Friday, August 10, 2012

Emotions come early.  Emotional intelligence and Self Awareness shouldn't start late

Being a father to what is now my one year old daughter, one of the things I am amazes at most are her fits of rage, frustration, and excitement. She is overcome with emotion if you take her fill in the blank from her. Her intitial reaction is to seize up and scream, cling and lunge to reclaim what was her enjoyed reality. She has a similar reaction. When she sees one of her other small cousins. Excitement encapsulates her and her blinders of acceptance and motivations of a good time she wears from head to toe. It's her natural instinct. She's too young to reason with social norms or emotional self awareness but she rasseles with the same natural instincts we do as adults. How we respond to different stimulus.
Each of us have pet peaves and hot buttons, some are quicker to anger than others but we all are aware whether we stop ourselves or cross that line that of self awareness, the one where we avoid the emotional equivalent and outcome  as countless toddlers who don't get what they want (frustration, regret, or resentment by you or from others).

The point I am trying to make is that often times we take defensive posture whe approached with self awareness, but should we? The most instinctual and natural things we do are derived from raw emotion. Unfiltered feeling that isnt processed by thought. And if that is the case and we all suffer from the affliction should we embrace the idea of self awareness with open arms. Shouldn't we teach this at young ages and seek to master it by our (potentially life ruining) late teens? I have always been an advocate for never apologizing for ones emotions for reason I mentioned earlier concerning how organic emotions are. I do though believe we are responsible to how we respond to our emotions, and there lies the accountability to grow and move us past our oldest bad habit. 

The Perspective Windshield

Recently on a trip from Dallas to what is now my new area of residence in Houston, my wife and I came a cross a classic Texas summer late afternoon.  You know, sun shining white bright no clouds close enough to consider a threat, sudden, hard down pour.  They feel like a Hollywood movie scene on a perfect summer day where water is rigged to an apparatus that pours down a forced and fake down pour of rain. So as we were traveling south on 45, like a beam from a uFO the sunshine and rain both find us. On come the wipers. As we soak this contrasting weather occurrence of heat and rain I noticed on the passenger side where my wife is sitting there are dark clouds, typical of what you would see accompanying the rain that is beading down the windshield. On my side to my left the sun, shining no clouds. 

Isn't this indicative of what perspective is all about? Regardless of the rain pouring in front of us we often times have the option to choose which conditions we believe we are experiencing. Are we in the middle of a storm? Are we fixated on what's coming? Are we choosing to see the brighter side of things? Basic glass half full or empty thought process yes, but when the rain is pouring which way do YOU turn? 

It was ironic that my side of the vehicle had the sunshine and my wife's the contrary considering often times this how we view challenges, but this was just another example of how important we can be to others when facing rain together to be sure to empathize with what they see and share with them an opportunity to see things differently. 

This from surprisingly (and sarcastically) a hopeless optimistic.

The First Year

Today my daughter turns 1. A big birthday within hours. Car seat forward, a cupcake (met with apprehension) without "no's" and concerned faces, better foods (welcome to chic fil a Mia), no more formula, milk. Whole milk. And for us? 
A reminder to cherish more moments and thank God for more blessings. A chance to be confronted with how to respond to attitudes, fits of rage (yes rage already, and numerous decisions on the other side of what has become an increasingly faster learning. Curve with less chance to adjust, troubleshoot and prepare. We also get the privilige of trying to describe as countless parents do what makes parenthood so enjoyable. The selflessness of providing? The organic charm and curiosity of watching them enjoy new experiences? The level of trust they hold in you? Wondering what good or BAD habits you passed genetically or by example (fixable)? Regardless I have no doubt time will fly while we try to figure which one we are enjoying or dreading most.

The next big birthday is 5 (kindergarten :)), 13 (teenager :/) than 16 (driving :I ) than 18 :(.

 I guess we just pray harder, hold on tighter, laugh and learn. With mixed emotions :)(/I


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Older Man: A Refreshing Resource With No Filter

*Editing in Progress*

Have you ever wondered where you stood with an older gentlemen? I mean been unclear regarding whether or not they like or dislike you. Have you ever been unclear as to what they themselves care for and don't care for?  If you weren't sure here's a trick...ask them, they'll tell you. The liquid courage so many of us require and crave to share simple truth serum filled opinions of our very own, pumps through the veins of a social security eligible  male similar to the ferocity of adrenaline pumping through a visceral twenty something. You see despite plaque build up in an older man's arteries and senses so often plugged by bushels of hair that mirror an unkempt spring lawn, the channels of honesty flow freely and with greater ease the older male subject. What's crazy is that I view this outspoken, mistakenly conscience free indivual as refreshing. Refreshing in the since that a conversation with an "old man" is exactly what it is at face value. So often we acceptance driven individuals side step and carefully touch and go in the dark any amount of topics for fear of offending or losing favor with others. And while often times we would like others to believe this is to be as selfless as it sounds we often times are really seeking to avoid alienation, labels, or hurt future relations, but not the older man. He is void of an agenda and too comfortable to bother taking off his verbal muddy boots not to mess up the carpet and at least most of the furniture. While the Archie Bunkers of the world are both scoffed at and revered  it's honestly because it's considered uncouth to completely speak your mind, but so damn refreshing to completely understand ones honest opinion in a matter of seconds. The least refreshing part is knowing that in those same few amount of seconds there is about a .5% chance you have to change their minds. But you grow to respect that as well. When I started with my company 2 years a go my team was comprised of 5 other males all over 50. I at the time was 26 and after meeting and getting know men not my father on a friend level I found this group of peers to be a new standard of comfort. I found myself at national meetings gravitating to the older guy who didn't give two shits how his jeans fit or even what the new hot shot thought was a good idea in the past, present, or future. Every conversation seem to end with a period as opposed to the open parentheses tennis match I was sharing  with my similar aged work chums tactly filled with positivity and safe political correctness. I enjoyed the comfort of the old man. A bunch of guys who poured out established opinions and spoke to experience with complete conviction. And despite having enough manners to "say" they didn't know it all, make the rules, or hold the key to right and wrong, they were pretty sure that whatever option they were sharing was the closest thing to an acceptable conclusion of right.

Here's a tip: If you would like to know the past of the company regarding, what worked, what didn't what came from it minus the positive spin? Ask the most tenured individual at the company, they'll tell you.
From this I deduce that the older man (with a spine) is free of agenda. They aren't trying to impress, be popular, get laid, land a job or land a friend for that matter. Amazingly more often than not their only agenda is getting their point across. They simply are sharing, and if you happen to buy whatever is being sold be aware they aren't selling. These guys value honest exchange and that's what they want in return. Shooting them equally as straight is just as refreshing to them and leads to an open unbiased  and tolerable exchange which is the reward of this young and old relationship. Plus it's too hard not enjoy people who for every theory you have they have 3 stories and every one experience you have to derive an opinion  they have 5 experiences that can conclude to a concrete lesson.
 I mean think about it, who doesn't want our country's next President to be an old unwavering, experience drawing figure free of an agenda and only consumed with established values (man or woman). These types are like a broken in pair of jeans or shoes in that they're comfortable and dependable first, and if someone happens to like the way they look, it's a bonus.
So I encourage all to respect their elders but most importantly listen to them. There are great experiences wrapped in stories and great lessons wrapped in overly Skued heartfelt advice. Plus if you were wondering how your attitude, shoes, sales pitch etc. we're, you'll be sure to find out in a matter of time... refreshing I know.
Secondhand Lions

Monday, January 9, 2012

Branding Yourself: If You Aren't a Honey Badger, Who are You?

If you watched the very forgettable NCAA National Championship football game involving LSU and Alabama this week you may have heard the name "The Honey Badger" used a few hundred times.  LSU defensive player #7 Tyrann Mathieu holds the animals You Tube sensational video as his self described playing style. It was most likely the most memorable detail of the game outside of Alabama's dominance on defense. The animal and its affiliation through either the viral video or the LSU player Mathieu has become so popular I estimate that a majority of football fans watching the game may only remember Mathieu as "The Honey Badger". He was successful in branding his ability that may at some point yield more money, but most importantly it has yielded him differentiation and a lasting impression.

We all wish to leave a lasting impression in our own respective careers. Depending on your field, possessing a unique identity and that identity being remembered can be crucial to first and lasting impressions. In a very competitive workforce, making an impressive showing of ones abilities as well as creating an ingrained reminder as to who you are is key to successful networking. It's marrying both ability/talent with a lasting impression while making it easy for others to remember and reference you that is so important to making an effective connection. As a result I personally have latched on to my identity as  'The Orange Duck'. A motivator, accomplishing the frantic work of  a duck below the surface while portraying poise all the while. It is my brand, my Honey Badger if you will. It represents me, and more importantly a memorable me in two words. (At the bottom of this post I explain where and how the "Orange" and the  "Duck" originated from for me.)
I plan to leverage the "Orange Duck' identity this year to test its effectiveness. I mean if Kobe has the Black Mamba and countless other sports figures have nicknames that tout their best attributes why not me? So what I encourage is for one to seek out what your personal brand or mascot might be, and seek it from the opinions of your peers and superiors (beware of detractors). I caution you to avoid too much of a self anointing role when identifying your best characteristics. Make sure that your professional brand consists of input from credible or discerning outside opinion. Often times what we perceive to be our strengths are what we would LIKE them to be as opposed to what we actually posses. This misrepresentation often leads to eventual unmet expectations and a brand not capable of delivering on its brands claims. Embrace your perception amongst your peers, leverage it through an example that embodies you, and soon you will be looking forward to making the most of that elevator speech that is both efficient, effective, and hopefully memorable.
While the 'Orange Duck' may not ever sell any Nike shoes, or inspire a You Tube viral takeover, it just might get me remembered. In the instance that it does I'm prepared to take care of the rest.

Orange Duck.

Orange: After finishing leadership training for my company last year I completed a complex personality survey ( At the end I was assigned a color that corresponded with my personality and preferences. It was spot on to say the least. My color was orange. I was labeled under the banner of  'Motivator' amongst other things. Orange.

Duck: Never afraid to display perceived skill in front of my peers, I volunteered to role play with my boss in front of the Vice President of our Division during a sales meeting. After I was done the VP of the division paid me the complement many have before, but in a unique way. He compared me to a duck. He mentioned my ability to conversationally accomplish a pitch without it seeming like one. I held on to that. What better way to share a personal strength or skill than have it summarized by an animal? This is where I get the duck label. Had I not put myself out there to role play in front of my superiors I would have missed out on his assessment. It paid off.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Disgusted: The Death of Accountability in Modern Society

As a citizen under 30 ( Gen Y) belonging to these greatest states of America and the greatest of all of them, Texas... I am beyond appalled by the lava like decay of American morality and societies inability to label it. It could be that possible as a new father for only 3 months now I have already become increasingly aware of the lack of foundation our country is currently detached from and floating over not in the least bit feeling the omission of a moral high ground. 
Recent current events such as the Penn State cover up of coach Sandusky and his immoral acts of pedophilia as well as the breeding ground that was supposed to be his charitable organization I believe has simply sent me over the edge. But it was also the global and more surprisingly national build up of the 'occupy wall street' movement that helped me nudge me to the edge that has me staring deep into an abyss that seems all but occupied by the new the moral majority. 
The common theme in each of so many cases of crime is the self serving nature of immediacy. Some call it justice, or just perceived responsibility and entitlement to self free of any deserved consequence. This ideal is something we as a nation have embraced at least within marketing, driving habits that have led to a slippery slope. But what concerns me most isn't that we fail to truly treat the problem (like a man with a smokers hack lights up another cigarette)...but it is our inability to acknowledge that we have a smoking problem. Today's lack of a defined taboo or moral standard is terrifying. It has been replaced with justification and motivations, but those are only precursors to the end result which is what one should be accountable for, what we choose to do. Decisions that DEFINE our character or at best lack of judgement.  Joe Paterno  and those at Penn State made a selfish decision to protect THEMSELVES over doing the right and selfless thing by not holding Sandusky's feet to the fire. No one wanted to be accountable for risking messing up their own or their schools football related circumstances. And while I can say being courageous isn't usually the easy thing to do I would hope someone in this world would hold me to account for doing or not doing the RIGHT thing. 
The Occupiers want free EVERYTHING at no cost to them. (Funny how those who have the least to lose seem so willing to take from others with no risk of their own at stake) their destruction of business and property and lack of cooperation with the law is selfish without regard for others. When we started living and thinking about ourselves instead of our communities we reduced our responsibility and became consumed with our ability to serve our own gutless convenient and less than impressive justified motivations for often selfish decisions   
Our inability to hold others to account for fear of hypocrisy or political correctness has crippled our ability to "call out" and now even define what is right and wrong, which translates into a society that is void of honesty. Without honesty there is no accountability and no progress and more importantly no moral foundation spoken or unspoken that binds is to convictions and making selfless tough decisions. While I am no saint I do expect to be judged and held accountable for my actions with or without a way to explain my behavior. I will become a better person for these reflections but only by understanding what is wrong or right and acknowledging it can I move forward in a positive direction.  This should be the healing PROCESS for our country. I emphasize process to point out that it is something we should strive for daily. We have a smoking problem in America and a hacking cough to match...what will we do about it?

Link: Current Penn State Players Reaction to Coach Paterno's Firing

Marcus Combs
The most concerning issue in America today isn't the amount of wrong happening, it's the inability to define it and be accountable to it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Most Eligible City: Dallas

As a Texan, a secure male, and father to a well behaved 2 week old daughter I recently embarked on the new Bravo Television show Most Eligible Dallas with my wife and our new newborn house arrest sentence (happily to begin raising our daughter). We watched DVR episodes in between naps and diaper changing over this weekend and after only 2 episodes deep into the series I have deduced that the MOST ELIGIBLE subject looking to court a new mate is none other than the city of Dallas/North Texas.

 Despite the group of attractive cast members boasting their self proclaimed greatness, Most Eligible Dallas is the city of  Dallas' audition tape for new residents. It seems to have been created to entice young professionals to  a city that can see an opportunity to seize the day to attract talent and money while the other major markets struggle. Dallas is on its A game like a playboy spotting a rebounding female fresh out of a bad relationship across the bar. The city of Dallas can see its prey and their ready to pounce.
Since hosting the (sadly uneventful) Super Bowl, NBA All Star Weekend a World Series appearance by the Texas Rangers and a World Champion Dallas Mavericks run, the city of Dallas has shown the nation and celebrities alike that they can hang with the cool kids of Chicago, New York, LA and Atlanta. Already known as one of the fashion capitals of the world Dallas can hold its own in both entertainment and appeal. We have culture.  I'm not saying Dallas is directly on par with some of the other major markets party scene wise or on a "fabulous" scale with its major city counterparts but on paper we look a lot more sexy than them to singles, families and businesses. It all seems so similar to the push the original show 'Dallas' made decades ago.(By the way that series is launching its 21st century version soon)

The Original "Team Dallas"

Our states Governor is leading in the GOP polls able to boast that his state is responsible for creating 2/3 of jobs in America that are oh so rare in the rest of the country. Texas does not have a state tax while Chicago has just raised theirs for the next few years. Tort reform for the entrepreneurs as well as low business taxes are a financial draw to businesses looking to relocate. North Texas has more space and a better housing market than those over valued more popular cities ( Dallas is only second to Houston in new home property development). With an increasing number of states having budget issues it's ironic all of our cooler competition in particular belongs to states that routinely have bankruptcy and tax increase related terminology attached to them. Even Dallas retail better reflects what used to be exclusive to certain regions.  A Californian would feel right at home with North Parks' H&M and burger favorits Carl's Jr and the famous In and Out Burger all now in the Dallas area.If we start to steal Chicago's deep dissh pizza joints I'm going to have to suggest we seriously start stealing some of California's bike lanes. All in all we look better on paper and we are starting to look more familiar as well.
The city of Dallas is campaigning. The exploratory committe has done there diligence and they want the votes of young professionals areound the country for most desireable major market. So while the cast of Most Eligible Dallas seems to only perpetuate the idea that Dallas is as vain and self promoting as the more desirable major markets of the country, what this show  feels is an important takeaway for the potential convert is for them and the nation to see is that you can have a similar self discovering, beautifully flirtatious lifestyle in North Texas similar to coastal cities with potentially significantly more money left in your wallet at the end of the year. Dallas is seizing this opportunity to win the hearts of people around the country and the last 2 years party hosting (and possibly a future presidential term's timing)  couldn't be better with so many other major cities hurting..It's like the the starting QB of the football team just got injured and Dallas is the 3rd string backup has its moment to win a starting spot. Soon the nation will be aware of the upside of the Big D, and the best part is North Texas has seriously more depth than the cast that is the face of the show, which is all the more reason to Date Dallas.

The NEW Team Dallas. Want to Join?