness requires them to resist the temptation to feel sorry for themselves. So at about 9 years of age, dads should begin to prepare boys to become men. Particularly if the child leans toward a melancholy disposition, but in general, dads should visit their son at bedtime and begin the long conversation about manhood. The discussion should cover unexplained feelings, new sensations, hormones, girls, technology, and how communication between son and dad needs to get stronger. The line to use – “No one on the planet loves you more than your mom and I do, No one.” So therefore, don’t think your friends can tell you more about life’s issues than we can.

Bodily changes, hair, smell, morning blood flow, begin to emerge from boyhood around 9-11 years old. Fast starters and later bloomers notwithstanding, puberty is around 11ish. Your conversations around secret subjects called “The Talk” should begin in advance of that age. Open, wide ranging questions investigating his knowledge, offering insights, not pushing an agenda, should create a confidential atmosphere. Any question, any question at all, should be answered with the feeling of openness. Occasionally, you might start at 30,000 feet and come back to the question again another time. Questions should be met with questions – “What do you mean?” – so that you don’t answer a question they’re not asking.

“Daddy, where did I come from?”
“Well buddy, when I put my penis in mommy’s vigina, my sperm fertilized your mommy’s egg and she became pregnant. You grew inside her womb for 9 months and then were born.”
“Oh. Because Stevie says he came from Cleveland.”

Hygiene is a requirement. Starting at 9 years, an increase in parental attention to hygiene should be in advance of when hormone smells become an issue. Using deodorant, airing out tennis shoes at night, brushing teeth, showering regularly, washing excess oil off face and scalp all need to be reviewed and strengthened. Taking laundry seriously, making sure that clothes are put in the proper spot post sports and post laundry day. Every stage of maturity requires more balancing of new efforts with old lessons. Get ahead of it.

Technology is a convenience, not a requirement. Allowing your son access to his own personal link to the world is dangerous to say the least. Insofar as porn can start as a small accidental leak into your son’s life and become a raging flood sweeping away the wonderful person you once knew, technology is Pandora’s box. Even if porn weren’t an issue, having his friends text your son all hours of the night is a distraction to concentration and sleep. You can’t control the world, but you do pay the bills. Phones are for you to communicate with your child – period. Smartphones are misnamed. Early in life, you want to have blockers thereby creating a safe zone. No sense in the real world breaking in too early. But later, blockers on your technology will create a false sense of security. Instead, you want to put a blocker on their character, on their heart, where they develop the strength to withstand the temptation. Difficult, but critically important for when they are away from home. All internet use, laptop, smartphone, iPad should all be used in the main part of the house.

Masturbation. Gonna happen. This touchy subject has larger ramifications in writing about it. So if your religious beliefs are different than mine, I respect that. If you’re wiser than me, which is likely, then I would yield to a better idea. But as a father, I don’t want to condemn the act or fact that my child is a sexual being. I don’t want to burden him with guilt or shame beyond what society is going to provide him. What I am interested in is getting him to self control and time management. My advice to my boys was “Don’t waste 2 hours thinking about it. Git ‘er done and get back to life.” The problem isn’t the act itself, it’s the mental activity and wasted time surrounding the activity. Young men can masturbate 2-3 times per day. If each time took an hour with all that mental imagery, that’s not a positive or Godly use of that energy. “Git ‘er done and move on” is my advice. It worked out for our family. It’s a delicate discussion, for sure, but one in which dad is understanding and is a ‘go-to’ for advice.

Some periods of life are just what they are, periods of life. There’s a beginning and there’s an end. Your child does not know that, whereas you do. So when guilt arises because of the all too common aftermath of masturbation, dad’s should address the feelings as much as the activity. Normalize the transition into manhood. I don’t buy into the idea that this is a sin. There’s no upside to that idea and only downside. Instead, as human beings, we are what we are and must deal with that. Going from boy to man is fraught with turbulence. Cementing self concept in guilt is not my idea of being a good dad. Loving transition into self control is better I think.

Attitude. What does “Bad Attitude” mean anyway? When my dad used it on me, it meant I had a tone in my voice or a look on my face that conveyed disrespect or maybe an attitude of entitlement. I’m not sure because I didn’t know what it meant at the time. Kids shouldn’t ever use hurtful words, disrespectful tones, and other actions that express exasperation with an adult, particularly their mom. Instead of immediate reaction that condemns their seeming disrespect, there should be a question: “Your tone came out as disrespectful. Did you intend to disrespect your mom?” Or, “In your frustration with this situation, you sounded like you’re blaming your mom for this when you’re the one that has caused it. It’s not appropriate to project your frustrations on other people. Did you intend to do that?” In other words, as the adult you are able to respond rather than react. Responding as an adult has you disengage your authoritative emotions and engage your wiser intellect.

Lying becomes more sophisticated. The foundation of the family is built on trust. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the cement within that foundation. Everyone within the family perceives reality based on their ability to trust the data they are collecting. So dad’s modeling of truth sets the tone. An extreme example, infidelity rises to the top of lying. A child’s definitions of love, trust, security are upended when it turns out that dad was crossing his fingers. The billions of data points a child has collected so far manifests in their own relationship to the truth when confronting a reality they don’t desire. Let me unpack that statement – When a young teenager messes up, which they will, and must come clean with what happened, their relationship with the truth will be a matter of character. That child will draw forth from the essence of their childhood experiences on how you play the truth game. I used infidelity as an extreme example of falsity, but it’s a spectrum. Manipulating words to manage the consequences is a character relationship to the truth. Character comes from mom and dad. So your teenager will express his character as a new intellectual exercise. You must provide consequences (Never punish. Punishment is punitive. Correction provides consequences) for violating family conduct and then explain and declare what your family identity is on speaking truth.

Engagement is key. I mischaracterized my role in life during the period my kids were transitioning into young adults. I was doing well at work and thought I was a big deal. My dad had his work persona that I dredged up from childhood and re-created at home. “Dad’s a big deal” was the image I was going for.  I messed up, not massively, but enough to have some regret. Instead, my “job” was primarily to be all-in with my family. It wouldn’t have robbed much of anything from work, but my engagement at home would have looked differently. I was in my head and should have been in the game instead. Initiating time with each child to talk it out, explore issues, play, encourage, explain, question would have been the ‘great dad’ image I would have preferred.

Young men are subtly and flagrantly attacked by society for being male. Masculinity certainly needed to be modernized from the John Wayne 50’s and 60’s. But today’s “Girl Power” has gone too far by not just encouraging strong women, which is great, but also by characterizing men as doofuses (doofae?) seems to be standard fare. This should be resisted and modeled otherwise. Men as men are critical to a harmonized society. Women need men to be men. It is now up to today’s father to re-generate the idea of masculinity for the next generation.

To molding tomorrow’s men,

Dave Marr

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By | March 25th, 2017|Parenting, Relational|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

Deciding Confidence

There is no bigger turn off for girls than a guy that can’t make a decision.

I should just stop there and let that statement stand alone, but who are we kidding? Me leaving all that white space is like the government leaving a bunch of money untaxed. To be sure: a guy’s ability or inability to decide sends all kinds of meaning to the world, and girls are particularly attuned to that message.

Decisions are forks in the road. Small ones (Steak or chicken? Have friends over or go out? Go to a movie – Which one?) are irrelevant. They won’t affect anything but the moment of pleasure. Standing there evaluating the tiny fork like it’s some complete diagnostics screening to determine which sensation will absolutely capture the maximum amount of pleasure—puhlease! If you’re on a date and can’t look at a menu and decide what you want to eat in under a minute, the girl is going to pass.  Make decisions on irrelevant things quickly and don’t look back. My daughter dated a nice young guy for a while, but eventually broke up. Why? He wouldn’t make any decision whatsoever.  For example, she gave him 3 choices of movies that she’d like to watch and he refused to decide, actually getting upset with her and insisting that she choose. That was the last straw. Who knows what he wanted, but it wasn’t a co-equal relationship. Sorry, bub. No spine; no chance.

So what’s the deal? Why is it so hard to decide on trivial things? Or, and here’s one of the questions that a couple guys have asked, ‘Why is it so hard to talk to a (pretty) girl?’

Those points are highly correlated.  It’s because the guy isn’t comfortable with his own value. “Why would an attractive girl want to talk with me? She’s hot, I’m not.  She looks put together.  Have you seen me?!  I’ve got a zit, or, halfway through a conversation with her, I’d get one. No, better to go home and rub one out than risk her thinking I’m a loser.” You lose the game without even getting in. Self esteem can be a “fake it till you make it” endeavor. And decision making is a component of that. Being assertive doesn’t mean you need to be a jerk about decisions or that your ego inflated. No, girls are very ok with men that are comfortable in their own skin. It takes the pressure off them.

So here’s the thing: If you want to talk with girls, practice being decisive. Get good at deciding what you want. Don’t vacillate on small things; dinner, movie, anything. Challenge your day to find how you can evaluate your likes and dislikes quickly and practice deciding to avoid sending the world the message that you’re a walking question mark. Then, work on being interesting. Have activities. Make sure you work out, read, and pursue a life worth living. All these things will build on themselves and build up your value, your confidence, and your ability to take action and live with the consequences.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a huuuge shortage of substantive guys. There are so many mama’s boys and jerks out there that quality women are opting out of relationships altogether. So don’t worry about finding Ms. Right. You build quality within and you’ll have plenty to choose from. There’s a surplus of quality, good looking, fun women out there waiting for you to become a man. Personal traits you want to develop are: Purposeful, Decisive, Open-Minded, Action-Oriented, and Fun. You do that, a good woman and good life await you. A very good life.

To your continued substantive life with a fun, good looking woman success,

Dave Marr

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By | February 24th, 2017|Relational|0 Comments

One of the most impactful things said to me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Gentlemen, to your evolved relationships with your fathers,

 Dave Marr

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

Version 2.0

Control/Alt/Delete.

I received the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill from my uncle when I was in college and I fell in love with the structure and formula of success. It was a revelation to me that there was a path to success which resulted in a life of substance and significance. That was the summer before my junior year. In his book, Napoleon Hill describes the Mastermind concept, and all these industry icons had one. Therefore, I had to have one. So I asked my two buddies, Dave and Rob, if they wanted to join me in starting a group. We agreed to meet every Monday at 6 am for two hours and set our goals for the week. We met for two years setting goals, dreaming about the future, and discussing all kinds of things. We goofed around a lot. I remember one week’s goal: “Clip fingernails, turn 21.”

In the course of things, we graduated and I moved away. The initial effort was great, but it obviously ended in undetermined success. It wasn’t until I started my second group that I established a pattern for success. Alan, Clark and I also met at 6 a.m. every Monday and covered pretty much the same stuff, goals and figuring out how to succeed in all aspects.  Why not have it all? We met for four years. It was this Ironmen 2.0 that made the most difference in my life. It got me motivated to get my MBA. It helped me in my career. The conversations we had made me look at myself and my hypocrisies and identified how I thought of myself as a victim to circumstances. My marriage benefited as we discussed the many perspectives of relationship. We were young and discovering. Subsequently, Ironmen 3.0, after I started my company, lasted a year or so. 4.0 was a few years. This last group I’ve been in with Brad and Rich has been over 10 years. The Ironmen concept defines me. Here’s my point, the idea is worthy of you. Take it on as your own and even though your life changes, always be on the lookout to reboot your thinking as your circumstances change.

I’ve received the question from a handful of you guys on how to find guys to meet with. You may have some friends that come to mind that you might feel comfortable with opening up to. But possibly those guys may be limiting. Your current set of friends think of you a certain way, maybe Version 1.0 that is in re-development. They might even have an interest in you staying the same. That way they can feel comfortable about themselves not growing to their capacity. These guys might have a mild competition with you and if you breakaway in success that’s not going to look so good on them. Therefore, if those guys put you in a box, you’ll need to find someone else to help you build your mental structure of success.

Where can you find them? Work. Church. Gym. Vendors. Customers. Neighbors. Husbands of your wife’s friends. Father’s of your kid’s friends.

Here’s the major point: If you desire a destination of success in business, health, marriage, parenting, and the heavier lifting of personal spiritually, the Ironmen concept is a vehicle that will take you there. However, the idea must be yours. You must own it. It can’t matter that the guys you’re going to meet with aren’t currently in your sphere, you must own the idea for yourself and the guys will appear in time. Whether it’s 1.0 for 2 months and 2.0 for 2 years doesn’t matter. It’s you and your path that matters. Each group builds, through success or even through failure, experience upon experience, a platform from which you will view the world. Stick with it.

Can you do it with one guy and not two? Of course, but it’s not optimal in my opinion. Can you do it in a group of 8 guys. Sure. But three is the best. Two guys aren’t a group when one guy doesn’t show, plus the mix of ideas can get stale. Four or more guys doesn’t allow for individuality and equal contribution. Some guy could dominate all the time or someone could hide and never contribute. That’s not for you if you’re looking for success. Each meeting needs to have equal contribution, accountability, vulnerability, transparency, follow up, follow through, and openness to feedback and growth. This format will be the foundation for your personal success in all aspects of your life. How could meeting for two hours every week with like minded motivated guys discussing goals and strategies for success result in anything less than a fantastic life?

Therefore, you must lead.

Begin your life’s leadership by deciding the level of success you’re looking for. Then agree with me that Ironmen will greatly enhance your ability to achieve that success. Then develop a strategy to find two guys to join you. If you do these things, you will absolutely be on the path to significant success in life.  Let me hear from you.  Tell me what’s going on.

To your life of continuous pursuit,

Dave Marr

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By | January 20th, 2017|Getting Started, Personal, Relational|0 Comments

The Last Nickel

I used to work out with this guy who was pretty successful. I say “was” because as far as I know, he’s not anymore. I saw him the other day and he looked pretty weathered. He’s fallen on hard times, of sort, I mean he’s not panhandling or anything, but he’s not riding high like he used to. Gone is the Porsche and Hummer. Gone is the big house. Gone is the swagger. I think I know why – The Last Nickel.

Back in the day, maybe 20 years ago, he and I lifted weights together in the mornings. We got to know each other well enough and I considered us friends. As you would expect, we shared stories of life and business. Over time, I came to know a bunch of guys that were in his industry and occasionally his name would come up and they all would get the same look on their face – “Oh, he’s tough. I wouldn’t do business with him for the most part” would be the general sense. At one point, he was buying a new home, so he asked me to do his loan. At the end of the deal, just as we were wrapping up, he called me to discuss my fee. We were friends. I just originated  his loan and knew exactly how much he made, what his net worth was, pretty much everything. He was killing it and I was not. He asked if I would reduce my fee. I might have mentioned that we were friends, so I said I would. I offered to cut it about 10%. Silence.

“What?” I asked.
“I was thinking you’d cut it in half. I mean, I brought you the deal, we’re friends, half is a good paycheck for such an easy deal. Half makes sense.”

In the end, I cut it another 10% and we moved on. But we didn’t move on; or rather, I didn’t. I don’t mind negotiating. People should negotiate and this guy was good at asking for more. If you don’t ask, you don’t get for sure. But this seemed different. The money wasn’t material, he was doing it for sport. I didn’t quite articulate it in my head at the time, but I wasn’t easy on how this went down. It felt like he wanted to look down on me as a lesser being.

A while later, he was telling me about a deal he put together buying a piece of land. It was at the end of his telling me this story I knew we couldn’t be friends. He had negotiated to buy the ground and said he got a good price. Then after due diligence, he went back and asked for a price reduction. He got it! He was thrilled. He laughed. Then, the story continued, as the contract date where his earnest money would become non refundable, he went to the Seller, this old guy as he described him, and told him he couldn’t close at the contract price. He needed another price reduction. He got it!!! Now the price was a crazy low price and ‘my friend’ was ecstatic. But then, the story went on, as closing approached, he went back one more time because he knew the Seller had purchased another property and needed this one to close. He asked for a huge discount in order to close on time.  He was laughing at how he bent this old guy over. And so you see how at the end of him telling me this, I was appalled. I knew we couldn’t be friends because of this man’s belief that all’s fair in business. His ethic was “If you can, you should.”

The entire history of mankind has stories like this where a shark eats a flounder. My ex-friend’s style wasn’t to just win, it was to capture trophies. He wanted the heads of animals that he killed mounted on his wall. When negotiating, if there was a nickel left on the table, he needed it. He wouldn’t close the deal without it. That kind of style leaves a residual as all styles do. The kind of feeling I had when our loan deal concluded was such that I couldn’t trust him to consider my interests if we were to ever do business together. And so we never did. And, as it turns out, one by one others fell out of his life till he became somewhat of a pariah. In the end, one guy got so pissed off he made it his mission to bring Last Nickel down by buying up his outstanding bank debt and forced this guy into bankruptcy.

Accumulate stories like this in a man’s life and what are the possible outcomes? His vibe was one of a shark’s. I have known many “Last Nickel” guys like that and one by one I’ve eliminated them from my life. They are not win/win or mutual benefit guys. They see the world as a killer sport or survival of the fittest where the only ethics are power plays. Last Nickel is now down to his last nickel and legally bankrupt, but I propose he was morally bankrupt long before that.

“No man is an island”, starts the poem by John Donne. It ends “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.”

To your building a residual of a win/win style,

Dave Marr

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By | November 18th, 2016|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

The Most Powerful Aspect of Attitude

We are talking about factors of economic success. I said that Attitude is the greatest factor that you have control over that leads to you having more ching in your pocket than not. Another factor that overlaps here with Attitude is Intelligence. But not just the raw horsepower kind, because you have been given through nature and nurture what you have today by way of processing power. No, that kind of intelligence isn’t an attitude. Where Intelligence is an attitude, where it’s a choice, is through a powerful tool in shaping your future – curiosity.

Curiosity is a choice and a powerful one. It says, “Hey, that’s interesting!”. “I’m going to focus on some thing, some topic, some idea for a while and in doing so, I’m going to gain.I’m going to change. I’m going to be bigger.” What is it to lack curiosity? Is it to be certain? Maybe to be arrogant? To be dull? I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like a place where you grow much. To have curiosity, then, is to be open to new information, new ideas, evolving your mind, to show initiative in your life. Curiosity on any topic – sports, science, business, human nature, God, women, parenting, gardening – is to ask how life works.
Let me stop and highlight the underlined “to show initiative in your life”. When you’re curious, you stop, you mentally pause into present mindedness which is the most powerful mindset to have. You summarize the context of your life and say that right here and right now you want to focus the most important elements of your life, your mind and your time, on this particular thing. At this immortal moment of now, you are curious, investigating, gaining, learning. What can possibly be the outcome of that? Compound this moment into the next and the next, and what can be the end result of thousands of now moments of curiosity? You become more knowledgeable, skilled, intelligent, and interesting. Yes, interesting. To be interested is to be interesting.
A major point of these Letters is to arrest your momentum, to stop you from ‘blah, blah, blhad, aslfa,qeahghv…” going through a multitude of emails, articles, and data streaming where you can’t remember anything in particular just like you can barely remember what you ate 2 nights ago. But to stop and become present minded and therefore strategic – Who am I? Where am I going? What’s important to me? What do I want to invest my ‘now’ moments in when I’m not otherwise occupied with life? Curiosity in meaningful topics (meaningful to you) invests your energy in life-giving pursuits.
I have made some major mistakes in life and this is one of them. In my youth, I arrogantly believed that I was something special. Yes, I’m special in the eyes of God, but you know what I mean. I’m telling you now, I wasted soooo much of my youth on arrogance. I regret it immensely. That feeling of ‘having the answers’ manifested itself in my behavior as being decidedly un-curious. It wasn’t till my 40’s that I turned up the heat on present minded curiosity, basically to just be interested in the stuff of life. Become curious and you’ll never be bored a day in your life.
Here’s the thing: If you want to be successful in life, if you want rich rewards of economics, relationships, spiritual depth, and personal density you must become curious. It’s a muscle. If you haven’t started an Ironmen group, start one. Find guys that are curious and willing to invest some consistent time and get going. Be curious about what makes them tick. This Ironmen forum will hold up a mirror to your own inner workings – How does motivation work? How does discipline work? How do you build success habits? How can you sustain behavioral energy over a long period of time? Where do I have blind spots?
Aren’t you just a bit curious to the answers to these questions?

To a curious life,

Dave Marr

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By | November 5th, 2016|Getting Started, Personal, Relational|0 Comments

The Baton

Yesterday marked the 9th year of my dad’s passing. This is in his honor. Do you have someone you could honor while they’re still here?

The sweat dripped from his brow as he scaled the hill. His muscles were fit but lean from the years of training. No longer carried by the meaty limbs of his youth that bounded with certainty among the rocky terrain, he picked his way with crafty precision with a mind toward efficiency sparing his remaining strength. The hill was a long one and the injuries of past events could be felt with every step. The many scrapes and scars stood out against his sinews as he pumped up the hill.

His breath was strong despite the slope, though his pace slowed a touch as his strength faded, the crest fast approaching. The race continued after his part was done; his job was nearing completion. The baton weighed more now than a short while ago, but he remembered when it weighed nothing at all. When the race started so long ago, the baton seemingly weighed nothing in actuality compared to what he thought it might. How he imagined the weight would cramp him and cause him to stumble. But in the end, he carried it well like so many before.

Looking up he could see the next runner waiting at the mile stone, running in place with fresh legs, the sun anointing him with a golden glow around his head. Squinting, he couldn’t see the next runner’s expression backlit against the sun. However, as he neared, an eager smile appeared. He firmed his pace down the stretch so the handoff would be on his terms; where he could look into the next runner’s eyes as an equal, not as one who had spent his last to gain the final yard. He would carry the baton at a solid pace running along side for but a short while. Then with an easy manner pass the baton to the next runner wanting so much to encourage him, to explain the course, to describe what meaning can be derived from the race itself. But in the end, after a few paces where the untested energy of the new contestant begged to be released, he handed off the baton.

He kept pace for a couple of strides and caught the eyes for but a glance.  And what a glance. Optimistic and full of light, the new runner smiled with a wide grin and unknowing but heartfelt appreciation. With a slight wave of his hand that held the baton, the young runner eased his stride respectfully, but certainly. He moved smoothly away. The older runner, without baton, running no longer had meaning. But after such a long race, stopping didn’t seem right either. He carried on for a bit till the baton runner melted into the sun. At that point, when he could see the other runner wasn’t going to fall or drop the baton or need anything whatsoever, he slowed his pace to a walk. The race continued, but not for him. He had run to the best of his ability and now that he had passed the baton, it was time to rest. The baton ran ever towards the sun, but here, evening had already begun to set. It would be nighttime soon. Time to get off the hill and rest.  

To grandpa and morfar with love.

To your continued success,
Dave

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By | September 11th, 2015|Relational|0 Comments

Where Possible and Impossible Intersect

Gentlemen,

Over the last while, I’ve been promoting the idea that perspective and effort are key ingredients to your success. Fair enough, how could one argue that? With respect to that, this letter will hopefully bring into focus why I think this is a critical stage in life for you.

“Possible”.

What an ambiguous word. It indicates reachability, but lacks the context of expanded capability. In other words, the more effort you put toward reaching your potential, the more potential your reach is capable. “Impossible” is more clear isn’t it? It says that regardless of your effort, you’re not going to get there. Where does possible and impossible intersect? What are you capable of?

You are at the stage in life where you are deciding where possible and impossible meet. It’s different for different people. A quote last week expressed that – “In Nature, we are all born unfree and unequal; subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character.” (Will Durant). That is the backdrop of you contemplating what is in store for you. For you to compete in life – “win” in economics (income and wealth creation), “win” a woman’s heart, “win” in sports and health, and “win” in creating a life of well-being, you must pursue this question of what’s possible for your life.

What I mean by that is you see your current self in a certain way, your future life in a certain way. That idea is somewhere on the scale of accurate, very or not very. That’s your starting point. As you move forward with effort, you get feedback on how accurate your self perception is. That should be encouraging even if you were naively inaccurate. Because now you can adjust your perspectives and adjust your efforts. For example, if you want to be wealthy with the freedoms to have a family that travels and enjoys all the positive aspects of wealth and be able to experience the fullness of life but haven’t made any progress towards understanding how money accrues to individuals (value goes to value), then you could be delusionally thinking that some future effort will save your dreams. No, only current effort will save your dreams. Now, money isn’t everything for sure. So another example, if you had dreams of running the Boston Marathon, but your training schedule isn’t going to get you under 4 hours, again, you’re fooling yourself. If your dream is to bring 10,000 people to a spiritual awakening, then you’d better start practicing your communication skills. These examples illustrate how reality provides feedback so you can adjust your thinking and actions so you can better achieve your goals.

Here’s the thing: Between 25 and 35 years of age, you are at the peak of your life’s ability to define yourself. Thereafter, you’re refining and improving on the choices you’ve made. Gross overgeneralization, but largely true. In your 20’s, you’re exploring, developing early stage skill development, learning personal autonomy, meeting Miss Right, graduating from your parents’ mindset and developing your own by dreaming about and acting on where you’re going in life. In your 30’s, you are on the long road, making a family with Mrs. Right, becoming an adult by practicing the skill of balancing competing demands on your time, energy, and resources. In your 30’s, you increasingly solidify in your mind as to what’s possible. In your 40’s, you’ve climbed up the mountain and attained a degree of freedom; however, in some ways the errors in your past judgments must be resolved. You are at the fulcrum of youth and wisdom thereby further adjusting what’s possible.

So in today’s stage it’s important to recognize that you are building your capacity for attaining your potential. Perspective and effort are factors for success. Yet there are two subsets to those that can prevent you from moving forward more aggressively in building a rewarding life – stalled momentum and cynicism. You get a car going by accelerating. But when you’re no longer accelerating, then you’re coasting. It’s ok to harvest the momentum you’ve already created for a short while; but if coasting becomes your lifestyle, then what’s possible is diminished. Sure, coasting, which looks very similar to drifting, is ok to a reasonable extent; but coast too long and that becomes the style you’re ingraining. Your capacity for growth will adjust to that effort. Don’t let Someday Isle be a shore where your ship lies at anchor.

Coasting can be bad, but cynicism is worse. I think we have an epidemic societal problem with this. It is negative belief in micro and macro. In the micro, cynicism puts a negative tinge to every piece of information that comes your way – “Oh, they’re just profiting from this and don’t really care about me, just the dollars”. Cynicism, which leads to pessimism, colors your view of human nature. Optimism and good naturedness are replaced by self protection. Self protection is good to an extent, but too much cynical filter and you attract to you more of what you expect. In the macro, individual man needs mankind to be good in order to build teams, build trust, build a community that thrives. Cynicism is enemy to genuine goodness.

Therefore men, (perspective and effort) if you’re reading this letter with only an intellectual curiosity and are not compelled to look at yourself and your actions, then maybe you value momentum too much, maybe you’ve become cynical to some degree in your heart. Maybe you think you’re doing well enough (and maybe you are), but maybe there’s more “possible” for you. I’m pretty sure there isn’t one person out there that couldn’t benefit from the addition of one positive habit added to their day where 6 months from now you’d look back and see how much more was possible in your life and how your dreams can intersect with reality. For you, now is the stage in life where it’s the easiest to increase your capacity for what’s possible.

Get after it.

To your continued success,

Dave

P.S. This year we’ve added a bunch of new guys in the conversation. Make yourself known by sending me an email (yes, old school) and introduce yourself. Guys in London, Panama, Illinois, Colorado, Japan, Nebraska, and Louisiana to name a few, give me a shout.

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By | July 31st, 2015|Relational|0 Comments

Know Thyself

Know Thyself.  (Inscribed on the entrance archway at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.)

In these weekly letters, I cover topics designed to spur reflection and awareness that leads to a mindset of intentionality and action which if pursued consistently would yield success and happiness. You want your life to be enjoyable, meaningful, substantive, and successful. No aspect of your life is therefore more meaningful toward achieving those ends than energizing yourself by understanding – where you’ve come from, what your motivations are, what your doubts and fears are, how your immaturities help you and hinder you, how you fool yourself on things big and small, and how your idiosyncrasies spice your world with your unique flavor. It is by this easy therapy you can be more effective in achieving your goals by getting in rhythm.

You come from the cloud of your childhood to this moment. Since the time you came to be aware of your own existence you have been on a quest to know yourself. You look long in a mirror trying to figure out why you are the way you are. It is elusive because you constantly change like the man that cannot step into the same river twice. Your essence is part discovery and part declaration. You struggle with motivation and consistency. Your thinking seems clear, but so it did 10 years ago and you recall your maturity then. You know that you’re influenced by your inputs (TV, internet, friends), but don’t know by how much. You criticize yourself for being a chameleon that changes opinions depending on environment. You can be lazy, putting off for tomorrow those things you know will improve your life, but don’t know the cumulative impact of all those micro choices so the cost of laziness seems only theoretical.

I have found the toughest thing to do in life is come up with an idea for myself that will “get me off the dime” as my uncle once told me. I can come up with a gajillion ideas for other people, but somehow I freeze when I turn the scope on myself. Too often I have let life drift.

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving:  To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

– Oliver Wendel Holmes

This is why I believe an Ironmen group is such an incredibly important tool for success. You can’t drift.

When I say that your life is part discovery, your Ironmates will hold a mirror up to you and show you who you are. You don’t have to rip on each other, but proactive honesty is the best. In my group, we have talked about some hard stuff that has led to our betterment. Both Brad and Rich have called me out on some hypocrisies, but significantly have also pointed out some strengths I was not aware of.  All of my groups have done that.

When I say your life is part declaration, you get to set your goals. You get to make statements about how you’re going to be from this day forward. When I told a friend that because he was consistently 20-30 minutes late to everything people thought he was a flake. He declared to me that he would be on time and demonstrate in other ways that he was reliable. I declared in my late 20’s that I was tired of eating Campbell’s Soup every night and I would work hard till I was successful. In my 30’s, I declared to my group that I would be a Catalyst for positive change in the lives of everyone I came to meet. That became my personal mission statement. These are declarations of Being/Becoming.

When you’re with men who share a like-mindedness about growing, maturing, figuring life out and doing it better, it’s a rare path. Compared to the solitary life where you try to figure it out alone, it’s not even close. It’s magnitudes better.

The Ironmen group not only holds up a mirror providing you with meaningful feedback, they can also help you brainstorm ideas on how to break out of your comfort zone, set daring goals, put a plan together to achieve them, and identify when you might be fooling yourself. One day I stepped out of my comfort zone and told Rich he needed to ask for a raise. We talked it through. He did it the following week. Bingo. Obviously these letters to you are a result of the feedback I got from Brad and Rich.

You are old enough today to know that if you improved your energy and consistency 1% from whatever level you currently hold, then you would be a powerful example of how to live life. If you’re not in a group, ask yourself why you’re not. Is it a bad idea? Is it because you don’t have time? Is it because you don’t have guys you’d trust? Is it because you’re passively in your comfort zone and getting out would be too much? At least be clear on why.

There are levels of you in the future: A good, a better, and a best version. Today you are deciding which version you’re pursuing. I hope you come to ‘Know Thy Best Self”.

To your continued success,
Dave

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By | June 19th, 2015|Relational|0 Comments