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Moving Van

Downsizing – To Move or not to move?

Moving

One of the realities of the afternoon of life is that we are going to move, even if it is to an urn on our grandchildren’s mantle or a hole in the ground.  It is not a question of if, it is a question of when and a question of how.  Many people, as they reach the age of traditional retirement, fight to hold on to the activity level they had.  They like the comfort and the lifestyle so they plod along shoveling snow and landscaping yards far past the point of enjoyment.  Others begin to fall victim to the clear cut effects of an aging body and they let their homes and themselves go to “seed”.  In both cases, the result is often denial of the fact that it is time to make a decision on where and how to live.  And as a result we do not realize that it is time to move on, emotionally and or physically.

Holding on to the past

What “once were vices are now habits” is the title of a song by the Eagles from back in the morning of the lives of todays boomers – or the 70’s for those of you born more recently.  Consumerism, in the form of adding more plants and shrubs to our suburban plots and maintaining properties that were great when the kids were home but are now empty most of the time, is really pointless.  Well, actually more than pointless – they are a time drain and a waste of effort unless the activities still bring enjoyment.

When Levitt built the fist sub-division on Long Island that bears his name, it is reported that he believed that if returning GI’s had to take care of property on weekends and improve their homes, they would not have time to be socialists or communists.  It seems that the fears of socialist ideas that were in vogue in the depression-era America of the thirties were still fresh in his mind and were a real fear.  It is hard to even consider that fear today as we are solidly consumer orientated.

Fast forward seventy years and today’s children of that “greatest generation” are still plodding along and spending countless hours or dollars taking care of properties that have long outlived their usefulness.  Why?

From society’s view it is because this keeps us busy and ensures we are good American consumers.  Watch the TV commercials during sporting events and see the ads for Christmas.  Nothing says “Merry Christmas, celebrate the birth of the son of God” more than a new Lexus.  Right behind that are commercials for The Home Depot and Lowe’s – fix up your house for the holidays. If that doesn’t get you, drink Miller lite and feast on chips and salsa in front of a brand new 4k TV during the playoffs.

What if we moved away from these houses, cars, and gadgets and freed up time for work to change a society gone crazy with consumerism and over extended time commitments. Could we make a difference by moving from individual homes to a community of intergenerational people that could use our wisdom?  Could we establish community with others like us in a fifty-five and over community and perhaps make a difference by working collectively to share our wisdom with others while having some fun in the process?

Why do we hold on and delay a move to a more freeing lifestyle?  We probably do not know what we would do differently.  So we keep on keeping on. I am living through this right now.  I am holding on to clients I no longer want to coach (not you if you are reading this, one of the other guys). I am holding on to possessions that I no longer need (but as I wrote last week, that is being taken care of). I am holding on to chores that I no longer need and never wanted to do in the first place (I hate landscaping).

What can life be like now?

rebirth, vision, second life, retirement, giving back, life coaching pittsburgh

Perhaps it is because we have not allowed ourselves to determine what life can be like now. For me, I have decided I want to do the following:

  • Create a new web based business to help people deal with stress, disease, and interruptions and move toward mindfulness and well being
  • Move to a community where I can be around people my own age that want to spend time with others on community related projects
  • Spend time visiting family – especially my grandchildren – and act as a positive influence in their lives
  • Spend more time being as opposed to doing – which is in harmony with my own human operating system
  • Take some college courses in areas that I never studied because “there was no money in that” – as my grandparents were known to say

So, it is easy for me to make a move – I know what I want to move to.  As I write this, Walter and his friends are blowing away the leaves form the trees around my home.  I am grateful for Walter, really grateful. I live in a forest. I will be more grateful that next year I will not have to hire Walter to do this. And I now know what I want to be doing instead.

How to get startedMove, Simplify, downsize, discovery, coaching Pittsburgh

So if you are like me and find that discovering your authentic self is long overdue for you, I have a thought for you to consider.  I remember hearing about the gravestone of a man named John – it said – “Here lies
John, born a man, died a grocer”. For all of the people nearing retirement and thinking that there must be a better way of living in the afternoon of life, we have a tele seminar  in two weeks.  Join us to find out what is stopping your move and find out what music is still left inside of you to be played. Perhaps it is time to stop working for the “man” and be the man or woman that you were born to be. Perhaps it is time to move.

 

Image credits – ShutterStock

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.

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?”

Look at the Birds….

Last week, I talked about the different diet approaches that provide the basis for our own food choices in the second half of life, which is a good starting point for anyone looking to make their own choices.  My original intention was to simply summarize the points of each of the authors, but that quick “Cliff Notes” process is not our style.  We believe you need to live with each theory and see how it affects you because our purpose is only to share what we have learned from an author and how it has impacted us, not tell you which one is right for you.

This belief comes out of my religious background, which is firmly rooted in my mother’s Irish Catholic beliefs.  In my formative years, I was raised in St. Bridget’s Parish on Long Island.  My own initial training in Bible study came from the teachings of two Pittsburgh Catholic priests who taught me two considerations when reading the Bible.  The first is that you have to understand the audience and the times of the writer.  Father Eugene Bonachi of the Mon Valley, which was decimated in the eighties as the steel mills closed, also taught me that the backstory of the writer cannot be ignored.

For this reason, so much of my back-story is on this blog series.  Who I am and my beliefs are always made visible in my writings or teachings.  Father Bonachi was an activist priest who believed that Reganomics was a disaster; something on which I believe he was remarkably accurate.  His assumption was that it would lead to a larger gap between the poor and the now former middle class, and the wealthy as the industrial base of America was destroyed and moved offshore.

But he also taught the importance of context.  Father Bonachi used the example of the headline of “Buc’s Bomb Birds.” Currently, it could refer to the Pittsburgh Pirates beating the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball.  It could be anything from the victory of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game a few years ago to a Disney-created story of Jack Sparrow bombing an island with flocks of birds in a future “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.

So, the audience to whom the diet-creator is writing as well as the context of his experience and motivation needs to be understood.  Regarding diet, we are coaches, and we want our clients to be healthy and happy.  We are not selling diet books or being paid by food or drug companies for a testimonial.  We form our own beliefs, and we expect our clients to do the same.

The second thing I learned about reading and studying the Bible in the early Catholic church is that the interpretation of the Bible was not in the purview of the uneducated laity who had no knowledge of the times in which the stories were written.   For them it was to reflect upon how the story applied to their life and to share that with others.  This is something that I have continued to hold to, and the same thinking  should be applied to a lot of the teachings of both conventional and alternative healing theories, both of which seem to be religions to the people promoting them.  I believe this to be particularly true with diets that purport to understand how people lived and ate in the “cave man” era, or “diets” designed to sell supplements or manufactured foods.

The only thing that is certain right now is that regardless of what we do, we are going to die eventually.  If we fixate on the belief that we are going to be in more pain the older we get, and we are going to be less able to do the things that we used to do, we are going to amplify those effects on our bodies and psyches.  We need a fresh start in order to have healthy living in our retirement years.  Each of us has to weigh quality of live versus quantity of life and make our own decisions.  If in reading these diet books, we feel that eating kale for the next fifty years in order to have health is not worth the fact that we have to eat kale, then we won’t do it.  What we eat is important, but how we find our spiritual center is equally as important.  We can find similar answers in quantum biology and in sacred scripture.

So what was to be a six week blitz of these diets, is turning into a Thursday Wellness posting, and we will weave in these theories and others into the entries.  What we eat is only part of the story.  How we think and what we feel are a big part of what the fifty trillion cell structure that appears to the world as our body does with the food.  In his new book – “The Honeymoon Effect” about how our thinking controls our health, Bruce Lipton channels James Carvile from Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign with “it is the environment stupid.”  This is how I interpret this portion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:26-27) “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

Here is a link to a site that Melinda found today, and my interpretation of it is that we, like this squirrel or the birds in the Sermon on the Mount, know what we should eat if we don’t let our egos and toxic thinking get in the way.  If squirrels are in-tune with what is good and what is bad, then why are we not able to do so?  Because we worry, which means we tune into the fear that we will look stupid.  So if everybody else is eating beef that was force-fed GMO corn and injected with drugs, then we should.  Really?  The last time I ate factory beef I found it to have no taste unless it was combined with sauces and salt and perhaps a bacon wrap.  We must not be dominated by our fears, but by our “gut feelings” on what is right for ourselves.

To do this we need to be in harmony with the magnificent creation that is the fifty trillions cells known as an individual human being, and to eat food and establish practices that balance our mind, body and soul.

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.

Generation 13

No, this is not about the next series on the “House” genre…

In the book “Generations, The History of America’s future 1584 to 2069” published back in 1991, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe make a compelling case that the “Boomer” generation really only goes through 1960 and actually started in 1943. They contend that people born after that year comprise a different generation which extends from 1961 to 1981.  When I first heard of this, I was unsure that I agreed with them, probably according to conventional wisdom, because my spouse, born at the end of the baby boomer “traditional segment”, is in the same generation as myself. Accepting this new classification places me squarely in the “older generation.” Something my spouse has probably long suspected…  However, the more that I think about it, the more I tend to agree. This “thirteenth generation” to come around since the English speaking settlement of North America is markedly different from the boomers.

Boomers are idealists, while Generation 13 is reactive. I have intuitively known this since the early 70’s when first looking back at 1968 through the lens of Kent State and Watergate. For boomers, 1968 was a defining year.  Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, along with Robert Kennedy.  Riots took place in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention.  The year began with the Tet offensive, along with Apollo coming back from the orbit of the Moon, bringing color photographs of the Earth from Space. I remember thinking that we looked so small.  For many of us, this was the beginning of the end of our idealism. Granted, many such death blows would be dealt in the years to come, but perhaps none so powerful as this humbling reminder of our fragility and ultimate inconsequentiality.

Pop music went FM in 1968. In Pittsburgh Jim Quinn played bubble Gum music (who can forget Sugar, Sugar – no matter how hard we might try). The AM station KQV targeted an ever younger micro-bopper music set while over on the FM side acid rock was being played to boomers so that we could escape Nixon, the “Peace” candidate.  We realized that if Nixon was the best chance for a peace candidate, we are all hosed.  I remember driving back to CMU from St. Margaret’s Nursing School and reading the billboard “This time vote as if your whole world depended on it.” Seriously?

In retrospect, I have always known (but not always understood) that people born in 1961 and later were reacting to our outrageous behaviors, reacting against feminism, reacting against protesting the war (funny now that I joined that reaction when my lottery number came out as 301). As the new generation grew and matured, they reacted to our sexual excess; though this potentially was more of a reaction to the worldwide outbreak of the nightmare of Aids as they entered their twenties and thirties.

So if you are in generation 13 and still reacting, ponder this: How will you cope with the state of the world as you enter your fifties and plan for the future? How is that economy working out for you? Does the US and European Sovereign Debt figure bring you much comfort?  I’ve often thought the boomers put their head in the sand in the eighties…it’s time to retract our ostrich ways and allow the sun to shine on issues we’ve successfully ignored for decades now. Boomers born before the Berlin wall went up, before the Cuban Missile Crisis, before JFK was executed might be just barely able to hang on by their fingernails, retiring in a semblance of the way of the “greatest generation”, but I would not bet on it.

If you are in Generation 13 (as two of my children along with my spouse are) and are still dreaming of a traditional secure retirement, heed the words I often heard as a child and “forget about it!”  One of the best lines in television, from the HBO miniseries on the 101st Airborne division, “Accept the fact that you are already dead, then every day is a gift.” Deepak Chopra jokes that life is a sexually transmitted disease that is always fatal.  For those of us that are in Generation 13 (and I apparently married into that generation for better or worse) we need plan B.

The careers we selected in our youth either no longer fit or simply do not exist.  The dream of the “good life” in retirement is gone.  When (not if) the sovereign debt bubble bursts, there will be no more pensions, no more iced drinks on yachts, no more processions of white shorts and  pastel polo shirts in an endless sea of green golf courses. Forget Greece or Spain…is California too big to fail? But all of this doom and gloom is not to say that we cannot create a new concept of the “good life.” In fact, that is exactly what we must do. This choice, to redefine who we are, what we stand for, how we want to live, is our birthright.

Soon we will not be able to exist in the same way that we are living today. What exactly are we going to be dong to support ourselves? It does not matter who wins this year in the election…our nation is broke. If the government couldn’t simply invent paper that has supposed value, we would be declared instantly insolvent. We need to figure out how we want to live in the post industrial world, who we want to be living with, how we spiritually ground ourselves and how to become as healthy as possible…if we hope to survive.

Does Everyone Shift?

At some point, probably yes. But does everyone also become aware?

In one of my favorite “lite” movies, Pretty Woman, a rich venture capitalist and a pretty young prostitute both shift to new ways of being in just four days.  The VC decides to begin working with the father figure of his newly acquired company to build big ships, while the woman determines to align her outer environment with her inner self, leaving the LA to pursue a GED and radically change the way she works and lives.

In reality, most shifts occur over several years, not several days. As is the way with movies however, we meet the character at just the precipitous moment where he is ready to shift. He has fought back his father, staked his claim in life and made his fortune. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, he realizes, as many of us do, that none of this has brought him satisfaction. Most of us however, do not run into the perfect storm that allowed the character to so completely shift in such a short amount of time. For most, in “real-life”, the process is more gradual.

President William Clinton partially shifted after the 1994 mid-term elections, driven perhaps by the fact that his policies were not supported by the people he was elected to lead.  He began to cooperate with congress, and for a short time was able to reach across the aisle and work with Newt Gingrich on broad legislation. This helped drive prosperity and craft the ever elusive balanced budget for the first time in ages.  Of course those two estimable gentlemen also shared off-field passions that brought the Clinton Presidency and the Congress center stage for the last years of the Clinton administration.

Today, President Barack Obama might be shifting. His decision to support Gay Marriage, clearly a progressive agenda item that his archetype should favor, is evidence that he is attempting to “man up” and own his values, making decisions consistent with his value system, and not solely for political expediency. Authenticity is a key post-shift value for many men, particularly those around President Obama’s age.  If this is the first step in his shift, perhaps he will turn into a statesman – the first to hold the office of the presidency since George Washington.

What about Mitt?  Has he shifted as well? Pre-shift, a venture capitalist with a strong belief in small government might sell the Grand Canyon to Exxon Mobil under the motto of “Drill, baby Drill”.  That same venture capitalist post-shift, would still identify with the same values of small government, but might work with congress to change the C corp legal restrictions on officers acting solely for shareholder value to act more like “B” corps that are able and required to act on all stakeholder interests. He might then sell off those National Parks to companies like Disney or create IPO’s.  The net result is the same but the results are critically different. In both scenarios, the Federal government exits operating parks, turning it over to private enterprise. In the first situation, the parks are destroyed, big industry rules the day, and what is left of our country’s beautiful natural heritage is obliterated. The latter situation, created by a man acting in accordance with another post-shift  value, god’s will in their life, or PURPOSE or, if you prefer, the needs of all people, allows for positive inclusion of business to intersect with the rights of the individual, working together to preserve what is arguably our most precious resource.

From this perspective, it is even possible to assert that President George W. Bush shifted while occupying the oval office.  It was, after all, God who told him to invade Iraq.   But as fans of Oh God, you Devil know, the voice of God and the voice of Satan sound the same. What does it take to discern the difference? Awareness.

So, how do we know if we are aware? Men, post-shift, the focus is often on authenticity, listening to God’s will, trying to live in accordance with an identified purpose, focused on family, spiritually connected, and striving for a sense of personal peace. For women, post-shift focus often centers on personal growth, self-esteem, happiness, forgiveness and spirituality.  But back to the question at hand – how do we know if we are aware? The fact is, if we have to ask – we probably are not yet there.

This year America will elect Romney or Obama, or whomever, to be the next president of the US.  They may, or may not, be aware.  If they are, there is some hope that we will finally stop fighting with one another and make decisions based on what is good for all, or at least most, Americans.  But then there is always Congress, not much awareness there.  So it goes.

In the meantime, for those of us that have shifted and are aware, all we can do is become as healthy and fit and well as we can be. Focusing on creating lives, companies, and ventures that generate true prosperity for everyone we touch.  Eventually, as 80 million boomers shift, wake up, and live on purpose with happiness and forgiveness, acting as elders in society and giving back to the next generation, it will not matter who is elected or what congress does. We the people will create the America the founders envisioned. We, the people, will create what will serve us best.

Be Happy in your Work

A favorite movie line of mine,– and my children will tell you I have many,  comes from  Colonel Saito  in the Bridge on the River Kwai who says “Be happy in your work”. For a long time I tried to apply that advice to my own life.

Last week, I was in NY, steps away from where my great-grandfather was born in 1851. During his time, it was known as Newtown Creek, today it is Long Island City.  In 1851 it was a small settlement destined to become one of the most industrial areas in the US. Today it is home to a creek that was once the most polluted body of water in the US and is a complete multi-cultural hodgepodge.

I was there to work and I was not happy in it at all.  I was there, or so I thought, to develop a go to market client acquisition cycle for my company launch.  Turns out that it was work, hard work and I was not happy in at all.  In fact I was consistently bringing awareness to how unhappy I was.  Now, I’ve never been afraid of hard work, and I’m pretty good at setting my mind to a task, even if its unpleasant, and getting it done. So why was I meeting such internal resistance?

I am a native New Yorker, even recently lived in the Greater New York area, spending a lot of time there prior to and after 9-11.  It was good to see what was to be Freedom Tower and seems to be One World Trade Center rising like a Phoenix in Lower Manhattan.  Truth be told however, I don’t like the drama of New York.   Tell a NY person what has gone wrong with your day and more often than not, they are scrambling to top your story with what in their life is worse.  This is not unique to New York, only more common than in say, Pittsburgh. But the drama is overwhelming to me and I was not prepared for it.

I kept bringing awareness to it, but I also found myself being drawn in to patterns of behavior that I thought I’d left behind me.  I found myself swearing more in four hours than in the last six months. I was sitting there, talking about the business of coaching.  Nothing can mess something up faster than talking about the business side of it.  Why should anyone listen to me I was asked.  What do I have to offer?  In my mind, I struggled to even form the words “I thought you could change the way that you show up in difficult circumstances and that would make all the difference”.  I even tried on “I could still be making more money a year than I ever imagined and be happy with it, if I had only changed my way of thinking”.  It turns out that this line of thinking, for me,  is simply not accurate.   The decision to get out of the C-Suite in 2006 was right for me then, and continues to right for many others today.

I believe now that I had to re-experience it.  In New York, you tend to hang on to small things as identity.  I was a Giants Fan – my coach is a Jets fan.  If you are from New York,  you understand this gulf.  If not, think about Israel and Palestine.  My coach sees the world from a small business development perspective.  I have always worked with large companies and organizations, even in my small business background we wanted to be big, and our customers were huge.

So, I had a bad day.  It started out really well.  I had a delightful conversation with an 81-year-old woman who was both wise and curious (perhaps these traits inform each other?).  I maintained awareness throughout the experience of traveling to Long Island City including the cab ride in on the LIE (Long Island Expressway).  However,  as soon as conflict arose around my personal branding,  I was not happy – still “aware” but decidedly not happy.  I had a branding experience once before in Brooklyn when working on my photography business. At the time, that branding   felt constraining to me and was a framework I quickly outgrew.  So it seems I have a history with “New York brand people” and rather than staying fully present in the moment, I was time shifting between the two experiences.

As we worked though the discussion and arrived at my “Truth”, I was aware of the shift in my understanding although still unhappy.  I had to realize that sometimes life sucks and it’s okay to be aware that I did not want to be having this discussion nor would I enjoy its ramifications.

Returning home however, made all the difference.  I felt better driving from the airport in Pittsburgh to the northern suburbs and our home in the forest – they called it Penn’s woods for a reason.  The energy of nature and its healing effects is palpable.

Being happy in your work is not enough if it no longer is True for you – if you have shifted in your values and priorities.  Last week, I repeated a ritual that was part of my life for far too many years.  Up before dawn – drive to the airport – lunch on the road – meetings – dinner on the road – back to the airport and back home – door to door in less than 18 hours.  Too tired to process the information that day.

The difference now is that I scheduled time to process it the following day – and process it I did.  The Truth from my New York trip is that I do not help launch new businesses – yet.  Someday – I might.  What I help people do is get in touch with what is inside of them and identify a way to launch their on-core venture. This is what I did in my own life, and what I have now to offer others.  I stepped away from a life I was drowning in because even though I made a lot of money – quite frankly, it simply sucked. It was not always that way; after The Shift it was abundantly clear that this path was no longer mine.

If  you are no longer happy in your work, even if other’s feel you “have it all” and “should be happy”, now is the time to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. Figure out what will you be happy doing – and go do it.

Transitions

Life 3.0 is our definition for the third phase of life.  According to a book that I am reading on Transitions – called  “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges – in the Hindi tradition there were four phases of life.  These phases were referred to by many names, but they consist of :

  • The Student – that period of time from 12 to 24 focused on learning and discovering our role in society – it was a period of probation or training and included an apprenticeship
  • The Householder – the period of time from 24 to 48 – a time of self sacrifice for others in society – a time for raising children
  • The Elder Advisor – also know as Forest Dweller – the period of time from 48 to 72 – a time for reflection and to discover who am I
  • Sannyasin – beyond 72 and is a period of time when one emerges from the forest understanding who I am – a time of wisdom and a time for reflection and preparation for the end of life

Today, we are living longer, and the ages have been pushed back for many of us, but we still yearn for that Forest Dwelling phase of life.  It is curious – in his book, Bridges glosses over this phase and sees it as an extension of the householder phase.  Others, including teachers like Dr. Wayne Dwyer believe differently.  They believe that “A Shift” occurs at some point in the life of an adult and all of a sudden life can not be lived as it was.

Carl Jung, the famous psychologist wrote – ”One can not live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what was great in importance in the morning will be of little importance in the evening and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie”

Unfortunately, for many of us in America, we feel stuck in our careers – even though they no longer fit our needs.  Inside of us a fire burns and calls us into the forest.  OnCore Ventures’ Life and Career Review Programs helps individuals, couples and groups to discover life’s purpose and find a way to contribute to society in this very valuable phase of life, that we believe lasts from about 55 to 85.

A Life or Career Review will help who determine if you have shifted and introduce you to the process of Discovery.