Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ready... Aim...

As a part of the work I did with my whole-life coach (Jim Warner of OnCourse International) I learned I have a tendency to check, double check, and even triple check things before I pull the trigger on an important decision.

You've heard of the saying "Ready... Aim... Fire!" Well, I was "Ready... Aim... Aim... Aim..." and sometimes never firing. I am making a concerted effort to reverse this habit and trust my gut and am learning that 90% of the time my gut is dead on and the other 10% hasn't killed me...

I located two causes of this habit I am trying to kick. The first is there is so much information available on the internet, TV, books, family, friends, etc. that I was trying to limit risk and make sure I was pleasing others with my final decision.

The second is that I was being controlled by my Social You and not my True You.

What are these "Yous" I speak of???

More on that next week...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shovel or Machete?

It's pothole season here in the Midwest. The months of snow, plow, salt and repeat are coming to an end and you would be amazed at the size of some of the potholes in the roads. We are talking flat tires, spilled drinks, and the occasional accident.

With the onset of pothole season brings the annual rolling traffic jam phenomenon when road crews shovel fresh asphalt out the back of a rolling motorcade of dump trucks to fill the holes.

And you thought standard traffic jams sucked!?!?!

During one of these rolling jams I was contemplating the paths my peers and I chose for employment in life. I have been getting back in touch with a lot of friends lately and one thing I noticed is a general malaise in what we do for a living. To distill it down, we are all working in roles that have been developed over the years and handed down from one generation to the next.

Think about it:
  • Who was the first guy who figured out how to audit a financial statement that we now repeat every year?

  • Or who developed a proven sales technique that was taught to us in orientation and we use every day?

  • Or who developed the curriculum we now teach our class of students with minor tweaks here and there?

We find ourselves walking down these proven paths in life for a myriad of reasons. For me it was a safe road traveling previously laid paths to proven success as a way of providing for my family.

I personally believe schools are in the business to give us the tools we need to navigate the proven paths in life. Let’s face it, they want us to succeed and the easiest way to get there is what’s been done before. Maintaining the roads of years and years of proven success by adding safety rails, repainting the lines, and you guessed it, filling potholes...

Here’s your diploma...

...and here’s your shovel.

My cancer experience and resulting Latitude epiphany have inspired me to put down my shovel and pick up a machete to start blazing trails of tomorrow in an effort to lift as many lives as possible.

School may have given me a shovel, but cancer gave me a machete...

Which do you choose?

*This website does not encourage reckless machete use. Machetes are for trail blazing only...

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Tour

I have always loved music.

I sang in the choir, toiled in trumpet, kicked it around on the drums, and ultimately settled on guitar in my high school band:

"Two Dollar Romance"

Listening to music started my days and ended my days. On road trips it was usually The Big Chill movie soundtrack on repeat (really side 1, flip, side 2 in the tape deck...) and pop radio via Casey Kasem and the American Top 40.

The first group I got serious about in 6th grade when cable television graced my suburban cocoon was the Beastie Boys. I saw the video for "So What'cha Want" and dove head first into all of their albums. The key in 6th and 7th grade was to be able to name 5 songs so when people asked you what you were listening to on your Walkman you would sound like an expert.

Call it suburbia street cred...

Around 7th grade I got a hold of the Ten album by Pearl Jam probably 3-4 months before they became a force in the middle school music scene. That was my first taste of being ahead of the curve and man did I like it...

During my 8th grade summer in 1993 my family was vacationing in Boyne, MI and there was a little concert at the bottom of the ski slope with a sparse crowd featuring a band named The Verve Pipe. I bought all their tapes (yes, tapes) on the spot and wore them out as I mowed my lawn the rest of the summer.

Through The Verve Pipe I discovered the Aware series compilation which led me to the likes of Vertical Horizon, Train, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, and a CD rack of others well ahead of their pop radio prime.

As I got a little older I started going to tons of concerts. One thing you learn about up and coming bands is that they typically play to small rooms with corresponding small crowds often on random week nights. This is good for the music junky like me because you can really get to know bands. However, I have seen more than one promising band hit the graveyard after a few tours of low ticket sales or a label that doesn't have their true interests at heart.

But that's not where I am going with this one...

Occasionally I ran into artists that were on their path regardless of the number of tickets or CDs sold. These are the types that had figured out their passion early in life and were working tirelessly towards their craft. Sprinkle in some talent and you eventually find these artists accepting their Grammy's in front of the world.

As I launched my Latitude Movement I told my wife I was approaching it as a band that was playing their first gig. I knew that my parents, family, and friends would be there for support and as predicted, they showed up and bought t-shirts. As I venture out into the abyss for my subsequent gigs I know there are going to be instances where we I am just playing to the bartenders in back.

But that's fine...

My Latitude concept is something I firmly believe will have a positive impact on the world and I am not going to stop pursuing it just because of low attendance or a bad review. I don't care how many gigs I have to play to spread my message. I know it is the right thing for me to do in any capacity I can spare on top of my other responsibilities in life.

Until then, keep tuning in for weekly updates on and join the movement!

PS - It would not be fair to withhold my current up and coming pick for greatness... Without further adieu, I give you The Co out of Nashville, TN. You can bet your ass I will be at their first Chicago gig...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

FAQ - Part II

It's been just over 3 months since my last chemotherapy treatment and 2 months since I got the all clear from my oncologist. During my re-entry into life as I somewhat knew it prior to cancer I have run into a few other questions from friends and coworkers I didn't cover in FAQ - Part I that I thought we worthy of spreading to the Lift community.

4.) Did cancer make you more religious?
Short answer is yes, but let me elaborate...

I grew up going to Sunday school and church on a regular basis, but once I hit college I became more of the holiday type where I would grace the chapel on Easter and Christmas when I was home from school. I continued this trend once I graduated, but toss in friends' weddings, family baptisms, and the unfortunate funeral to my holiday schedule...

Once my wife and I had my son I ramped up the prayers when I was travelling on an airplane for business just in case something crazy happened.

I was always praying for someone else, rarely for my own sake.

When cancer hit it truly rocked my world and created an abnormal amount of self reflection. There were the "why me/now?" thoughts, which for me led to some lessons that framed my approach to my battle.

Very early in my treatment I realized that I wanted to use my situation to inspire others and enable people to learn the lessons I was learning without having to go through the ringer with chemo and all the other fun stuff that comes with cancer.

So what's this have to do with getting more religious?

I began to pray nightly for strength to overcome my own weaknesses and clarity of mind to efficiently make the highest impact decisions in my quest to lift others' lives. I continued to pray for others in my life that were battling disease, but I found that my inward directed prayers had an incredible impact on my state of mind.

Daily prayer has lifted my life for sure and I encourage others to not wait for a life changing event to get back in touch with what ever higher power you believe in.

5.) How are you doing?
Talk about an open ended question!!

It fluctuates on a daily basis, but for the most part I am getting along fine. I do tend to get lost in thought more frequently and find it hard sometimes to come to grips with the cancer scar I will have for the rest of my life.

I do occasionally fall back into old habits and sometimes even feel like I never had cancer in the first place if you can believe it!

A fellow Hodgkin's mentor told me it was easy to fall back on old habits, but that he wished he would have held onto the renewed sense of purpose he had once in remission. I think about that tidbit often!

Good news is that I am catching myself a lot quicker when my values are at stake and not compromising to other's view of the world if my core does not align with the message being communicated.

It's a long road back, but by living in line with my values I know it will be a great journey.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

5 Core Lift Themes

I distilled down the lessons I have (and continue to!) learn from cancer through my personal introspection into 5 core themes for lifting your life towards maximum fulfillment:

  1. Be Honest
  2. Exhibit Integrity
  3. Be Inquisitive
  4. Be Passionate
  5. Have Fun
I realize that this isn’t exactly cutting edge science I am unveiling here...

However, I feel it is necessary to share these up front before I start diving into some other concepts I have developed during my introspection (including the transformation from the “Social You” to the “True You” in future posts).

Over the past 20 years or so our society has advanced leaps and bounds in the personal technology department. As a result of new technology we are able to receive the latest news, shopping deals, and information about what our friends had for dinner 10 minutes ago...

Call me a traditionalist, but I firmly believe these advancements have short circuited our ability to think for ourselves and move our lives in a direction that embraces our individual values. Thus, I think it’s important that we all realign ourselves with our values and start living the themes discussed above everyday in our lives.

Being honest with yourself and others in all of your dealings will enable you to free your mind from the white lies and stories you embellish when seeking approval from family, friends, classmates, and coworkers.

Integrity is the foundation of any solid relationship. By practicing what you preach and honoring all of your commitments you slowly build the trust that is necessary for rock solid relationships. Even if you regret what you said, it is imperative to stay true to your word.

You stop growing when you stop learning. Being inquisitive not only enhances your knowledge of the world, it helps you connect your life with others and develop an understanding of what life is like on the other side of the coin.

Passion will take you as far as you can ever imagine once you find your path in life. If you aren’t finding passion in what you are doing, you are in for a long grind. It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fun factor of life. Even if we are honest, have great integrity, are learning, and passionate there are times when we get caught up in another’s drama. Life’s too short to be lived on someone else’s terms.

It won’t be easy to practice these themes right off the bat. Take one theme and practice it hard for a week and see where you are at.

I know you will be happy you did...