I am the man!

Category: "Personal"

August 11, 2016

  08/11/16 00:00, by , Categories: Personal , Tags: Choice, Family, Team, love, relationships

As of today, we have been living in Bet Rimon for 12 years.

Yesterday, the anniversary of our flight, I took the opportunity to acknowledge Sharleen for who she is for us, for people, and for mankind, for her stand for Israel, for her stand for her friends and family, for her commitment to raising thoughtful, kind, generous, smart, engaged children, for her love, for her smile, for the grace and ease with which she does so many tasks I am sure she is tired of.

And Sharleen got to share with me some of the lives she's touched this week. We are clear that we made a profound and lasting difference in the relationships people have and the lives they lead.

I also got to call most of my team for the Landmark Forum, and acknowledged them as well. Along the way, I called my friend Ido - I needed a phone number - and got to be his friend and remind him to be mine.

This week I got to see how much I still live inside my narrative that I don't belong, and how incredibly attached I am to it, and I begin to see how much it costs, and I got to call my friend Ido, and let other people know I am there for them.

I also see how much I don't want to ask. I noticed it this morning coming back from synagogue. I want to be nice, I don't want to bother people, and I made my team small as a result. They came to assist to make a difference. For instance, after asking them to clean out the bathrooms for the umpteenth time, I just didn't want to ask them to take out the garbage (I so don't like doing it, I just couldn't ask someone else to), but I knew it was something we should do. Two of my girls just stepped up spontaneously and offfered to do it, and they did it with such joy, I was just blown away. First, they just noticed and took it on. Second, my reason for not asking was just bullshit.

Hevi, another member of my team, shared with me a practice of hers. She gets up every morning, looks in the mirror, and declares a possibility. I didn't have a mirror handy, but I declared that I am the Possibility of Joy. And I got to synagogue late/early - I messed up the time - and I lost it.

A big part of the Forum is choosing, and the point is you can't change a damned thing until you choose what is so. So I have it that I should choose Bet Rimon and Israel, but as soon as the should enters, it's not a choice. And what's there for me is just how much I hate it, how much I don't feel like this portion of my life in any way uses the best of me, how I feel twelve yearso of my life have been mostly wasted, and I'm only condemning myself to more.

I came to the Forum to because I want to see what's between me and being successful. What I pretend is that if I make enough money/put enough in the bank, I will somehow know I am successful and be in a position where I can make a difference. What's so is that I don't believe it, probably more that I know that no matter how much I make, unless I can get my father to be joyful, to give up some of his anger and frustration, I'll never feel like I've done a damned thing in this world. And I think maybe that if I make some money maybe he'll respect me, and I don't believe he ever will, so what's the use. And maybe I just have no respect for myself, which is a real pity, because everyone else seems to think I'm great. So I be good, because I don't really know how to be anything else, but I'll never be happy. And how can someone who can't be happy be the Possibility of Joy? Or help anyone else to be great and happy in his own life. But somehow I do do that, but it's always a fluke, and it's never enough, and everything about me, and my life, is somehow wrong. And all I want to do is escape, but there's no where to escape to.

And I have all these beautiful people around me, who somehow have to depend on me, and there's really nothing I can do; so I range somewhere between trying to be useful, and wishing I were dead.

And I get to give that up again, and again, and again. And I'm exhausted, because somehow I never really do.

And I'm angry, at this point particularly at my brother-in-law. He relates facts, and thinks that he has done his part in keeping up his relationship with Sharleen. He also hears about Sharleen by way of my mother-in-law, and thinks he knows us. In other words, he hears about the worries and concerns of my mother in law, which may all be valid, and then pities my poor wife, who I imagine in his mind has not only to sufffer me, but who can't keep up with her work physically any more, and who has a family to suppont and a household to run on top of all that. I doubt his mother shares with him the relatedness, the joy, the fact that people look on us and think we must be newlyweds, the fact that we still call each other a dozen times a day, that the sex is better than ever, though less frequent, in short the thousand little ways we show our love for each other.

And then Sharleen reaches out to him because she is missing the relatedness they once had, and he dismisses her. He's done his part, and poor boy, Sharleen hasn't responded to let him know that she's happy he bought his son a new pair of shorts, or that he's delusional about his newly ex-wife, or that we're disgusted by who he has been about his drug addled now ex step daughter. And those are my judgments and probably not Sharleen's.

So I guess what I have to acknowledge is that I am afraid I am just screwed up, and inside of that fear, I've created all sorts of rackets (we define this as a fixed way of being coupled with a complaint) and strong suits (ways we have of winning) to somehow prove to myself I'm not. Included are:

  • I have to be right.
  • I have to say the right thing.
  • I have to protect myself.
  • I have to not appear stupid.
  • I'm different.
  • I don't belong.
  • I'm smarter than you are.
  • I know better.
  • I'm complicated.
  • People suck.
  • People don't really care.
  • I'm smart.
  • Things shouldn't be the way they are.

And what I get out of this work is that that these conversations don't need to run me. In fact they suck the fun right out of life. And I don't need to let them runn me, and I can create something else.

So the Possibility I am inventing for myself and my life is the Possibility of Being Bold and Free.

And I'm scared I don't know how to be that, or that it's just another thing I'll fail it, and I get to give that up too.

And I don't know if this leaves you in a powerful place or not. I just share it because I'm not doing to great a job keeping it bottled up.

And I choose that “I will live my life out of the principle I make a difference!” and I choose “to make [that] our love for each other what [my life is] really about.”

And I don't know where that leaves me either, which is good because I can let you and the universe help me figure it out.

Permission to Be

  06/20/16 11:12, by , Categories: Personal, Personal , Tags: Landmark Forum, transformation

or “Why I am a Landmark Junkie ”

Landmark Worldwide is a company committed to reliably delivering that which makes a real difference in people's lives. It accomplishes this through its transformational courses, the foundation of which is the Landmark Forum.

Landmark has been big part of my life, and especially of the things that work in my life for more than 21 years. Most anyone who spends more than a token amount of time with me will hear me talk about the Landmark Forum. So I thought I'd explain a little bit about why. Now I can point you here instead of trying to come up with it over and over again.

The main reason: I'm with the same woman, Sharleen, twenty years on, and Landmark has given us the ability to play with each other, to laugh with—and at—each other, to not take ourselves too seriously, and to see how damned big we are in the world.

We have four amazing kids, and who we are with and for them comes from what we have learned at Landmark. From Landmark, we have taken on practices of acknowledging our children, and learned to listen for what is truly imporant.

I get to be with myself. Twenty one years in, and I am still noticing where the little voice in my head (others might call them internal dialogues or hidden scripts) are keeping me from creating the world I want. And when I notice them, I can deny them their power.

For instance, less than two weeks ago, I noticed I've got one about how “I've got to do it alone. ” Noticing it let me give it up. For the first time, I created a team around a goal in my life I've been pursuing for 20 years. Also out of that, I met with someone about forming a pretty neat partnership. These would not have happened without this work.

For the new year, I created the possibility of being Active, Present, and Alive. By the end of January, I'd been to Germany and visited with my cancer-stricken Aunt and Uncle (he's now dead), five first cousins, and five more of their family, most of whom I hadn't seen this millenium.

I get to forgive myself. This one is the hardest for me. I often feel that—except for my family—my past is a sea of mistakes, lost chances and missed opportunities.

From Landmark, I see that my playing the victim of this past robs me of my future. It's a place I easily go, but I have the tools, and the partners, to notice this sick game. When I do that, I can actually create bold new futures.

I can lean into my fear. The first thing that I notice when I create a new future is the gap between where I am and that which I am inventing. The next thing I want to do is throw my hands up and walk away.

But I get that's only the little voice in my head, the child who was embarrassed, who failed, who wasn't enough, trying to keep me safe.

And I notice I am 47 and I don't need the conversations of my naive and scared younger to run my life today. I can say “I am scared, ” and act anyway.

In short, I can give myself Permission to Be the great person that I always suspected was inside there somewhere, but was too afraid to let out. He's actually far more powerful than I ever imagined.

So I share because I think a world of empowered, present people, people who are up to big things, people who lean into their fear, people who are willing to create the world they want to see, to borrow a phrase “to be the change they'd like to see in the world ” (M. Ghandi), would be a great world to live in.

I share because I know anyone who wants to be this has it available to him.

It's worth it. That's all. If you see yourself in this, and can find a way to afford it, it's a gift you really should give yourself.

All My Best,

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April Check Up

  04/08/15 14:51, by , Categories: Personal, Personal

I answered a few questions for my alumni magazine about what I am up to; so I thought I might as well share here as well. I hope you are all enjoying your 2015.

I'm now in two lines of work. One, I am personal coach; I help people achieve their dreams. And I am most jazzed about working with fathers who are committed to raising awesome human beings, starting obviously with children who are confident, secure, happy and proud.

I also love working with high-profile individuals to honor the multiple domains in their lives with grace and ease while playing at the top of their game.

Two, I help people and businesses design their websites and manage their on-line presences to drive the business they built their website to serve.

I now have three teenagers with the fourth not far behind. We've done a great job with them and they do us proud.

I have put my name in for the 2016 presidential race, but could use some help getting the word out. You can visit the Campaign Website or facebook page. Once we crank this up to ten million followers - targeted for the end of 2015 - we should have a profound impact on the direction of political discussion in this country (in other words towards the center and a search for what binds us and brings us forward as one great society).

I am looking to add a greater accountability for the proper functioning of the institutions that shape our society, whether it's working with public officials, consulting for governments or their agencies or subunits (I am particularly interested in school systems and police departments at the moment), or taking on a role with direct authority.

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Not Getting Stuck

  12/17/13 18:50, by , Categories: Personal, Advice

So I was on the phone with my mom last night. As most people who know me know, I spend quite a bit of time at Landmark. It is the context out of which I run my life when my life is working. At the moment I am in the Introduction Leaders Program (the ILP). This is a program I am doing for the fourth time. The first time around, I met my wife and gave myself permission to be in a great relationship. I also connected to the wireless world (I got a pager; that was a big deal for me at the time). The second time around I got to choose Sharleen all over again, become a teacher, and go back on the stage, acting in my first play since law school. The third time around, I took a four day trip to Germany - I was applying for a job - and reconnected with one of my cousins in Germany, and have been connecting with much more of my family since.

Along the way I have opened and closed law offices, saved a synagogue that was on the verge of financial collapse, passed a few more bar exams, qualified as a lawyer in a second country, home-schooled a child for three years, built some furniture, fixed a lot of stuff (my parents' house, cars, bicycles, computers, a lawnmower, a KitchenAid), rowed more than 12 million meters, run four and a half marathons, run for political office a number of times, taken on my religion, moved to another country, learned another language, raised four amazing kids (thousands of meals, dishes, games), etc.

But that's just some of the fun I had. Courtesy of Landmark, I make a profound difference in people's lives, and the impact has rippled out to thousands of people in the years since I first participated in the Landmark forum.

For all that, I have often been un(der)employed, and have too often reached the end of a day feeling “I'd got nothing done.” I am exiting one of these phases at the moment. I have a program, a coach, a number of new friends who are committed to my success, and admittedly a bit of work to do and a number of habits to take on to carry things forward.

So, what does all of this have to do with my mom? I invited her yesterday to do the ILP. Her response was “I'll do it when you get a job.” Then she started going off on my lack of integrity. There was a time this might have plugged me in (my wife reminded me of $50 for an A), but I was actually amused.

$50 fiasco

In the fifth and sixth grades, I was in a special program the City of Stamford Schools had created called “Project Explore.” As part of this program, on Thursdays and Fridays, we were bussed from our school across town to the Springdale School, where the program took place.

By the sixth grade, being out of my regular class that much caused me some difficulty. I didn't know what was going on a lot of the time, I didn't know how to ask, and I essentially hid behind my clipboard. I came back with a report card of Ns (for Non-Satisfactory) and Us (Un-Satisfactory).

Since I was obviously lacking in motivation - as opposed to say lost and confused - my mother figured I needed an incentive. She offered be $50.00 for each E (Excellent; this is about $250 in 2013 dollars) and $25.00 for each S (Satisfactory). The conversation I had with myself was something like “Oh, apparently the grades are more important than I am. Well if that's how it is, you can stuff it with your damned grades, and your lousy $50 too.”

I pretty much gave up on school that day, and from a grades standpoint, I became a middling student at best.

It took me a long time to appreciate that I love to learn, and there's great value in giving my best, and no shame in having a great grade that can go with that.

So being present to the mess I'd made in the past, I got how ridiculous the attempt to link my work to her doing the program. Landmark's programs are about empowering people in fulfilling what's important to them in their lives. I want her to do the program for her. If what's important for her is my having a job, she might find tools here to enroll me in the possibility that represents for her, but the path of bribery/extortion has never been a good one to take with me, and anyway, why should her fulfilling what she wants in her life be tied to some circumstance in mine.

That said, I can also get that a solid steady job might be a good thing for me at the moment. But if it comes along, I won't take it - or not - because that's the key to my mother doing something, and I won't use it to force her to do the ILP, although I might use it as a lever to get her out to an introduction. I'll take it because it fulfills me, and I won't worry if it fulfills her in some way at the same time.

So this week's invitation is to notice where you get stuck in conversations that have nothing to do with you, that you let stop you and get in the way in your life. Don't do it. It's not worth your life, and in the end it's your life with which you'll pay.

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The Big Picture

  11/18/13 03:00, by , Categories: Personal, General, Advice

So I guess this is kind of a meta-thought process kind of post. I have sorted out my muses, and they are Ramit Sethi, Derek Halpern, Scott Dinsmore, and James Altucher. I've just started Mr. Sethi's Earn1k, but I also down-loaded some of Scott's tools this week. The one that caught me today was his weekly planner. It's drawn from Tony Robbins, and starts with the assignment “Connect and Visualize the Big Picture.” I closed my eyes, and nothing was clear. At first, all was black, but as I drifted into sleep (I really should have attempted this earlier in the day), I saw an overwhelming brown cloud. I saw myself standing in a barren landscape seemingly lit but already with the cloud arching over me coming out of the east.

I didn't know if this was an expression of a personal state, or a concern for the entire middle east or the world. I was sure that I was alone. It appears I don't want to be responsible for the big things I say I am up to. And then I have an excuse to do nothing. I haven't taken responsibility, and I won't allow myself to put my trust in others. I suppose these are the “hidden scripts” that Mr. Sethi talks about, or as I know it better from my work at Landmark, the little voice in my head. So I guess it is time to say to the little voice thank you for sharing, and live a brave life (in the words of Amy DeRosia) in my world. As I just suggested to my friend Elizabeth Breckenridge, if we are committed to people living at the edge of their own comfort zone, we ought to celebrate the challenge to put ourselves on the line in front of the world.

So what lights me up in the world is peeling away the layers of crap that “society” has put between ourselves and our humanity. People have been sold a bill of goods, and most don't even realize it. I suppose these are the not-so-hidden-scripts that too many of us take as the truth, ideas like home ownership being the “American Dream,” that to succeed one must go to college, that more choices make us happier, that when I (graduate, get my license, get a job, find the right wife, have kids, earn my first million, get divorced, retire, etc.), then I'll be happy.

For all we've got, Dr. Brené Brown reminds us we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, medicated adult cohort in American history. She also reminds us that human connection is fundamental.

But our government policies don't honor a sense of community; instead they separate. Battle lines are drawn regarding funding for the young, those hoping to be educated, those needing health care, and those past the age of work and often in need of special care. We are all fighting for a piece of a pie instead of figuring out how to bake more together. As I write this, I think of an individually tutored degree, where a young person partners with a retired person to engage in an individualized course of study and internship in his desired field. The price of school could be some token sum in addition to retirement benefits. A savings might even be had in that the intern could take the place of a paid attendant for say forty hours a week.

This is how Abe Lincoln became a lawyer. The desirability of this approach may also explain why law schools are providing more and more real-world practice to the budding lawyer.

So I've gone off the path and run onto one of my rethinking of government rants. The point is the big picture. The big picture is people living and thriving in strong communities, groups of people who care for and support each other, groups of people who provide what is basic to humans, a sense of belonging and a place to call home, which in turn will give rise to more active, engaged, successful human beings and citizens.

I haven't come up with the measure yet to determine if I am succeeding, but I certainly see openings for action. While we're coming up with measures, I invite you to share your thoughts on the programs and institutions that get in our way, and the initiatives you'd like to see to build the connection for which humans yearn.

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