Home Culture Part 1: Values

In last week’s post we touched upon wellness and creating a home environment where everybody’s needs are met.  We specifically pointed out the friction between the sense of belonging and authenticity.  To this point, we reviewed the slippery slope where people begin to chose the comfort of conformity over a sense of authenticity.

Over the next 4 weeks we will dig into the steps of creating a Champion Family culture; a wellness culture that supports authenticity while providing belonging to the individuals. There are 4 steps that we will discuss (one step per week) and they are:

  • Identifying and defining the values of the household
  • Discovering our own personalities. What is our natural strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.
  • Understanding your personality in a relationship to other personalities in the house and reviewing strategies to strengthen those relationships.
  • Adjusting the environments to support the values and the uniqueness of the family

Wikipedia has a great definition of culture but for our purposes we will define culture as the social behavior, knowledge, beliefs, customs, capabilities, traditions, and habits of the individuals of the house.  

Values:  The importance of identification and defining

“Values are like fingerprints.  Nobody’s are the same, but you leave’em all over everything you do.” –Elvis Presley

I love the above quote from Elvis but I would even take it a step further. Just like fingerprints most people are not even aware that they are leaving them around. Whether you are aware of them or not, you and everyone in life has values and they are on full display to be observed.  Some values are easy to identify (trust and honest communication) while others we have no clue that they exist (needing the latest smartphone or technology).  To this end, it is really important periodically stop and question what our values are.  If we don’t do this our values will be formed through our surrounding culture, environment, and other people.  Personally, I like to have a greater sense of autonomy and don’t want others to shape what I find most important.

Once we have identified our values we can start to clean them up and provide a meaningful definition for them.  By doing this we can see what values are truly important, what values are minor, and what values get in the way of a household of wellness. From our defined values we can now align our daily actions to these values. Your values will serve as your North Star in everything that you do.

Exercise: Over the next week set aside a half hour and write out what is truly important in your life. You might write down things like I value trust, affection, quiet time, quality time with family, or family dinners every night. Your focus should be on what you would like your ideal household environment to be.

A little trick to uncover your hidden values (blind guiding forces), take a few moments to analyze behaviors that trigger you emotionally. Strong emotional reactions often happen when a value has been violated.

Once you have a good list going rank them by importance. In this second step we are looking to find two or three that we can build around. What values are the most important to you and your uniqueness? Then work this list over with your significant other to find agreement on your guiding values.

The final step is to try to work out a statement that encompasses what your household stands for. An example might sound something like this: “Our household is place where love is given freely. We cherish quality time together where we can share (and listen) to each others daily adventures. We always support each other even when we might not always agree.”

Identifying and defining values can be an eye opening exercise. Be open and honest with yourself when doing the exercise. Also, do not judge what you may find. Remember we are only uncovering here…not defending how we conduct our lives currently. We are looking to find the best values and eliminate the ones that are getting in the way.

Next week will will post up the frame work of personalities so we can begin to better understand ourselves.

Be well

-Mj

Photo by Tyler Nix via Unsplash

The Balance: Authenticity and Belonging

Today’s post is really just the tip of a large iceberg (called Wellness) that we will uncover in the coming weeks. Hopefully, these words will give you some great triggering thoughts on how to adjust your home environment to maximize your family’s wellness potential.

As a dad, I find myself trying balance out my household everyday. My Goal is that everyone is operating in a state of wellness and not fear. A household that operates in full wellness is one that is functioning with authenticity while providing feelings of belonging. What does this mean? It means that the household’s environment ensures everyone’s needs are met and they are safe to be their authentic self.

Easy enough, right? I wish, but being authentic and feeling that you belong often run in different directions!

My whole life has been friction between these two dichotomies. 44 years of trying to fit in (seeking belonging/significance) while also trying to be who I naturally am (emerging authenticity). Do you see the rub?

All people will gravitate to where they feel most significant. Humans are tribal animals and are wired this way. It is our natural survival mechanism to seek belonging. Belonging happens in many ways good and bad (loving empathy, conformity, acceptance, fitting in, or sharing of similar thoughts/values).

Authenticity on the other hand stands firm and declares: “This is who I am!” Every time someone placates, pleases, or conforms they are (on some level) betraying their authenticity.

I am a firm believer that authenticity in every moment should be the true goal of everyone’s life. As parents, our over arching goal is to foster the emergence of authenticity in our children. Moreover, there is only ever going to be one us so it is our job to fully express this unique identity to the world…conformity at its worst is a life wasted.

But our basic need is Belonging….

So how do we get these two ideals to play together?

Acceptance and celebration of our diversities.

A strong and healthy household is one that creates a culture that accepts the uniqueness of the individuals that occupy it. When this happens, members no longer seek to conform and can allow their authenticity to emerge.

Home environments where acceptance and differences are celebrated become safe spaces for all members to operate in. Wellness takes root and thrives. Children develop well adjusted and parents can hold their head high.

Next week I will dig into identifying the elements of a great family culture and how to create a wellness culture for your home.

But in the meantime, I would like you to think about the following questions:

Are differences celebrated in your home or does everyone try to change (mold) each other into their version of right?

What is your current family culture and how would you like to see it change?

Have a great week and share if this post has helped you.

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Max Goncharov via Unsplash

Hesitation: The Mind’s Quicksand

Happy New Year!

With the new year I have made a couple of resolutions to improve my life. I do this every year and each year I have mixed results. I attribute my mixed results to the fact that I used to wait on inspiration to take action. Perhaps you know the feeling. Inspiration is great when you are all fired up about something but what happens when that emotion fades? We end up slowly migrating back to our old habits…back to our comfort zone. Not this year. Not for me and not for you!

It ends up that waiting on motivation or inspiration to strike is a really bad bet. It is a losing proposition for long term change. Emotions change day in and day out so waiting on or riding a fleeting emotion is not sustainable. If you want to change your life you simply must build better habits.

How to you build better habits? Action. Yes, just take action….but act now…don’t delay!

Here is some science for you (outlined from the book noted below): We have roughly five seconds to act on a thought before our mind will begin to kill it off. Should we take action in the first five seconds our brain will work really hard at doing the “new” thing. However, if we deliberate beyond five seconds we are geared to shut it down and figure out ways not to do it. It is the brains way of protecting itself since the “new” things is unknown.

He who hesitates is lost….we have five seconds to get our butt in gear! Test it out and see what happens when you wait.

How did I come across this information? Well the universe responded to my observances and thoughts after watching my son attempt obstacles at our American Ninja Warrior gym. One Saturday, mid way through his session, I began to notice how he approached every new obstacle. He would square up to it, take a deep breath, clap his hands once, and go full speed at it. I chuckled at first when I noticed this but it was strangely mesmerizing.

The clapping of the hands trigger he picked up from me. Watching him made me analyze how I routinely shift mindsets to go after things. When I am calling to my kids to come inside I would get their attention by finishing my statement with a clap of the hands (“Let’s go guys!” *CLAP*). At work, getting ready to teach a class I would have some internal pump up dialogue and one big clap (yes, even at work). At table tennis, right before starting a match ….yep I clap. Clapping for me signifies that the thinking is done and it is now time to get done to business.

The following Monday I came across and listened to a Podcast with Mel Robbins who is the author of the book: The Five Second Rule. Listening to her, I was blown away by her own story and by the science she had behind it. It was like the universe was was emphasizing my Saturday thoughts that I was really onto something. If you would like to listen to the podcast click here. If you want to check out this book (I am mid way through) click here.

Since that day I have been putting the five second rule to work. Habits are changing and I am getting more done than I ever have before. I am seeing that as my habits are changing the frequency of happiness, contentment, and inspiration are also changing…I experience them more often.

Action is the key to any sustainable change. Action rewires the brain. Even the smallest action is one step closer to your goal than you were before. Actions that “fail” are still better than the action you failed to take.

So I wish you success in this new year and when you have that great thought that enters your brain…start the stopwatch…you have five seconds to begin to make it a reality. Let’s go! *Clap*

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Veri Ivanovo via Unsplash

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