Why You Should Never Say ‘I Will Never’

never say never text write on paper

Have you ever said you would NEVER do something, yet ended up doing it despite your strongest declaration?

Think back to your younger self.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on your taxes, yet you did. Maybe you said you’d never lie yet fabricated something.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on a spouse yet did. Perhaps you’ve said you’ll never smoke, or never get a divorce yet you’re addicted to cigarettes or single.

How many times have you broken a promise to yourself after you saying you never would? How many times have you broken a promise to a friend, family member, or your kids after saying you’d ‘never’ do that.

Ever been there?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard others (and myself) make, declarations with such conviction and confidence, I’d be a rich man, typing this from a beach in Barbados instead of my couch in fifteen-below weather.

The fact is, even the most passionate worldviews rarely go as planned and those assertions don’t hold up. As certain as some things may seem today, you may look back in a week, or year or five and realize how little you saw coming in your life that would force you to do something you said you never would.

I always think twice now before crossing my arms in stubbornness after writing something in stone.

Why should I never say never?

The main reason you shouldn’t say ‘I’ll never do that’ is because we are fated to error by a variety of factors that we have absolutely no control over.

Humans are complicated and emotional creatures. We are flooded by feelings, circumstances, and our environment which is important to note because we can’t predict a particular outcome 100% of the time.

I can’t predict the person that you’ll become or the decisions you’ll make in a year any better than Zoltar can predict Tom Hanks future in the movie Big.

The other reason you should avoid saying ‘never’ is science. #science

Your subconscious can’t understand negotiations, which is important because when you say ‘never’, it most times happens.

For instance, if I were to say something like “I will never smoke again”, your subconscious receives the order “I will smoke again.”

Let’s give it a try.

For a moment I want you to not think of a house, not think of a car, and not think of a pink elephant.

Are you noticing something?

Our subconscious is completely ignoring the term “not” and instead you immediately had the image in your mind of the house, car, and even the pink elephant.

Research shows that you and I rarely make rational decisions.

Listen to this fantastic Storybrand podcast about why your brain and mine are addicted to negativity, drama, and why we rarely make rational choices.

Conventional wisdom among researchers tells us that humans can indeed make great decisions but only when their subconscious brain is involved in making the choice.

Emotion is why we buy junk food and eat it when grocery shopping when hungry. Emotion and irrational thought is why you self-medicate with sex, sugar, or drugs when you’re lonely or feeling rejected.

By in large, you and I make the vast majority of our decisions based on emotion, not logic, which is driven by our subconscious state.

So, saying “I will never do x” is a logical statement, but will be overcome by our subconscious mind.

What’s happens when you do that thing you said “never” to?

Now, I’m not questioning the intention or sincerity of your word or anyone else’s.

If you say you’re going to do something, I have to trust you until you don’t.

But, I won’t fully trust it when someone says ‘I’ll never do x.’

I also won’t hold it against them if they go against their word. You shouldn’t either.

After all, people change. We go through incredibly hard life-experiences, and maybe something they said ‘no’ to is exactly what they NEED to do in their current season.

We shouldn’t judge someone if they choose to do something today that they once said never to because I’ve learned that life changes people, which can be a good thing.

Saying “never” is like chaining yourself and depriving yourself from something that you may change your mind about in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to run back to your ex after telling yourself that you would never go back to him or her.

What I AM saying is that there is no need for justification of your actions by doing or saying something you once said never to, after making a promise to yourself or to the world.

There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind and being flexible. Living in extremes like only black and white all the time isn’t healthy.

None of us know the kind of person you will become in the future. You don’t know what you’ll say ‘yes’ to or what you’ll say ‘no’ to. The trick is to avoid being so dogmatic in your never-attitude that you don’t burn bridges. The key is to live your life and allow yourself to enjoy the journey along the way.

Like the OneRepublic song, I Lived, the goal should be to own every second that this world could give, see so many places, the things that I did, with every broken bone I swear I lived.

Be careful saying never, and don’t be afraid to break that promise to yourself by doing what you once said you never would and live.

One Word: How The One Word Methodology Will Change Your Life

one-word

I love the movie City Slickers.

It’s a comedy starring Billy Crystal as Mitch, a vacationing businessman,  who takes on the adventure of driving cattle.

In the middle of the movie, Mitch meets a rough-around-the-edges cowhand named Curly, played by Jack Palance.

Curly tells Mitch that the secret to a great life is only one thing.

Curly even emphasizes his point by holding one finger and saying, “You need to stick to that one thing.

Mitch asks, “What is that one thing?

Curly’s reply is That’s what you gotta figure out!”

I thought One Word was a joke.

How can reading a book about a single word really have that much impact on my life?

I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and what I’ve found is there are very few originals. Meaning, most books about business, self-help, marketing, etc., are regurgitated from someone else’s point of view.

Most content I read in books isn’t anything profound or new.

But, once I got into One Word, I realized this was vastly different.

I’d describe One Word as this: a methodology and process for simplifying your life through the focusing on only One Word for an entire year.

This process and methodology creates clarity,  passion, and life-change.

You see, resolutions fail, and goals can be easily forgotten, but One Word sticks.

By living a single word that embodies the essence of your life at this moment, you’ll find refreshed purpose throughout an entire year.

How to choose your One Word.

Choosing your One Word is a three-step process.

  1. Prepare your heart by looking in.
  2. Discover your word by looking up.
  3. Live your word by looking out.

 

one-word-process-davecscott

Step 1: Prepare Your Heart By Looking In.

This first steps forces you to take time to unplug from the noise and distractions of daily life.

It asks you to quiet your mind, listen, and ask yourself these questions while journaling your thoughts:

  • What do I need? This isn’t about what you want, rather what you truly need. What areas of your life need the most change and why is this change necessary?
  • What’s in my way? This question asks what’s preventing me from having what I need? Sometimes the barriers in your life might just be staring at you in the mirror.
  • What needs to go? Maybe you’re being held hostage by past hurts, wounds, or mistakes. Perhaps this pain and anger needs to get resolved so you can heal and in order to move forward.

Step 2: Discover Your Word By Looking Up.

Not to get overtly religious, but there IS a spiritual aspect to choosing your One Word.

This part was the most enjoyable because it forced me to surrender control (ironically my 2019 One Word was surrender) and seek understanding at the highest level.

Because this is my fourth year doing this, I typically start in September/October and take time to listen. This process of listening can take days, weeks, or months.

It’s a process of elimination where I write down several words that come to mind, pray about them, seek wisdom from my mentors and peers, and ultimately trust my One Word will come.

It always does.

Step 3: Live Your Word by Looking Out.

Once you’ve moved through the first two steps, you’re ready to live your word out loud.

You’ll want to integrate your One Word into your daily life by doing things like posting your word in prominent places, sharing it with those you trust, communicating to your inner circle, or by making your One Word a screensaver.

It’s critical to remember and focus on your word throughout the year because it’s easy to forget your word with life’s stresses and challenges constantly distracting you.

My One Word started four years ago with the word Intentional.

Then it was Breakthrough.

Then, last year, it was Surrender.

This year my One Word is Change.

A very good friend of mine pointed out the correlation between these four words. Take a look:

Intentional -> Breakthrough -> Surrender -> Change.

I don’t believe there are coincidences in life, and everything happens for a reason. That said, the correlation is astonishing as to what my One Word’s are doing to change my life.

The One Word process isn’t about choosing a word to guide your life, rather it’s about uncovering a word that will drive growth and change by examining your past successes, struggles, as well as your future hopes, dreams and concerns.

Once you have that word you’ll find you can narrow your focus and simplify just about everything in your life and work.

My biggest takeaways were:

  1. Busyness is a modern-day epidemic robbing us of our life.
  2. Busyness puts you into survival mode, leaving no time for mission and meaning.
  3. Busyness makes me callous and can make me hard to caring about the things I care about.
  4. The key to eliminating busyness is a narrow focus around simplicity provided by my One Word.

Let me challenge you, intrepid entrepreneur and reader, how are you simplifying your life and embracing focus in order to grow?

Get your copy of One Word by clicking here to learn more. 

 

 

What I Really Mean When I Say, ‘I’m Fine’

fine

In the 2003 hit movie The Italian Job, there’s a scene where the main character says he’s fine.

The supporting character, played by Donald Sutherland, quickly corrects a young Mark Wahlberg by saying “Do you know what fine stands for?

Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.

And that’s why I love Donald Sutherland and his character.

How many times have you said ‘I’m fine.

Dozens of times?

Hundreds perhaps? Maybe even thousands of times over your lifetime.

I’m no psychologist, but here’s what I’ve found it to really mean when people say they’re fine.

  • I’m trying hard to pretend that I’m okay inside, but I’m really not.
  • I’m not fine, and I don’t feel safe/comfortable sharing with you what’s really going on in my life.
  • I’m too scared to tell you how I really feel.
  • I don’t know how I’m doing, to be quite honest.
  • I’m afraid if I admit to not being fine, you’ll see me as weak and as a complainer.
  • I’m not fine and I don’t want to burden you with my problems because I don’t think others really care about me.
  • I’m tired because of my life circumstance and don’t have the energy to explain why I’m not doing well.
  • I’m frustrated or upset, but I don’t want to rock the boat.
  • I was taught by my super-strict Christian parents that feelings are bad and that my feelings aren’t valid, so I suppress them.
  • I need someone who will listen to me, and not try to fix things so I can open up and tell you why I’m not fine.
  • I am sad inside, maybe struggling with anxiety and depression, and want to isolate myself.

How to respond when someone says they’re ‘fine.’

The next time your waiter at a restaurant asks how you are, I’m not saying you need to share your life story with them.

On the contrary, use prudence and discretion.

The expectation should be that many of our daily interactions are superficial, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Not every conversation needs to be, or should be, deep and meaningful.

As you and I go about our days, especially working in a professional environment, we should understand that over-sharing can be an issue. But not all interactions are surface and superficial.

The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes the norm. The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes a habit, like a reflex that you apply to your interactions with friends, family, and even the person staring back at you in the mirror.

If every response to the question ‘how are you’ is ‘fine‘ then I’d argue you’re not.

And sometimes that’s okay!

It’s okay to not be okay every once in awhile. It’s okay to be just fine if you’re going through a rough season or your life situation sucks.

Recently, a good friend of mine had to cut out his business partner of over 20 years. They had a long history of conflict and strife, and the one had to go. “I feel fine, Dave. I don’t feel horrible, but I also don’t feel great. What I’m going through is hard and I’m grieving losing my best friend and partner. So, I’m fine.

Another friend of mine recently became a single dad. His wife left him for another man, leaving him to raise three kids on his own, two of which are girls. That’s tough for any dad to raise girls, let alone as a single father. “I’m fine, Dave. Really, I’ll be okay I’m just fine.

Another business professional I’m close is going through a divorce after his wife has been openly cheating on him for years. The worst part: he’s got a terminal illness and she’s choosing her other relationship over him. “Dave, I don’t know how to say it other than to say I’m fine…and for now I’m okay with that.

Ever watch the YouTube video called It’s Not About The Nail?

Click here to watch it. –> (https://bit.ly/MnyfOZ)

It’s great. It’s about a couple where she’s simply trying to tell her partner about some frustrations she’s having, only to find him wanting to fix the problem instead of listen to her.

When someone says they’re fine, the worst thing you can do is try to dig only to learn what they’re struggling with and try and fix their problem.

The best way to respond to someone who’s fine, and clearly struggling, is to listen to them in order to understand. (listening and listening to understand are not the same)

Stop what you’re doing for five minutes and ask some probing questions to get them to open up. Tell them things to make them feel safe because if the person who’s really struggling with being fine doesn’t trust you, they won’t open up.

Things like:

  • Being fine doesn’t sound awesome. I’m wondering if you can tell me how you’re really feeling?
  • Just fine? Sounds like fine is masking something else you want to get off your chest. Can you open up to me and tell me more?
  • How come you’re just fine instead of good, or great, or even horrible?
  • Look buster, Donald Sutherland once said that being fine means your freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Tell me more…how come you’re only fine?

When responding, try not to use the word ‘why’ in your sentences because using the word ‘why’ can trigger a defensive reaction. Instead, ask your questions using the phrase ‘how come.’ It’s softer and will yield a better result in your conversations.

Going through tough stuff is okay.

It’s okay to grieve the loss of a close friend and business partner.

It’s okay to admit you’re tired from your life circumstance.

It’s okay to have rotten days.

But, living in a state of perpetual misery is not ever okay or fine.

Living in a state of perpetual misery is robbing yourself of the beauty of opening up to someone through the exercise of vulnerability. As humans, we all need connection through relationships and that can only come from the courage to respond with authenticity.

It’s hard, I get it. Sharing hard things and being vulnerable can feel like you’re getting naked in front of a sea of people who will laugh at you once they see what you look like. Getting vulnerable can feel like going against the grain.

Being vulnerable can put you in the position of being hurt. Maybe you’ve opened up to someone recently and instead of extend some empathy and grace, they wounded you with their response.

Being vulnerable can be a little painful.

But, what’s the alternative?

Bottling up what you’re going through can lead to negative stress, anxiety/panic attacks, affect your heart-health, decrease your lifespan, force you into isolation, and puts you at risk for depression.

I’m no Einstein, but that doesn’t sound fun or desirable.

The next time somebody asks you how you are, respond intentionally with these words and watch your interactions change.

  • Sad
  • Nervous
  • Excited
  • Anxious
  • Lonely
  • Energized
  • Confused
  • Frazzled
  • Aroused
  • Irritated
  • Content
  • Elated
  • Angry
  • Lost
  • Melancholy
  • Fatigued
  • Overwhelmed
  • Engaged
  • Hurt
  • Frightened
  • Relieved
  • Embarrassed
  • Jealous
  • Unsure
  • Grief-stricken
  • Grateful
  • Rough around the edges

You can even respond with just fine.

I think we all can agree that this life is stressful enough without empathy, grace, and compassion.

Imagine a place where people you interacted with actually listened, loved, and cared enough to understand.

Imagine a world where you and I listened to those who inside were once miserable, but because you took time to understand their struggles they’re no longer fine.

 

 

Why Parents Shouldn’t Teach Their Kids To Be Nice (do this instead)

davecscott-blog-do-not-teach-kids-to-be-nice-fargo-minneapolis-blog

This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught.

Do not teach your kids to be nice. 

Before you begin sending me hate email, assuming that I’m somehow advocating that you should teach your kids to be narcissistic jerks, let me ask you something:

  • Do you want your kids to have healthy relationships? (on their end at least)
  • Do you want your kids to have relationships that aren’t one-sided, one’s where they don’t get taken advantage of?
  • Do you want you kids to get out of life what they want because they practice the art of good communication?
  • Do you want your kids to be a doormat to the schoolyard bully?
  • Do you want your kids, especially daughters, to have a strong, independent backbone, not having to rely on someone else to dictate their future for them?

I don’t want my daughters to get taken advantage of, and I want them to learn to communicate what they want in life, instead of being afraid to speak up because of social conditioning that taught them to “be nice.”

I want them to be classy and lady-like, similar to their great-grandmother, but I also want them to be tough and know how to change a car tire, if need be.

Lord knows most young men (the Starbucks-drinking-bearded-hipster-types) don’t know how to do these things.

There’s something to be said for nice kids, but there’s also plenty to be said for not raising kids who become doormats to people who knowingly hurt them.

The question I ask myself is this: Am I raising my daughters to give away their cookies, their lunch, their homework to the schoolyard tyrant? Or, am I raising my daughters to be ninja-like in their pursuit of openness, vulnerability, and even radical candor, as Kim Scott calls it.

Lets first define what being nice is and the detriments to it.

What does it mean to be nice?

First, “be nice” is one of the most common phrases we say to our kids, especially little ones.

It comes out of our mouth without thinking, like a gut reaction to our fear that little Tommy or Tammy will grow up to be unscrupulous and cruel.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, when we teach our kids to “be nice” it implies:  “do whatever it takes to keep the peace,” or “don’t ruffle feathers,” or “don’t be so darn assertive, vociferous, opinionated and loud.

On a deeper level it carries the mandate to “give up something about yourself or your belongings even though you don’t want to.”

Girls, especially, are given a heavy dosage of “be sweet” because being sweet and nice is lady-like.

But what does this really mean?

It usually means “stuff your feelings down inside, swallow them hard, and just smile even though you want to scream.”

Let’s talk about the deeper meaning of these mandates we pass onto our children. Being nice means:

  • Deny, avoid and distract yourself from your true feelings.
  • Avoid conflict and find a compromise at all costs.
  • Don’t be assertive, instead find a way to get along with the other person even though that person is a narcissistic fool who wants to use and abuse you.

In my experience, especially in business, what I’ve found is this: the core problem with the message of “be nice” is a lack of appreciation for the sacred power of boundaries and vulnerability, even though by being open and vulnerable it will hurt someone’s feelings.

When I do this as a dad, teaching my daughters to be nice instead of emotionally self-aware, I teach them that it’s more important to be in a one-sided and dysfunctional relationship, personal or professional, no matter the damage it does to them.

That’s what it means to “be nice.”

What’s it mean to be kind? (the difference between being nice and kind)

Being “kind” isn’t the same as being “nice.”

Don’t confuse the two. You can still be kind, while tackling conflict and being direct with people.

Kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

When I was younger, I thought kindness meant being nice to other people and making them happy.

What life has taught me is that kindness starts with yourself and kindness starts at home. It means treating yourself as you would anyone else you care about. We usually talk about and hear about kindness in relation to other people, but kindness towards yourself is just as important.

You might have heard the sentiment you can’t love other people until you can love yourself. While I don’t believe this is 100% true, I think how you treat and talk to yourself becomes the foundation from which you approach other relationships. Kindness isn’t only about how you treat other people, it’s about extending the same intentions to our yourself too.

Being kind does not always look like being ‘nice.’ Having a ‘pleasant disposition’ does not mean always making other people happy. Some of the happiest looking people I know are completely and utterly miserable on the inside. Sometimes kindness means disappointing other people because you have to say “no” and disappoint them.

Kindness is based on your own values and worldviews, while niceness is how how other people see you.

Kindness is difficult. Sometimes being kind means saying “no.” One of the most common situations in which this is the case involves the line between kindness and enabling.

For example, if someone keeps asking for money but spends it on drugs, alcohol, or by racking up unnecessary debt, it’s kinder to refuse to lend them more money and instead look for other ways to support them rather than to keep enabling them. It might be nicer (and feel more comfortable) in the short-term to lend or give them more money, but that’s not helping them in the long-term (and it’s probably not helping you either).

If someone is struggling with unhealthy behaviors or patterns, sometimes it is kinder to let them face the consequences of their actions than to keep enabling them to continue.

The same principle applies to your relationship with yourself. There’s a subtle but important difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care rarely looks pretty or feels comfortable in the moment. Sometimes kindness means telling yourself to get out of bed and go to the gym, even though it’s cold, raining and you’d much rather stay in bed and veg out in front of Netflix.

True kindness can be tough, and it might leave you feeling less than kind. But even when you say no to yourself or others, you can do so from a place of love and compassion.

That’s because kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

Teach this instead of being nice.

The focus needs to change from creating a false sense of harmony by “being nice”, as Patrick Lencioni calls it, and instead teach our kids this:

  • Engage with others from an authentic place.
  • Know your boundaries and don’t allow anyone to cross over them.
  • Respect the boundaries and freedoms of others.
  • Not everyone is going to like you nor should they have to.
  • You don’t need to be friends with everyone nor should you feel the need to. (family included)
  • You are not defined by others, your actions, or your mistakes.
  • Lying to yourself for the sake of a relationship will ultimately end in dysfunction.
  • Sometimes it is more important to be honest than “nice” even if it means someone will end up crying because their feelings got hurt.
  • If “nice” comes at the cost of authenticity, it is better to veer away from the relationship.
  • Those who love you will allow you to be honest and authentic at all costs.

The next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home bemoaning the fact that their bestie was mean to them, which caused her to be mean back, don’t be quick to jump in and say, “be nice!”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what true friendship means, and more importantly, how this experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for the soul and which damage the soul.

Relationships that are good for the ego will always let us down in the end, but those that are good for our soul will stay eternal no matter how “not nice” we are because they value the valor it takes to be vulnerable over any other virtue.

It is time to move away from robotic messages of convenience that we feed our kids and instead challenge ourselves to probe toward more inconvenient truths.

It takes a lot longer to teach our children how to honor boundaries and stay authentic than it does to parse out the phrase, “be nice.”

However, at the end of the day, it is these teachings that will hold true to them in times of strife. It is here that they will remember their parents telling them to attune to the truth and follow it, all based on a foundation of authenticity, self-awareness and direction.

So, the next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home (whether your kids are little or teens like mine) bemoaning the fact that their bff was mean to them, avoid saying “be nice.”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what healthy relationships are, and more importantly, how their experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for them and which are not.

The America I Know and Love: My rebuttal to Slate.com

I don’t write about politics on my personal blog.

As a rule, I try not to touch the topic with a ten-foot pole, outside of ‘liking’ the occasional Tweet or sharing the occasional Facebook post.

But, today, I’m breaking my rule.

It’s time to set the record straight by addressing some things that are blatantly false and negatively influencing readers. I don’t want to attack anyone, just the opposite, in fact. I want you to step away from this blog piece feeling incredibly encouraged.

What I recently read in a Slate.com article sickened me. It was chock-full of gross misrepresentations and blatant deceptions.

I’m sick of lies, aren’t you?

I was a Democrat

Let me start by saying I love this country.

It’s not hard for me to express how much I love America. I was born and raised here and enjoy every bit of it regardless of who’s president.

I also grew up and identified as a Democrat.

There’s nothing wrong in saying the D-word or being affiliated with that party. I certainly don’t hate anyone who believes differently than I do. (PSA: You shouldn’t either.)

There’s two reasons I subscribed to this political party. One, was because of the influence of my parents and the other reason was because of where I grew up.

Politically, I grew up in northeastern Minnesota on a place known as the Iron Range. Living in this region meant you leaned to the left of the political spectrum. Growing up in northeastern Minnesota in the late 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s meant you voted blue. If you grew up here, it meant you were a Democrat.

I am a Conservative

For me, something snapped when I went to college.

I formed my own worldview that would later catapult me to the conservative worldviews I hold today.

Which is odd because most colleges are diametrically opposed to a conservative worldview.

Two events in my life triggered my tip towards conservative values. The first was when I met the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

The late Senator and I shared a brief interaction at a college campaign event I attended. I asked Senator Wellstone some straightforward questions about funding for students of Minnesota state universities and what he was doing to help. Twice, he completely avoided the question and instead pivoted into some speech about how he’s focused on protecting the middle class and the working class.

The exchange with the Senator bothered me. It wasn’t his lack of an answer that bothered me, as I fully expect politicians to be vague when answering questions. What upset me was the way he handled himself leaving us “common folk” feeling like we didn’t matter. That’s when I determined the Democratic party that I grew up believing was good and right, was wrong (for me, at least).

My affection and love for the United States Constitution is the other conviction that drove me to form my conservative worldview.

I believe we have a Constitution for a reason, and like the late Charles Krauthammer, I think the Constitution is one of the most miraculous and extraordinary documents ever written.

I subscribe to the belief that states can govern themselves with limited federal oversight. I also believe in low regulation. I’ve rarely seen anything that’s micro-managed through regulation produce anything that’s good.

I believe that every single American citizen has the right and freedom to give themselves a better life through education, wealth, and service. Every American deserves the freedom to obtain this through hard work.

These benefits (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) are freedoms that should never, ever be taken away from American citizens. These freedoms are also the foundation of my conservative worldview.

Living in northeastern Minnesota, I was influenced to think that conservatives are bad people.

I was influenced to think that conservatives are money-grubbing monsters who hate the poor, the widowed, and the elderly. The media and most of the teachers who educated me perpetuated this worldview.

But, that’s not the real world and that’s not what I experienced.

Over time, I slowly began to learn that conservatives were not bad people or the monsters that the media led me to believe.

No President is that diabolical

In a recent Slate.com article, author Lili Loofbourow called the President corrupt and weak.

To make a generalization that President Trump is “corrupt and weak,” based on some unproven improprieties, isn’t right. No one is that smart or diabolical to be involved in that many scandals of corruption, all at the same time.

If these so-called scandals were true about the President, then that’s one heck of a storyline that some writer needs to turn into a money-making Jack Reacher novel.

Let’s replay this narrative that the left will want you and I to believe:

  • A sitting President single-handedly rigs an entire election with foreign help from Russia (and cleverly run Facebook ad campaigns).
  • He does so while sleeping with a pornstar.
  • He continues to do so while making billions of dollars from government contracts that were guaranteed with help from his business cronies.
  • Law enforcement, attorneys, and the FBI have zero indictable proof that he’s somehow breaking the law, and not one law enforcement agency has any tangible evidence of any of these allegations.
  • Even though we have some of the finest and smartest law enforcement officials on the planet, not one of them has a shred of anything tangible that links our President to any of the wicked deeds that are being portrayed by the mainstream media.

It sounds like one, big conspiracy theory doesn’t it?

No one is that diabolical to commit these evil acts, and somehow do them in less than 24 months after taking office.

Your rights and my rights are not being eroded

As a nation, we’ve never been as free as we are today. Let’s break down these freedoms.

  • The Women’s suffrage movement granted women the right to vote, in 1920.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed everyone to vote, no matter your skin color.
  • Abortion’s are legal, per the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. (this will never be overturned)
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all fifty states.
  • Divorce is legal so you can get out of any marriage, straight or gay.
  • While guns are still legal in the U.S., there are now more background checks and regulations than ever before, along with bans on specific types of weapons that didn’t originally exist with the creation of the 2nd Amendment.
  • LGBTQ and Transgenders have rights and protections.
  • Everyone has the freedom to live and work wherever they want.
  • Access to money (and debt) has never been easier through credit cards, banks, etc.
  • Organized religions are being regulated at higher numbers than ever before, and yet everyone still has the freedom to pray to whatever god they want.
  • Immigrants CAN enter into the United States unlawfully and can even receive basic benefits despite not being lawful citizens.
  • And, sadly, anyone can still burn the American flag in protest without being arrested.

So, tell me, what can’t a person do in America?

What is SO bad about living in America that you’d need to write an article titled “The America We Thought We Knew Is Gone?”

What I see is a list of freedoms that only continues to grow.

The lies we are told

What grieves me is that I see a nation of sheep, myself included, that are led astray by stories that are nothing more than crafty fables with words that tickle our ears.

Oh, the lies we are told – lies that are spoken with little to no consequence.

It’s disturbing that authors are writing pieces about virtues such as truth when the very basis of many of their so-called truths are built on a foundation of poison.

The constant bombardment of lies makes you jaded, cynical, and fills you full of hatred.

These lies are told in small, disguised methods. The lies are told to the young, the impressionable, and the gullible. The liars and deceivers say ‘the way this country is being run is wrecking your life and keeping it the same is called capitalism. Things could be better and that’s called socialism.

These lies are being published under the guise of op-ed’s and opinion pieces. These lies are published by large media outlets, aka the mainstream media. These lies say things like it’s okay to tax (and punish) businesses to a high degree, make healthcare complicated and expensive, despise the wealthy, regulate everything including the internet by calling it neutral, and extend zero empathy.

And, if I disagree with what you say, protest in mob while physically attacking me and my family with vengeance.

This is the result of the lies you and I are being fed. These lies aren’t coming from the current White House, either.

The America I know and love

Kids aren’t being violently ripped from their parents at the U.S. border, civil rights are not in danger, and Roe v Wade will never be overturned.

Are there issues that exist in America? Yes, there are.

Is our nation perfect? No, far from it.

But it’s a million times better than the alternative. Like I asked earlier, what freedoms that we’ve been granted in the last one hundred years are being taken away?

The answer is none.

The America I know and love has veered far off course and requires serious changes to get back on track. Much of the damage that’s been done to our country can’t be undone in one election cycle.

There’s been more than forty years of bad policy, trickle-down economics, bad trade deals, career politicians following in their father’s footsteps, philandering adulterers who perjured themselves to a grand jury, and eight long years of a community organizer who used the office of the president as a training ground.

The America I know and love has been fed a lie that that the rich are bad and shouldn’t get to be successful. Yet, isn’t success, wealth, and the American dream what’s being sold to entice immigrants to come to America? Isn’t this the country where we preach to immigrants the beauty of a life where they can build something special on a foundation of freedom and prosperity?

Maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe the American dream, to some, is when all these riches are given to them by the government through the philosophy of sharing the wealth.

The America I know and love stays out of the pocketbooks and lives of its citizens. It fixes a tax code that’s incredibly counterproductive and celebrates small business owners, gay or straight. It doesn’t criticize those who cut spending on services that are barely used and mostly abused. It doesn’t raid social security, while taking little action with regard to improving the quality of life for our nation’s veterans.

The America I know and love doesn’t lie about an income inequality problem that’s mostly a myth. Greed is insatiable, yes, but greed is only insatiable for those with power, authority, and a sense of entitlement. The America I love embraces protests, as long as there’s a positive outcome and action.

Do you see many positive outcomes and positive actions from groups like Antifa or others? I don’t. What’s intentional about screaming, looting, committing acts of violence, all in the name of protesting?

Are we a nation that simply runs to protest when we don’t get our way like a spoiled child, or are we a nation that takes action in order to have positive impact? After all, wasn’t it Martin Luther King himself who encouraged action by stating “if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I won’t ever respect a protest without positive action behind it.

I’m not sad living in America. I’m encouraged because for the first time in decades, I feel empowered, even emboldened. There’s a large wave of Americans, both young and old, who are equally as empowered and emboldened as I am, and who are taking action.

Just search for #WalkAway Campaign and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’m proud to stand with my fellow American’s who are champions of the #WalkAway movement.

Our nation is at a point where a breakthrough is necessary, and it begins with us, it’s citizens. If we believe every negative thing we hear and see, we will become that negative thing we focus on.

The America I love is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about the love our forefathers had for one another when they formed this great republic. They argued and fought but did so because they cared for and loved one another, not because they wanted to kill each other. They saw the need to create a nation that governed itself with civility, law and freedom.

They saw the need to desperately flee one tyrant 3,000 miles away and avoid a nation with 3,000 tyrants less than one mile away.

Charles Krauthammer once said “Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.”

Don’t believe the literary magic you read online, especially the ones that are slick and dazzle you.

Instead, believe in the America that offers the freedom to hope, worship, and pursue a life of liberty and happiness.

I Have Tourette Syndrome and Why I Love It

Famous Marvel Universe screenwriter and producer Christopher Markus said, “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

He couldn’t be more right. 

When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

This is my story of being diagnosed with TS and why I love it. 

The diagnosis. 

It all started when I was about 7 or 8.

I started having these weird, uncontrollable movements with my body.

I couldn’t explain them. My parents couldn’t explain it. No one could explain it.

At first, these uncontrollable movements came in the form of flexing certain parts of my body like my hand, arm, or neck. Then, I eventually started making weird sounds that I couldn’t control. The sounds were even more unusual, like small grunting sounds or a faint barking. (I know, it sounds really weird) 

It was insanely scary. 

My parents didn’t really know what to do so they sought help from neurological experts and doctors where it was finally determined that I had a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

The worst part: I was about to enter my tween and teen years with an affliction that awkwardly drew attention to myself through very unnatural means. The tween years and teen years can be mean and cruel, and that’s without without drawing attention to yourself with TS.

Here I was making noises and movements that resembled something out of the Rob Schneider movie, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

The next 5-10 years would be pretty tough.

What is Tourette Syndrome (TS).

First, let me explain what TS is not.

TS is nothing to be scared of. It’s not a disease, it’s not a bacterial infection or a virus. You can’t spread it by shaking someone’s hand or by breathing on someone.

TS is a neurological disorder. Meaning, I was born with it. 

To give you some context, here are some common types of neurological disorders that you’ve probably heard of, that are similar to Tourette Syndrome:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

TS is nothing like the devastating nature of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Epilepsy, but living with it (especially as a kid) is still hard. 

TS is characterized by one main symptom: repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Remember the weird movements I talked about earlier? Those are called tics.

Tics are a part of life for TS’ers. Tics can change, they can go away, and they can get worse under stress.

That’s what TS is and isn’t.

Living with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.

The early symptoms of TS are typically noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 3 and 9 years.

TS occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, and as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics.

Although TS can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst tic symptoms in their teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.

While having TS is challenging, you can live a pretty normal life. 

Normal being running, jumping, making decisions, and doing long division. 

Dealing with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

In many ways, I felt like a guinea pig in growing up with TS.

Not only was I on medications that had other unintended consequences, but there wasn’t much in the form of support, outside my family. 

Dealing with TS wasn’t as simple as taking a magic pill and the problem went away.

Dealing with TS was far from easy. At the time, the late 1980’s, TS was rare. Less then 100,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. That’s less than .002% of the entire world’s population being diagnosed with TS. 

If only there was an actual easy button, like the Staples commercials.

I dealt and coped with TS through a variation of ways, some good and some bad.

  • Medication helped me cope, but it also messed with my metabolism and caused weight gain. (as if having TS and being a teen was bad enough, I was instantly the resident chubby-kid)
  • I would cope by isolating myself from the shame and embarrassment of not being able to interact with my friends because my tics were so bad. 
  • I struggled with a negative self-image of myself because I was overweight and stressed, and I was suicidal and depressed. 
  • I read books and comic books. (Silver Surfer was my favorite comic hero)
  • I would write.
  • I even read the dictionary and encyclopedia when I ran out of books to read. 
  • I played baseball up through little league and developed a love of soccer.

Dealing with TS has other interesting challenges, too. I tend to be a perfectionist, who hates clutter on desk surfaces and counter-tops. I rearrange things when I travel and even fluffy carpet needs to be pointed 100% in the same direction. 

Sounds nuts, I get it. I’ve had to get really creative in working through the struggles of having Tourette’s. Looking back, however, I wouldn’t trade the experience of dealing with it for the world. 

What I learned from Tourette Syndrome (TS).

Christopher Markus, one of the screenwriters for the Marvel movies, said “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

I believe he’s right.

You can consider hardship as this terrible, unfortunate event, which makes you hard and bitter. Or, you can use hardship to learn and grow.

I’ve never viewed hardship, trials, or failures as a bad thing. I’ve always viewed trials and hardship as something to mold me and shape me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy pain or humiliation. I don’t think any reasonable person does. But, I also understand that trials in life exist and that life isn’t fair. Not everyone wins, not everyone gets a trophy (and shouldn’t) and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. 

Even though life ain’t always fun and sometimes you wonder if the good Lord is punishing you, you must choose where to emotionally live.

When encountering life’s trials and hardships, you have the freedom to chose how it affects you. We all have this freedom. You can choose to live in these circumstances or you can choose to move past them and focus on finding the joy in your situation. 

A CEO friend of mine put the word grateful into his companies core values because of how impactful it is to find joy when walking through the valley.

When battling the symptoms of TS, in the in the thick of my teen years, I was ridiculed by my fellow students, mocked by mean kids, and teased incessantly. I wanted to die. I thought my trial would never end and most days wanted to be invisible. 

Then it all changed. 

How Tourette Syndrome (TS) changed me.

As I grew through my late teen years, many of my more severe tics and symptoms of TS went away.

I eventually stopped taking the medications that helped subdue my tics, and my body returned to normal. 

My tics slowly went away and my confidence improved. I began the journey of healing through many of the emotional hurts and wounds I had experienced during the worst times of growing up with Tourette Syndrome. 

It was like a new beginning. I refused to be a victim and refused to live defeated. 

TS has changed a lot about how I view things.

At 40, I now view trials through a different set of lenses. My life, and yours too, is a direct reflection of the perspective we hold.

When you and I look at the state of our lives, what does it reflect? What does it reflect about who you are and how you see yourself? What does it reflect about your relationships, your work, your hobbies, and your purpose?

Is your life merely happenstance, or are you intentional in creating a life that reflects a rich tapestry of moments?

TS changed me in that I started to realize that my life doesn’t need to be an artificial state of bliss, yet it doesn’t have to be dead, either. Just because I have a physical ailment that’s awkward and sometimes embarrassing, doesn’t mean I’m doomed to living a pessimistic, monotonous, and frustrating existence chock full of cynical patterns.

I love that I have Tourette Syndrome and that the experiences of living with TS refined my attitude. I embrace my 32 year old diagnosis because it’s a part of me that’ll never change. I’ve overcome many things that others have not. I’ve learned forgiveness, perseverance, and empathy when many around me will never get to endure this life-lesson.

What’s your Tourette Syndrome?

Everyone has a “thorn”, or their own version of Tourette Syndrome. 

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away…but he said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses…I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

That “thorn” is some weakness or experience that’s shaped you or impacted you, something to keep you grounded because of your weakness. For me, that grounding is in Christ because I am weak, so His grace and strength lifts me up. 

Maybe you’ve struggled with, and beat, breast cancer.

Maybe you’ve gone through a divorce, or the death of a child or spouse. Perhaps you’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse, had an abortion, are a recovered drug addict, or a recovered alcoholic. Perhaps you’ve even cheated death.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, you have a choice when learning to live with your thorn.

You have the freedom to choose to use this adversity as a means to finding purpose in your life, as well as incredible joy and growth, or you can fall into the common trap of letting something negatively define you as some sort of victim.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, or are in the midst of, use your experience as your ministry to encourage others and encounter tremendous joy.

And if you’re a fellow TS’er, like me, I’d love to hear from you and encourage you. Email me by clicking here and I’d love to listen to your story. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Things I Learned in 2017

2017 was a good year.

I saw some births, some deaths, and some new beginnings.

I saw a close friend lose his battle to cancer. I left a comfortable career with a quickly-growing company. I made some personal decisions that forced me to get outside my comfort zone.

Yet, 2017 was a year of tremendous growth.

So here’s the top 5 things I learned in 2017.

Don’t be afraid to rock the boat

I used to work with this guy who would tell me one thing, then do another.

Know the type?

He’d say what he wanted to do, then completely fold under pressure. He was fearful. He was afraid to do the right thing because he was comfortable, fat, and happy. He was afraid to rock the boat.

If he rocked it, he’d likely be branded as “negative” or “stressed.” If he’d done the right thing by causing some much-needed discord as a catalyst to growth, he’d possibly have lost his job. (highly unlikely, but possible)

He was the kind of guy to tell you one thing, and then do another. He lacked courage and conviction. He’d talk a good game, but lacked the backbone to draw a line in the sand when a difficult conversation needed to happen.

These are folks who lie to themselves and lie to others around them. It’s a false harmony they’ve created in their minds as a survival technique. It’s a terrible way to work and live.

Last year, I started rocking the boat. I began with speaking up, and speaking out. I finally grew a backbone.

As a consequence to rocking the boat, I was unfortunately labeled as stressed and negative, but I wasn’t.

For 39 years I’ve lived under the guise that it’s okay to lie to people because it’s unkind to tell the truth to someone when it might offend them or hurt their feelings.

Are you okay with lying or being lied to?

Or would you want someone to offer you radical candor, like author Kim Scott did, when she needed to hear it the most?

When you choose to introduce change by rocking the boat, you’ll encounter resistance along the way. You’ll encounter resistance from your own insecurities and resistance from those around you. Keep rocking the boat.

Stand up for yourself

Let me clarify this point by first stating what it’s not.

Standing up for yourself is not punching someone back if they insulted you. It’s not vengeful or retaliatory. Standing up for yourself is not about teaching someone a lesson.

Standing up for yourself is learning to be transparent and authentic. It’s going to be difficult at times, but if you learn to express yourself openly and honestly, you’ll feel like a hundred pound weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Often times, we hide behind halfhearted smiles and nods instead of saying what needs to be said. This discipline takes lots of practice, but learning to be authentic about what you are feeling or thinking is step number one. Once you get in the habit of making yourself heard without being overly accommodating or defensive, people will be more open to hearing you.

Standing up for yourself means you’ll learn to how to handle when someone attacks you. You’ll learn the value of facing those who want to override you, as there will always be personalities who are set to attack mode. When you learn to properly stand up for yourself, you’ll be able to remain calm yet assert yourself when you feel like someone is trying to bully you. You’ll avoid becoming frazzled by reacting with low blows. When those around you attempt to browbeat you, walk the high road but stand your ground and stand up for yourself.

Filter your relationships

There are givers and takers in this life.

Givers are those who put into you. They are those who encourage you and challenge you to be a better person. They’re honest with you, they push you, they force you to think. Givers impart wisdom and sound counsel that’s geared to make you uncomfortable, yet loving enough to motivate you to be a better version of yourself.

Takers on the other hand are people who are critical, lie to you, and make excuses through a victim mentality. Takers are manipulative and rarely change. Takers go behind your back with gossip. When you encounter takers, you have to set up boundaries and keep them at a distance.

Takers are false victims. They typically have a pessimistic attitude and struggle taking responsibility for their lives. Takers are also bullies. Bullies don’t laugh at themselves, rather they laugh at others. If this person in your life makes fun of others but isn’t self deprecating, they’re a taker and need to go. Think of this person as dramatic and loud-mouthed. Bullies want submission and that’s the unhealthy relationship of a taker.

If you want to grow and mature, surround yourself by mature people by getting rid of the takers in your life.

Be open and honest

A few years ago, I was in business with a very good friend.

My friend is intense, ambitious, and driven. Because of this, he sometimes came off as unapproachable. Others we worked with would come to me to voice frustrations, instead of going to him. They would complain and vent, without being open and honest with my friend.

It was maddening. I became a go-between and I hated it.

After while, I simply challenged those on my team to go directly to my partner-in-crime to talk with him, open and honestly.

Few actually did. They chose to talk about my friend and colleague, instead of talking to him. They weren’t open and honest and failed at the most basic form of communication: direct one on one dialogue.

It’s tough talking about sensitive topics. Choosing to be open with someone can be incredibly scary.

But wouldn’t you like the freedom of a good nights sleep because your conscious is clear, rather than perpetuating a bigger problem?

In 2018, choose to be more open and honest with those around you. Don’t be the go-between and encourage those around you to tackle issues directly.

Quit

You have to love three things about your job, or whatever it is you do as a vocation.

You have to love the people, the place, and the product/service your company is selling, in order to not be miserable.

If any of these is completely out of alignment, then consider a professional career change.

The motivation I needed to question this aspect of my career came from a friend of mine who ultimately died from cancer. I did some deep introspection while watching him struggle.

One of the things he said he’d miss most was the smell of freshly cut grass.

He also said he had regrets in his life. Regrets that would bother him until his death. I listened and learned a tremendous amount while praying for my sick friend.

He encouraged me, even pushed me, to take the risk I was apprehensive to take. The fear of not taking a risk scared me more than taking a risk and failing, so I did.

I quit my job as the head of marketing at a quickly growing SaaS company to pursue being self-employed as a solopreneur.

You can listen to the story on this podcast.

The company I quit had an awesome product that solved a HUGE problem for small businesses. From a marketing perspective, it was great to market. It offered amazing automation results, had virtually no competitors, was innovative, and game-changing for technology businesses.

But the people and place were changing. The culture wasn’t the same when I first started and I didn’t like what I saw. So I did something about it. I took action by quitting and went back to the world of self-employment.

I couldn’t be happier.

One book that inspired me was The Reluctant Entrepreneur by Michael Masterson. Check it out, here. If you’re considering making a change from a W-2 employee to self-employment, you need this book.

Don’t just take a paycheck to take a paycheck. To me, that’s the same as stealing. Instead, formulate a plan to take the plunge into doing something you love. There’s no such thing as a dream job, so don’t chase that. Rather, find that one thing that you love to do and chase it until you catch it.

What were some of your highlights in 2017?

Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them.