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So far Dave Marr has created 195 blog entries.

Adventure Mindedness

I do not want to die having not lived. I don’t want to look back on my life having never mattered to the full extent of my potential. I want to take this life God has seen fit to provide me – my strengths and weaknesses, my insights and ignorances, my loves and my doubts – and do what I can to make the world a better place all the while having fun in the process. Is that too much to ask?

When I think of adventure, I think of travel to locations you’d see in a magazine. A bucket list kind of thing – running with the bulls in Pamplona, learning Spanish in Costa Rica, skydiving in Sydney, scuba diving in Cozumel, dove hunting in Argentina, sailing around Martha’s Vineyard and drinking beers in any number of cool, beautiful, faraway places. Yet none of the above would matter squat to the world if I were to check all those boxes and shuffle off this mortal coil because they’re all just personal pleasures. There’s more to the adventure-minded vision. But those things that I did do and many more besides have been hallmarks of a mindset of adventure.  And that mindset has not existed in a vacuum.

Where can I make the most impact and have the most fun? At home. As a current or future husband and father it is your job to set the tone of how you are going to lead your family. In taking your family on a trip you are the one who frames how everyone should embrace the experience. Wide open expectations and minds should greet each new day. The family culture will largely be defined by you – let it be one of adventure. But I don’t mean just exotic travel. Adventure mindedness is being open to experiences, foods, people, disciplines, and ideas. You must be a salesman at home from the very beginning by encouraging and inspiring your wife and children to look out of amazed eyes at the richness and beauty of God’s creation. You must cheerlead your family that it’s the best thing in the world to be alive RIGHT NOW and be a part of THIS family! When do you start doing that? Long before you have kids.

You start today. You allow yourself to get excited about the possibilities in front of you and the things you’re going to emphasize in life. Decide how YOU are going to live your life because apples don’t grow from a juniper bush. You need to become the thing you intend to harvest from. For me, I always thought I’d have money. I didn’t start with any, but I figured it’d work out that way. I also just assumed I’d have a family. I never really thought about taking kids on trips, but as I matured and my work life started to pay dividends, that’s what we did. We took our kids on trips instead of buying things. We were not ‘thing-oriented’, we were ‘experience-oriented’. Each place we went required an eager expectation and a willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of missing luggage, close quarters, and long waits. Those things create family unity – as long as the mindset sets the correct perspective. Don’t be a passenger in your family life by letting your wife and kids set the tone of how things will go. Drive. Lead. Set expectations. Adjust attitudes. Call time out and provide expectations and then monitor how it’s going.

For example, my family was on this incredible vacation in Italy. We’re staying at this renovated 15th century monastery in the Venice sound where we had to take a water taxi to and from St. Mark’s square. While we’re waiting to be picked up, my 13-year-old gets in a nasty funk. I take his picture and he looks like he couldn’t be more bored. So I call time out, ask for a re-do, get him to laugh at himself, and take a new picture of him smiling. Two almost identical pictures except for his attitude. These pictures are classics in illustrating choosing mindset. It will be your adventure-minded attitude compounded over the next 20+ years that will set the tone for generations to come and will define your family character.

Your current and future family needs you to fulfill your maximum potential in life, starting today, in capturing a passionate mindset of adventure. Tomorrow is fast approaching. Take the next month to write down what you’re going to do, exactly how you’re going to do it, and who you’re going to become as a result.  Get after it.  Life is short.  Rest when you’re dead.

To your adventurous life,

Dave Marr

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By | October 14th, 2017|Personal, Relational, Spiritual|0 Comments

Idiot

Ok, so I’ve grown up a little. I have a long, uncomfortable history of saying or doing something that if I had a little more self-awareness, I’d have been humiliated. But somewhat fortunate for me, I’ve had the self-awareness of a tree stump. It’s only somewhat fortunate for me because I’ve come to conclude that I have hurt my trajectory in life with my immature mindset. I’ll explain that, but first some examples of embarrassment and my thinking that went with them. I’m highlighting my thinking from back then to see if you have similar thoughts. If you do, it might serve you to reevaluate.

In general, older people want to see younger people grow and succeed. It would be prudent to honor that and foolish not to. However, helpful people are only willing to test the waters to gauge whether their helpful effort will result in anything worthwhile. If the water isn’t right, they’ll pull back. In other words, the question before these folks is: Is it worth the effort or be “Pearls before swine”? If the young man is too immature to appreciate their insights, they’ll just hold back maybe till you’re ready…or maybe not.

Mistakes
The time that I made a joke about body parts at a society event; the time that I made an off-color joke when introduced to a US Senator that immediately made me persona non-grata at the table; the time I was asked about selling my company and made a quick reference to something edgy…each of these instances I cringe as I think back on my foolishness. But at the time, long before I learned the discipline of running my commentary through my brain before responding, I thought that being funny was the best way to be accepted. I thought that being edgy was the best way to being funny. I thought that being inappropriate was the best way to be edgy and get other people to loosen up. What resulted instead was I just came across as a fool, as an immature idiot, as a crass boor. Eventually, I came to realize I was not respected among the group who I wanted respect from.

So many times I’ve caused my wife discomfort that she pulled me aside at a time of non-conflict (not when I was being an idiot, but later) and said in effect, “I love you, but when you act like an idiot, you dishonor me and everything you’re trying to do in life”, or something like that. That one got through to me. I came to realize in my late 30’s that trying to run slightly askew of the crowd with the thinking that I was being an individual was just being immature. I didn’t have to be edgy. I was unique enough that I didn’t have to monogram ‘Mr. Individual’ on my sleeve. The plain truth was inescapable, I hadn’t grown up yet. I was holding on to young thoughts that didn’t serve my long-term interests.

Being Appropriate
So what is appropriate? First, it’s situation specific, so you have to recognize past instances in your life where you were immature so you can identify how your mindset skewed your understanding of what was important. One mistake I made was taking my peer group behavior and applying it to situations that were above my maturity level. I told a dirty joke as part of my toast at a family function. Nice.
Second, I got in the bad habit of not being cautious in my remarks. I didn’t care what others thought of me.  I was so caught up in being bold and independent that I undervalued my reputation.  Reputation matters, I just didn’t know how much. Finally, I needed to grab hold of my compulsion to speak when I didn’t have anything to say. My need for attention was just plain immature.

“Better to look like a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”  – Proverbs 17:28

Immaturity is like a thick veil over your mind. It’s tough to overcome. You have to be open minded to see it; you need to invite feedback or you’re blind to it.  So my advice here is specific to those who suffer from the same kind of immaturity as me and not so much to those that suffer from some other kind of immaturity.  If you are too quiet, care too much of what other people think, and need a boost of confidence, then this message would be quite different for you. Here’s where having men who will sharpen your iron with honest feedback is enormously beneficial.

Discuss in your Ironmen group the different personas you present to different groups and how you should emphasize different aspects of yourself in each. These aren’t fake presentations of you, just different versions of what is appropriate.

To your maturity,

Dave Marr

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By | October 6th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

What’s Your Integrity Worth

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve talked about life’s difficulties. Today’s Letter discusses one of the most challenging things you’ll face over your lifetime. Maybe not the sharpest pain, but one that is “long and tough”.

It was 1987.  I was 26 years old.  I was living hand to mouth.  Parking downtown in a lot cost $3 in some far away location from where I worked.  Somehow I figured out how to avoid paying the $3.

….$3.

Here I was sneaking around an unattended gate arm for $3. What a loser. After doing this the day before and coming up again to steal another $3 from some schmo that owned the lot, I realized that I was worth more than $3. This was one of the most meaningful days of my life. My integrity might have a price, but it wasn’t $3. Probably more in the $10 range. Well, not $10, maybe $1000. I’d steal for a grand. No? Ok, maybe a million dollars. If you left a million dollars on the sidewalk, I’d knock your grandmother to the ground to get at it.  Hmmm, maybe not.

Another real life example comes from a friend. He was the lone accountant for a firm. One day he decided that he COULD take a couple of bucks from his employer, so he did. Then later, a little more. Then more. His integrity became a boiled frog. By the time his employer found out, it had climbed to $400,000. His integrity was on vacation and he rationalized it to himself because his employer was wealthy and his family was in need. Now, after 5 years in prison and the slow difficult climb back into the working world, he’s trying to get his family back. He’s hopeful that his ex-wife will forgive him someday. His relationship with kids has been restored, but he missed most of their teen years. Don’t think this guy is a bad guy. He’s a friend and a good, good guy…today  – after the fall. He’s learned. Heed this: Every man is subject to moral temptation – economic, sexual, internal. To think you’re the exception is naive.

Ok, you get my point.  I’m not a big fan of listening to how much integrity someone else has, but I thought I’d share this cornerstone of who I am given the spirit of these Letters. Money can never replace your integrity. The last thing you want to do is define yourself by foregoing a bit of integrity for a couple of bucks.

Stealing is kinda black and white and I’m sure most of you wouldn’t think twice about correcting a meal tab that mistakenly undercharged you for dinner. But a more subtle aspect of integrity is the exchange of value between you and your employer or between you and your customer. There is a good-better-best spectrum when going to work and expecting pay. Just as I learned to value my worth differently greater than the sum of my bank account, so too should you remove your salary from consideration when you show up for the day’s effort. There should only be one level of service from you because it’s in your best interest to provide it – all you got. Provide your employer and customer your very best attitude, your very best proactivity, your very best cooperation, your very best creativity regardless of what’s in it for you. Certainly your employer, competing employers, the marketplace, the world won’t undervalue you for long. Therefore, it’s not wise to pour out less than you can because you mistakenly think you’re worth more than you’re being paid. Integrity demands your best. Don’t place a limit on your integrity.

This leads to a larger point: I propose that integrity is a spiritual magnet. You bring your reputation and smell wherever you go – your reputation of character and your smell of fair dealing. This spiritual magnet will attract back to you over your lifetime a compounding of who you agree with God you’re going to be. Money, relationships, reputation, and many other critical factors eventually reflect back to you. You get what you give. Somewhere in your past you have had integrity modeled to you. If you haven’t evaluated this, pull out the model and evaluate it. Discuss it in your group. Kick it around and feel whether it needs a little more intentional effort on your part. Figure out who you are in the process of becoming relative to honesty, reputation, philosophy, giving, personal discipline, loving, faithfulness, effort, and all things integrous.

To your growing character,

Dave Marr

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By | September 29th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

“Never give in, never give in…” – Part 2

I’m hoping from last week’s letter that you gathered a little insight that might encourage more personal resolve in your life. In life you will encounter difficulty and ‘right-mindedness’ is essential to growing through that experience. I want to expand on each takeaway so that it becomes a little more real and less a bumper sticker slogan.

Takeaway 1: Keep your eyes on the horizon. Life gets increasingly complex the older you get because you increasingly buy into things that matter and thereby take on more ownership of your life. Therefore the idea that something is difficult arises because you care – you care about your marriage, you care about your children, you care about your lifestyle, you care about your reputation, lots of things. Difficulties arise because the vision you have of your life and the reality end up being different. That tight-chested feeling of frustration occurs when reality is significantly different than your expectations. This is God’s normal process of maturing you, weaning you from naivete, toughening up your resolve, helping you gain a critically important understanding of His world-view of loving your neighbor as yourself. None of this happens without the blessing of trials. So staying focused on the long-term horizon and accepting difficulty as a natural consequence of caring about life keeps a balanced perspective which thereby provides important context to your current decision-making.

Takeaway 2: Keep moving forward. Once difficulties do arise – economic problems from a job loss, marital problems from alignment issues, parental problems regarding health, children problems from that endless bag of worries – you are confronted with a spiritual question of how to respond. The more spiritually aware and mature you are the more you “respond” than “react”. Your character, that mental/spiritual/emotional structure you’ve been developing since day 1, will come into play. Adherence to principles, integrity, perseverance, resolving to understand and see it through, patience, humility and grace are all qualities of character that will be revealed and tested during times of difficulty. The desire to escape, to quit, to have a drink, to have an affair, to flip the bird at God is not unheard of. Therefore, looking at the horizon past your difficulties acknowledges that they are short term. But the key is to keep moving forward until answers begin to materialize. Know that these challenges will end and you’ll be stronger as a result.

Takeaway 3: Be optimistic. When facing difficulty, there is a difference between suffering in stoic silence which can increase your isolation in a sort of masochistic selfishness versus being resolved and keeping your own counsel so as to not invite high school drama about superficial challenges. Take a moment to be clear on my meaning there. The difference is in the internal debate between optimism and pessimism as worn on your countenance, your face. For example, projecting your energy as a Debbie Downer intends to invite sympathy and pity. Coming home from work after a long difficult day and shifting your projected energy to one of ‘woe is me’ so that you can justify consuming your wife’s positive energy is a character issue. The internal debate is how much positive energy do you have in your tank? Do you have a little more? And a little more? The idea here is to create new and positive patterns in your life, so being aware of the internal debate between producing energy and consuming energy is vital. To respond is to remain in charge of your psycho/spiritual/mental/emotional self and not devolve into selfish reactions. This is a character issue. Keep your eye long term, keep moving forward, and control the positive internal monologue.

Takeaway 4: Produce goodness. Everyone faces takeaways 1-3. Not everyone is equipped with the understanding about life’s difficulties, the presence of mind to respond versus react, and the awareness of the incomprehensible blessing of God’s Providence. Life’s journey is largely a journey from self-care to other-care. For whatever reason, most people are hand-to-mouth in spiritual energy and consume as much goodwill as is available. Conflict and high school drama is their life. Fear, shame, helplessness, excessive ego and competition are hallmarks of this consumption. However, there is abundance available. You should fear not, worry not. Ego can be shelved because you are not in a fight or flight situation. There is a better way. In a zero sum game when there is a finite pie to split amongst the contestants, then quick competition gains more. But life is not a zero sum game. Expand the pie. Create abundance. Lift others. Zig’s “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want” applies. Love your neighbor as you love yourself is the essence of spiritual maturity. Your capacity to grow through difficulty expands your ability to produce goodness because you see mankind for what it is – in need of your positive energy.

To your spiritual abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | September 22nd, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

“Never give in, never give in…”

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill, 1941.

On a plaque in my office I have the pith of that quote – “Never, Never, Never, Give In”.  It has served me well these 25 years of self employment. I didn’t understand that philosophy in my twenties back when the smell of my freshly minted undergraduate diploma still tingeing the air. I began my career with little experience and less idea of the road ahead, only the certainty of the blue sky of greatness. And for a dozen sun-kissed years, my life was filled with blessings.

But into every life rain must fall. My personal bias is to believe completely that the path to joy and happiness is, as James describes it, through difficulty. I’ve referenced that belief here in these letters many times. Because that belief is foundational to life. Dr. M. Scott Peck’s opening line in The Road Less Traveled is “Life is difficult.” It goes on,  “This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” 

My difficulties have been extremely small compared to many. They have been questions of business survival, nothing more. The marriage difficulties resulting from personal immaturity, role definition, languages of love, time balancing, and leadership were resolved in our late 30’s, so that extra energy could be more wisely used elsewhere. Raising children takes energy. Fortunately, we had only blessings there. In other words, a blessed life with only normal issues arising.

Because I have had my share of business difficulties, as a result I have a few takeaways that have served me well. Churchill captured perfectly in the same speech as above a mature principle that life teaches, “But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough”. There will be times when the Nazi’s are bombing London, Hurricane Irma winds are blowing, cancer is attacking a loved one, or the government machine is mindlessly grinding your way. But mostly life is a long pursuit of navigating circumstances, challenges interspersed with happiness and joy. Takeaway 1: Stay focused on the horizon.

That realization leads to the second takeaway, difficulty doesn’t define your character, it reveals it. A young man may not know what to do with his life. That is not uncommon. But it is to his character that he pursues movement rather than listless ennui. Direction and purpose will eventually come because the skill of navigation is easier to achieve than the engine of movement. Takeaway 2: Difficulty develops a God-blessed character of a man revealed in times that are long and tough – keep moving forward.

Takeaway 3 is about when life provides you the blessings of difficulty – smile. Not just on the outside, but on the inside. Be optimistic that in your custom-made difficulties you are blessed. Yes, this seems trite and like superficial advice, but it’s not. Everyone will be challenged. And real pain isn’t fun. Making the most of your time here on earth takes effort, so showing the world a smile keeps a positive perspective. And this leads to the last takeaway.

Mankind is divided into a spiritual spectrum of producers and consumers. The vast majority of people consume energy. They are filled with want, need, helplessness, conflict, fear, shame, negative competition, self satisfying ego, all varying degrees of consuming energy. Therefore, be a producer of well-being, maturity, grace, acceptance, help, positive cooperation/competition, and love. Difficulties are designed for you to distinguish in the pit of your resolve who you are in the act of becoming. Produce goodness, which starts in your maturing heart. This is part of the great commission in life.

If you are persevering now through some God-blessed difficulties – press on.

Dave Marr

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By | September 15th, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

The Baton

Sunday the 10th marks the 11th quick long year since my dad’s death. I wrote this Letter in honor of him and my father-in-law Steig. I love them and miss them both. Life is short gents, so please don’t let small things get in the way. Do you have someone you could honor while they’re still here? And as a father, be honorable.

To my Dad:

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 milestone, 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 a successful passing of the baton,

Dave Marr

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By | September 8th, 2017|Personal, Relational, Spiritual|0 Comments

Business and Faith

I did not know what I wanted to do for a living when I was 24 or 25 or 26 or… when I was 35 when I started my company and only did so reluctantly. I couldn’t find another company that I agreed with in how they handled matters (compensation, integrity, my agenda*), so I was talked into starting my own company. The guy that talked me into it was going to be my 50/50 partner, but at the very end, he backed out. That scared me and I almost bagged on the whole thing. I had a wife, 3 children, a mortgage and all the responsibilities of life.  I wasn’t sure if I had it in me when it came to “go time”. I thought about it and decided that I could only fall so far.  But something else was manifesting in my life. For me, this is a subtle description and may sound strongly similar to a church message – I began to find faith.

My church experience with the use of the word “faith” has been in reference to one’s beliefs,  “I have my Faith” or the leap one takes when the outcome of an event is uncertain, “You gotta have faith” (i.e. believe it’s going to work out). Those two thoughts seem too passive to me. Those ideas have coincided with a slightly more victimizing idea “God will provide”. Maybe it’s my arrogance and ignorance (likely), but it seems to me that our purpose on this planet is neither to be independent of God’s influence nor solely dependent on it. Rather, I believe there is a dynamic element that requires our full and active participation, but also a realization that we can’t control (much of any) outcomes. Therefore, I began my company with the notion that I would put forth as much effort as I could to win the economic day, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the outcome. I would then assume that good or bad, the outcome was valuable for my development. Keep the end in mind.

So what has happened over the following 25 years to support or detract from that theory? In ‘98 the State of Colorado investigated a complaint that I was paying salespeople as independent contractors (1099). I was. They sued. I won. In ‘99, the IRS audited me due to a referral from the State of Colorado on the 1099 issue. I faced certain bankruptcy. My partners wanted to switch to W-2. This was an pressure-filled time. The outcome was seriously in doubt. The fork in the road to switch or not was fraught with painfully poor choices. But in the end, I decided that my wife loved me, my kids were healthy and loved me, I wasn’t facing a life or death choice just a future decision about car quality (in other words, it was a purely economic problem). And most importantly, I gave the outcome up to God (that sounds very churchy, but that’s all I had left in my bag). I was engaged, certainly, but focused more on my actions in the moment rather than worrying that reality was going to crush me. In other words, I remained light on worry.

Regarding the God prayer thing, I did engage every night in that quandary. Should my prayers be “Your Will be done” or “Hey Lord, please bless my desired outcome”?  In the end, I settled on “Um… God?  If you are taking into account my desires, I don’t want to be unclear here. I choose that my company succeed in this issue…Just so you know where I stand on this.  Amen.” Not super spiritual, but true nonetheless.

I told my partners (since I was majority shareholder) that we would live or die with the business model we had. Much to their immediate chagrin, we pressed on. They were much older than me, so they wouldn’t have time to recover if we lost. But, thank God, and I do, we won.  In fact, when we were sued on the same issue by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) a couple years later, we had the IRS victory to bolster us in yet another win. So the IRS victory was huge – huh, no kidding.

Is there a difference between “having faith” when the outcome of a big event is uncertain and “acting in faith” as I’ve tried to describe? I don’t know. For me it’s been about ownership vs victimization. Every aspect of my messages in these Letters to you is about full engagement in one’s life, particularly your mental/spiritual life and learning about what God might be saying to you through circumstances. As you put forth your effort as a salaried employee, commissioned sales, or entrepreneur, you will always act to some degree in faith that your efforts will be rewarded. I believe that the more you engage God in the equation without foregoing your own responsibility in the input, you’ll see a positive result. Moreover, this belief is like a muscle, it gets stronger as you commit to it and exercise it.

To your actions in faith,

Dave Marr

* Agenda: When working for some other guy, it’s his prime objective to make money.  Maybe not solely make money, but it’s usually number one on the list.  However, it’s not uncommon for that employer to have an attitude that is not inclusive of my goals as an employee. It’s their agenda or nothing. All good as long as everyone is clear. However, I don’t think that employers should consume employees (time, passion, etc.) or abuse employees in the pursuit of their agenda as I have seen often.

Dave Marr

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By | August 25th, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

Foggy Mirror

I saw a young man the other day eating at a restaurant. If I were his boss, although I wouldn’t fire him, I would definitely categorize him as “not” an up-and-comer. It was an embarrassing display of lack of self awareness. He was hunched over his food with the worst table presence I’ve seen in years. It was like he had only enough energy to stagger to his meal before he expired. Does posture matter? Do table manners matter? Being concerned as to what message is received by the world, is that selling out? Yes, yes, and no.

Is there any debate on the obvious that we humans live in a community of other humans who form opinions, not necessarily as condemnatory judgments, but in the normal course of self-navigation? For example, I am continuing to evolve, grow, form more mature opinions by revising old loosely held thoughts. I do this because that’s the way of it, being human. But also because I actively want to navigate my world for my life’s betterment. We judge the world on a subjective scale between beneficial through benign to detrimental. So I would “judge” a hard working young man at a bank as a potential employee differently than a tattooed man standing next to my car swinging a chain. Ok, that’s obvious. If I were to coincidentally interview them the following week, I’d recognize the bank employee as a positive and the apparent hooligan as a negative. But would I have needed to have seen them prior, out of context, to make that judgment?

No. And this is where the young can miss the point. The energetic hard worker that is self aware enough to project growing competence is more easily able to make that sale than the guy who tries to turn it on and off in his life. I am warming up to people having tattoos, but not much; I am not warming up to smoking. A slouch, literally and figuratively, doesn’t have the practice of a firm handshake, eye contact, clear voice, measured responses, and positive posture. It takes practice to coordinate those things so that they’re natural and not forced. It takes a whole lotta practice to listen all the way through something and then respond versus stop listening half way through so as to formulate a response. It takes practice to write an email that gets to the point. It takes practice to do well in the adult world. Continuous practice.

So if there’s an attitude issue: “Hey man, I’m good. I don’t need your approval”; or, “Duuuude”; or, and most likely, “Those things are not as important as my actual work ethic”. Yes, that last thought may be true, and this was one of my immature beliefs back in the day, but that misses the point. You won’t get the chance to prove your value at the next level if you don’t consider the whole package. Whether that value is the opening level of getting the job or the next level of promotion. Closed doors are silent data points. Value does matter more than appearances, but your personal projection is inherently tied into your perceived value.

This young man at the restaurant wasn’t practicing. No doubt nagged by his mom and dad to sit up straight, his post-adolescent thought was “I own my freedom”. True. But freedom is not without consequences. His freedom mindset cannot appreciate the accumulated opportunity costs inherent in bad posture. You can’t just fix that. It takes practice to be self aware enough to sit up straight and not act like an adolescent. What if that young man doesn’t want what I value. Instead what if he is a brilliant tattooed smoking programmer that can get a high paying job anywhere and flip the bird to my values. Fair enough. But all choices have short and long term consequences. Over the last 10,000 years, all societies have fine tuned the cause and effect on the subject of “fitting in”. And so I assert, it is mostly a matter of maturing awareness rather than a disagreement on values.

The reason you need an Ironmen group is to develop a forum where you can get honest feedback on what you’re projecting. Everyone has a “feel” to them, an incalculable amount of data that is summarized as such. What are you projecting?

To clearing the mirror,

Dave Marr

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By | August 11th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What is Divorce?

This 4-part writing riff started with a conversation I had with a guy who had divorced his wife, which, I surmised, was due to his inability to navigate the dynamic between he and his wife so that both of their cups were filled.  In his immaturity, he didn’t see a path forward to get his cup filled, so he ended the marriage. I believe, with no data to support my belief, that this is the underlying dynamic inherent in a large number of divorces. Immaturity, lack of vision, inability to get to a “I pour/you pour” relationship, calcified frustration, seeming insurmountable barrier to happiness, loss of hope, maybe bad behavior, divorce.

What is divorce really? When does divorce occur in the above sequence? Divorce occurs at the point when the flicker of hope for happiness has gone out. In the above guy’s scenario, he concluded in our conversation that it was his immaturity, lack of vision on how to get where he wanted to go, that led to the premature conclusion to pull the plug on his marriage. He lost hope that he could get his cup filled. Doesn’t that seem like it would be a common enough conclusion in a young man’s thinking?

Of course I’m not just talking about sex as the only thing a man needs to fill his cup. It is love he needs in the way he needs it, sex being just one way. I get my cup filled when Lis compliments me on these letters. I completely take notice when she comes alongside me and rubs my shoulders for no other reason than to just touch me. My cup is filled when I can see her respect and admiration of all my efforts and of who I am. Those actions on her part are among the multitude of nuances of our intimate relationship. Having a level 9/10 marriage frees up your energy away from frustration and allows you to grow elsewhere.

“That’s swell Dave on how awesome your marriage is, but you don’t understand. My wife is…” sick, injured, dealing with being abused, a shrew, cold, comes from a dysfunctional family, hormonally frigid, won’t engage with me, or some such thing.

Divorce occurs when hope dies. You can even stay legally married, but only be roommates, economic partners. Marriage is a spiritual endeavor. Each person seeks wholeness through relationship with the central hope that there is growth, progress. There is a reason why people who attend church tend to stay married more than those that don’t. By adding the notion that God exists and that difficulty is a part of life for spiritual reasons (James 1), then perseverance is a part of marriage. The mature quality of perseverance keeps hope aflame because of the imbedded assumption that there’s benefit awaiting on the other side of conflict.

Lis broke her back when we were 34. For 7 years we struggled with that issue. Our marriage wasn’t mutually satisfying, to say the least, because of her constant battle with pain. After dealing with the kids all day, there wasn’t much in her cup to pour out for me. I did contemplate the loss of hope at one point. And yet, and yet!, there was for us a belief that this issue was designed by God for our betterment. And so it was.

If your flame is flickering, it’s likely, so is your wife’s.

Loss of hope leads to spiritual divorce that oftentimes leads to legal divorce. The hope of what? More sex? On the younger side of maturity, it may look like that. But no. What the loss of hope really signifies is the loss of shared intimacy where both people care to balance the needs of the other by pouring out. It’s the complex intertwining of two lives in experiences, loves, energies, capacities, needs, priorities, and relationship.

God is a good marketer. Just like any good Madison Avenue marketing guru, he uses sex to draw you into a more complex transaction. If your marriage is a 7, then I would imagine you’re on your way to a 10. If it’s a 5, take hope, you’re on the front side of opportunity.

To your flame.

Dave Marr

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By | August 4th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments