When To Retreat

Knowing when to walk away can be tricky. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the result of not knowing when to back out of a failing situation or give up altogether in order to save your energy and resources for another campaign. As a leader, it may be hard to tell when you should stop pushing out relentless effort. If you are doing everything you can and you are not seeing a result then it is time to re-evaluate your situation and get ready to charter a different course of action.
  
A great leader would not run at the first sign of danger and can gage a de-escalating situation wisely. One leak in the sailor’s boat doesn’t mean you won’t reach your destination. But knowing when to make that crucial call can make a big difference in your life. I’ve never been one to run at the first sight of trouble. I typically let it soak in and make my next decision strategically.

No matter how painful the news or damaging the blow (thankfully I’ve never been mortally wounded in any relationship, business or in life), it’s important not to over-react or respond with an emotion reflex. Wait for it, analyze the data then make the best decision once you’ve considered every option. There’s no point in doing the same thing over and expecting a different result. Don’t bash your head against marble hoping it will yield to your will. If you’re getting nowhere, acknowledge it and work to create a new path where you can succeed.
  
Finally walking away from something can be painful but the pain of remaining stuck must be greater than the pain of separation for you to leverage yourself to a better position. Admitting to yourself when things aren’t working well or if things are getting progressively worse takes courage. No one wants to feel like they’ve made a mistake and as leaders, those of us who have come from nothing, we have the tendency to keep a mantra of “riding things until the wheels fall off.” You need to know that you don’t need to have the wheels fall off before you change vehicles, ideas, relationships, or strategies.

If you wait until the she ships masthead is submerged before you take refuge, then you may already be doomed. Spotting important issues that may be irreversible takes a lot of effort and know how about the situation you’re in and what you want for yourself. If you truly know what glory is supposed to look like, then by contrast you know when you’re heading in the wrong direction. I particularly like to focus on the vision I have for myself. If you keep your vision in mind, anything that happens in your life that isn’t in accord to that vision can be nixed.
  
Remember it takes courage to admit when things aren’t working if you’ve made a mistake, or just to admit that you won’t survive on the continued path. But with your ingenuity, and after assessing the real problems, you should find a way to continue on a successful journey which may be in a different vehicle altogether. Don’t be afraid of retreat if it gives you the option to fight more effectively at a later time. That’s not losing. That’s shifting your energy and resources to somewhere you can actually be victorious.

The Game Inside the Game


Every great athlete has been able to master himself first and his court, field, or arena second. Great athletes, lawyers, negotiators, closers have the ability to play and win the game that’s going on inside the game itself. If you want to be the top dog in your field then you should want to learn how to play this game because if you cannot master it, you cannot force your will on anyone else, or become victorious forcing your will on the game.
  
Anyone who knows the real Michael Jordan will tell you he is a heavy trash talker. He knows how to get into his competitors head and he dictates the pace of the game because it’s already going well and according to the plan in his head. Another great basketball player like Kobe Bryant is known for his tenacity on the court as well for his level of focus off the court and during the off season. That look in his eyes tells you that he will stop at nothing.

Yes, you must have the killer instinct and poise to keep your head about you while everyone else is losing theirs. It’s the definitive characteristics of all great men in history. Anything that would tell you “you can’t do it; you’re too small; don’t start now; you’ve never done that before” should be treated like the thief that steals the dream and poisons the mind. It ruins your mental game and can leave you posterized or gasping for air on the canvas.
  
Are you old enough to remember the great boxing era of the Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson? Can you recall the look on his opponent’s faces when they looked into his eye? They could not figure out a way to penetrate through his piercing stare. Mike made them feel little although he usually had the height disadvantage. Mike Tyson said he trained hard and was very fearful that he would be beaten, and would let down his corner or his mentor, Cus D’Amato. He trained with the fear and wrestled with it the entire time up until the fight. When he walked into the ring, his stone face would lock the secret away from his opponents that he’d been fearful the whole time. Michael wrestled his fears and won that battle while he was in the gym, before he stepped on the canvas. The game within the game was already won. Iron Mike transformed from mortal to God.
 

 Like circling the track, looking for the tightest corner – The game within the game is personified by men like Dale Earnhart, known as the intimidator and considered one of the best nascar drivers of all time. His competitors knew his aggressive style of racing was because he had total control of his car and the pace of the race. Challenging Earnhart was like challenging a Jedi master or creeping up on a junkyard dog. Within the chaos of high performance racing – he was in absolute control – like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the middle of a war zone. That’s the game inside the game.  

Casting A Net


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Casting a Net, Some fisherman work with Dolphins. Some Fisherman work alone. Some fisherman are taught by their fathers. Some fisherman are taught on their own. These fish are large and small. These fish have seen them all. Your fish is caught by these men. Your plate that’s fish and bone.

Will you come to save me? When I’m out here all alone. Casting nets with these men when my wrongs, I must atone. I have not been oh so good. And my karma’s coming home. So I left my life on shores side. And sent my ship to roam

How To Be Black : Book Review

  Baratunde Thurston is a Harvard graduate, comedian, writer and wickedly smart. He’s even a good looking guy so naturally we are mortal enemies. Not really, though he has certain amazing qualities that make you hate him just a little bit – or is that jealousy? Either way, the book he wrote, “How To Be Black” was a very interesting read for me and should be just as well for anyone who is black, wants to be black, or wants to know what it’s like to be black. Keep in mind that Thurston is a comedian so every thing written is not meant to be taken literally.

This book is a work of comedy with underlying truth hidden between the lines and written into his subtext. Oh, Baratunde, your wit and charm delights and frustrates me simultaneously. The disclaimer in the introduction states “This book is not How to Become a Black Person If You Are Not Already Black.” So it’s not that type of book which claims it can transform you into something you are not. What it is – as a book or form of media – is something that can provide cultural reference on the experience of Black Americans that’s very unlike any degrading music video, episode of cops, or late 90’s early 2000’s WB sitcom. Let’s get into some of what I like most about the book.
  
In chapters like, “How to Be the Black Friend”, Baratunde touts the importance of being such a liaison between two distinctive cultures. “The Black Friend has value to all non-black Americans but especially white Americans. By having a Black Friend, white Americans automatically inoculate themselves against most charges of racism and capture some of the rebellious spirit that has made this country what it is. They become cooler by association.” It’s hard to argue against such a point, and I would dare not to even try. Baratunde goes on to divulge, The Black Friend is a key intelligence asset, like a CIA operative, both transmitting and receiving valuable information that continually helps prevent a race war by increasing understanding, lowering tensions, and offering diplomatic back channels.” Baratunde is funny and insightful suggesting that if only Black America knew the sacrifices Black Friends make every single day to preserve the peace that we would erect some kind of monument in their honor or have a moment of silence during the BET awards.

He writes chapters like “How to Be the Black Employee” and pokes fun at a fictitional diversity committee whose diverse agenda includes diversifying the company, projects, and continually making the company a diverse place. Also, to use the word diverse as diversely and often as humanly possible. Really, it’s a great and humorous chapter if not book overall.

Make sure to keep an open mind when reading this fine book. Especially if you’re a minority. “We are too young a people to accept the limitations placed on us by some in our own community or especially those outside of it….There’s no perk in being closed – minded as a minority. It’s never, ever, ever going to help you, ever. It’s not your world…we’re 12 percent. We’re a minority, so get off it.”
  
He attacks poorly programmed “black television” “When you put out really dumb, ignorant shit and you’re labeled [Black Entertainment Television], then you bring down a certain amount of criticism upon yourself. And you can’t be surprised.” Is it that someone’s finally verbalizing what many have been holding in for so long? Well it’s the right platform to voice such opinions. The book, well written and insightful does more than talk about what educated black people think about – it’s what anyone with common sense and attention to detail, anyone who is actually awake should notice.

Finally, though the book is titled “How To Be Black”, in the end, the book is not going to instruct you on how to be blacker. There is no such thing. Baratunde wants you to know that you should do whatever you want to do, regardless of who you are and whatever culture you’re in that says you have to be a certain way. The best way to be black is to be awesome and not to suck. If you’re black, just be an amazing person because….what else can you do? Get the book – and I have to thank A. Simpson and B. Thurston himself for my signed copy. No, you cannot borrow it.  

The Power of Now Book Review


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Eckhart Tolle is considered by many to be a spiritual guru and he wrote this particular book, “The Power of Now, in 2009. I have read it for the second time recently and obviously think it has some deep insights that would make life a bit more easier to live. I love how just the presentation of ideas can put the world into a different perspective and help people charter a new path – especially if that path is one of enlightenment. This book is all about helping you to think clearer, feel better, and move through the world with a kind of efficacy that leaves you less reactive to what happens to you, and more reliant on what you can do about any given situation.

I’m not a spiritual type of guy. I was born into a Baptist religious upbringing which lead to visiting other denominations of Christianity until I was finally fed up with ambiguity and decided to learn about this whole “God thing” on my own. Many trips to the library and book store lead me to put down religious dogma in the search for some ultimate truth. In fact, I identify quite well with atheism. Though I like to meditate on occasion, and I’ve tattooed an ohm on my right bicep (it literally reminds me to just breathe deeply), and I like yoga. Not just because the hottest women are doing it but because it’s a simple stretching exercise that’s centered around balance. 
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So, being a non spiritual, atheistic, yoga practicing, ohm tatted occasional meditator, I must say that I do embrace the concept of higher consciousness. I never stray too far from the idea that we are all global citizens and I often attempt to look at “the big picture”. The book is all about that stuff. Eckhart Tolle elegantly crafts simple ideas that make you go “hmmm” and sometimes, “duh” in an enlightening sort of way.

The Power of Now is all about living and being present in the moment. Not being stuck on the past, and not being so focused on the future that you forget what you must do now in order to get there. “Your life’s journey has an outer purpose and an inner purpose. The other purpose is to arrive at your goal or destination, to accomplish what you set out to do, to achieve this or that, which, of course, implies future. But if your destination, or the steps you are going to take in the future, take up so much of your attention that they become more important to you than the step you are taking now, then you completely miss the journey’s inner purpose, which has nothing to do with where you are going or what you are doing, but everything to do with how.” I highlighted that, obviously.

Tolle touches on victim mentality and how to escape it. “The first thing to remember is this: As long as you make an identity for yourself out of the pain, you cannot become free of it….A victim identity is the belief that the past is more powerful than the present, whis is the opposite of the truth.” Disassociating yourself with the identity of what happened to you helps to free you of that burden, says Tolle. This of course can be easier said than done for someone who has experienced something that is traumatic. The practice of disassociating however can be done through meditation – which he explains in greater detail in the book about how to meditate and what the actual aim of meditation is overall.

Tolle offers my favorite take on the “G” word near the end of his book. “The word God is limiting not only because of thousands of years of misperception and misuse, but also because it implies an entity other than you.
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He also talks about the best way to use your beautiful mind. “Your mind is an instrument, a tool. It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down. As it is, I would say about 80 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of it’s dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful.” This is one of the reasons I try not to pay attention to trashy tv shows, music, and I keep my distance from negative, dismal people and constant complainers. It literally infects you.  

I would recommend this book to anyone dealing with problems of perception. And if many of your basic needs are met, like shelter, food, and water, then a majority of the problems you think you have are likely that of perception. I guess this could be considered a self-help book although it’s not full of “you can do it” style motifs. It is however certainly enlightening as it helps you to abandon preconceived notions of the world that would leave you in a rut and to construct the lense by which you see the the world in beautiful detail and operate within it with much less friction or resistance. The ideas in this one little book, can help you do all of that.

The Great Escape


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“Quickly, this way Senor Guzman! Tenemos que ir ahora!” Despite being under video surveillance for 24 hours a day the bold Drug lord, ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, slipped away into a tunnel that was a mile long from his maximum security prison cell. Lights hung inside the tunnel illuminating his path and it was even ventilated and air conditioned – perhaps to keep his mind at ease. This notorious man, the Al Capone of his day and country, was simply not going to allow himself to rot in a cell. You’ve got to admire someone with that kind of grit to some extent.

Feeling stuck between a rock and hard place – a desperate man will employ desperate measures to get to the other side where he believes the grass is greener. And the grass is definitely greener outside than on the inside of a Mexican industrial prison complex.  
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For most of us, not facing a daunting prison sentence, or trapped in a cement cage, the feeling to make a great escape can arise from complacency, monotonous, mundane, and repetitive sequences. First you feel trapped in your mind, then you feel prisoner of your own body, and looking to your surroundings, you may find the need to get away.

More than a weekend getaway or vacation, a great escape is like moving to another coast, or another country. You will know when you know your surroundings just aren’t cutting it anymore. When you’ve been in one place for too long, and if you have the freedom to move away, then you make your great escape. No one needs to know because they may try to talk you out of it. The great escape is a mad dash from near insanity. From a place where there are little to no options to a place where opportunity is abundant.

Your great escape will take some planning and it could be several months to a year in the making. The overall millenial trend is to move closer to the city, away from the suburbs. But for some of us born in the city and who live through it’s constant pressures day in and day out – the allure of an actual paradise is even greater. Suits, cabs, cool kids on colorful bikes, pot holes, and gyro stands -all the things that made the city what you love can be the same thing that turns you off about it if there’s no actual change in place. The over development, the constant influx of outsiders are what make lake-front, beach-front and foreign lands so much more appealing. They are more simple and do not even hint at the existence of a rat race – although it may still be there.
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Whether your great escape means moving into the city from a small town or moving out of the city to a more peaceful and serene setting – the great escape itself will not go without proper planning. What will you do when you reach your destination? Will you carry your problems with you? If so, then a change in scenery will be just that – an illusion of change. If your heart is set on waking up and watching waves pound the coast for the rest of your life – then let that change in circumstance manifest as your destiny. Whatever the next chapter of your life may be, should it require a great escape – be sure to do your homework on the neighborhood, culture, and economy you’ll be stepping into. Forewarned will always remain forearmed.

What are you willing to give up?


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Success in any area comes with it’s sacrifices in others. Let’s say giving up in order to attain is the name of the game. Equally important as getting and achieving. Through this perspective it can be easier to identify what you must give up when you are not sure exactly what it is you must do.

Let’s take your health for example. Sure would look great to have a six pack washboard stomach this summer. Maybe you’ll have to do a bunch of floor crunches. Maybe you’ll need to take a kickboxing class. You will definitely need to focus on the exercises needed to make you look and feel healthier. You’ll need to take consistent action in order to see results.  Think about this though – of all the things you may have to do – what will you have to give up? If you think for half a second you could come up with a dozen things you’re already doing that you could and need to stop. If you binge drink at night, it should be obvious that you need to let that go. If you binge eat at night – discard the habit. If you suck cheez whiz from the can every morning for breakfast – put it down and step away. Would you agree that this sounds relatively simple? That’s because it is – and it is often overlooked.
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The things that we must be willing to give up in order to get where and what we want most out of life often go unchecked. You say you want to finish your PhD program? Then you should give up your sex life. Haha, only joking….sort of. No, really you must realize that there are at least two parts to attaining anything worth value in this life. Theres a balance that must be struck.  Once you’ve decided what you want and found the resolve to take action in that area – it’s also good to lighten the wagon by getting rid of the habits, people, or things that are making your journey more difficult than it needs to be.

Are you willing to give up your night life to learn a new business? What if letting go of something is all that it takes to clear your palate, move forward, and gain the new experiences you’ve been hoping for? You only have to check with yourself to determine what it is you must give up.  Discover what you must sacrifice and be bold enough to follow through with your plan. Charge forward Hari-kari style (but without all the blood on the floor). Just use it as a metaphor that sacrifices may be painful but must be made at some point to attain what’s most desirable to you.

If you’re going to be the best player on the soccer field, you’ll give up social time in order to perfect your craft and ability. You’ll give up smoking and hanging with your homies – if you’re serious. You’ll give up video games and even chasing girls (I know, this is becoming blasphemous) if you want to be the best.
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Take an honest assessment of your life, think about all the great things you know you want for yourself – and do not believe for an instance that they will come on their own. Without great sacrifice, you will achieve no lasting or great success. You want the things you fight for – your family, your career, your life – to be worth it. Going for the glory and the best means eradicating evil wherever you see it in your life and on your path. Doing away with bad habits makes cultivating new and prosperous ones easier. They have a chance to stick. Abandoning bad relationships makes the possibility for loving relationships to flourish. Love good and hate evil. Plant seeds, but make sure to pull the weeds.

Kick the habits, drop the dead language, free yourself from the victim identity and become the hero of your own life. You certainly deserve the life you envision for yourself. Just remember that it will not come without it’s sacrifices. And when you achieve what you’ve been wanting all along, when your life is so good, you may look back and wonder how you ever thought you would get so far with the same downing people in your life, the nasty old habits, the unhealthy relationships, and the destructive thoughts you had. And the answer will be – you could not.