Glance Back and Leap Forward

Champ Dads going strong into 2020!

WOW! This year has gone by fast! Within a week this site will have its first year anniversary. Over that time we have put up 64 posts, and 7 different pages of content. Current day all of the content has broken down to two different categories: Personal Strategies and Parenting Strategies.

As we close out this year and look forward to 2020 we will be shifting focus from blogging to creating video content. The blogging will still happen but on a lesser scale.

We have a series coming out that will be a stock pile of short videos of things that all dads should know how to do. Topics will range all over the map from how to tie a Windsor knot (tie) to how to properly shuck an oyster without hurting yourself.

Once we get the above video series rolling we are also going to be putting together interviews with various Champion Dads and thought leaders in our local community.

Okay! After reviewing the stats this year I present to you the top 10 least viewed pages. Yep…..the least viewed. Why the least viewed? Because this website took some time to gain a solid readership in its first year. Therefore, the odds are that many might have missed several posts while we were finding our way. So take a peak and view some posts that started it all.

  1. Be a good enough dad part I
  2. Agent of Change
  3. Influential Matters: The Tale of two Dads
  4. Three steps to morning freedom
  5. 5 Ways to increase laughter in your home
  6. A Perfect Mess
  7. Authenticity part I
  8. Traditions: The binding stories of our life
  9. Sacred Time: a pillar for mental wellness
  10. Break the mold: Inspire your Child’s authentic self to emerge

May you have a great and safe end to 2019. Please continue to join us in 2020 as we continue to gain traction and build out this wonderful Champion Dads community. If you have any comments or suggestions please reach out to us through our contact page.

Love, Peace, and Harmony,

Be well!

-MJ

Photo by Trent Szmolnik via Unsplash

Failure: I am looking forward to it!

As this year is wrapping up I am starting my annual process of reflecting on the year just completed and thinking of a few goals for the new year. I think that many of us go through this process…parties and celebrations happen and are followed up with some resolutions. (How much is that gym membership?)

I have one vague and weird goal: I want to fail more than I ever have before. Yep…fail. Crazy right?!

Let me unpack it a little bit and maybe you can take away a few nuggets to help you on your journey.

Failure is the pathway to being a Champion. The more you fail at things the more you will learn valuable lessons and information. Yes, this does sound simplistic but how many of us embrace the failure for all of the glory that it is? Not many-and if you said “I do MJ!” I would call your bluff and put all my chips in the center of the table.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

In my life I have fought so hard to win and win over others. However, this attitude of winning, when unchecked, has wreaked havoc on my happiness. This habit of trying to hit the goal or please, results in a frantic attitude of trying not to lose. Trying not to lose is the perfect recipe to lose.


“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” 
― Herbert Bayard Swope

If you want to win or accomplish something, the proper mindset is to focus on the process…the moment. Anytime we focus on the end result our attention is misplaced. Remember: placing too much attention on future thoughts generates worry and anxiety…ain’t nobody got time for that! Stay in the moment and focus squarely on the process.

Now I aim to fail in a smart way (I am failing to achieve and learn…not because I am a masochist). So here are a my guidelines so that I can fail smartly:

  1. I am going to go hard at the goals that I set. This means that I am going to take incredible action in the direction of the goal without overthinking it. Any time that I find myself dwelling on the goal I am going to stop, figure out the next best action to take, and then take the action. 5…4…3…2…1…GO!
  2. I am going to study and take notes on every time a failure happens. Having the habit of check and adjust will allow you to eliminate the failure from happening again. Each failure has valuable information to be gleaned. Embrace it, study it, adjust, and then take more action!
  3. I am not going to take any of it personally! No one can choose their emotions but everyone can control how they act and respond to their emotions when they happen. Pause when failure happens. Feel the feelings associated with it and then get back to step number 1 and 2 above. Remember, emotions rise up on their own accord and have important information for us. Honor them and then move on. Or, as others have said “Fail fast”.
  4. I am not going to concern myself with what others think. That is their business and I am going to be too focused on the process at hand to carry their views with me (don’t accept criticism from someone you wouldn’t seek advice from).
  5. I am going to have fun while I fail. This little step is often overlooked in life because most of us carry around the attitude of no pain no gain. Guess what? Let’s have fun while we go through the struggle and pain. Like I say at work: “I have no problem working hard but I am going to have fun doing it”. Maintaining a playful attitude will really help keep your emotions in check and help you stay healthy in your pursuits.

I am really excited for this year coming up. I am moving in directions that I have never gone before. I have big ideas for this site that I am going to have to learn the ropes on. We have a video series in the works. We have inspirational videos on the way. We have interviews that will take place. So, I am going to go hard and I expect there to be lots of failures along the way…but no worries as failure is the pathway to success.

Yep-I am going to fail my way to victory. It’s going to be fun and I hope you join in 2020!

Be well

-MJ

The Flywheel Mind Revisited

Just over a month ago I started a thirty day journey to stop my “flywheel” mind. In that thirty days my goal was to practice doing one thing at a time and to meditate everyday. I have had some mixed results with this adventure but I did start to build some good habits while I regained control.

Let me start with where I fell down the most. Meditating everyday proved to be more difficult than I expected. When I remembered to do it, I was pressed with the urge to get something else done. This urge is the mind’s attempt to push its way through life. Meditation’s goal is to let go of those urges. Thoughts will arise and you simply let them pass without attaching to them. So doing nothing but letting the thoughts go is quite a hard practice. Yet, every time I was able to sit in peace and meditate I came away from the experience balanced and found myself in a more rejuvenated state.

If you are looking to build a habit of meditation into your life let me offer you these tips:

  • Schedule your meditation each day. When you set aside sacred time to sit you are signaling to your brain that this is important. For me, what works best is to have it the same time everyday. This way you are developing a routine that you will create your habit around.
  • If you are new to this practice, start with some guided meditations. Having guidance to keep you focused will be a life saver while practicing. Guided meditations provide you the tools to build a strong habit. Without some basic tools to navigate, it will be easy for the mind to run rampant and overwhelm you. There are some great apps you can get on your phone for this. Headspace is my preferred.

Where I had the most success during this time was in focusing on one thing at a time. Often, when my mind would start to race, I would simply remind myself to pick one thing and move forward. Staying in the moment with the one task at hand provided incredible relief and balance for my mind. Perhaps the greatest win with this practice is that when I am singular in focus I do not allow my brain to fire off all of the feelings of panic. This has a downstream effect by lowering the body’s stress response over time. Essentially, while staying centered, you are training your mind to stay in a state of wellness instead of survival.

If you are looking to build habits around singular focus here are a couple of things that worked for me:

  • When the mind starts to run off and fixate on all of the worries or to-do list for the day, take a moment to write them down. Writing out a list is like opening a valve on a pressure cooker. Once they are on paper, pick one and take action. This way you have acknowledged the thoughts and taken back control through the action.
  • Note the feelings associated with each item. Do not try to fix or change the feeling. Just be a space for the feeling to be present. Allowing the emotion to run its course removes it from the body. I go into great detail in this post how to regulate here: Flight…The other quiet emotional trigger response (and how to get out of it)

Getting in control of your mind is perhaps the greatest achievement you can have in your life. It can be very hard at first but with the right tools and practice (habits) you can turn it into an ally. So, instead of your mind resembling a flywheel that is out of control, it may now resemble a fidget spinner. A spinner that is balanced on a flat surface. It is still running but is not all consuming. We can enjoy the spinner while it works for us and not against us.

Be well

-MJ

Photo provided by Ian Dooley via Unsplash

The Entitlement Antidote: Gratitude

If you are like me, then you probably would say that you want to give the world to your kids.  I mean, as you look at it, love is that way.  You want to provide for them and give them all that they need.

However, if you are also like me, you have a big problem with attitudes of entitlement.  This attitude is defiant to my personal belief that everything in life is a gift and is not owed to you.

Now the idea for this post came from reading my daughter’s and son’s wish list letter to Santa. Instead of a standard letter format with storied content, it read more like a order fulfillment request. They are young but are just at the age where they can start to think of others instead of solely themselves.

So there is the rub for this post.  I want to give the world to my kids but I do not want them to develop even a smidge of an entitled feeling.  During the holidays this can prove very hard to do as I want my kids to experience a magical Christmas with lots of stuff under the tree.  So how do we give them stuff without the development of an entitled mind?  Gratitude.

The entitled mind says I deserve this or I am owed this.  The grateful mind says everything I receive is a gift.

(In my research to come up with some good ideas to help them shift their attitude, I came across a great book: Dr. Robert A Emmons: The Little Book of Gratitude. According to Dr. Emmons the attitude of gratitude has a lot of other benefits besides being a well adjusted person. Gratitude boost the immune system, improves sleep, lowers depression and helps with feelings of compassion.)

So how am I going to battle the “get me” attitude and assist my kids with developing gratitude? Thank you cards/notes!

Thank you notes go beyond the standard lip service of please and thank you. Great thank you notes should express the following:

  • Point out intention– The receiver is able to identify and express the intent of why the gift was given. “Thank you so much for the football. We were never able to find the one that we lost and now we can play again…”
  • Cost– Cost comes down to time and money….what did the person give up to make this gift happen? Key point here is to recognize that the cost of a thing ($) is not the only cost of the thing (time, effort). “I can’t believe that you were able to track down the popular doll. It was sold out everywhere, I bet you had to travel to a lot of stores….”
  • How it helps you– Identifying how this will benefit your life or how it enhances your life shows that we are all dependent on others. “Now that I have the new art set I am able to paint pictures that I could only imagine before…”

I do want to point out that depending on how old your kids are, they may not be able to articulate what is outlined above. In these cases, it is quite all right to map it out for them. It has been my experience that any time I have received a hand written card or letter it is a gift unto itself. The recipient won’t care too much about how it was created and is more likely to be grateful that time was taken to do it. For younger children, have them sign their name or draw a picture. For older children, push them to find their own words of gratitude.

Taking time to hand write a card is wonderful practice in grateful contemplation. It slows down the world and allows the child to appreciate the moments in which things are good. They may not feel it in the moment but developing this attitude of gratitude will greatly enhance their lives down the road.

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Give Thanks, Hugs, and Feelings of Significance

Be A Champion Dad wishes you the best this Thanksgiving. This day is more than being indulgent and watching football (or gearing up for Black Friday).

Thanksgiving is a time where families and friends can unite and celebrate all of the blessings they have received throughout the year. It is a time for reflection and an opportunity to show appreciation for everyone in their lives (past and present).

Slow down today and embrace the moment. Give extra hugs and make others feel significant.

Below is a song that Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers) recited to the US Senate in 1969. His goal this day was to defend and support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to the significant proposed cuts by President Nixon.

I have shared a lot about emotional regulation this year and song encapsulates the true spirit of it. Fred was a master in making children feeling valued and heard. He addressed real feelings and problems. He hit hard topics head first and normalized them. What a wonderful soul.

“What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite. When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong. And be able to do something else instead, and think this song —

I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop anytime….And what a good feeling to feel like this! And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.”

What would the world look like if every child was taught these skills? Imagine what a difference we would see if adults and children honored their feelings and chose their response to them….instead of getting consumed by them…..

….speaking of consuming….I smell a turkey that needs my attention!

Be well and eat extra pie!

-MJ

Photo by Suzy Brooks via Unsplash

Home Environments: Emotional Safety

There are times where I am baffled by my children. It is like I have a couple of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes. When we go out for the day (anywhere away from home) my kids are very well behaved. They watch, listen, and generally stick close to my wife and I. When we are at home though it is a very different story. At home my kids are quick to act up, be crazy, and run afoul with sinister giggles. Perhaps, your kids are the same…and guess what? I think this is a great sign that we are doing something right.

A great home environment is one that creates and maintains emotional safety for the child. When a child feels emotional safe they are free to express themselves fully let their hair down. The home life should be like the prototype lab of a company. In the lab ideas are expressed, things are tried, adjusted, tried again. The home lab (environment) thoughts and expressions are made that might not be world ready….and that is ok! Sometimes things get wild as the kids learn how to be well adjusted citizens. And like a prototype lab, the home environment should be a safe place to work things out and develop.

What is emotional safety? Emotional safety is where a person can be who they are without concern of judgment, punishment, or disrespect.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” – Fred Rogers

There are five components of emotional safety. Each of the components are important in cultivating a safe home environment and rock solid relationships.

  • Trust: All emotional safety begins here. Trust is built in a myriad of ways but for the home environment the child should be able to rely on a consistent supportive experience. When running a household this is often facilitated through making everyone feel significant and heard.
  • Empathy: A great home is one where all of the members are understanding and are sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of each other. The family unit shares the victories, hardships, and drudgery of day to day life.
  • Non-judgement: We accept each member of the family as they are while tempering down the feelings of who we want them to be. This acceptance provides the freedom for the child to develop their authenticity through their unique individual needs.
  • Emotional Respect: A safe home environment is where feelings can be expressed without repercussions. Emotions are honored and are not made out to be good or bad. In this respect, I find it helpful to remind myself that I can control what I think but I cannot control the feelings that arise. Therefore, I do not judge emotions when they happen in my children. Then I can coach the child in how to manage the emotion without shame or guilt.
  • Individuality Respect: We respect the similarities and differences of all members of the household. In this environment we share admiration towards each other and demonstrate their importance.

Emotional safety is not only for the home environment. Utilize these five components everywhere you go and with everyone you meet. You will be amazed at the transformation in your relationships when these five areas are honored. Hopefully this post today brought some awareness in creating the ultimate home environment for your children (loved ones).

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Allen Taylor via Unsplash

3 Questions to Unearth Your Calling

Over the last couple of posts you probably get the sense that I have gone through a lot in life lately. However, to the outside observer I am just a happy-go-lucky guy marching through his life. So the question may beg- how do you not let life beat you down? Or, how do you shake off the garbage and keep your head held high? Well, the answer is simple: Know your Calling, your Why, your Bliss.

*For purposes of clarity I will only use Why going forward. However, Calling, Why, and Bliss are all interchangeable.

This year I have written a few of posts that speak to cultivating an unbeatable attitude in life:

While I enjoy these posts, there is one thing they do not assist with: Helping someone find their Why.

I see so many people running off to go achieve their way through life and yet they don’t have an internal guiding system. It is similar to a person stepping on the gas to a car but without any control of the steering wheel. Inevitably they crash. Or, we could say that they are forever lost since they do not have any idea where they are going.

Knowing your Why will anchor you in your life, will provide unlimited inspiration, and help keep you afloat when all seems lost.

The Why is bigger than the self. It extends beyond ego and guides us along like a GPS even when we try to fight it. Which leads me to a profound truth I have come to realize as I got older:

The life of just personal achievement eventually leads to hollowness.

Perhaps, like me, at times you have had days where you ask: What is the point of it all? Is this all there is? I thought once I hit my goals I would be happy but I am not.….

Maybe you don’t know your Why or perhaps you have a sense of what it is but have not defined it. Below are the three questions to answer which will put you on the right path of cultivating (drawing out) your Why.

  1. What is it that you most enjoy? List out activities that continually bring you the most joy. What are those things that you do that make your heart sing? These are the things you wake up early on the weekend for…or the things you would do for the sake of doing them because they excite you.
  2. What is it that you are naturally good at? List out all of your natural talents or things that have always just come to you. We all have talents. Study yourself and jot down your abilities you naturally excel at. What are your super powers?
  3. How can I be of service to the world? Using the answers from the first two questions start to connect the dots on how to provide value to others. This question is the binding agent for your Why. It is critical to be of service or you will end up in The Meaningless Hollow*.

As an example of how this works, let’s examine how mine was unearthed (this is very high level but at least we can get a sense of the process).

What do I most enjoy? I love working, laughing, and connecting with others. My life is about play even when I am working. I find the most joy when I am sharing and listening to life experiences. I love inspiring smiles in others and helping them feel significant.

What am I naturally good at? Sports of any kind. Yet if I dig a little deeper, I have this uncanny ability to see the larger picture, game plan, and figure out a way to win. I love studying strategy. Even when all seems lost I can figure out how to get to the finish line first. To me, everything is just a puzzle to figure out. Yet, even when I don’t win I come back stronger, smarter, and more confident.

How can I be of service? I have gone through a lot of hard times in my life (like everyone) and have landed on my feet. I can connect and teach others how to define their values and goals. Then I can help them strategize and figure out a game plan to live their best life. By connecting authentically, I can inspire others to stand up and kick some ass! (By kicking ass, I mean own your life and put in the work. There are no victims)

This example illustrates why Be A Champion Dad is in existence. The Champ Dad site is devoted to helping dads (others) navigate their chaotic life. It aims to assist all dads declutter their mind, sharpen their dreams, and live the life they envision in their heart.

I cannot stress the importance of uncovering your calling. Once it is unearthed you will have an inexhaustible light to follow through good and bad times. You will always have wind in your sails even on the days where you just want to sleep the day away.

Answer the questions and get on with living your bliss. There is nothing greater!

Be well

-MJ

*The Meaningless Hollow: A trapped and fearful state of mind. A mind that is imprisoned by obligations and expectations of others. A depressed state where personal achievement no longer can cover up the void within one’s heart.

Photo by Ambir Tolang via Unsplash