Suitable Helper

“Hey Dad?”

“Ya, bud.  What’s up?”

“Can we have The Talk?”

“Uh, you’re twenty-one years old.”

“No, not that one, sort of. I want your thoughts on this girl I’ve been dating.”

“I’ll give you whatever I’ve got.”

“I know that. Alright so you know I’ve been with my girlfriend a while, and I want…”

“My blessing?”

“No, too soon for that. I just want to know your thoughts on whether the person you’re with is ‘The One’. I mean, you and mom have a great relationship. How did you know she was the one you wanted to marry?”

“Hmmm. Well, we dated for a while, five years. I got to know her pretty well. I would say that I was pretty ignorant of all things I would conclude today were important. Marriage is a big deal, picking that person will define you for sure. I can’t think of anything that will have a greater impact on your life.”

“Yeah, therefore my question.”

“Well ok. I imagine I’ll say things you’ve heard a dozen times. It’s mostly about fit.  Does she fit with you?  Does she harmonize with your spirit? Does she have the same general views and values as you? Is her life trajectory in sync with yours?  These questions are hard to figure out with limited information. I’m not a fan of whirlwind marriages. I think that while you’re figuring her out, you’re also figuring yourself out.”

“Sure, ok. When you say ‘does she fit’, what do you mean?”

“Physical attraction has a kind of fit to it as a starting point. If she’s way better looking than you, then that might be a problem down the road for one of you. But the bigger issues of fit are cultural. Is her upbringing similar enough to yours where both your hidden assumptions can be brought to the surface and worked out and reconciled; or are they too different so that they’d cause a break in the relationship.”

“Like what?”

“Ok, say she grew up in a completely different economic strata than you, say 2 levels up, and was used to buying whatever she wanted. If her clothing allowance exceeded your mortgage payment because her parents showed her love by buying her material things – Would that cause strife at some point? What if she couldn’t or wouldn’t change and used debt to satisfy her need?”

“Yes, that would be a problem.”

“What if she came from a family where the mom and dad were divorced and not on speaking terms? What was her childhood like?”

“So you’re saying don’t marry someone whose parents were divorced?”

“No, of course not. But we all define love and happiness based largely on our childhood experiences. Don’t you think someone who observed family conflict every day and didn’t see affection between mom and dad might have a different view of love than you?”

“Yes, I suppose. But my girlfriend’s parents are divorced. I don’t know what her childhood was like.”

“Ok, that’d be a good discussion to have if you’re serious about moving to the next stage.”

“Good idea. Then how did you know when you wanted to marry mom?”

“When I got married I just assumed I’d be happy. I had no idea what I was getting into really. I think we got married out of momentum. It was just the next thing to do after dating for so long. I got zero advice or feedback on whether my choice of partner appeared to be a good one. But fortunately for me, I hit a home run.”

“Yeah it seems as though you and mom have had a perfect marriage.”

“Ha! No, but we’re happy now. But there was a time when I doubted. As we piled on responsibility, that’s when you get tested, personally and relationally. We both had jobs along with a new house and two kids and had been married for 6 or 7 years when those doubts came on strongest. The weight of all that just seemed insurmountable to me. I would work all day and come home and your mom would be tired from taking care of you kids plus working her job out of the house. Our energy tank didn’t have much left for each other.”

“What do you mean you doubted? What does that mean exactly?”

“We would have arguments, not fights, but strong disagreements over lots of stuff – kids, money, sex, me helping her out, her giving me respect. Ultimately it was all about whether we valued one another and how we demonstrated that value. My doubts lingered on the fantasy of having a much more selfish life where I could find someone else who was more suitable.”

“You thought of leaving mom?”

“Not seriously, but it crossed my mind.”

“Can you land the plane Dad? I mean you’re kind of pushing me away from the whole idea of commitment.”

“I don’t want to do that! The reason I hit a homerun in marrying your mom is because we fit together in ways that only conflict could reveal. Because of her upbringing, she didn’t run away from conflict.  She stayed engaged to move toward resolution.  She was always looking to resolve our issues.  I remember the dozens and dozens of times we’d lie in bed at night with tension in the air, neither sleeping. Your mom would break the ice countless times insisting we not go to sleep angry. Eventually, I shared that responsibility till it became our marital credo. I believe her parents raised her to value marriage over her own personal ego, so she was well equipped to help me grow through my own immaturities. Now, she had some of her own immaturities that I was all too happy pointing out. In that way, we were suitable for each other.”

“But you were happy.”

“Oh gosh yes. We always had this shared belief that we were building something. Even though I had fantasies of starting over with some nubile wench, that was just a passing thought I never chased. We fit together even though sometimes we had to sandpaper some of the edges. I think it goes to the biblical concept of ‘Suitable Helper.’ You familiar with that?”

“Relatively. I’ve heard you and mom talk about it.”

“Suitable Helper is from The Book of Genesis. ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Suitability in my opinion is about growth. You want to find a woman that will help you grow and vice versa.  So you want to make sure that she’s interested in growing with you so that you fit together. My initial thought was to make your mom just like me, but I eventually grew up enough to know that that’s not what I wanted. Fortunately, we had many things go our way and we came to a place in our relationship that has worked exceedingly well for a long time. But I think all that came as a result of being equally yoked – similar families, similar values, similar likes and dislikes, no major trauma or tragedy in our background.”

“Well Dad, finding someone that fits seems a little vague.”

“If you’re serious about this girl, then you should take the time to invest in knowing who she is.  You should both go to a marriage class because she’s going to be the one you’re choosing to navigate through ever growing levels of sophisticated problems. You’ll want to discuss deep issues. You’ll have problems whether you’re married or alone. It’s better to face life with your best friend by your side.”

“Sounds ideal when you say it like that.”

“It can be. Having said all that, I’d think you should lean forward into taking risks rather than lean back and be too cautious. There’s no clear answer most of the time.

“That’s good to know. Thanks Dad.”

“I love you buddy. You’ll be fine. Maybe next time we should talk about leading a marriage when there’s conflict. That’s a discussion worth having.”

To a great married life,

Dave Marr

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By | February 16th, 2018|Personal, Relational|0 Comments


Today’s discussion on spiritual development: I think we are jars. We come in different sizes and shapes, but jars nonetheless. Each of us has a capacity to be filled and to pour out. Some jars are big and have a tremendous capacity to take in much, as well as pour out much. Unfortunately, some jars are small. At year end, I ask myself how I can make my jar bigger so as to pour out more. I pour out my positive energy and thoughts, my efforts, my goodwill, my inspiration, my love to all those I come in contact. Some of you may wonder about my motivations as to why I write this stuff; it’s just me pouring out what I have in my jar.

My wife and kids are a constant recipient of my pouring which I believe is critical for happiness and well-being. I believe that in trying to create a life that is fulfilling and satisfying I must park my ego at the door and do what I can do to help others become a light in the world. By doing so, I make my jar bigger while at the same time creating an environment where others can make their jars bigger as well. The home is the best place to practice that because of the huge dividends it repays. The work world is challenging because there are so many new opportunities and people to demonstrate the example of creating well-being in the land of short-term constraint, ego and self interest all of which sometimes stresses my capacity to pour out. I must improve on when to use compassion and understanding and when to be firm. Regardless, work provides an opportunity to demonstrate both to myself and others that if I keep pouring myself out, others will follow.

Occasionally, I observe some people whose jars are half empty and it shows in the life they have created. I listen to their thoughts which often sound like victimization. I believe a universal truth is: You are where you are because of who you are. It’s an “apple grows on an apple tree” sort of thing. What’s the difference between half empty and half full? One molecule. And the difference between half full and a cup that overflows? Intention. So for me, Ironmen is a weekly reminder to live with the intention to make my jar bigger so I have more capacity to pour out my love to my family and friends, co-workers, customers, strangers, and basically everyone I come in contact with.

Despite the challenges one may face in the external life, working on one’s jar is an internal process that transcends victimhood, economics, religion, politics, gender, race, sexual orientation, left-handedness, and any other categorical distinctions. It is a human thing. It’s this internal process of being more gracious, more accepting, more loving, more energized, more optimistic, more creative that compounds day after day.

And the result?  The results are at once subtle and dramatic. By being a vessel that pours out in a mutually satisfying manner placing the well-being of others coequal to you, the capacity to receive love and well-being is affected. At the absolute minimum, appreciation of others and life is enhanced. But far beyond that, well-being can flourish, …and it does.  Healthy relationships create a base for personal growth that leads to seeing opportunities and, importantly, having the capacity to capture them. Interestingly, when times are good, it’s easy to be selfish. When times are tough, that’s when you need to make withdrawals from the relationship account. That’s why it’s important to make deposits in the jars of others all the time.

So what does this have to do with work or the word “As”?

There is no such thing as wearing different hats in life.  You don’t wear a work hat, then go home and put on the husband hat or dad hat. There’s no close buddy hat that’s different than the employee hat. Whether you are at home or work or play, there you are. You and your jar are the constant in your life. By living with the intention to have less ego and thereby live in such a way to practice expanding your jar to pour out to others, you are being a catalyst for positive change in the lives of all those you come in contact. You are loving your neighbor AS yourself.

For such a tiny word, “As” is pretty important. Highlighting that importance, I think, is critical to growing one’s jar which leads to the good life. “As” is usually interpreted to mean “to the same extent”. Love your neighbor at least as much as you love yourself. But that would miss the power of the conjunction.

  • It also means “While”. Loving your neighbor in the act of loving yourself speaks of the timing of your intentions.
  • “As” also means “In the same manner”. Loving your neighbor in such a way that it affects that person positively speaks to the quality of your efforts.
  • And importantly, “As” refers to “In the process of”. In the process of loving your neighbor, in reality you are loving yourself because you are working on increasing the size of your jar and thereby increasing the capacity to be loved.

Here’s an important point in all this: If you aren’t loving those at the epicenter of your life, then it’s you – it’s your issue. Somehow your ability to love has been diminished. You need to pour out in order to receive. It is a selfish motivation to pour out love and goodness on people because, not only does it feel good and rebound back to you, but your ability to love will increase over time. You end up seeing the world in a different light. And this isn’t some new age crapola slogan, it actually is true.

So – You can touch the lives of those closest to you, reflect on the role you play in their lives and they in yours, bring forth appreciation of all that you have at hand to make a life worth living, put into perspective what life is all about, gain strength to go forward with the intention to make your time here on earth matter for all those dearest to you AS you pour your life into the coming year.

Get after it.  Open up the lid of your jar and start pouring.

To your continued loving success,

Dave Marr

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By | January 5th, 2018|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Father and Son


One day my Dad and I got into an argument. It must have been building up for a while because it was a doozy. We worked together and inevitably there’d be something that would trigger a dispute. There was and it was a big one. We didn’t speak for several months. I finally wrote a letter telling my dad that everything I had ever done, I had done to make him proud of me. But at 38 years of age, if he wasn’t going to be proud of me by then, the die was cast, and I had to live without it. Therefore, the letter continued, I would do anything he wanted, accommodate him in any way whatsoever, but I needed to move on. I would seek his approval no more. It was on that day, unfortunately, that I became my own man.

Every boy grows with a core desire to have his father recognize him as a man – self-sufficient and accepted as an equal – and to feel proud of who that young man has become. To have the mantle passed onto his shoulders is more than to be loved and recognized as mature, but to be beheld as worthy. That there might be some ancient ritual where the son is accepted into the tribe of men and given the keys to the kingdom. I would have killed for that. It’s what I longed for even past the day I knew it would never happen.

It grieved me to have it not work out that way. I loved my Dad and I knew he loved me. But his life and my life had their own trajectories. The challenge was for me was to accept our relationship for what it was and not be burdened for what it wasn’t. My Dad had his strengths: he was a good man; he loved my mom completely; he was scrupulously honest; he enjoyed a good laugh, a glass of wine, and a good cigar. But my Dad had his shortcomings: he was quick to anger; he was stubborn when offended; he was too proud at times; and he was a man of his generation.

In the end, my Dad and I were too much alike with too few communication skills and too little grace. We eventually got past the impasse because my mom pleaded for a truce. She got it reluctantly from both. I eventually grew to the idea that at 38 years of age, it was upon me to accept my Dad for who he was and realize that I was not going to change him. He was 68. We got through by talking football. We talked politics. We talked about my kids. But we never tried to go back and resolve what was said that day. Some things you need to reconcile and some things you just have to get past. This was one of the latter.

I know many of your stories. I wish I knew more. (So send me your Father/Son story).  A lot of your stories are quite a bit more emotionally devastating than mine – Fathers who write a check to never see a son again. Fathers who drink too much. Abusive fathers. Absent fathers. Fathers that cheat and the love that should go to the family goes instead to someone else. Fathers that work too much. Fathers that work too little. Fathers that can’t figure it out for themselves and have nothing but bitterness to pass down. Fathers who are there physically, but absent emotionally, absent fiscally, absent relationally.

These legacies exist. Our society is filled with these stories. It’s important for you to understand that if you come from some mild or wild dysfunction, that it’s a part of who you are. It’s in there and must be dealt with. Because if you don’t deal effectively with your relationship with your father, it could come back to live through your actions. Now, you may not have the opportunity to do it directly with him, he could be dead or just gone or doing so would just make it worse, but that doesn’t matter. Bring it up in your Ironmen Group, with your wife, with your therapist, but bring it up.

One technique that I’ve recommended is that you write a letter to your Dad that lines out all the issues and anger and crap in your relationship. Pour it all out. Get it ALL out. Then put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and actually send it in the mail. However, send it to your own address. Then, write a letter from your Dad’s perspective, accepting your anger and hurt. Have him explain all the issues from your Dad’s perspective. Come up with the best most gracious explanations as to why he acted the way he did. Stamp it and send that letter to yourself too. In a few days, you’ll get this handwritten note that ends “Son, I know I haven’t been a perfect Dad to you, but I’ve tried the best that I could to be a good one. I’m very sorry for all the mistakes I’ve made. Just know that I love you. Your Dad.” See how that feels. If you think I’m joking or that I’m loopy, that no letter that you wrote and sent to yourself will make any difference whatsoever, I think you’ll be surprised. One guy did it and it made a world of difference to him.

Here’s the main payoff – It is your job in life to put a stake in the ground and declare to the world that despite the fact that you didn’t get as good of a deal as many others, by God, you are going to give your family what they need, you are going to give you what you need.  You must declare by your actions that you will turn the sins of the father into blessings of the father to the third and fourth generation. You are not going to let his actions and your hurt affect your family. It stops here.

To your generational success,

Dave Marr

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By | December 29th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Overcoming Obstacle to Success


You’ve had them and hopefully will have many more. These “aha” moments of realization are experiences of sudden psychological/spiritual awareness from the maturing of your mind. A previously unconnected idea fits into the pattern of your conscious model. The cause of that realization? It has arisen into your reality and is but one tile in the mosaic of your life. Your mind becomes incrementally aware through theory, experiences, and inspiration. You learn theory from others, you cement the tile of that knowledge through experience, and you connect larger whole pieces into your overall model through inspiration. This re-modeling process of theory, experience, inspiration are not separate and distinct, but dynamically interrelated.


What will be the cause of your success in life? The idea of causality presumes there is an actor initiating an action and the result comes to follow – cause and effect. Success, that self-defined location of happiness and well-being, would result from sustained actions by the actor towards the goal. But you can instantly see that the complexity of that goal in the environment of life requires that the actor adjust to circumstances – that the goal, the actor, and the process are all dynamically related. This destination/journey question speaks to the maturity of purpose. It would be too simple to connect life’s success resulting from the cause solely from the actor’s efforts. A life is more than the aggregate culmination of myriad causes and effects. So although success requires your initiation of effort, there is more to it than that – obvi.

You arrive at a party (cause) and instantly are in relationship with everyone there (dynamic). Your arrival affects others and you are effected by them at the same time, instantly. If the party is your love life, your work life, your health life, and even your mental life, then you affect others as they effect you, at the same time. This dynamic exists whether you think so or not. If your mental model is more in line with cause and effect, then your thinking is too simple. You are underestimating the impact you have on others and others have on you. Your very existence has an impact. Period. A dynamic model is more complex and closer to reality.

But dynamism is too simple as well. Your success will not arrive solely through your initiation of effort and the dynamic interrelation amongst you and the actors of your life. It’s clearly part of the model for success, but too simple of an explanation. And of course you may already know that. You may know that the tile pieces of your life’s mosaic (experiences) are handed to you in a seemingly random fashion and yet, in retrospect, they fit a pattern. It takes time to see the patterns in your life, to discern truth from your own experiences. So theory and inspiration help you form a more correct model to follow. But who’s theory will you follow since there are many out there. And inspiration, is that reliable? Where does that come from? The tiles of your experience, if they result in a pattern that is unique to you, is there not a Tile-Giver that underlies the whole process? Seems so to me.

In the last Letter I asserted that the biggest obstacle to your success is you, or rather more fully described here, the mental model you have of reality. Your current model is insufficient for you to have a life that will fulfill you. It will change, as it must. However, the more energy you apply in changing the model, the more theory you can gather, the more experience tiles you can collect, the more likely you are to be inspired to higher levels of thinking which results in a more developed way of being. Epiphanies arise from the Tile-Giver to encourage and energize your efforts to push forward in life.

So what do you do with this theory of mine? This theory that states that God creates the mosaic of life in little tiles of experience laid down in a pattern unique to you. I am not evangelizing. I am describing my model. It is incomplete. So I am still on the journey to add to, refine, and attempt to articulate my model. So what should you do to overcome the obstacles that confront you on your way to a wonderful successful happy life? Be aggressive in 2018 in taking on life so that you interrelate ever more pieces of the mosaic into your understanding.

To more tiles.

Dave Marr

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By | December 22nd, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Business Conflict

Conflict in business is everyday stuff.  People don’t like conflict, so they don’t get a chance to get good at its resolution. I like conflict, or rather, I enjoy the opportunity to get better at its resolution. As CEO, I deal with conflict all the time. By the time it’s made it to me, it’s festered into a rather significant boil. And if it were easy to resolve, it would have already been taken care of at an earlier stage. Therefore, unless I want to upset all parties and take a defensive stance, I need to get at the core elements of the conflict, soothe emotions, and come up with a solution that keeps the company’s reputation somewhat unharmed and the parties happy enough. I have a formula and style that has worked for me countless times.

First of all, my assumptions:

  1. People don’t like conflict and want to see it go away as soon as possible. Those that have been hurt by someone’s actions, usually don’t want to punish, they just want to see it made right. For those that have caused the conflict, they face a character issue on its resolution.
  2. 98% (made up %) of all conflict is a result of poor communication, miscommunication, an ambiguous communication, unrealistic expectations, or just everyday human error.
  3. Of the 2% that is genuine conflict, a negotiation or lawsuit may ensue. We’ll take this up some other time.
  4. Mistakes often get compounded by people avoiding responsibility and postponing notification of the parties that they made a mistake.
  5. Oftentimes there’s pain for one of the parties to resolve the matter. Postponing the situation won’t alleviate the pain and often makes it worse.

So, for example, this has happened many times: I’d have a loan originator (LO) employee that would take a loan application and set expectations with the borrower and, if a purchase loan, with the real estate agent. The LO would gather all the borrower information, look it over, and address anything that needed work. After working on validating the information in the file through processing, something would come up that would stop the deal from moving forward until resolved. The LO would need to go back to everyone involved to say that there’s a problem. If the LO made a mistake, or didn’t interpret things correctly, set the wrong expectations, or one of a thousand things, the agent and borrower would get upset. Any unwillingness from the LO to face the music and resolve the issue would just make matters worse as the deadlines got closer, and escalate the problem to my desk.

When this happens, my formula is:

  1. Talk to all parties and let them know I am going to get into it. I ask for a little patience and to stay calm of emotions. I will ultimately get to the right answer and, if my company is in the wrong, make it right. This buy-in from everyone gives me enough time to gather facts. Without facts, it won’t get resolved amicably.
  2. Tell everyone exactly what I’m going to do, who I’m going to talk with, the information I’m going to gather, and exactly when I’m going to contact them again. This is the most critical piece of the puzzle. Tell them what you’re going to do and do it. If you don’t, you’ve blown any real chance of restoring your reputation.
  3. Take responsibility for the problem. “I apologize that we’re all in this situation; we’ll get past this and we’ll get this problem off our plate so we can move on to more productive things.” I say this as a way to plant that idea in their minds rather than lawsuits. If there’s a potential for a lawsuit, I’m careful with my words so as to not admit liability, but still take on responsibility.
  4. Get into the situation. Most issues involve a couple of degrees of complexity. A human error that went unnoticed that put us in a corner which would result in the borrower potentially having to pay more money (we usually eat those). Or the plain reality that the borrower’s finances had a problem that went undiscovered for a time. This delay resulted in expectations that needed to be adjusted and now require the borrower to pay extra (we don’t eat those). I don’t own someone else’s problem, I just try and help them.
  5. Determine the salient facts and features of the conflict. I call the aggrieved parties back at the exact time I said I would whether I am ready to proceed or not. This is a big error that I’ve seen. When a borrower is told to expect a call, but the information just isn’t ripe for resolution, and the call isn’t made: Explosion.
  6. If I‘m not ready to proceed to the next step for resolution, I explain why and ask for some more time. I repeat the formula for the new expectation.
  7. In the resolution phase, I lay out the facts. I need to identify clearly what happened and why the train got off the tracks. I do not hide if or where we slipped up.
  8. At this point, I either eat the cost and make good on our error or identify the steps required to get back on track. I also address the cost to the borrower, if any. If there’s some good will gesture I can make by paying for some of the issue, I’ll generally make it.  But if it’s too large and is clearly in the borrower’s camp, I’ll just wait for their reaction.
  9. Silence at this stage is important to let the parties digest matters. Pain doesn’t go down easily, but sometimes it is what it is.
  10. Sometimes deals just don’t get done and sometimes you have to do deals that you don’t want to do because it’s the lesser of two evils. Those are just judgment calls. But at least jumping in to stop solvable problems from spinning out of control is a learnable skill.

As I said most people don’t like conflict. They just want to resolve issues and move on with their lives. And most of the time (Highlight this in your mind because this is a major takeaway): It’s not that a mistake was made, it’s what you do about it that matters.   What makes things dramatically worse is when people run and hide rather than admit and resolve. This is a character issue that is defining.

What I haven’t talked about here is what happens after this. I’ve run out of space, but quickly, punishment doesn’t make sense. Learning is important for all good intention situations.  Learn, fix, and move on. If someone makes the same error over and over, then maybe employment isn’t a good fit.

How comfortable are you with conflict? With customers? Employers? Spouse? Friends? Parents? Siblings? Others?  How can you be cool during conflict?

To your improving your ability to handle conflict,

Dave Marr

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By | December 8th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Lincoln’s 2nd Inauguration

On Saturday March 4, 1865, a humid day with the Battle of Appomattox still more than 30 days away and Lincoln’s assassination 5 days beyond that, Lincoln gave this famous speech. Its structure and depth hold insights that we can apply today. It is instructive to our personal perspectives because from this distance we can discern and weigh without excessive partisan energy that always colors the present. Current partisan energy biases men’s minds, so looking back 152 years allows us the freedom of discernment without that bias.

“Fellow-Countrymen:”, he begins with the democratic ideal of equality. By addressing his listeners with this common salutation, he is asserting he is no higher and we are fellow travelers on this earth. In the speech, Lincoln treats combatants on both sides almost as if he were an impartial observer regarding the justifications and righteousness of their thinking and prayers. But it’s clear some thoughts carry more substantive spiritual weight than others, like the peculiar institution of slavery versus freedom. Lincoln is taken aback that men “both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other.” Yet, “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.” In other words, how could someone pray to a God whose very character embodies justice that slavery should exist? How could that be if God is just? But he continues immediately in the same sentence, “but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” 620,000 deaths and the near destruction of the country, 4 long years of life and death struggle, and the leader of the nation speaks of not judging his adversary. Instead of the hardened heart of vengeance that victors quashed the vanquished, Lincoln embodies a higher ideal, a more substantive spiritual quality, of charity. Lincoln offers grace to the defeated in response to their hatred.

Even though there is more to say about the speech, much more, my Letters are designed for easy bites – a quick Friday morning snack for your contemplation and discussion in your Ironmen group. But of the ideas I have promoted over the years, this is a bigger one. The notion that ideas have spiritual weight is largely the point of our existence here on this planet. In our travels from birth to death we grow physically, mature socially, and climb spiritually. Our daily efforts engage the world in a kind of battle for survival or supremacy only to find, as Lincoln did, fellow travelers doing battle and asking God for assistance against you. And you must, as they must, defend convictions. However, Lincoln makes a distinction – some would make war to achieve their ends; whereas others would accept war rather than let their ideals perish.

So where am I going with all this? The world, i.e. work, politics, society, friends, and particularly your wife and children, deserve your grace, your acceptance, your willingness to look at them as fellow travelers. Conflicts will arise in your life that gives you the opportunity to defend and define your convictions. But you must lift your own countenance, your own renewed center towards charity, charity and grace my friends, because you may one day wake up upon reflection and find that you fought for the South.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Isn’t that a sentiment that would serve well in the world today?

To grace in your life,

Dave Marr

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By | November 17th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

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


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.

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

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

Opiate of the Masses

Karl Marx’ famous quote is essentially that religion was a dulling distraction to prevent people who lived in a cruel world from rising up in revolt and taking control of their lives. But in today’s age, even if that were true then, there is another that is true today.  There is a new opiate that insidiously enslaves people to a lesser life.  What is the 21st century opiate of the masses?  Distraction.  Texting, email, Facebook, TV, radio, Instagram, and all other twitter-like instant messages that say “HEY, HEY!!!!! Look at me.  I’m more important than whatever else you are doing.”  The pull is addictive.

THE major obstacle that must be overcome in order to creating a life of wealth and well-being, substance and satisfaction, love and enjoyment is a lack of focus and intent.  This generation of twenty-somethings has grown up with electronic interruptions as a part of their life.  It’s not new to them.  It’s a part of them.  We don’t know to what effect just yet, but the early indications aren’t encouraging.  Though anecdotal, my observation is that relationships are the first casualty in this new era.  There are numerous and complex reasons why marriage is being delayed in today’s emerging generation.  I propose that micro-selfishness is doled out like opium with each text or email and creates an addictive need to be entertained.

Entertainment, a passive enjoyment, is not investment.  Relationships require investment and when things stop being entertaining, it’s time to move on.  Distractions prevent focus.  Added up over a short lifetime, these distractions promote a shallowness that doesn’t allow for the creation of an interesting person.  How many times, for example, have you observed families in restaurants looking at their e-gadgets instead of engaging in family conversation?  Doesn’t that evoke a sadness in you?  It does for me because they may not ever come to know the overwhelming satisfaction that springs from family interaction.

Secondly, the skill of being present, focusing one’s mind on one thing, appears to be underdeveloped in society.  My kids used to say “But we’re developing the ability to multi-task.”  Uh, no.  You’re practicing switching quickly from one thought to another versus the much harder task of focusing on one thing.  Can you listen to music while studying? Sure.  What kind of music, headbanging? Can you respond to an email while talking with another friend? Sure.  But what kind of friend and what kind of conversation?  Of course the answer is you can do all those things.  But there is a cost that isn’t always obvious.

The cost of choosing one course of action is not choosing another.  It’s called opportunity cost.  Therefore, constantly being tied to the net and available to your sphere 24/7 is costing you depth and focus, privacy and independence, substance and purpose.  How do you know whether you’ve paid those costs?  The sad part is you don’t. You simply don’t notice.  How do you know if you’re shallow?  You may say, “Well, that may be true for some, but not me.”  Ok, fair enough.  But how do you know you’re not eroding your ability to be substantive?  You may lack the focus to see for yourself and make a sound judgment.


In your Ironmen group, take your phones and put them on the table.  First one to check email or take a call buys beers on Friday.  Or, on Sunday, turn your phone off all day.  No emails or calls unless you initiate them.  Or, read for two hours straight without checking anything electronic.  Practice focus.  Decide to engage fully in the moment without hedging that something else might be more important.

To your increasingly substantive character,

Dave Marr

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By | September 1st, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments