Monday, December 31, 2012

How To Be In Control in 2013

Life Is Full of Uncertainties.

Every day we are faced with the challenge of reacting to things that are outside of our control.  The actions and behavior of others, the weather, illness, loss, the economy, wars, accidents...  So many things that affect us deeply can seem so random and out of our hands.  We can ask why... We can live in fear... We can numb ourselves from seeing or feeling...  We can give up, since we have no control over it anyway... Or, we can take control.

We Do Have Control.

Granted, not over everything.  There are things, lots of things, that just occur, whether we like it or not, whether we are naughty or nice, whether we deserve better, or get what we deserve.  The reality of life, from a macro perspective, is as simple as two words: "Shit Happens."  So, we can wait for it to hit the fan, or we can go ahead and take control of the things that are absolutely, positively ours to determine.  And by being in control of just a few things, we can gain the confidence and strength to face up to the things we cannot control, and put them in a more healthy perspective.

5 Things We Have Complete Control Over:

As we head into a new year and everyone is thinking about their resolutions and goals and three words or simply reflecting on the year that was and the year that may be, I am thinking about how I can do a better job of taking control of the things I actually can control.  In particular, I want to do a better job of controlling these 5 things (and you can too):

1. My Body:  I have complete control over what I choose to put in my body.  It is up to me what foods I choose to eat, what liquids I choose to drink, what medicines or vitamins or drugs I do or do not choose to ingest.  How much I consume is also within my control.  Of course it is not as easy as it sounds to make all the right choices. It takes discipline and determination, but those are two things that each of us have the power to exercise if we choose to.  I've been a vegetarian for over 20 years, a vegan for nearly 5, but still I can take better control over what I put inside my mouth.  Most likely we all can.  As important as food is, you can't take control over your body without exercise too.  Making regular exercise as essential to your being as eating and breathing is the best way to take control.  Exercise is not a chore, or a task.  It is a way of living.  I am pretty good about my food and exercise choices, but I know I can do better.

2. My Mind:  I have control over what I choose to expose my mind to.  What I read, the movies I watch, the music and podcasts I listen to, the television programs, social media streams, pictures, art and other media I am exposed to is for the most part my choice.  I can choose not to watch the latest episode of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."  I am in control of whether I allow myself to become addicted to "Homeland."  I can determine what I want to expose my mind to and control how I choose to teach and entertain myself.  Reading more, and watching less is something I can control better (and hope to).

3. My Attitude:  Attitude may not be everything, but it is darn close.  I am in control of my attitude.  I can wake up each morning and put a frown or a smile on my face.  I can carry that comportment with me all day long, and see the world around me through tainted or clear eyes.  That choice is mine to make, every day, throughout the day.  My attitude is mine to control, and I will reap the rewards or suffer the aggravation according to my choice.  The first step toward happiness is to simply be happy.  The right attitude can get us there.

4: My Time:  Time is a fascinating and powerful thing.  It can pass swiftly or slowly.  It can heal all wounds.  It can soften the hardest rock, and deepen or close chasms.  While we have limited (and unknown) time in each of our lives, from moment to moment we are in control of time.  What we do with our time each day is our choice.  What we do next is our choice.   What we do now is our choice. We can make time for the things that we deem to be important.  We all have the power to control our time enough to make room for thinking, for meditation, for quiet.  We all have the power to make time to listen better, especially to the people we care about.  I know I can do a better job of taking control of my time so that the there is always enough of it for the things I have made a priority.

5: My Heart:  Contrary to the words of countless songwriters and poets, we can control our hearts.  We can choose to be more loving and caring, and to be more open to the love around us.  To tell our children or parents that we love them is completely under our control.  To treat others with compassion and understanding is as easy as choosing to do so.  We each control that choice.  When you realize that you can indeed control your heart, you will also realize that our hearts can grow without limit.  If we choose to be more loving, we have an endless capacity to do so.  That's the path I want to try and take.  To control my heart, and grow it.

These are the things I believe I can control, and my goal for the new year is to step-up my game and take more control of each of them.

How about you?

Happy New Year!

Photo Credit: © stockshoppe -
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Impact of Amazing Things (A Double Whammy Book Review)

The Impact Equation behind this post is to prove to you that Amazing Things Will Happen.  It is true.  I have seen it.  In fact, the authors of two books I recently read are living proof.  Let me explain...

The Years Before Their Overnight Success

I have known Chris Brogan, Julien Smith and C.C. Chapman since long before they were all best-selling authors.  I have had many opportunities to have quality, eye-to-eye conversations, and manly hugs with them all (though not necessarily at the same time... but a man can dream, can't he?)  I can honestly say that I have broken both bread and wind with each of them (though they were likely unaware of the wind part...)  I have watched firsthand as they have each come into their own as bona fide successes, making an impact on a huge community and living amazing lives full of amazing people and experiences.

Ok, What About The Books?

The books I recently read are "The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?" by Chris and Julien, and "Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real-World Guide on Achieving Success and Happiness" by C.C.  While I could happily review each of the books separately, it dawned on me that these friends and authors are actually perfect examples of the tenets espoused in each other's book.  C.C. has (consciously or not) actively fulfilled the promise of Chris and Julien's Impact Equation, building a large and active community who happily and whole-heartedly support all of his business and creative pursuits.  Chris and Julien are natural born practitioners of the short, smart life tips that C.C. so eloquently recommends.  They are the personification of Passion Hits.

C.C. Has Solved The Impact Equation

In their book, Chris and Julien break down their "equation" for Impact into the acronym CREATE: Contrast, Reach, Exposure, Articulation, Trust and Echo.  According to the authors these six attributes are at the core of what leads to success in today's connected, content driven world.  As I read their detailed explanations of each of these traits I can see how C.C. Chapman has embodied the spirit of exactly the behaviors Chris and Julien are presenting.  C.C. lives by the acronym CREATE, and as The  Impact Equation portends, by doing so C.C. has indeed made an impact, and leveraged his growing influence to create a life where amazing things happen.

Chris and Julien Make Amazing Things Happen

In his book, C.C. guides us with practical advice presented in short spurts.  Little purpose driven chapters that each make a resonant point.  There are many "aha" and "of course" moments, made pleasantly palatable by C.C.'s calming, conversational voice.  His warm personality leaps from the page as he breaks down, chapter by short chapter, the simple ways you can free yourself from fear and habit to leave yourself open to attract (and appreciate) the amazing things available to us all.  Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have done it themselves, and they've proven that C.C.'s welcome words do work.  C.C. says "Passion Hits are people who are able to make a living doing what they love."  This most certainly describes Chris and Julien (and of course C.C. himself).  As I read the chapters such as "The Power of Writing It Down" and "Learning To Say No" and "Rules Are Like Rubberbands" I could easily imagine Chris and Julien as avid followers of C.C.'s guide.

What's In It For You?

Both of these books are written in a personal and conversational fashion that makes reading them quite enjoyable.  Both books also provide practical "assignments" you can put to work while reading the book to help guide you on a path to making an Impact and enjoying the Amazing Things that can and will happen.

Read them, and let me know if you agree.

Disclaimers:  As noted, I consider all three authors to be friends.  I've worked with Chris on the blog Dadomatic, and C.C. and I are two of the five co-hosts of the Cast of Dads podcast.  You can assume I can't help but be a little biased because I like and respect all of these guys.  With that in mind, feel free to take my review with a proverbial grain of salt.  But really, the books are well worth reading!  I received a free "review copy" of both books, but since I prefer digital reading I also bought the Kindle versions of both books on my own dime. Lastly, the links to the books in this post are Amazon Affiliate links.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Are Broken...

(Originally published at Dad-O-Matic on Friday, December 14, 2012)

We are broken.

There is no other way to explain it.  As parents it is our innate need, our deepest mission in life, to provide for our children.  To keep them safe.  To raise them in a better world than we were raised in...

But it is not a better world.

When I went to elementary school (often walking or riding a bicycle) my parents KNEW I was safe.  The worst kids in the neighborhood - the WORST - maybe smoked a lot of pot and carried a knife.  They did not have guns.

As an elementary school student in Queens, NY I went places and did things UNSUPERVISED that we would NEVER allow our kids to do today, in this world.  In the world WE created.

Something is broken.

We are broken.

WE need to fix it.

We need to restore our faith in each other and our kids' faith in us and in others that CHILDREN are precious.  That WE are precious.  That they live in world that is better and safer than the world their parents grew up in.  That's the way it is supposed to be, isn't it?

Somehow it broke.

My heart goes out to all those touched by today's unthinkable, unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut.  My heart goes out to all of us, for we have failed.  We have not made the world a better place for our kids.      

Photo: © picsfive -
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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Keeping The Tools of the Trade Sharp

Before I began running regularly, I paid very little attention to the sneakers I purchased.  In fact, I would almost always opt for whatever pair that was on sale for $50 or less.  Then I started putting some miles on my feet and the pain and blisters that quickly appeared made it quite clear my random running shoes were not going to support my flat feet and pronating gait for any serious distance.

The Right Tools For The Job

Finally I broke down and went to the local Runner's Depot to be properly and professionally fitted for "real" running shoes.  I was told to replace them every 6 months or 300 miles, whichever came first, regardless how worn they looked (or didn't look).  As a newbie, I really didn't understand the significance of this advice, and when 6 months rolled around and my sneaker treads hardly looked worn, I continued running with them... Until the knee pain and heel spurs arrived...

Looks Do Deceive

What I learned (the painful way), is that running shoes lose their support long before they lose their looks, and without proper support, I was much more prone to injury and undue wear and tear on my own body, hence the knee and heel pain.  Now, I keep track of the time and miles I put on my kicks, and get a new pair as religiously as I change the oil on my car.  TIP: The Nike+ Running App I use makes this very easy by letting you tag each run to a pair of shoes and then tracking the mileage for the shoes.

Running Is Just The Example

Of course, the lesson I learned from my sneakers is not just about running.  In almost everything we do, using the right tools can make a real difference in both performance and productivity.  Obtaining the right tools, and keeping them properly updated, tuned, sharpened, etc., can be costly, but more often than not it is money well spent.  This is especially true for things that you do on a daily or very regular basis.  That's where it makes sense to splurge, rather than on the things you might use only once in a while.  If you do it daily, you deserve to have the best equipment, whether that is running, biking, even shaving.  If you spend your time on a computer all day, having a nice big display, fast processor and lots of memory and storage makes a difference.  If you cook every day, a fine set of knives will make your kitchen time more enjoyable.  If you're the dine out/microwave type, you won't benefit as much from the precision balance and sharpness of the finest kitchen tools. If you play golf twice a year, you probably don't need to invest in the latest and greatest clubs, if at all.  You get the idea...

Think about the things you really do and use regularly.  How would you benefit by freshening up the tools you use for those tasks?

What tools have you invested in and why?  Let me know in the comments.

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