A better way to answer the “what do you do” question

What do you do?
I have a ranty confession. Every time I hear this question I cringe and every time I get asked this question I avoid answering in the way they expect it to be answered. The reason I do not like the question is because it defines us by what we do instead of who we are. Most of the time this question gets asked when you first meet somebody and a label is automatically established. The label says if you have made it, if you have prestige, if you are a hard worker, if you are respectable, and it represents your importance; all based on what you do.
This question drains me to ask and it kills me to answer. The conclusion is made of what is important to us by what we do for work and that is such a small part of who we are. We have gotten so good at manipulating this so we seem important by coming up with fancy sounding titles that are just elaborate words that have fake prestige to them. I understand employers want their employees to have importance in their title and to have professionalism, but some titles these days are getting out of control and you have not made it unless your name includes an abbreviation or acronym.
Making lemonade with lemons
We can try as hard as we can to avoid and change the environment that this question is asked, but we will have to face it. I have accepted this and believe it or not I have a way that we can use this question to create a powerful impact. It does take some creative action, but it will be powerful.
For me, I would tell people I am a writer and life coach, some of the time I would get that is nice with the possibility of a follow up question about what I write about since writers are always writing something interesting. Things changed when I started to tell people I help champions become champions. I have not changed what I do, but I changed how I portray myself. The first is bland and boring and the second is helpful and transformational. People love people that serve to help others and it is a powerful bonus when they hear the transformation of somebody becoming a champion. To be honest, I took this from somebody, but it is something worth sharing and using because it works in a powerful way.

How it works
The problem at the beginning was that I did not like how our work defined who we are and the figure out who somebody is we use the question what do you do. It puts the emphasis of identity on what you do and have done instead of who you are. When you hear I help champions become champions, you hear somebody being helpful, believing the best of others, somebody that believes in transformation, and somebody that is in the service of making change. When I say this it shows that I believe I have purpose and it shows that I believe others have purpose. It puts emphasis on who I am instead of what I do.
This is hard work to figure out because it takes a little soul searching and step outside of the status quo, but that is the responsibility of being creative. Fortunately it comes easier than you think. Here are a few questions for you to figure out how you can be more powerful in what you do.
1 I help blank
2so blank
3 can do blank

This is just a suggested path, as you notice the example I gave of “I help champions become champions does” does not have the words so or can. It has an action, it has a person, and it has a transformation.
Examples of this can look anything like the ones below
I care for new moms getting through the stresses of the infant phase.
I watch over the trends of sales to enhance the potential of sales in our company
I lead a team of engineers to create innovative products to make medical procedures more safe.
I train and invest in employees to be effective and purposeful in the work place to maximize their potential.
These are much more powerful than the alternative responses to
Answering the do you do question in this way is much more powerful than saying I am a…
Pediatrician
Sales analyst
Bio engineer
Or
Human resources.

In the comments give me your most powerful response to what do you do.
Show me that we can transform the way we answer this question
If you want to know more about this transformative process send me an email at restoringmyvision@gmail.com and I can give you a call to help you have a more powerful impact.
We can set up a free 30 minute consultation to see what it is that is holding you back from becoming who you want to be and being who you want to become
In the comments give me a powerful example of what you would say to the question
What do you do, so you show you have purpose and meaning?

understanding the privileges of life coaching

We need to talk about privilege
I have somethings to admit and let you in on. This idea of restoring vision is somewhat pretentious. What I mean by that is that it is quite assuming of our social position. Jus the basic level that I have the time to write, coach, and think about restoration, passion, and vision is a privilege. I am not saying this is not work and I am not doing my part in the world, but there are some privileges that have gone unrecognized. If restoration is going to be practiced and utilized in its full capacity then the privileges will have to be recognized, considered, and adapted into the plan of reaching and teaching. Here are 5 privileges that we need to be aware of when restoring passion to pursue our vision from the perspective of the coach.
1. Free time and money
Time is money and money is time. As a coach there is an assumption that you have the time to absorb the information I have to give and the process is trustworthy enough to take your time and money. If I think of somebody that is economically disadvantaged, racially disenfranchised, or under resourced by any other means; I probably do not think they would be able to financially afford the investment to pay for coaching to pursue their dreams, their passion, and their one true desire. Most working class people can not afford coaching programs like this because they are so expensive. Often times in the entrepreneur world I hear this being talked about as a “target audience”. If the population of people does not fit your goal than that is not your audience, is what I hear, and that sucks for a large chunk of the population that gets left out.
The privilege is that I can financially afford the time to think, process, and teach these coaching programs
Within this same presumption is the presumption of time. It is one thing to financially be able to afford it, but can you afford it with your time. When people are under resourced they often spend their time working 2 or 3 jobs to get by, maybe providing for a family, just to get through each day. No big dream pursuits, no ambitions to create the next nonprofit that changes the world, just the drive to take care of themselves and their family to make sure there is food and a roof over their heads. Yes there are dreams of things that would be nice, but dreaming about nice is not too wise. My privilege is that I can speak to people that have time to think about the big picture vision of life, coach them to their goals, and to figure out ways to not be held back by everyday struggles and responsibilities. Sometimes I look up to this way of life; it has dedication to family and faithful work. The simplicity of it is envious from the outside, but we can not assume that their struggle is any different than ours because we all have the same amount of hours, but different resources that display our privilege for opportunities.
2. Coaching will do it
I think as a coach, I as well as many other coaches think we have what it takes to get you to your goal. coaches that try to promote how well rounded their research is , which is in-turn their practice, without listening and investing in the person first; is that it comes off as narrow minded. It assumes that the only thing holding the person back from their manifest destiny is themselves. I believe this is true, but not all the time. Coach’s talk about it is how you organize your life and figure out your priorities. I do believe everyone can benefit from a coach, but a coach will not get everybody to their goals. Sometimes there needs to be training, a tool developed to cross a physical barrier, and the most restrictive and frustrating limitation of being lawfully or culturally segregated so opportunities are not available
This reminds me of the cool Runnings story. The Kenyan bobsled team and how unlikely this group of 4 Kenyan men from Africa would make it to the Olympics in an ice bobsledding competition. It hurts when this presumption is racially bias and we discount people based on what we think their capabilities are based on their race. The Kenyan bobsled team had to overcome this in their journey to the Olympics. Coaches can only do so much. They can not make the goal happen, the dream come true, or the restrictions disappear. The coach can guide, a guide is helpful, but guidance is only responsibility a coach can fill. We would be foolish to think there is more a coach can do. Let’s embrace our privilege of being a guide and be realistic with what our help is as a coach.
3. Vision is everything
As much as this is something I promote and believe in, it just is not true. Some will say there needs to be a decision. You need to decide that you want change before change actually happens. Without turning this in a chicken before the egg standoff I want to emphasis that vision is important and is a turning point, but there are many other vital impacts that affect your ability to move forward. I have the privilege of talking about vision because it is an all-encompassing aspect that I can use to speaking to various avenues of change. Vision is almost a synonym for belief, identity, social change, and goal setting because it speaks into each of those areas.
The most common way that this privilege gets portrayed is by people saying things like just imagine your dream and let that guide you and be your power, or you need a vision of your goals before you can go pursue them. These things sound good but they are not exactly true in the simple sense they are being portrayed. Yes you need to have an idea, but making vision the focal point is not necessary and comes from a place of privilege. For most people, just putting one foot in front of another is hard enough, so I do think vision is important, but when we put it in front of decision making and taking action the priority gets messed up. In the coaching world vision helps you to dream and think in the big picture. Seeing life in the big picture is a privilege for most because the small picture of essential task does not bury them so they have the privilege of having the ability to dream.

4. Speaking from an a-historic perspective
A-historic means that the present is only view through the lens of the present. When folks look for a coach they are usually looking to get over a hurdle to accomplish a goal or just get life straightened out to pursue something richer and fuller. Most take the perspective of what is your goal, where are you at now and what do we need to do to get there. Unfortunately this will lead to burn out and disappointment in the long term. This framework only works for so long. When looking at the future the past needs to be incorporated to work in the present. The most powerful journeys of transformation are the ones that dive in the past and are determined to reconcile with it and not repeat it.
It is the nature of coaches and counselors alike to stay focus on the present and meet you where you are at. I understand the frustration of going to a doctor, a therapist, or a coach and spending an hour on the history when they did not even use the information or even more frustrating when they do not use your history and just guess about the condition and the solution. It takes the dignity and humanity out of the person. The privilege is being the one in control because the coach, counselor, doctor, or whatever is the one getting paid. If somebody says they take a holistic approach make sure they take a full holistic approach that includes the past because it is important to listen to the whole person.
5. Not everybody wants to change, change is not for everybody
This is the hardest one for me to grasp. For me this goes beyond my practice of coaching and into my personal values. I believe everyone has the ability to change, but the reality is that not everyone wants it to happen. The desire has the meet the ability. This is frustrating because potential is left on the table when a fuller more abundant life is possible. Coaches promote change and make money off of change. They are in the results business, so if the customer does not notice or feel the change in their life then business will die, so there is in an invested interest in change. The ability will always be there, but the desire is the one that is always in question. It is a privilege to always be in the mindset to pursue change. For the majority of people they have to just rely on their abilities to get by in life and take care of the priorities of putting food on the table and maintaining a roof overhead. I ask many people what their passion/desire/ dream is and many of them do not know, not so much because they have not dream, but because their dreams have been limited to their abilities. So the dream is to be the best mom, just to be happy and a good person, to have a good family, to love and care for my children. For most of us our abilities have pushed down a path and the path is not something that we consciously choose. Some people work on just being present with what they have, which is a dead end for a coach because there is nothing more abundant than be grateful and present with what you value.

The only question I will leave you with is do you like what you value or is there something more that you want for life?
I find it important to recognize privileges so that we do not take things for granted. I believe this practice has helped me be more compassionate and allowed me to walk the extra mile in the other person’s shoes.
If you have a coach, share this with them and see what they think
If you do not have a coach let these questions set in a see if any of these hold you back from having a coach.
There are people out there that are willing to lessen their privilege, so that you can have the ability to pursue your desires and dreams.
You are powerful where ever you are and I hope you are able to find abundance where ever you are at.

what we need to know about the vision of our dream

What is vision and why does it need to be restored?

I would like to say something definite and fancy like if you do not have vision then you do not have anything, but is not true. We can walk and act without a vision, at least a grand vision.
A vision is a big picture goal or an imagination of an activity that has yet to take place. Vision can be small which leads to small victories, but also they can be big which are usually planted in living out a particular value or belief.
When we talk about restoring vision we are talking about restoring a possibility, an identity, or perspective. We can walk and act blindly and will be like a duck with a broken leg spinning in circles. Without vision our impact will be limited. Going from task to task is tiring because each time the ignition needs to get restarted. Vision keeps us continuing to drive forward.
When we look at pro athletes and people with seemingly magical talents we see something special because we can not imagine how they got their talent. Hard work can be seen, but internal drive can not. Internal drive is fueled by vision. Vision is the one thing that transcends talent and hard work.

The big things in life

The question then turns to what do we build our vision from and how do we get vision. The important part for you to remember for yourself and the people you interact with is that your vision is unique to you; nobody sees the world like you see the world. This means you have a unique impact and purpose on this earth. I like to think of this in the frame of a story. This is why I use the phrase restoring my vision.
Vision is a journey and is being shaped and formed by each experience. The restoring aspect is the process or the silent step of faith into the unknown.
I would like to be able to give you a particular outline with a step by step method of how to get your vision back to the clear 20/20. I can tell you what goes into vision, but that is as close as I can get because the restoring of vision is a journey and an active pursuit. There are particular experiences that will come and people will go; change is inevitable, which is why vision is intersectional.

Values

You have your values and this shows how you walk. Not the particular stride, but the wake that comes from the path you have blazed. Your values guide you, but your values are also guided by your beliefs. Sometimes people confuse beliefs and values. We have to value what we believe to let it be something that impacts us and a value comes from a personal experience. This personal experience can be a momentary situation or it could be a past memory on repeat. Values can change and develop but are defined by what we believe to be true about our reality.

Identity

You are what you eat, well not really, but you are what you think you are. This intersects with what you believe, but is different than a value. Identity is the inner workings of you coming out. Some refer to identity as a sense of worth, your inner foundation, the rock on which you build your life on, or for our purposes who you see yourself as. Many different positive and negative things can be our identity and it can be slippery or it can be stable. Who we are can always be changed and developed because there is a rhetorical question that life begs of us and that is who are you becoming. Identity is the answering of this question

Desires

Desires and wants have a bad reputation. This is something I think should be restored and can be restored. If we always view desires and wants as negative things or something that needs to be controlled then we will just come to fear our inclinations. this can turn to a deep rabbit hole, which I have found so many people stuck in. it is so hard to get out and embrace our inclinations. Yes there are bad motives and selfish desires, but what about the opposite side. You have desire for joy to serve, to understand, to be in community, to be with others and to give yourself. Often times these motives are misunderstood by others and they are misunderstood by ourselves. This is definitely a cultural and structural pressure that has contributed to this ignorance of a vital aspect of your humanity. It is an essential part of vision because it is the collision of knowing who you are and being able to voice it. If we can not be comfortable saying what we desire and want then how are we going to be comfortable dreaming and pursuing an ambition? Yes, again this gets back to what you believe about yourself and if you feel you are worthy enough to dream. If we can not get excited about a desire or ambition then how are we supposed to move forward?

Drive

Drive is that internal aspect that people do not see and is only recognized by those who see the daily dedication of faithful hard work. The internal drive is often referred to as a flame. This flame can be low and it can be blazing. The people with the blazing internal drive have been able to make sense of life in a seemingly unique way. I believe this unique way is available to anyone. The internal drive is found from matching your purpose, which is all the previous things that have happened in your life, with your identity. When your identity falls align with your purpose it is like a rush of air for a fire. This is what people call passion, full of life, exuberant and full of abundance. We often refer to these people as the glass half full people, but in actuality there glass is full and over flowing. This is why they are able to develop their skills the way they do, live with so much vitality, and love each person as if they are the last person on earth.

This post has been quite long, but vision needed to be explained so that we can see how to see. Each one of these aspects can have an entire book written about them and can be expounded upon in many coaching lessons. The important part to remember is that they are intersectional. As your virtual vision coach I want to be with you in this journey of discovery. I will be with you as you are discovering what it is like to have clearer vision.
In the comments share which one is the hardest for you or the one that is the greatest struggle, but also if you had this 20/20 vision what would you do with it, what would be your big vision?
Tell me how you are restoring your vision

finding purpose

I lost my vision when I was 16 and my dream at that time was to pursue professional hockey. At the time I did not have the best skills, but I had the passion and I believe my passion would have bled off in to my development. My passion came from watching my sister get through the restart of her life at age 8 after going through a major stroke that occurred during a surgery to remove a brain tumor. She had plenty of struggles and many long stays in the hospitals and many close calls, but still came out living and loving life and people with a sense of vibrancy that I had never seen before.
I lost my vision and my dream, my passion, my purpose was wiped clean. Who am I, what do I do, what defines me, how do I adapt to this new way of life? I guess you can say I lost my vision. I lost my capacity to be a leader because I let my strife be my life and hung on to it with all my might like I would lose my life.
when I lost my vision I lost my capacity to live for something bigger than me because all I could focus on was my own struggle looking for a snuggle like it was a drug to make myself feel better. This destroyed me, but, but I was being put back together like a mosaic a piece at a time, I just had to lay it.

All roads lead to El Dorado

I connected with my history teacher in high school and spent many lunches in his room after losing my vision; I put being a history teacher on the map as a possible goal, but still clung to hockey by rejecting the offer to move away to school. I dated a girl that went to school in southern California, so schools that were a priority to transfer too were down south, this led me to choose Santa Barbara as my destination. I got connected with a Christian community and was able to dive head first into this thing called faith. I tried again to cling to the hockey dream by joining the rowing team to stay in shape for hockey with the hope of getting my vision back. I quit the team down the road and found that was not where I should be dedicating my time and effort. This opened up time to pursue black studies as a second major. My heart was opened up and was able to connect with something again. A spark was flickering into something. I connected with what I was learning because my extended time spent in Oakland as a youth playing hockey and visiting my sister in the hospital. I connected with so many attributes of black culture and racial injustice that I observed growing up. It challenged me to see how I was a part of a bigger system, a system of hurt people that hurt people, sometimes based on race sometimes based on gender and sexuality, but it was something that we were all collectively a part of no matter the good or the bad. Before graduating I was introduced to a truth and reconciliation commission, the one at brown university that was seeking reparations for slavery.
The summer after graduation I specifically decided to choose not to pursue work right away. One reason was to rest and reset after 18 years of education and the other was to not fall into the status quo of the college, work, career, family order. It was during this time where I realized that a theme to my life is restoration. It dawned on me while sitting behind my restored 1970 barracuda at a car show. I learned about restorative justice through the truth and reconciliation research that I did on brown university. All of a sudden I started getting my vision back. 6 months down the road, I went to a justice conference and connected deeper with this idea of restorative justice and it was expanded for me from the individual case to international restoration. The following week my friend Phil would take me to the storyline conference and I would be given the tools to find a redemptive perspective on my suffering. A speaker would talk about how this redemptive perspective was being used in South Africa and Rwanda. The power it had to restore communities, societies and people. This is what would I would come to know as the truth and reconciliation commission of Apartheid, which I came to see as a deeply restorative practice. This redemptive perspective on suffering had the power to transform a person from victim to empowered and empowered into change maker. Within 3 months I was on a plane to South Africa to get hands on experience with the people near Cape Town.

It’s becoming clearer

I connected profoundly with this idea of restoration and is what the roots of restoring my vision is founded in. I found that restoration is the journey and the vision is the power. As Arch Bishop of South Africa and Nobel Lorient, Desmond Tootoo says, “there is no future without forgiveness”. forgiveness is what makes redemption possible, redemption is what makes reconciliation possible, and reconciliation is what makes restoration possible. Each step of my journey has been a stepping stone that has led me to this point. Our vision comes from our belief, so the power of vision is the belief that you can be the change you want to see.
I know there is a great purpose for the things that happen in my life. I have been able to find purpose in the trials my sister has gone through, the trials I have gone through, the collapse of my dream. like the phoenix powerful life comes from the ashes. This connection from my sister to hockey to history to black studies to South Africa and to restoration is not for me. It is me, but it is not for me. It is for others. What I want you to see is that you have a story just like I have a story and there is great purpose in your story just as there is in mine. I believe there is something more for you and there is something more for me. You and I have to just be willing to step into it.
If you would be willing, share In the comments what has led you to where you are
I find this exercise to be so powerful, if you would like to write your own story like the one above and send it to me I would love to post it and share it.

what i learned from my break from blogging… Rebranding, Reshaping, and Restoring

I am back for the first time.
While I did not anticipate taking a leave of absence from posting; some tough life circumstances and clarity of my vision for this blog drew me to stop posting for a while. It is the later one that really did it for me because I never really knew what direction I wanted to take the blog
Do I want to use it to journal life experiences, focus on personal and emotional restoration, did I want to focus on justice related topics, and did I want to post social commentary. I tried to make it so broad that I could do all of the above while sticking in the theme of restoring my vision.
What I did not get was that I was doing it for myself instead of doing it for the reader. Essentially I wanted to be heard. I felt I had poignant things to say and they needed to be said, but it was all for me.
I had always wanted to be a servant and serve the people I was writing too, but I ended up trying to serve too many people by making my topic to encompassing
It’s not that it was broad; it was that I was just trying to be everything to everyone instead of something to someone.
I wanted people to know I was there to serve them and that I could be anything to anyone by helping them have clarity through restoring their vision. This became self-fulfilling instead of other fulfilling and this is where things got messy, as they do in most cases of mixing self-fulfillment with acts of service.

Making new roots

So what did I do? I took a break, stepped away and figured out what I wanted, what my vision is, and then asked what I need to change to get there. The culmination of this brought upon some intense periods of self-analysis and self-discovery in adding to the foundation of the big question of who am I becoming. for me that is the big question that I want to continually make my returning point, so that my identity proceeds my work instead of my work proceeding my identity.
The other question that I asked that helped me start to move forward, was what can I offer right where I am. There were things that I aspired too and I was making those the place I was living from. I was living in the clouds dreaming instead of staying grounded with what I have. The skills and experiences from my past are very purposeful for the work I can do in the present. I know I am good at coaching, I ask good questions, I am a good listener, my heart for restoration and my inner desire to serve others showed me that I can be a life coach, a counselor, a journey helper, or an empowering servant.
In the spirit of the Alchemist, I knew these things of my past have led me to this place for me to take the next step. I had to come to believe that I could take action where I am at to see change though. It is said that if we are not growing then we are complacent and this leads to slow death. (Robert Quinn, Deep change) the thing that got in the way for me was trying to figure out a plan, but Quinn says that a leader does not always have a plan just a vision. I always had a vision, but felt I needed a plan. To be honest this was just fear, resistance, procrastination. It is said that the biggest contributor to procrastination is planning. I was afraid to take action, no matter how big of a bias I had. This is because I was living with my work preceding my identity. there is so much to go into on this topic and I will go in on it in a different post, but what I want us to know is that pursuing our vision, our desires, our dreams is much harder when we are defined by what we do and what we have done instead of by who we are.

Where do we go from here?

The same questions that I asked myself I will ask you; what do you want and who do you want to become. Those that have a special impact on the world have a bias towards action and their action is embedded in serving others. Connecting purpose and identity is easier for others and acting out of purpose and identity is even more rare. A question I wonder about is that if world changers study goal setting, vision making, action taking, and servant leadership, or do they just do it.
I would like us to be able to just take action. What change would you like to see in the world? What inspires you, what hurts you in your heart, what brings you life? This is what I want to help us figure out and take action towards. This is what restoring my vision is about. I want to lead you to the place for you to say I am restoring my vision because this journey is not just about me.
It is about the restoration of your passion to pursue your vision.

There is an email sign up area to subscribe if you would like to join with me in this journey of learning what it is like to restore your vision and be the change you want to see.

Resources:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
https://www.amazon.com/Alchemist-Paulo-Coelho/dp/0061122416

Deep Change by Robert E Quinn
https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Change-Discovering-Jossey-Bass-Management/dp/0787902446/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466467918&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+change

change will come: breaking down the wall that change is not possible

there is this idea out there that change is not possible. some might call this a lie and some might just label it apathy. the sad part about this idea is that people find it to be true and they live their lives as if they can not do anything about it. I often hear the phrase, “they are just stuck in their ways” or “they are who they are”. I have been able to observe when these comments are made and they often come in the midst or near the end of a conflict. the person’s back is up against the wall and they are not sure what to do because there seems to be a dead lock between the two people. the worst way that I hear these types of phrases used is when a conflict has gone on so long that the conflict is just a normal way of life and the idea of change is like a dream.

The damage

as somebody that study’s conflict, I find this idea to be so damaging. I say damaging because essentially each person is asking for compromise and that is what the relationship is built off of and so you have two people that give 50 percent or however much of themselves so that the conflict can be resolved. this resolution is not so much of a resolution, but a way to digress the situation. this is where we get terms like sweeping things under the rug and let it go. these can tend to do more harm than good because essentially what happens is one of two things. either one person is left feeling like they did not get enough or a person is left feeling like they did not receive enough. each side if held in their stance without compassion is left to the strength of their own stability of what they believe to be true. this is why politics and religion are so divisive and cunning. granted there are things that can change and things that can not change, but humans are not one of them. humans are a transformative being.

What happens

if we refuse to love then we will not change and if we ask for change without love then there will be pain. asking somebody to change is like trying to shove a quarter in the penny slot. you want a large return, but you are putting it where there is not much power to produce the change. this is what they formally call forcing it. this essentially leads to if you do not do what I want you to do then I will stop doing my part. the most popular form of this is done through guilt and manipulation and it says if you love me you would do it for me, whatever the action may be. this may work for a young child because a parent wants to prove their love to their child, but it does not work for much more than that. this is why every nonviolent protest has come out with more positive outcomes than forceful and violent actions. this is why asking your significant other for change does not work. It turns the human in to an object for your pleasure and benefit instead of somebody to love and value. this is what I would say is at the core of Jesus saying to love your neighbor as yourself.

Stepping into change

we have made sacrifice and courage to be macho manifestations, but what we really need is humility to ask how can I love you better. the sacrifice and courage , still makes the central point on the action instead of the person. if you look at either of the two famous musicians talking about change, whether it be Sam Cooke or Tupac, both will tell you that change is coming, but it starts with ourselves. we have the most power to change ourselves and no other people, so not only outwardly ask others how can I love you better, but inwardly ask yourself how can I love better. Change will come, I promise and it will not be because of somebody doing something differently to appease, but it will be because of love.

this is heavy and much of it sounding critical and negative. , but it does not have to be that way.

we can not love others if we are love them the way we think they should be love, but real love happens when we can put ourselves aside and say how can I serve you and what ways are you loved

so when people say no they won’t change in that apathetic voice, or they are who they are, reply to them that it is not true, change is possible.

tell me in the comments how have you seen change happen?

Beauty in the mess: take it all in

the other night I went out to Pete’s coffee with a friend to do a little work and I had a sobering moment. before telling this story I need to confess something… I ease drop and when I say I ease drop I ease drop. it’s probably some FOMO thing. if you do not know what that is google it. anyways I was ease dropping and this idea came over me and gently asked me “do you realize where you are at?”

there were two people working at Pete’s I think one was a new hire and the other was a contractor doing tile. the tile contractor was talking to his partner and he said something about how he has traveled quite a bit and he listed off Santa Barbara as one of the places he had visited and his partner said wow I guess you have been able to get around and see some places. right after he said that I said to my friend Andrew, whom also lived in Santa Barbara with me, I didn’t realize Santa Barbara was such an highly acclaimed travel location, I guess I have been taking it for granted”. within a minute or two later one of the other people working was talking with a customer about a Park that was not to well known. it caught my ear to listen because I like knowing about unheard of things, but she went on explaining this park and how she got there and she said you kind of had to hike to it, but once you go there the view was amazing the trees were all around and there were places to play and set up picnics. the way she was describing it made it sound so majestic and special. just as before a thought came over me again, do I see places special like this?

with these two thoughts combined I started to think about where I am at and if I would describe it in the same way. where I am at may seem ordinary to another person and they might just go on with life without any recognition of the unique place I am at. if I were to describe to somebody where I was at, it would sound like a place out of the ordinary and most likely would gain the response how did you get there.

each location that we go to is a journey and each journey looks different for each person, but what I can gather is that the most ordinary places are special and the most special places are ordinary. it is not about how far you travel to get to the place, but it is what you are willing to see when you get there. the things worth finding take perseverance to get too. the ability to see beauty in the ordinary will provide hope, but finding beauty in the mess will bring gratitude.

this conversation I had with myself brought me to the point of making me realize there is beauty where I am at. I can actually put myself in the future, look back at myself in the present and see that there is beauty. this is not a feel good message that is trying to diminish the present. By no means do I discount the dreadful work, the painful waiting, continual bewilderment, the anxiety that lack of direction causes, or even the scary but ever presence of loneliness. this is real and we may not like to relate to this as ordinary, but I think for many of us it is. so I sit here finishing this article on the campus of Stanford right down the street from the Pete’s coffee that is in one of the most acclaimed neighborhoods in California. a few doors down from here are a McLaren and Porsche dealership.

so I asked myself, where am I? I am at Stanford where most people would go and be astonished by the architecture and landscape. where tourist come to take pictures or the prestige that surrounds them. For me this was a friendly reminder by god that beauty is around me and I am in a beautiful place. I may not be able to see it, but it is beautiful. I am not sure when, but I believe my vision will be restored.( metaphorically)this was just a glimpse of something I was able to realize in the midst of a storm, but these are the things that we are to cling too because if it were not for these quaint visions and messages of hope then how would we know we are loved by something bigger than ourselves and our circumstances. So I encourage you to take it in, take it all in. as difficult as it is take in the mess, the crap and embrace it because it is real, but it is also beautiful.

Tell me in the comment section, what have you found beauty in?

why the desire to be heard is good

is there something wrong with wanting to be heard?
I hear this sentiment tossed around our culture a little too frequently for my liking. most often it goes a little something like oh you just want to be heard or something along those lines. like there is something wrong with speaking up or sharing your voice. after listening to this sentiment for a while I got to thinking that the real message behind this is “ do not speak up unless it is something that can be universally agreed upon”. I get it, at least I think I do… folks want to express themselves and not be ridiculed or excluded. thus we get this culture of expression from people like hipsters, emo, queer folk, artsy , and the indie crowd.

if you are anything like me a question mark went up when it became cool to wear Toto’s in public, accentuate make up, make your teeth into vampire fangs, or have a man bun. what I have learned is that it is ok to have question marks go up. I understand I may have picked some stereotypes to pick on, but what I see in each of these expressions is look I am different and I can be different. , do you see me, do you hear me? these question marks that went up for me and the questions that are being asked by the people expressing themselves are all good and we should appreciate them and hear them. if we do not hear them then both sides will build a foundation on ignorance and prejudice. this is what I think MLK was referring to when he said “ the riot is the voice of the unheard”. the greater the ignorance the greater the unrest and desire for expression. when we try to express ourselves and we do not get heard then we take bolder steps to being heard. this is why affirmation is so important and this goes beyond telling somebody they look nice and into the realm of telling somebody their voice matters.

so do I want to be heard? yes I want to be heard, do I want it to look like I am on a soap box or creating my own separate colony, absolutely not. I want to share, so that others see that it is possible, important, necessary, and powerful. Is there a bit of desire for affirmation, of course, I would be lying if there wasn’t. the dominate desire, though, is to create a place for others to be heard. story is important and my story is just a subliminal part of this world and I recognize that and I want to bring others in to share their story because it is important. what got you to where you are, why do you express yourself the way you do, what do you want people to know?
I have found a common theme in our voice and when I say voice I do not just mean the verbiage that comes out of our mouth, but how you display yourself, what you say and how you say it and how you walk through this thing called life. what I have realized is that many of the voices I hear come from a place of pain and hurt. that those are the thing that define us and that we cling to. hurt and pain are real things and they mean a great deal to us because they impact us so much the scary thing is that I think we have created a culture where it is not acceptable to be real with our pain because it shows weakness. it is not only the weakness that holds us back, but it is the inability for most of us to receive somebody’s hurt and pain with compassion and understanding. a dig part of this is making sure the person is heard. what I have found is if the person is heard then the longing for acceptance goes down. once somebody hears those words “I hear you” or experiences that sentiment then they have this momentary feeling of connection and the peace that comes along with knowing that somebody is with you.

I may be trying to fetch something far away, but when I think of this scenario of not being heard and wanting to express yourself to be heard, I think of Jesus. not so much of the Jesus image on the cross, but when Jesus said my yoke is upon you it is easy and my burden is light. what I hear in this is somebody that is ready to hear you and walking along side you, there is not judgement, no pressure, and no standards. You can come freely express yourself as you are. Under this yoke there is no riot because you are heard and in that place there is peace and acceptance for god is Emanuel and he is with us and he hears your voice, your cry for life, your cry to be seen.

this does not diminish the reality of life and the hurt and pain that accompanies it, but it says that I am with you. since there is somebody with us, we can share, we can be in silence, we can be angry, and we can ask for help and tell them what we want. It does not mean you are going to get all that you want, but you will be heard and there will be somebody else that says I needed to hear that or I am going through the same thing. So when somebody says I just want to be heard I want them to now I do not just want to be heard, but I want them to know I am sharing an experience, providing an opportunity to connect, and teaching so that we might see a bit deeper into this thing called life. thank you for hearing me and I look forward to hearing you

searching for Freedom: the Bob Goff kind of Freedom

have you ever met or even just seen somebody that has so much life and joy and freedom, and excitement, and peace, and love, and understanding, and compassion, and, courage. they are out there. I am not just rattling off all kinds of great characteristics that the super human could have. my first encounter with somebody like this was in Santa Barbara where I went to college. his name was Matt and no I am not secretly talking about myself. he was a year above me and one of the first few people I met when entering a community that I would soon know as real life. for me this guy Matt epitomized what I thought real life could look like. it would not be too far to say that I put him on a pedestal. I got to know him a bit more and soon realized he was just a normal dude, but had this vibrancy to his life. in the community you could tell he was looked up too, but he definitely did not act like it because he just radiated humility. everything was always so exciting with him and things were so awesome and cool all while maintaining a clear focus on reality and be present with the tough things.

the next time I came across somebody like this that totally shocked me was when I read this book called Love does. some of you know of it. it is by Bob Goff and chapter by chapter Bob tells a story how he lived by love and did crazy amazing things because love is able to do everything. if you do not know Bob, a little bit of his story contains him sitting on the bench outside the doors of the dean of USC’s law school for 3 consecutive days so he could get admitted to the law school or him confronting a room full of Ugandan witch doctors and just smacked them all upside the head and told them to stop killing people, gave them a copy of love does and the bible and then provided education for them as a way to empower them. when you see Bob in person it is like Santa Clause in the way people line up to receive hugs from him. he is as jolly as he sounds and he is also as joyful as he sounds, and the freedom just emits from him internally and also how he lives his life externally. When you meet him , you are assured that it is not just a show he is putting on.

for me these types of people seem far and few between. they are something that has always been attractive to me. I often wondered to myself why there weren’t more people like this around. why are these people so rare and how do we find, make and become like them. so in a moment of delightful friendship I asked my friend Philippe why there were not more people like Bob Goff around. what he said did not really catch me off guard, but was what I had been leaning towards but unable to confirm. my friend Philippe said there are probably more of those types of people around, but we do not see them. I think the reason I had a hard time confirming it was because I did not think I had that type of freedom and I did not think I was capable of it, so I was envious. this envy did not allow me to see what was already around me. when Philippe answered my question it allowed me to think about the people that do a good job of living freely.
the question that quickly became our discussion was who around us that we know lives this way. if we know they are there and around us, then who are they?
I have not found a universal trait that characterizes this type of person. I think one thing that was leading me down a false path in finding these people was looking for somebody that displayed their lively freedom extrovertly. these guys Bob and Matt were noticed because they were loud, outgoing, ecstatic, passionate and they came alive when around people. the list that I thoughtfully put together at this table with Philippe was not so much of the people that were outgoing and extroverted, but one’s that were not defined by what they did or their circumstances.
so I think if I were to go on a look for these kind of people I would look for the people that are not shaken when they receive a bad grade, let down when they get told they can’t do something, rushed to fit everything in, or become so consumed by things that they forget the world around them.
from what I have come up with these people are special because they view reality for what it is and they embrace it knowing nothing they worry about in the moment will change the moment, so they embrace the moment and the people in it. this embrace is not taken lightly by them either , after all people practically and metaphorically line up behind these people to get close to them. it often gets me to wonder if this is what the modern day Jesus looks like. the even bigger question that it gets me thinking about is did Jesus really just come to give us something to believe in and have hope for or was it so that we can be with him, at peace and free. there is a part of me that thinks we make this much harder than it has to be, but then I wonder why am I not there, is there even a there?
when I finished my conversation with Philippe I was left with a feeling that I needed to look around a bit more. after sitting there naming off some of the people that I knew, I realized that I did not see freedom when it was right in front of me. I was looking for the ideal Bob Goff act a like. I guess I learned that we all can not wait for that person to show up that people are lining up around to get hugs from.
most often these types of people are out doing crazy things like taking their sons on a sailing voyage across the ocean, providing education to witch doctors, or hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. ( read love does then you will know what I am talking about)I guess what I am trying to say is that this can not be an ideal that we strive for and work towards because it looks different for different people. the best way that I can summarize this way of living is that it is a lifestyle that takes you over because it is something that you believe at your core, so it is something that just comes out of you. maybe you can say this freedom is like a religion. freedom is something that is followed and not something that is strive for.
remember to look around because this freedom looks different and can come in all different kinds of ways.
where do you see freedom being lived out and what is it?

working differently: idea’s on how to work on yourself and not just the 9-5

this season of life has been difficult to say the least. whether it has been battling depression, dealing with rejection, or the inability to find an open door to move forward in something; it has made taking a step forward in life very difficult. I have spent much time agonizing over things that I could or should be doing. I have been at war with standards and expectations. climbing through the mud of low self-worth and self-rejection. I have literally climbed mountains to try to feel something other than a storm.
***
there is this critique of my generation being the most entitled generation or group right now in American culture. I hear and see where the critique is coming from and I empathize with those that feel things are not fair. I do not want to be left out to dry and left out to scrape by without any wise foreseeable movement; nor do I want to be entitled. the line between making a wise decision and entitlement seems to be getting narrower and when things get narrower like a river they get pressured and move much faster. I am not saying I am not entitled because that is something that society has taught me in my upbringing and I am trying to not allow to be a part of me, but also at the same time I do not want to fall victim to the entitlement label.
***
what am I doing about it?
I am working. isn’t that what we are supposed to do. isn’t that the status quo once you graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree. Go apply for internships, work up from the bottom. guess what tried to come up from the bottom and I am still here. as easy as Bid Sean makes it sound to get to the top, it is not easy in today’s world.
I am satisfied with what I studied while I was at university and would not change my area of study. I do not want to follow the cultural norm of studying for something to be utilized by the business complex. I may not live as one that is counter cultural, yet, but I have made a counter cultural choice. as somebody with a degree that society does not have high regard for I have found it essential and beneficial to use my time while not in a 9-5 to work on myself.
***
admittedly I do have a hesitancy of going into the 9-5 prison. I say that figuratively, but also literally because for the majority of us the 9-5 restrains us from knowing ourselves, seeking what makes us come alive, spending time how we want too, and seeking the abundant life. I am not anti-work or anti 9-5, but for many of us it sucks in and does not spit out. Days pass, weeks pass, and years pass without even knowing who you really are, what makes you come alive, and having life giving relationships. Here are 12 things that we can incorporate in our lives to work on ourselves
1 go through your past and come up with the positive and negative turns in your life
2 know how and why you do things the way you do
3 ask yourself who am I and who do I want to be
4 come up with a list of things that have hurt the most in your life
5 find a cause that you are passionate about
6 take time to recognize your flaws
7 invest in meaningful and deep relationships
8 step outside of your comfort zone to learn something knew
9 find somebody that you relate to that can speak truth into your life and open yourself up for the truth
10 define what you want and see how your past has brought you to a place to do it
11 find a counselor to talk through your crap with
12 invest in something to slowly start working towards your dream

Not sure if you hear this enough, but time passes while you work the 9-5 and those 8 hours add up to 40 and then 160 hours pretty quickly. How are you spending your life. life gets difficult and sometimes you have to do what you need to do to make ends meet. Work does help to build character, but there comes a point where the work that in common in our culture becomes regressive. All I am saying is that if we want life is to be meaningful and purposeful then we have to act in such a way and work on where the change and transformation needs to start and that is with you. this work will take work and will not be easy even though it has to do with yourself. It will take commitment and perseverance because most often it will be uncomfortable work. the hope that comes from this work is much greater than the hope that comes from the 9-5, so think about how you can work differently.

Reader question: how have you worked on yourself?