Time: Something We Can All Give

Time.  This is the greatest resource we have as humans.  It is something that is unreplenishable and finite to our existence on this earth.  Time is something that I revere as my most valuable commodity.  There is nothing greater that I value and nothing greater that we can share with each other.

When trying to help a cause or help friends out, we can throw money at a situation all day long, but really that’s only if we have the money, and often that’s not the case.  If it is, it’s usually in lieu of giving our time.  I think about this often and I try to ensure that I give people my time whenever I can.  I probably fall into a trap of stretching myself too thin and devoting time to a lot of people and causes, but that’s the way I am built and I will always try and be there to help others in need.

For me, the most comforting and reassuring feeling is knowing that someone will be there for me when I need them.  It takes a lot to stop what you’re doing and give your time to someone else.  Often we get stuck looking at our own busy lives, our unfinished to-do lists, all of our personal goals, and close ourselves off from the world.  The world is full of people who have it worse than us and are struggling to find a friend, looking for help, and if we can be there for them I think we should.  Obviously, there’s a balance and we need to take care of ourselves, but very often we have the time to help others (especially our friends) and we choose not to do so because it’s easy to rationalize and get stuck on what we’ve got going on.

I have grown a lot over the last few years and I’ve tried hard to make sure that I’m there for my friends and anyone that I can help.  I hope and pray that my friends look at me that way and know that I will always be there when they need me.  I think about this everyday and it’s something I expect from my friends and it’s how I know who is really there for me.  I try to always do what I say I’m going to do – even if that means telling a friend I’m unable to be there – that’s actually being there for them.

It’s very easy for us to get tunnel vision (myself included) and look at the things in our life that are not going well or the problems that we’re dealing with on a daily basis.  Our burdens that we carry can usually be helped out by friends and people if only we have the courage to ask.  Something that a lot of us don’t do is ask for help.  This is something that I’ve struggled with over the years, whether it was pride or just insecurity, but I’m at a point in my life where I can and DO ask for help.  I need it.  We all do.  This life thing isn’t something we should have to go through alone.  Life is something that we struggle through daily and I have gotten to the point where I understand this notion.  This has helped me not only to solicit help from friends when I need it, but it has helped me immensely in seeing that I can be the other guy and be the one who helps others when they need it.

Time is much more valuable than anything else you could give to someone.  I need it – I need to know that someone is there for me. I’m so fortunate that I have so many great friends who will always answer my call, always be there for me – whatever it is… In turn, my recognition of this has allowed me to understand the value of time and driven me to do everything in my power to be there for others.  Putting positive energy into the universe, sharing myself, sharing my time, and giving with absolutely no expectation of anything in return has made me a better person and I like to think that it’s made my circles stronger and the world a better place.

What do you do with your time?
Are you there for others?
Let’s take it a step further:
When’s the last time you reached out to a friend that you know needs a good talk, hug, or whatever, but doesn’t know how to ask?

My challenge to you is to think about the people in your life that could probably use some encouragement, maybe just some reassurance that you’re there for them, and that they’re not alone.
Go ahead and give them a call… It will be more rewarding to them and you than you’ll ever know…

Do you need to talk to someone?  Get in touch.  I’ll make some time – promise.

Love & Peas,
Josh

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Mistakes & Insecurities

Mistakes… we’ve all made many, most of which we don’t care to share, but I think mistakes are an essential part of growing and becoming something better than you are right now.  The path to greatness, to reach our fullest potential is paved with mistakes, so GO MAKE THEM.  Don’t take that the wrong way – a mistake is just that – a MISTAKE – not something you planned to do, but something that will inherently be a part of any endeavor that you choose to undertake.

Many of us are afraid to make mistakes, and a lot of that is caused from our insecurities.  We don’t want to fail – we don’t want to “look stupid” or let anyone down.  Everything is fixable, so be bold and try new things.  It’s ironic that as a child, people tell you, “you can do whatever you want in your life, be anything you want to be” and somewhere along the way we lose that sentiment.  We all take punches and get knocked down along the way – it’s just a part of life… I know this has been said by countless people, but it’s something that I started writing about while reading in a waiting room today, so I’m just going to let it flow…

If we take those punches and accept the mat, the floor, getting knocked down, being told no, and we stay down – what good are we?  We might as well be dead.  We have to get up and punch back and fight for what we want.  Call me naive, but I promise you that I’ve come to a point in my life where I believe, rather I know, I can do anything and I know anyone else can too – it’s a matter of effort, passion, and relentlessness.  Don’t quit.  Go out and make some mistakes – you will learn and grow from them – you will become more rounded – you will know what it’s like to be down and get back up and you will be a resource and a wealth of knowledge and experience for those in your circle.

I mentioned insecurities because they are a big part of all of our lives.  I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like I need validation and I need recognition to feel whole because of insecurities.  I can sit here and try and do a self psychoanalysis as to why I felt that way, but that would probably bore you guys to death, and it’s not that interesting.  Besides, I’m sure a lot of you have felt or feel the same way, like you need validation, which is bullshit.

I’ve spent a lot of my life insecure, still am, but I’m recognizing it and I’m understanding that I’m good enough and I really need no one to tell me that – although, I’m human just like you and it feels nice when someone recognizes what I am doing and gives me the proverbial “pat on the back”.  I go out of my way to compliment strangers and friends alike when I feel that it’s warranted.  I understand that we’re all human and we all deal with insecurities, but like I’ve said before, all of us really know nothing – please don’t be offended by that last statement as I’m speaking in the larger scope of world and this existence.

Although we know nothing, we still need a counterpoint in this existence to validate that we’re here – maybe I’m contradicting myself here.  I’m confused now.  I hope someone comments and lends to this discussion because I’m kind of shaking my head and confused and probably thinking too much… Thoughts?  I hope this sparks some discussion… Thanks friends…

Love & Peas,
Josh

Posted in Business, Creating, Existentialism, insecurities, Insecurity, Leadership, Loneliness, LOVE, mistakes, Philosophy, Positive Thinking, Self Help, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Days Are Getting Longer

Smile for a second.  Give it a shot, even if you don’t feel very happy right now.  Okay good.  I had to really reach deep this past week and do that for myself.  At the time it didn’t feel like it really helped and it felt like I was faking it, so I tried to think about the good things in my life.  I eventually grabbed a pen and pad and I wrote out a list.  After writing out this list, I really got out of the pitiful mood I was in and I began to actually smile a real, genuine smile.

I was a bit sick, probably from working so many hours, traveling so much, and more honestly: overdoing it last weekend in Seattle with friends.  It was Wednesday last week and I was really under the weather and my energy was so low that I couldn’t even open a computer, read a book, or talk on the phone – forget about trying to do anything constructive.  

I really fall into a rut when I am not doing something constructive or creating something, so I decided to do what I often advise others to do when they’re down: “just become more observant and reflective and seek out the light.”  

I started to “seek out the light” in the figurative sense, thinking about all of the good people and good things in my life, and then eventually listing them.  However, it hit me in the literal sense when I was in my bathroom and felt the warm, amber light through the window gently resting on my arm through the curtains.  I looked out the window and saw the sun still fighting to stay up above the horizon.  I was that sun for a moment.  I looked down at my phone and noticed that it was about 5:15 pm and I smiled, “The days are getting longer!  The days are getting longer!” I said to myself.

I began to think about the Winter Solstice and how it kind of symbolizes the bottom of the pit for me – the shortest day of the year, least light.  Then I began to think we’re growing each day with more sunlight as we forge through the shady, deep grey and white months of the Winter into the beautiful light blue, yellow, and green hues of the Spring months.  I then thought about the beautiful, blistering orange Summer months where the days don’t seem to end… and the nights just aren’t that insurmountable…

We’re gaining momentum, and there’s always something to smile about.  Sometimes it’s right outside your window or right in front of you.  Sometimes it’s someone you see every day or a phone call with someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  I spoke with a friend of mine two weeks ago who asked me for advice because he was down about his situation with his family.  I listened to him as he beat himself up (just like I do and I’d bet a lot of you do too) and when he asked, “What should I do man?”  I told him to seek out the light, and he replied quickly that he was trying so hard, but couldn’t see any.  My next suggestion to him was to go put some light into someone else’s life – just because – just do it.  

He called me later that day and told me that he went down to a soup kitchen and served meals for two hours.  He was actually laughing with joy that evening and that made me so happy.  So there’s just one example of our ability to create some light in someone else’s life.  I took some of my own advice this week and I seeked out the light.  While I didn’t necessarily create any light for anyone, I found some in mine… shining through my window… There will always be darkness in our lives, things to worry about, work that’s not done, financial strains, but there is ALWAYS LIGHT… ALWAYS… Try focusing on the light in your life and appreciate it… Create some light in someone else’s life… You won’t be disappointed… You might even smile… The days are getting longer…

Love & Peas,
Josh

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Bringing Ideas To Reality

Many of us have great ideas. What we do with them is however, markedly different. Something that I have always done is what many call “ideating” or “brainstorming”. I’ve always had huge whiteboards and dry erase markers wherever I’ve been. At West Point, I quickly figured out that the walls were perfect for using dry erase markers and easily cleaning them off with Windex after a planning or study session. I used huge whiteboards in planning rooms in the Army, war rooms in combat, my corporate business offices, and all of the places I’ve lived. I actually have a 4’x8’ whiteboard and markers I use daily in my small apartment, which my girlfriend is slowly adjusting to…

The first step for me, with any “big” idea is writing out anything that might have to do with the idea and getting it all splattered in a big place (like a whiteboard). Once I do this, I am able to dig down into all of the words, phrases, and subsequent ideas that come as a result. From this point, it gets a lot more simple for me to assess what ideas get grouped into subcategories together. Once I have the ideas grouped, I can now move onto formulating a plan with a critical path to completion. A key fact that I’ve learned to love and has really calmed me and helped me through the successful execution of any plan I’ve ever developed (from a military operation to a business venture) is that a plan is JUST A PLAN – it’s a straight line, that there WILL ABSOLUTELY BE DEVIATIONS from – it’s the nature of life.

The maturation of an idea and the execution of a plan, like any story or song or piece of prose – heck, like LIFE – takes so many twists and turns and ends up being something totally different from what you thought it would be at the outset. The one constant remains that you keep forging forward and you keep working – you work hard at it and make adjustments as necessary, but you MUST keep moving the ball forward. I have found that I am continually surprised by the end product of an idea and overall usually pretty pleased with my results.

The theme of this entire site “You Are Not Alone” really plays into the next step with ideation. Your ideas are valuable and they have merit, but we have to understand that we are not alone and that there are resources around us – friends, partners, business associates, etc. that can lend additional insight to an idea you might have. It’s amazing the feedback and the input that I gained on countless occasions when I was planning a strategic mission in combat and pulled in random gunners, drivers, and lower ranking troops to join an ideation session. Everyone willing and available to you should be considered when going through an ideation or brainstorming session to develop a plan and see it through to execution. Granted, the combat situation is a little different than the business world in that everyone involved in planning a combat mission (usually) had the same objectives (get the bad guys, protect the good guys, free the oppressed, etc.) In business, if you have a team, use them – empower them – engage them and their ideas. This will create an environment where your team will feel more a part of ideas and plans and I guarantee you will gain some amazing ideas you wouldn’t have thought about.

I am currently developing an idea to do just this, but in a bit of a different setting. I am fortunate to have a very diverse mix of friends that I love and trust with business savvy minds and huge hearts. I plan on bringing this group of friends together to begin ideating and leveraging all of our minds to not only help each other in our respective ventures, but to eventually help others with their own plans, whether they are for start up companies or established companies that can use some fresh insight from people with amazing track records, savvy minds, and huge hearts.

Sit down and think about what you want. Write out your idea (Think Big!), then write out all of the things related to that idea, and enlist people you trust to gain their perspectives. Your network of people might be a much bigger resource than you think. Even if you take the first step in writing out an idea that you would like to execute and developing a plan, you’re on the right path. It will give you something to think about and lend energy towards when you have open pockets of time in your daily life. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Love & Peas,
Josh

Posted in brainstorming, Business, Creating, Existentialism, Ideas, Ideation, Leadership, Loneliness, LOVE, Philosophy, Positive Thinking, Self Help, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog 12 – WTF – Go.

I’m not going to write you a love song.  I’m not going to write you a research paper, backed up with “facts” and “primary and secondary sources”.  I’m just going to write whatever the hell I know, which really is nothing and it’s all relative, and sometimes I just get in this kind of mood where I fucking write and don’t think about it too much – and life is so fucking philosophical and circular and bullshit, but it keeps us coming back, well shit I was going to eliminate that and say, “it at least keeps me coming back,” however I’m tired and I’d rather write this blog entry as raw as fuck and change up the flow for a post because I’ve been attentive to style and voice and this “blogging,” which has actually been challenging and so rewarding for me because it’s different, so I’m really not going to do any deletions or backspaces here and ZERO edits and just publish this thing, so anyway – Where was I? Okay, we all keep coming back for more – more of life – more of whatever this whole thing is that we can’t really all agree on within ourselves or within our species – we all want more of it – this feels corny as shit saying, but it’s really old Billy Shakespeare with the oldest, most raw, philosophical question when he opens Hamlet with “To be or not to be?” I mean think about it…

I’m playing with the way these words are spread because I want to – anyway, that question digs at me every. single. day. in every single way.  There’s not much more I can say about that, but there’s so much more I can, so I will – It hits me about life – what the fuck are we??? What is this?  What choices do we really have?  In it’s most tactile sense, the question Shakespeare posits is an affirmation that we choose whether or not TO BE – that’s it.  We have the power to give up and end our lives – we have CHOICES in everything we do.  So why the fuck are we stuck doing things we don’t want to do?  Why?  We find in in our hearts to keep coming back for more – every day – and we complain and I complain (I’m working on it – promise), but shit dude – we still choose to live and not kill ourselves (most of us), but what the fuck it is really worth if we’re not enjoying it?  Let’s go.  Let’s go do something.  Now.  Not tomorrow, not when it’s comfortable, and not when it feels right – because it will feel right when you make it right.  That’s my rant and I am cutting and pasting this into a blog and hitting publish – no lookbacks – excuse the language, but I wrote this to myself, not to you.  That being said, I think there was a message in here, but I have been “word-shitting” on my keyboard for 10 minutes and I’ll review this AFTER I publish it… Peas.

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Blocking Out The Noise

Have you ever been in a crowded room of friends, family, acquaintances, and felt so unbelievably alone and couldn’t understand why?  I have.  This most recently occurred to me over the holidays, a time that I usually feel down and feel alone and I don’t know why.  I’ve been thinking about why I feel this way around the holidays and it comes from something inside of me – past experiences, times when I just felt like I wasn’t really “close” to the people in my life.  This is all my fault.  All mine.  I understand that now – through thinking about it and writing about it.  

Most of us grew up surrounded by less than stellar circumstances with people around us that either mistreated us or even worse, didn’t show us love, recognition, and affection.  For me, as an example – I had a ton of great people around me growing up, including my family (which was as dysfunctional as they come), coaches, friends, other families, but I got to a point where I thought I was all by myself and I became very “hard”.  

I adapted this way of thinking because of the feelings I had at a very young age.  I speak a lot in these blog posts about “feeling” a certain way and then “reacting” a certain way to that “feeling”.  At the age I developed this way of thinking, I was not capable of realizing the way I felt, thinking it through (why I felt a certain way and what caused it) and then making a sound decision on how to react to it.  All I knew was that I had goals: (excel in school, excel in sports, stay away from the garbage and “block out the noise” around me, get into a good high-school, and not have my mom have to pay for college).  I did all of that, but I was left with a void.  A void I still carry with me today, which I am working on.  I’m working on identifying why I feel the way I do, analyzing the causes, then reacting to whatever happens in the most positive manner I can.

This makes me think about war.  War is something that I, like most people, do not consider the best option to mitigate differences.  I use the term “war” because it’s global and it’s something that we can all identify with in some manner.  However, when I say “war,” I really mean that argument or fight that we have that is absolutely unnecessary if we just take a breath and identify why we are feeling the way we are and reacting appropriately – by appropriately, I mean understanding the person or occurrence and why it happened.  Don’t get me wrong, war is sometimes necessary to achieve peace and I understand that notion.  It should be the absolute last option to go to “war” with another individual, group, agency, nation-state, etc.

When I was young, I quickly learned to “block out the noise” around me to achieve my goals.  While this was very efficient in achieving my goals and actually continues to be beneficial to my decision making process when it comes to things like leadership and management (see the first blog I ever wrote for a friend and mentor on “leadership vs. management” here: http://www.leadershipcall.com/content/EIResults/complexInfobox/blog_moderation/infobox/posts/template/default/active_id/8), and this applies to not only my time in the Army as a leader, but also in business and situations where I have to take charge and quickly make a decision.  This is something that is a by-product of what I was conditioned to do at a young age.  

I have a knack for “blocking out the noise” and making sound decisions when things are pretty black and white.  However, I must note that “blocking out the noise” when dealing with personal relationships and people (that grey area) can be detrimental to decisions that are a matter of the heart.  I can list countless occasions where I’m in that mindstate and I think I’m “blocking out the noise,” where I’m really not listening very well to whoever is speaking to me, sharing their thoughts, feelings, etc.  I am truly working on being a better listener and communicator as I think that is the key to learning – sharing ideas, “arguing” (not in a hostile manner) to come up with the best solution to a problem or a difference of opinion.  However, I find myself in situations where I am not listening as effectively as I can be and I find myself “blocking out the noise” because it is not necessarily what I believe.  This totally contradicts my ideal that learning comes from sharing ideas and openly figuring out optimal solutions.  This is something I was not open to in my early years, not that any of us really were.  Now though, I am challenging myself to really listen and take a genuine interest in what younger folks, my peers, and my elders have to say.  

I feel like I owe it to those around me to help them realize that I am listening to them, appreciating their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and helping them to realize that they’re not alone.  Their thoughts, ideas, and feelings matter.  “Blocking out the noise,” while practical in many applications, is not the best way to go about our lives and our relationships with others, which is what truly matters.

Learning how to “block out the noise” when appropriate is an extremely powerful tool, conversely, it is an extremely pernicious tool when used in matters of the heart.

Do you “block out the noise”?  If so, have you harnessed the ability to know when to do so?

Love & Peas,

Josh

Posted in Existentialism, Loneliness, LOVE, Philosophy, Positive Thinking, Self Help, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Making What You LOVE doing What You ARE Doing

I’m captivated when I hear a person speak about his or her passion and how they are consumed with that passion, whatever it might be – I want to be that person.  I think a lot of us want to be that person.  I’m halfway there as I am extremely passionate about some things, however I am not yet at the point where I can share this enthusiasm and share it in all facets of my life.  

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last week or so thinking about what I really want to be doing with my life.  I’m sure a lot of us think about this and we’re all trying to figure it out.  Many of the songs I write are geared towards this kind of reflective notion – reviewing the things I do with great enthusiasm and how to make them a bigger part of my everyday life.

Having enthusiasm every day in everything I do is an essential goal of mine.  Much of the reading I have been doing lately has helped me understand that if we want excitement in our lives, we must begin with our talents, matched with our personalities, and identify where we can apply them.  I am doing this right now, in different jobs I have, businesses I have interests in; and I feel like there are talents I have and things that I “love to” do that I’m not fully applying to the world and the people I touch every day.

After reading a handful of books over the past week, I am consciously (in writing) identifying and evaluating my talents and the things that I love doing.  I want to use these talents and my enthusiasm to serve others.  I’m in a transition in my life where I’m making strides to be doing the things I “love to” do full time – transforming them into the things that I “have to” do in my daily life.

Everyone has a purpose in life.  Everyone has a unique talent to share with others.  We must identify the things we are good at and the things we love to do, then figure out: “How can I use my talents and what I love to do to serve and help others?”  At this point, which takes some work on our part to arrive at, we can begin to use our talents and do it in a way that will benefit others and feed our inner spirit.  We can make the things we “love to” do the things we “have to” do in our daily lives.  So, what are your talents?  What are you enthusiastic about?  What do you think you can give to others?  How can you serve others?  Write these things out and spend some time thinking about them.  This is the first step.

For me, this has been an exercise (which is ongoing and I have a lot of work ahead of me).  I have looked at my accomplishments, my resume, what I have done and excelled in, what I do each day in the jobs I have, along with the companies I have interests in and the companies I am looking at taking an interest in, etc.

I like the dark of night – the space and solitude in those small, wee hours of the night.  I feel at home in this space – the time when all of my work that I “have to” do is complete for the day.  This is when a special time for me begins and I am able to concentrate on the things that I really enjoy doing.  The day is full of things I “have to” do, while the night is full of the things I “love to” do.  The secret here to happiness and fulfillment is making the things I “want to” and “love to” do the things that I “have to” do.

For example, the things I love to do, while utilizing and expressing my unique talents are: Leading, Inspiring, Motivating, Communicating, Making others laugh, and Helping others recognize their beauty and worth in this life.  Right now, I’m juggling a bit, working hard at everything I “have to” do, while employing these talents and things I “love to” do into what I’m doing each day.  I am working even harder to make what I “love to” do into what I actually do full time.

Please, list (write out) your talents and the things you LOVE TO do.  You can use your gifts to benefit others as you express yourself, which becomes a “win/win” for everyone.  You will become part of this cycle of passion and enthusiasm that most of us marvel at – YOU will inspire others to get involved and find their enthusiasm, which begets more enthusiasm.  Take the first step on this journey with me and figure out what you’re good at, what you are enthusiastic about, what you have to offer, and finally how we can make that which we LOVE doing what we ARE doing…

Love & Peas,
Josh  

Posted in Existentialism, Loneliness, LOVE, Philosophy, Positive Thinking, Self Help, Uncategorized | 1 Comment