Just Say No

Two days ago, Matt Prater, the Denver Bronco’s clutch kicker was released.  Matt Prater holds the record for the longest field goal in NFL history and was nearly perfect last year, only missing one field goal.   Last year, in an intra-divisional rivalry game, Matt Prater secured a game winning field goal after San Diego’s Nick Novak missed a 53 yard field goal.   Matt Prater was 21 of 27 attempts outside of 50 yards over his entire career.   Matt Prater was set to make $2.1M this year the fourth most in the NFL (over Adam Vinatiere, who one Super Bowl 2003 for New England).   Matt is out of a job, because he couldn’t say No!

Almost all personal and business productivity discussions include a the importance of learning to say “no”.   It should be easy.    I’ve been desperately trying to tell other people NO since I was born.   But this is no easy task, why?

My coach and longtime friend reminded me that some of my best character traits are related to saying yes.   I want to make a difference in the world.   I see opportunities that may develop into possibilities.   I want to cultivate new and budding relationships and deepen old ones.  I care and want to provide empathy to others.    To me, saying YES means getting things done!

However, on the darker side, my shadow is in play.   I say YES because I’m fearful that I might miss lucking into a big reward, or miss a chance to be recognized as worthy by others.   I am fearful that saying NO might make other think less of me.   Frankly, I’m ashamed if I’m not seen as good enough.

Therefore, I say “yes” to investment opportunities, coffee meetings, errands, following internet rabbit holes, and worse of all, time-share promises; most of which suck my productivity, time or energy out of me.

So, how can I say NO, when pushing against all of these challenges.

Of course, like everything, it means living in truth, truth to my integrity, purpose, or “God’s will for my life.”   Every and any organization (individuals included) need to have a visceral understanding of their aligned purpose.  Understanding operating values, intentions (both strategic and tactical) mission and vision provide structures for what we should do AND what we shouldn’t do.

For example, my mission is to create a world of transformation through supporting the transformation of myself and others.   In 2014, that meant being holistically fit, leading my company, and loving my family.    Recently, a great equity investment opportunity was presented to my company.   Our company has a carefully crafted allocation strategy to manage risk and return.    This investment was not aligned with our current strategy; and after much consternation,  I said NO.   I felt bad.  I might have missed the next “Facebook.”  But, when peaking into my gut, it felt aligned.    Consciously weighing decisions against our integrity (purpose) creates a simple framework to say yes or no.

So back to Matt Prater.   My guess is Matt Prater’s purpose was to be the most consistent kicker in the NFL, a pro-bowler and maybe even a hall-of-famer.    After a previous substance abuse issue with the NFL, Matt made an agreement (whether fair or not), that he would not drink alcohol or be suspended.    As the media has portrayed, Matt said YES to a beer during the off-season, and then tested positive for blood alcohol, was suspended for four weeks, and ultimately lost his job with one of the best football franchises in the NFL.

Without a framework to weigh the consequences of our choices, it probably was easy for Matt to grab a beer from the refrigerator and say, sure, no big deal.   But if he could have weighed it against his integrity, maybe he could have said NO (addiction challenges aside).

I’m sad for Matt Prater, I’m sad for the Broncos, and I’m sad for the million times I’ve regretted saying YES to something that stole my time, energy, and dreams.    Build the framework and live from integrity, and saying NO becomes easier.

Blessings – Pierre

Resistance Is Futile

I love this title. It reminds me of the Star Trek Federation’s nemesis, the Borg. The were assimilating everything in their path, telling those that try to undermine their effort, “resistance is futile.”   Interestingly, it is the futility of resistance that often prevents us from achieving the meaning, peace, and love we seek!

As I have progressed into meditation, one of the many benefits is the metaphors that Meditation highlights in our life.

I have been using a meditation app called Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/). Headspace is a Guided Meditation that helps build mediation skills (as self-diagnosed ADD, I have continued to tell myself that mediation is difficult of if not impossible for people that have limited attention).

One of the lessons that Andy, the guru, teaches us in Headspace is to let go of our resistance. He begins by having us take notice of our surroundings, connect to where we are sitting, and hear the noises of our immediate environment. Later, he also leads us in gaining awareness of our bodies tension, our emotional stressors, and finally, our spiraling thoughts. Eventually, through acceptance of these truths, we can move pass them toward the creativity, peace, or the spiritual connection we seek.

So, I was sitting in the Dental chair this week, and as I was being prodded, I became acutely aware of an incredible tension in my body.  My arms and feet were crossed, my glutes were tight, and my jaw was trying to clench down upon the hygienist’s finger.  The tighter I got, the more anxiety I felt.   In recognition of this state, I tried to let go. I consciously relaxed my body and loosened my jaw and then my mind.  Wonderfully, the next 45 minutes became, let us say, tolerable.

This metaphor plays into another blog post around “The Paradox.”

In summary, I believe and have been taught that, as humans, we often act in a manner that prevents us from achieving what we desire.

For example, I deeply want to be fit, but often find myself sitting and watching TV, or more psychologically meaningful example is if I deeply want to be loved, but fear not being loved or fear that I don’t deserve love, I keep myself isolated and protected from intimacy with others.   This could translate into the desire for a deep meaningful, authentic relationship with our spouse, but fear that vulnerability will be seen as weak or if I am authentic, she will reject me for my previous failings.

Imagine trying to get back to sleep in the middle of the night.   The more I want to sleep, the more frustrated I get and the less chance I have of going back to sleep (the paradox).

Applying the idea of accepting “what is” (stop resisting), when I wake, I grab my kindle and read in “low light”.  After 30 minutes, I struggle to keep my eyes open and return to the bed and soundly sleep the rest of the night; which is much better than the two or three hours of tossing I used to do.   By reading fiction, my mind stops spinning and starts to focus on the characters in thes books,  relieving myself of whatever ridiculous anxiety I am ruminating on.

To sum, when in paradox, I apply the exact opposite response needed and guarantee the exact opposite result that I desire.   And, it is my resistance to stepping away from these unuseful behaviors that prevents me from my desired outcome.

Where does this resistance come from? Obviously it manifests itself from our id, our shadows, or deep wounds that we use to protect ourselves.   Mine comes from a story I say to myself about “not being good enough.” Not good enough to be loved.  Not good enough to matter in the world.  Not worthy for success.

Imagine playing golf or tennis. When our body is tense or rigid, or our mind is stressed and frustrated, we can’t react or respond effectively. When I flew fighters in the Air Force, and got overwhelmed with input, my mind would darken and I could only react to what was directly in front of me.   This known issue was called “seeing through a soda straw or losing “Situational Awareness”.

Yet, when I am relaxed and engaged, I have the possibility of entering a “flow state” where time slows and my reactions are fluid and decisive.  An old commander used to say: “you need to get out of your own way.”

To sum, by letting go of my resistance, I am able to ease back to the true world and create the possibility of achieving what I really want. And for most of us, that includes creating personal meaning, being loved, or just living in peace and happiness.

As a side, I wouldn’t want to not discuss where resistance is appropriate.   I think this could best be summed as we should resist being taken off of our path toward personal integrity and mission. More on that to follow…

Blessings! – Pierre

Pierre’s Leadership Blog

Hello and Thanks for Coming By…

Retirement Photo 0466

The purpose of this site is to begin the process of creating a Leadership Syllabus to promote and support Transformation in our world.     WTF – you say?

I believe that we, as in humanity, have a desperate need to feel loved, needed, worthy, impactful and fulfilled.

The problem is that most of us (and I include “I” in “Us”), are challenged at our individual, family, organization, nation, societal and world level at acting aligned  with our highest purposes.   One might say that often (most often) we are actually doing things that prevents us in fulfilling our purpose or mission.    By not acting in our own best interests, we are lacking integrity and that  ultimately leads to crisis (i.e. the pain, worry, and disharmony we feel in our lives. )

Hopefully, as this blog and syllabus evolve; ideas, tools, techniques, and procedures will be captured (through collaboration and “group genius”) which will be harnessed  in support of the transformation of one or maybe the transformation of many or maybe the transformation of the world at large…

OK – its a start!

Blessings – Pierre