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Evolution

How are your evolving?

Evolution not revolution

I am a member of a generation that wanted to rebel against the establishment and then we became the establishment.  The Beatles got it and sang about us being a group that did not want to really rebel, when they sang “Revolution” in the watershed year of 1968.  For those of you too young to remember 1968, it started with the Tet offensive, which was followed by Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for president, the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June, the riots in Chicago during the Democratic national convention, in November Richard Nixon was elected President of the US as the “Peace” candidate, and the year ended with three US astronauts orbiting the moon, reading from the Gospel of John on Christmas.

As a generation, we declared that we (males) were like Peter Pan and would never grow up and would never sell out to the establishment.   As the draft ended and we had families, we realized that we had sold out.  Now, as we “retire” from the establishment jobs and roles that we enjoyed, we have an opportunity for reflection.  As they enter this phase of life, I suspect many boomers wake up and realize that whether they planned for it or not, they are for all intents and purposes retired from the establishment.  For me it has been in the fall of my sixty-sixth year.

I was reading a blog last week from Harvard business review.  It was a post from an executive coach talking about his work with executives who are planning for a new retirement.  This is the area of practice that I created my coaching practice around when I was a young whipper snapper of sixty-two.  Then, I looked at it as a business.  Today it is a “retirement” business which is more like a practice.  I have to run it as a business, but it is not conducted by the same rules.  There are different driving forces at play.

Frankly, looking at the lyrics to the aforementioned song – I now find I finally have “the plan” and it is all about evolution.  To evolve you must give some stuff up and you must add other stuff in.  The challenge is to determine what you want to add in and what you want to take out – how are you evolving?

What are you evolving from?

Life Coaching in Pittsburgh helping others find their path to evolutionary masculine behaviorFor me, “The plan” is all about giving back.  Helping people figure out their stuff.  It defies positioning from a marketing perspective.  And it defies being run as a business.  I think some examples of the things that I have decided not to do are in order.

I am not much longer going to continue with casual business networking, despite it providing me most of my clients for the last four years.  I am no longer engaged in it the way that others are.  I have evolved to the point where I can see that I have a core group of referral partners that I know, like, and trust.  They remain a core part of my support mechanism.

I am no longer actively seeking clients who are young people wanting to grow long-term, sustainable businesses.  I love the ones that I am still working with and I might work with a few more, but it is not going to be my core focus.  To be true to myself, I need to focus on the evolving needs of today’s boomers as they hit “retirement”.  The 65 of our youth is now more like 85.  When we were born at the middle of the last century, conventional wisdom was that at about 65 people were close to death.  Today that is much more like 85.

I am not going to see clients in my home office, especially since I am selling it to move to a more maintenance-free home.  I will see them in a shared office facility, in coffee shops, their offices, restaurants, or, during the summer, in parks or along walking trails.  Steve Jobs used to have walking meetings.  I will also use Skype and FaceTime.

I am also changing my focus.  I want to work with men in their fifties and sixties who want to design a life in which they are not controlled by an ever enlarging prostate gland, fearing ED, and living in the past, but are rather active, flexible, centered, content and wise.  And I want to work with women in that age group who want a new relationship with their male friends devoid of the opposites of the first half of life and focused on their commonalities with a less gender-biased reality which defines the second half of life.  A retirement-era life in which our differences are replaced by a new harmony and coherence.  And you know what – both men and women are going to have to change their approach to one another and get over the pain from the first half of life in order to co-create a better way of living in the afternoon of their days.

What are you evolving to?

We have such potential in the afternoon of life.  If we can find purpose and meaning, it is likely many of us can and will live Evolving to our true nature involves embracing the core energies inside each of us.active lives until we are at least 85.  But the things that mattered in earlier days are gone.  Men, particularly, need to find a new way.  A new meaning.  A new authenticity.  We are not as strong, we can no longer make love four times a night, throw a fastball, dunk a basketball, hike into the woods with massive amounts of camera gear on our backs and hundreds of other things.  In saying this in no way am I saying that women do not have a similar challenge, but I see too many men sitting on lawn chairs at North Park in the summer and complaining about having nothing to do as they slip into a meaningless life.  They need to find a new way of “manning up”.

As men, we have things we never imagined we would have earlier times.  We have wisdom, even if looking for “masculine wisdom” produces an error in SEO tools since it is not searched for. We have experience.  We have patience.  We have humility.  We need to create a world in which masculine wisdom is not a contradiction in terms – we need to be evolving to that.

My practice focus is for men and women who are wisdom weavers.  People that want to weave together an integrated wisdom based on masculine and feminine energies.

To do this, my “retirement project” is to launch a new website and web community using  an integrated technology from Rainmaker.  It will include educational materials, podcasts, media, imagery, writings and forums dedicated to helping people weave wisdom together in an integrated, integral fashion.  It will also offer various life coaches an opportunity to participate in at least six areas:

  • Careers
  • Relationships
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Community and support

What about you?

Want to help change the world and chart your evolutionary path?  Please plan on sharing your story with us by participating in a new series beginning in January on reclaiming your authentic self in the second half of life.  We will be discussing this series during a live webinar on December 2 at 7 – 8 PM EST.  To register for this free event please click on join us below.shutterstock_114969346

Image Credits – Shutterstock

Paradox of wisdom, working and mindfulness

The afternoon of life

The paradox of the afternoon of life is that just as we may feel we are finally hitting our stride – if we do not take a siesta, we risk burning out – never making it to the evening of life. I have found myself looking at living according to the rules of the first half of life and one point, even said that it is better to burn out than rust. The reality is that mind-set almost certainly leads to death; sooner rather than later.

Mindfulness – the key

The key for living in the afternoon of life is mindfulness. The consequences of not being mindful at any point in life takes a toll, but as we age it manifests increasingly in the physical being.

A perfect example of this phenomena occurred recently, serving as a good reminder to me of lessons I thought I’d mastered. Life is nothing is not a persistent teacher! Recently I’ve been very close to burn out and decided to take a much needed vacation. Shortly into the week, I was already feeling better, but true to my somewhat controlling nature, I was frantically counting steps to get back into shape so that I could better cope with the stress that I had put myself under. Yes you read that right – I was trying to control my relaxation in order to better or more quickly bring myself back to equilibrium so that I could intentionally continue to pile on more stress. A bit of a nasty cycle now that I think about it…

In the evening, my type A personality was still in control, when I tripped over an ill designed corner fireplace corner (really not sure what the architects were thinking but perhaps I should thank them?) and landed on my knees. My already compromised left knee took the brunt of the fall and I immediately knew I had severely injured it. It would set the tone for the rest of the vacation, and in fact the rest of my life.

When I started my coaching practice three years ago, I was determined to help people lead the life they wanted to live in the afternoon of life. In launching that practice, however, I used the approach that worked for people in the second stage of life, what the Hindi’s called the “householder phase”. Both Carl Jung and Gail Sheehy, the author of the book “New Passages”, have asserted that in this phase males and females are the most drawn to overly masculine or overly feminine stereotypes of behavior. While the feminist movement allowed many women to tune out this meme, most if not all men my age clearly did tune into the provider meme. The cause of this stereotypical behavior is the biological imperative to procreate so that the species survives. Whether that works out for the species in the long run is still open to debate.

I tried falling back to householder phase. And it simply does not fit.

The Hindi culture also points to the next phase which is the forest dweller phase, a time of detachment from the world. This detachment is the foundation of effective mindfulness practices. As we age, both genders cross back to the middle of the spectrum, in fact crossing over for men to slightly more feminine energy and vice versa for women who shift towards more masculine energy. Essentially, men become more nurturing and women more independent as they hit their late fifties.

I had been trying to balance my masculine outreach energy during the day with the compulsion to fit in more nurturing activities in the evening . This resulted in something many young women experience today when attempting to “have it all”. Simply put – I burnt out by trying to do too muc. This balancing was by doing more instead of being more.  The “balancing” itself was really overusing masculine energy instead of integrating more rootedness.

As I recovered by resting, I downloaded the book – “New Passages”. I read the original book when I went through my thirties crisis shortly after it was published in 1976. It helped me perceive that my angst at the time was a normal passage. The new book was written in the nineties and I am surprised that I did not find it when researching how people shift in the second half of life because Gail identified that well before Wayne Dwyer and the authors of Quantum Change did in this century.

At this point, all I have re-identified is that I now know the questions to ask. This Monday blog series – Siesta – focuses on living in the afternoon of life by including mindfulness practices. What does it mean for men especially to embrace feminine wisdom and energy and live in harmony with it. This is not a new script for a Transparent type TV show. While gender fluidity is becoming the norm today, this particular exploration is not about clothing or dramatic behavior. It is about how does a sixty or seventy something male live a life of significance without burning out, coping out or dropping out, And how can we have fun doing it? It is the questions we need to ask ourselves.

If you are a guy who has turned sixty, how are you dealing with finding a reason to get up in the morning each day, now that we are living in a time for men where for the most part, the thrill of being a male is gone? If you’re a woman experiencing the shift of focus from nurturing to “doing” – how does that impact your sense of identity? Regardless of your gender – have you noticed these changes in your partner? How has it affected your relationship balance?

We would love to know your story.

Jawbone UP24 as a tracking tool

In preparation for a series on consciousness and awareness, I have been doing some research, which led me to a number of product offerings designed to entrain the brain into a readiness state conducive to meditation. I have found a couple that I will use and be reporting back on in the coming weeks. The first tool that I have found as a feedback to increase awareness is a new device from Jawbone.

Ever since I started using a Jawbone UP24 device in February, I have become a big fan of using technology in general to improve health. Prior to using Jawbone, my sleep was often in the five to six hour per night range. Knowing that what we track changes, I started using my device as a tracking tool to bring awareness to my bad habits and crowd them out with good habits.

Over the last ten days, I have exceeded my goal of 7.5 hours of sleep 8 times. The only discrepancies were getting up for early morning meetings. I have not yet seen a significant increase in my step count, but lumbar issues are playing a role there. Despite lower back issues, I am averaging about seven thousand steps per day, well short of my ten thousand step goal, but in the top thirty percent of UP24 users. It is now starting to trend upward, however.

So, satisfied with that progress, I am now using a new feature for food tracking. It has been an eye opener. I have seen that my daily protein intake is lower than I need it to be, but by and large everything else is in line. I did however; fine-tune my smoothie recipe by cutting the Avocado amount in half, when I saw the overall calorie count. I was pleased to see my sugar intake averaging below fifty grams per day. (Note -As a health coach, I need to point out that the sugar that is consumed really needs to be watched for what form the sugar is and how it is consumed.  Mine for the most part came from whole foods eaten in conjunction with mostly vegetables and a healthy fat source in the same meal so that the absorption is handled.  Even fifty grams of sugar consumed in two candy bars in the form of high fructose corn syrup is not in your best interest.)

There are a number of features in the app that others have commented on elsewhere. From a coaching perspective, I think that it is more interesting to comment on how I have been able to self-coach myself into new behavior by having feedback. Knowing that I will receive feedback each morning on sleep, throughout the day on activity and now on food, it brings awareness to me on my food intake, my activity and my sleep. And awareness fuels positive change.

I am now paying more attention to how these are related. Over time, I will be able to see if there is a connection between the amount I exercise and sleep, as well as the food that I consume and sleep quality/quantity. One key thing that I can now easily track is the amount of water I drink in a day. Most Americans drink far too little water. When I ask clients how much they drink, the answer is usually “not enough.” What we track – we can change – and using the app on my iPhone allows me to track this easily, because looking at it throughout the day to see how I am doing has become a habit.

I am also now seeing that I have periods in the day that do not have activity in them. My chiropractor tells me that sitting is the new smoking, and I now have a device that will tell me to move if I have been sitting for more than an hour (personal setting).. Five months into using this device, I seem to be getting into a rhythm with it. Over the last ten days, my step count has been over 10,000 steps 7 times, and my sleep is averaging above my target of 7.5 hours/night. Being active and getting sleep are the ante or “table stakes” for playing the game of the second half of life. I certainly recommend trying a device like the Jawbone UP24 to others.

How about you? What tricks/tools are in your good health toolbox?

Millennials

Learning from Millennials

Insights from Millennials

I read a blog post  from Huffington Post recently that solidified my thoughts on the wisdom of youth and evolution of the collective unconsciousness. Today’s young adult generation “Millennial’s”, to a large degree, realize intuitively something that took me many years to learn and that is that Boomers got it all wrong with the workaholic consumer driven behavior that we adopted in the eighties. I will not repeat the full list of Millennial insights discussed in the blogpost, but a few really resonated with me.

The first is “Do what you want”. I still struggle with this. I still try to do what I think “I should be doing.” I want to give back and strive to do it, but frankly, giving back by using the core energies that I have used for so long that I feel like I’ve used them up and no longer suit me, is just not cutting it. I find myself doing some things that I hate. This is draining and makes me feel the same way that I did when I was in corporate. I know that I either need to reframe the way that I am doing this particular thing or simply not do it. Seems pretty simple right? But I question whether many boomers really know what we want to do as opposed to what we think we should be doing.  I have a client who tells me that I am the voice in her head, and this amuses me because I wish that the voice in my own head was the voice that she hears. Unfortunately for me, the voice in my own head tends to sound an awful lot like that of my parents.

I suspect that most Millennials were raised by a higher level of consciousness from their boomer or Gen X parents than Boomers were from their “Greatest Generation” parents. The guilt, fear and scarcity that we were raised with is still paying dividends all these years later. Perhaps for Boomers to do what they want – rather than denying our needs – we have to finally reparent ourselves.  I thought that I had, my actions recently however – tell me otherwise. Wasting a day of the few that I have left is simply not in my best interest.  There are ways of paying it forward that do not drain me.  And frankly, I do not need to be paying it forward all of the time. I did not leave too much on the field of play in the first half of my life, so having fun now is okay.  So “do what YOU want to do” is my new motto and I encourage you to adopt it as well.

Millennials and technology

Another item on the Millennials list of “givens” that stuck out to me is to “Embrace Technology.”  This is something which I have always thought that I was naturally good at.  But in retrospect, I find that I was doing it with preconceived notions on what “effective” and “legitimate” uses of technology constitutes. I was basing this on the tools with which I’m comfortable such as  personal computers and laptops, but not smart phones, social media, and leading edge inventions coming out of modern scientific knowledge today.

Over the weekend, I discovered (via an email from Integral Enlightenment) a set of software from iAwake Technologies designed to improve the  quality of your mediation experience.  This is technology that I have seen and even played with to a certain degree.  Last Christmas, my wife gave me a product that used bio feedback to improve your mediation experience.  I have tried it, but found that staring at a computer to see that my pulse and breathing was in harmony with what it should be was not really effective for me.  My respiration count and resting heart rate are already under control.

The technology from iAwake, however, simply uses entrainment of the brain to deepen the meditation experience.  I am using this twice a day, for forty minutes each time.  I have never been able to meditate for that length of time prior to using this technology.  I have found that is is now almost effortless to hold my mantra in my mind, and I am no longer beset by hundreds of thoughts during my meditation.  This has resulted in deeper meditation and less impact “off of the cushion” by stress.  There is a reason Zen teaches “after enlightenment- laundry.”  It is because we can re-enter the world after a mindfulness practice easily and proceed to do the laundry of the 21st century.

Is this cheating?  Maybe.  But who cares.  I am sure that with discipline, I could get to the quality of meditations that I am getting immediately from this technology. To be fair – I am trained in primordial sound meditation from the Chopra Center and have practiced meditation for most of the last two years. But not to this level of quality.  SO, which is of greater value? Spending a couple hundred dollars for technology or spending years of training?  A Millennial would simply just buy it.  I did as well, and it works.  Oh, and by the way, I also love Pinterest.

How about you? Do you struggle with the voices of “Should” and “Should Not!” inside your head? Do you meditate? Do you feel leveraging technology to enhance a spiritual practice to be cheating? And if so – is that OK?

Turning 65

I have spent the last few years trying to convince myself that turning 65 was a non event. It turns out that God has a tremendous sense of humor. A few weeks ago, I, like many other boomers turned sixty-five. They say that sixty five is the new fifty, and while I still believe that, the excesses of the past come home to roost. In my case, it was centered in the lower back, which has been an issue for years but suddenly became much worse.

My spring of heavy functional exercise caused four lumbar discs to bulge and produce something that I never heard of before – parathesia. My body felt like my cell phone was on vibrate at different points in the pelvic area and down each of my legs. Normal essential and routine bodily functions were being impaired – this was a definite wake up call. Something was very obviously amiss and so I set about identifying the cause. I had an x-ray and then an MRI and to quote my doctor, the results were “not awesome.” The good news received, oddly, from a surgeon, was that I did not require surgery.

Taking a lesson from past health issues and modern medical failures, I decided to care for myself rather than expecting a medical miracle courtesy of my primary care physician. My process included a combination of diet, exercise, acupuncture, chiropractic care, medication, essential oils, meditation, EFT, PSYCH-K and therapeutic massage. Now, six weeks from this milestone date, things seem to be getting better.

What I have learned from this experience so far is that there clearly are new rules for the second half of life. First, we must be smart about how much functional exercise we do and perhaps more importantly, how we do it. Poor posture and poor technique may be survivable in early life, but a lifetime of bad habits regarding lifting and posture will have a profound affect as the shadows lengthen. Second, there is no easy cure for chronic health conditions. I used ten techniques to begin to change my condition. I will add yoga and reflexology to the mix to bring it to an even perfect twelve (call me superstitious!). Included in this mix were twelve professional traditional and nontraditional caregivers – four doctors, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, a PSYCH-K practitioner, a personal trainer, a yoga instructor, a reflexologist and my own self coaching (my wife and I are, after all, health coaches).

An important take-away from all of this is that work life balance emerged as a particularly important aspect to be resolved. The twisting of my back quite frankly told me that I could no longer stand the approach that I was taking in a number of areas of my life. To that end, I have begun to change my approach to be more in line with my core values of loving wisdom. The x-ray showed that my spine suffers from scoiolosis, which was new news to me. Interestingly, it is bowed to the left – or to the feminine side of my body. This leads me to believe that the discs that were bulging are related to childhood trauma and the need for grounding. I was left with the realization that I was angry and needed to do something about it if I wanted to feel better.

Upon reflection, what I came to understand was that my core values of loving wisdom, which I discovered previously using the Taylor Protocols Core Value Index, were hidden throughout much of my corporate career. At that time, I relied heavily upon my (arguably inferior) values of powerful knowledge. I tended to just “show up and drive” and placed a far greater value on “facts” over “feelings.” Western society identifies these as the more “masculine” (and often more important) values, while viewing loving wisdom as more “feminine” (and so, necessarily, weaker). I realized, as I started working with people in the business world in my current role, I had inadvertently returned to drawing more on these inferior values that are not core to my essential being. This led to denigrating and limiting who I am and how I “show-up” or behave in a given situation.. I was angry that I had regressed to this older way of being, so out of keeping my essential reality, and the truth was coming out in increasingly aggravated health issues.

This reflection upon and clarification of who I am and how I need to show up is both freeing and empowering. I have begun to tweak my branding ever so slightly to reflect these changes. I’m also now using the full suite of tools and techniques at my disposal including PSYCH-K, EFT and my extensive knowledge of both Christian tradition and eastern wisdom, and its confluence with the quantum reality of our existence.

When I started this practice, I was committed to combining these modalities and teachings into my offerings. But, as I attempted to explain what I do to my referral partners and the general market, I watered down my marketing too much. The result was that I began attracting business that was outside my target market and not in line with my goals. I was attempting to fit in, when I need to fit out. I am an outlier. I do not fit in and the genius of this is that is precisely why people hire me. They want my loving wisdom and outlier perspective. I’ve recommitted to making this available. So in turning 65, it is time for my authentic self to be present in my practice with no apologies. I have come to realize that for me life begins at 65.

How about you? What music is still inside you – and are you ready to play it out loud?

Simplify – Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s

I have not been blogging for the last couple of months, and I feel freed from it.   My coaching practice is focused on busy executives that either need to get out of their current gig and start their own venture – or look at their current gig and change their “stinking thinking” about it.  I came to realize that most of these people at not searching the Internet for advice on where to go to find that.  Very freeing – that thought. No need to write to them.  They are not there.

I have also become every busy with my own practice, and find that I find people, the old fashioned way – by meeting them.

But, on the way back from a client site on Saturday morning, I dropped my iPhone 4s which was still running iOS6.  I do not use a case, because I like the ease of using clean glass for my interaction with the phone and the cases have always hindered that. The two year old phone has been dropped so many times, I was actually surpassed when it cracked – but still worked.  It did reboot.  But I figured that eventually I would be affected again by a hanging chad or chard.

So, I had to upgrade.  Off to the ATT store and back with two new iPhones – my spouse came into 2013 with me and we retired the three year old iPhone 4 as well.  Net net, both phones were fully operational from backups in less than two hours.  Only because I had to do them sequentially.  I was, frankly amazed by the improvement. I still miss, Steve Jobs, one more thing showmanship, but I gotta admit, I am becoming a fan of the results of refining the already superior products that are in play.

I figured, since I had upgraded the phones faster then I thought I would, why not get the new MacBook Pro and try out Mavericks.  Yes I could have upgraded one of our existing machines, but I wanted to try something – a pure Mac environment – no Windows – no Microsoft Office and its constant stream of problems and slow update processes and slow performance – no Chrome and its memory hogging – no Parallels.  Just iWork, the OS and native Mac apps.

Mavericks blows me away.  The changes are small – tabbed finder windows – a form factor and resolution that forced me into full screen mode, which easily allows me to move from clean app to clean app. 16 GB of memory and a solid state drive and blazing speed. I have not used iWork extensively yet, but I use a word processor to type text into a document.  I use a spreadsheet to create simple models and I use presentation software to create simple presentations that I project from my iPad.  And for those people stuck in Windows trying to figure out how to use Windows 8 – they can open anything I share with them.

So I am going to blog going forward on one thing – a love from my past of technology and my reclamation of my photography avocation in a simplified way.  I am culling down all of my unused camera gear, and I am getting rid of extra apps on my devices that I do not need and excess computing power that sits idle. And I am going to do so whenever I feel moved to do so – blog that it is.

For the few readers that were riveted by my postings over the summer on wellness, I looked at what I was writing and realized that I was working on my own issues and not aware of it – which is why I stopped writing when I realized what I was doing and fixed the underlying inflammation issue.  I sought out three caregivers and they all told me the same thing – I was angry.  This has lead me to get rid of the things that make me angry – both in my attitude and in my life.  Ultimately that is leading to getting rid of excess stuff and relationships and ventures that do not work for me – sort of following my own branding.

There is a line from French Kiss spoken by Meg Ryans character Kate – “Happy – smile. Sad – frown. Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” Words to live by. The new MacBook Pro, Mavericks, iOS7 and the iPhone 5s, a simplified environment – Happy Face. It is not a vineyard in the south of France, but it is not South Bronx in the seventies.

I am also not paying someone to edit my posts.  So if you find a typo – enjoy the experience. What is the point of this post?  That we need to be authentic, We need to simplify and we need to say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no.  I think that Meg was actually paraphrasing that line, which I believe is attributed to Jesus.  In fact the next part of it – anything else comes from the evil one – in my theology that means the crazy voice inside of my head my ego.

New Rules are Needed for Work-Life Balance

We are scales.

Not the digitalized platform in which many of us fear. I mean the traditional, two-sided scale. It’s common sense; when one side is more heavily weighted, the device is thrown off balance. We work the same way.

Work-Life Balance is the key driver. From what I have learned from the last few months, new rules define second stage solutions for retirement years.

In my last entry, I focused on the need for balance and meditation – to be centered. While I work with people at the early stages of the second half of life, I have the advantage of being far enough down the road to know where the physical changes hit that show up screaming at you, “BE SMART!”

When I was in my late forties, things changed. My eyesight got to the point where I could not fake it, and I had to wear glasses. I felt old for the first time. Joint pain started at different times, and I just felt worse than I used to. I gave in and got the glasses, and I started working out with less gusto and more care.

Then in my early sixties things dramatically changed again. I fell on uneven ground carrying a camera and tripod in icy conditions. I fell again on black ice with a camera and landed flat on my back. My days often involved an extra unwanted dosage of pain. My skin did not have the depth and translucency of the past. Because of that, I got more radical with my diet, as I have talked about, and my health took a turn for the better.

Then, my wife’s illness, other family issues, increased efforts at launching my own venture, and falling back into the ways of the first half of life for business rules all hit at the same time.

These restrictions could not dominate my life if I wanted to live a long, healthy, happy life. It was time to turn a new leaf and allow myself to take on some new rules.

So, what exactly are these new rules?

  • The need for balance
  • More time for recovery
  • Sleep
  • Be true to your own agenda

Balance is always important, and our health depends on it. But as we get older, I have found that our bodies punish us faster if we break this rule. I was told in my youth that you had to be enjoying yourself fifty-percent of the time while you worked or you were in the wrong job. I am following the rule to find enjoyment in the entirety of my ventures, or find another way of doing them or different ones to do.

I got into this lifestyle so that we could eat well and have a comfortable home environment, and that I could be creative. For the last month, l was working fourteen-hour days and not taking the time for meal prep or other nurturing activities. This double whammy of not balancing my activities between masculine activities and feminine activities and eating food of questionable quality was a disaster for me.

Older bodies take more time to recover. Allow for it. Take an afternoon nap if you need it. While I do not do this, I find that I feel much better if I give myself an afternoon mediation session before starting dinner prep. And doing the prep rather than eating out or ordering in puts better food in our bodies.

Sleep sounds simple. It is more than the time for it, it is the prep for it. Being active late at night makes it difficult for me to sleep. This means that evening classes and teleseminars that I schedule have to allow for time into the next morning to recover. My spouse is younger than I am and gets up early. That means I might have to stay in bed when she gets up, on occasion, in order to get the rest that I need. We all have different needs. We are responsible for determining what they are and holding to them.

This leads to the last item. Be true to your own agenda. The first half of life is combined into two parts: preparing for adulthood and getting our offspring to adulthood. Second Stage Solutions are about OUR needs. This is not narcissistic or selfish thinking. If at this point in our lives we do not meet our needs, we are going to become diseased and put more burden on others. Our hospitals and care facilities are filled with people with all of the diseases of our times. Why not do what makes us happy, and eat good food so we do not get sick? To me, this does not sound like such a bad plan.

I am not telling you to be selfish; I am saying to give back in a way that is onCORE with who you are. So for me, being a caregiver to my spouse while she is still in the workforce is part of who I am. Practicing photography, editing, and using my own work is part of who I am. Understanding new technology trends and applying them is part of who I am. Coaching others is part of who I am. Writing is part of who I am. Teaching is part of who I am. Learning is part of who I am.

So my second stage solutions for me is to balance these in such a way that I feel natural and comfortable. Tomorrow is September 1, in my mind the start if a new school year. Time for new rules. Time to balance the scale.

The Neutral Zone

One book I have read and re-read over and over again is William Bridges’ book, “The Way of Transition”.   This is a publication that he wrote in 2001 after the death of his wife caused him to revisit the whole process of transition.  Clearly, his close ties to his wife significantly influenced this follow-on book to his groundbreaking work, “Transition.”  The original work was published in the seventies as his wife was going through the ultimate transition.   I endured the same fears as my wife battled cancer last year and into this year.  When I started this blog entry last fall, I could not finish it because I did not know how things would work out for the two of us.  Fortunately she is doing well, but our lives will never be the same again.

Writing about the whole process, Bridges defines four traits of the Neutral Zone – that period after we decide or are forced to let go of something and the time that we create that new way of being.  According to Bridges, a life long – or Life 3.0 long – expert on transitions, the Neutral Zone has four characteristics:

  • Reorientation
  • Personal Growth
  • Authentication
  • Creativity

In speaking about reorientation, Bridges likened it to his dog following him on a walk at the beach.  I love walking along the beach, or the thought of doing so now that I have moved inland. Often, I see dogs lagging behind their owners and then scurrying to catch up.  In my own transition from executive to coach, I was often scurrying to catch up with life as I was thrown one curve ball after another.  The reason pointed out in the book is “we have the chance…to take a step forward in our own development by letting go of a less-than-adequate reality and an out-of-date self-image”

Bridges discusses personal growth quite adequately.  Life changes every day, but we hold on to reality as we have been conditioned to understand it.  As I read his description of the sudden changes that can occur and the optional personal growth, I could not help but think of the concepts that were discussed by Malcolm Gladwell in “The Tipping Point”.  I believe, as Gladwell states, that just as ideas all of a sudden catch like viruses, our reality all of a sudden changes.  It is as though we have caught a virus of our own and our life is suddenly different.  We can choose to be changed by this, to grow and thrive by incorporating changes into our way of being, in which case the change is life sustaining.  Or we can fight it, which can “dis-ease” us and ultimately lead to death.  It might explain why so many men have heart attacks in the period of time that they should be shifting from Life 2.0, the householder, to Life 3.0, the elder.  It is in fighting this shift and becoming uneasy that we become diseased.

When professionals, men especially, lose their agency power of being the wide receiver for the Steelers, or the Vice President of Marketing for Google, or a Master Plumber, we often feel lost and we enter the neutral zone.  For Grandma Moses, who invented an art genre in her seventies, she had to give up knitting because she lost her ability to move the needles deftly enough to create, and so she decided to paint instead.

When I tried to commercialize my photography after losing my agency power of being a Senior Vice President of Technology, I was not willing to start over at the bottom of the profession as a “starving” artist.  I was unwilling, in my fifties, to be seen as an emerging artist.  It was too much for me – or my ego – to deal with.  I found that I had to do something more on core with my own experience.  In this way, I was not really starting over as much as using finely honed skills from my career in a new way for a new purpose.

Coaching is something that was a big part of my success in my long management career.  It was not the only part; in fact, I wish I used it more back in the day.  But it was the most gratifying part.  Now that I am two years into the launch process for my practice, I can see it is totally in line with my skills and desires, yet completely different from the way I had to show up in the past.  Yet as I work through the nuts and bolts of the practice,  I have found myself also incorporating my photography love by repurposing existing photography or shooting new imagery to use in the marketing and education activities of my practice.

You may be in the second half of life, and you’re wondering what you want to do to bring the smile back to your face.  Is there something that you used to do really well, but can no longer do because of rules and regulations, or the extreme demands of 24x7x365 work efforts?  How can you use that one skill or pastime to launch your onCOREventure?  Maybe it is software coding for the technology executive.  Maybe it is graphics design for the ad executive.  Maybe it is teaching for the accounting firm partner or sales executive.  If my own experience is any guide, it is not the salary or the agency power that you need; it is the feeling that you are utilizing your unique abilities for perhaps a new purpose and for your own or your clients’ joy. Because let’s face it; back in the late sixties or the seventies, we all said that we would not work for “the man”.   And even if others perceive us as being “the man” or “the woman”, we know that it is just a matter of time before we have to answer, “What’s next?”

Fresh Start

At one point, living past the age of fifty was quite the feat. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then thanks to brainpower and technology. Otherwise, I might not be here, writing this blog.

Now, longevity is en vogue. While living to 120 seems a long ways away, it is not an unfathomable goal. That being said, your fiftieth birthday might not just mean more candles on your cake; it may mean that it is the perfect time for a fresh start, and to start living sustainably. You may start to question whether sixty-six or seventy and one-half have any meaning other than as the current federal mileposts for social security and required minimum distributions?

When I was twenty, I did not think the world would last till the time I turned thirty. I was sure we were going to blow up the planet. This may sound morbid, but it is a timeless notion. People that are coming of age today have this same angst for reasons such as resolving depletion and overpopulation, rather than a nuclear winter.

The beautiful thing about age is that it brings wisdom and perspective. Perhaps it comes from the drop in Testosterone levels. At twenty, I thought about sex at least once a minute. Women were a distraction. Now sex is no longer top of mind, and it is possible to have tension-free discussions with anyone.

Many men in the second half of life are caught in behavior patterns from the first half. They act like dirty old men, or they try to hold on to a macho demeanor. Whether it is authentic or not is beyond me.

I no longer have the strengths of my youth, nor the desire to prove my dominance. I am aware of my own vulnerability. I care much less about what others think of me. For many, this can make a pleasing vision of the future cloud with difficulty.

My vision is no longer what it was. What looked like a sharp photo now looks like an impressionists view of the world, but I always preferred Monet to Ansel Adams anyway. And when I was younger, I needed to escape from reality more, and under-the-influence life took on a Picasso-like look anyway, and sometimes it looked more like the work of Jackson Pollack.

Today I am more content with my everyday view that is softer and more pleasing to my eyes. This doesn’t mean I have selective vision; I still see the rantings of the mostly conservative people that are my age.

One sign in a yard says, “I want the America of my Youth!” We’ve all heard it: a member of the older generation slamming a fist on the table, exclaiming the perfection of the past, and the spiraling downturn of our society today. What’s a different way of looking at that? We have more today than fifty years ago in so many areas. When I hear that, I go back to segregation, the objectification of women, homophobia, “children should be seen and not heard”; “why are you crying, I’ll give you something to cry about?” “Stop laughing, or I’ll wipe that smile off of your face”.

They see Norman Rockwell, I see Arthur Miller. As Carley Simon crooned back in the good old days, these are the good old days.

Another sign says, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Do they even know what a republic is? The founding fathers took a bold step, from the systems of government of the time. But in the eighteenth century, it was a republic instead of a democracy because they wanted to duplicate the power base of the landowners in Britain – in America – and keep the riches to themselves. There was no direct vote of the President, or of Senators. The indirect vote was restricted to a select few. They did not want the rabble to have any control.

Looking backward in the second half of life is pointless unless it is to process what we have learned and figure out how we can best contribute to the future. Putting signs up like the ones I have mentioned is not beneficial to society. I don’t like to make assumptions, but I would be willing to bet these people are constant complainers. They see that young people today do not respect them. And why should they? Looking backwards and aching for the past kills any potential for joy today. Look at what you have now. Figure out what you can do with it and stop fantasizing about a reality that never existed. Play with your grandchildren, or start a business, or take up a new career, or volunteer, or plant a garden, be a mentor to a child of a single parent, learn to dance, learn to cook and invite your neighbors who are still working crazy hours to dinner and create intimacy with your life partner. Does that sound so bad? I don’t think so.

Have a little bit of fun everyday.

How we shift

Last week, I experienced a trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks like no other. For the first time in twenty years, I vacationed with a leaderless family. It was a bittersweet feeling; much to my enjoyment, I was not in control, but my mother-in-law, undoubtedly the leader of my wife’s family, passed almost one year ago. Her presence was still felt as my wife and her family and I gathered to celebrate her life and delight in her memory.

I came to the conclusion that Americans isolate themselves from others and their environment. Although this was not the first time I realized this, it was the first time it became firmly entrenched in the second half of my life.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I both took a new assessment – called a Core Values Index (CVI). Because I now thoroughly understand it myself, we will be using this assessment as part of our toolset for clients of onCOREventures in the near future.

Love. This four-letter word is one of the most sought-after and sometimes one of the most feared terms in the English language. Within this assessment, it is referred to as Merchant energy, but I prefer to use the “L word” because it evokes stronger emotions. It is this powerful entity that is my primary driver in life, according to the assessment.

As I burned out of my corporate Life 2.0 experience, I shut the door on many relationships, and I have not replaced them.  Because love is such a major influence on my actions, the diminishing of these relationships is tough to swallow.  Though this is a dark alley, it has helped me to get in touch with two primary issues for men, particularly in the second half of life:

  1. What masks did I wear in the first half of life?
  2. How do they affect the way that we show up in the second half of life?

In the past, I relied heavily on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in looking at my own life choices.  When I was 39, I took the MBTI for the first time and I “tested” as INTP.  This assessment uses a series of questions to determine preferences – and is said to not change significantly.  The key word is significantly.  In looking back at my scores in the past – my “I” score, which indicates a preference for Introversion as opposed to extraversion, was very close to being “E,” or Extraversion.  My “T” score, which indicates Thinking over Feeling, was very close to “F,” or Feeling. Lastly, my “P” score, which indicates perception over judgment, was also very close.

I am currently in a second coach-training program from IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition) so that I have a better grounding in the effects of food and nutrition on mood and health.  As part of that program I took the MBTI again – just for “grins” – as they say.  My results were ENFJ.  Perplexed, to say the least, I “stumbled” on the CVI, which indicated that, my core values were much more in harmony with the ENFJ preference than the INTP preference.

These were slight changes in three of the four indicators, but the difference was that I was “extremely” intuitive versus sensing, so that did not move across the 50% mark and shift to “S”.

It makes sense to me that these indicators shifted as I shifted.  It also makes sense that as I removed my “corporate” mask, I show up as more authentic to my true persona.  For me, this has major implications on my second half of life.

However, today I want to speak on gender roles.  INTP’s like to keep to their options open, they see things as shades of grey, and they look to the big picture. This certainly describes how I lived the first half of my life in corporate senior management. It was fitting at the time, especially as a man; there are many more female ENFJ’s then males, and there are many more male INTP’s than females. However, that was not fitting with my core value system, which is how I shifted to the ENFJ identity.

Did this “shift” occur overnight for me?  Probably, but it was at least five years before I left corporate.  In fact, the major reason that I left corporate was because I stopped keeping my mouth shut.  I now understand what removed the filter, so to speak.  As a result, I lost the agency power of being a senior vice president, with all of its perks  and financial prosperity.  Although, it was a breath of fresh air; for I was finally able to remove an uncomfortable, incompatible mask.

This mask contained all of my corporate relationships, which does not seem out of the ordinary for many successful men. Friends in this working zone often attach themselves to the position. The moment we lose that power, we also tend to lose those companions as well if we are honest with ourselves. If we want to maintain these relationships, we feel the need to live a lie.

In my case, my isolation allowed me to get in touch with the way I value love and relationships, both of which are “feminine values”.  This shift led me to coaching others – a pursuit that follows my values and makes me feel truly onCore with my life.

I have begun to form new friendships and relationships that are rooted in my true self. For example, I am on the board of the International Coaches Federation – Pittsburgh chapter.  I am responsible for marketing, and I am actually the only male on the board.

From my own life long conditioning, it is my assumption that the other board members see me as a former senior executive offering my marketing experience and expertise, and while I can draw on that experience some , it is not the primary driver for me any longer.

I am in the organization and on the board for collaboration and support from like-minded people that I have a common profession and value system with.  There is major opportunity to show up in an authentic fashion for me in the second half of life, because the majority of the women on the board are in the second half of their lives – or approaching it. They are all shifting as well, so we all have the opportunity of crafting new ways of being.

My desire is not to lead now from my own vision, but to foster relationships and cooperation. The fact that people look to me for leadership and vision is a plus, it is easier then to show up and be egoless.  And in the second half of life, women are often seeking to assert independence and their own agenda in a more direct fashion.  There is room for both genders in organizations and in our family relationships to redefine ourselves and enjoy approaching life differently.

For more information on the phases of life, and how men and women shift in the afternoon and evening of life please request our free eBook.