Friday, December 31, 2010


             So, this is it, the end of 2010, and the beginning of 2011, but before we leap from one year into the next, let’s take a look back and see what our 2010 looks like. This is in preparation for 2011.
             Take some time to look over your year and list some of the good things you made happen.                 
             Oftentimes, we don’t do this and feel that we haven’t done much, or anything, but if you take the time to look, you will see that you did quite a bit.
             Did you go to the gym more often than in the past? Did you improve your golf game or your ability to bike long distances? Did you deepen your relationship with someone? Did you weather the financial storm of 2010 with a better attitude than you might have in the past? Did you take on a new job? Learn a new skill? Improve your diet? Your attitude? Your relationships? Your living situation? Did you stretch in any way? Reach out to someone or something new? Help anyone, including yourself and your family? Go on an adventure with the family? Take care of business, somehow? 
              How did you deliver in 2010?
              It’s important to not restrict yourself to only one area such as finances. Do not reduce yourself to homo economicus who tallies his or her life solely in terms of dollars and cents. Remember love, friendship, and mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. It may be helpful to review your year looking at the broad categories of career, finances, family, personal growth, leisure, adventure, legacy and charitable work.
              It can be a little scary to write down what you’ve done, because your critic wants to get in there and tell you how little you’ve actually done. But that’s the very reason to do it: to stop the critic in its tracks.            
              Oftentimes, we think the way to get ourselves to get anything done is to criticize ourselves, to whip ourselves like unwilling horses; we forget that a spoon of sugar and a carrot are often a better way to get any horse to do the right thing.
               So, give yourself the scary gift of listing some of what you’ve done this past year. Acknowledge yourself. (Which can also be scary.) Share it with a friend or family member. (Which can be even scarier.)
   I would be honored if you would share what you've done with me via email. As encouragement, I will list a dozen or so things that I helped make happen in 2010 that I am happy about and grateful for.
Started a blog and posted over 50 articles.
Secured a weekly online column at the Independent, and a different column at the Noozhawk.
I asked Lisa to marry me.
Sold off unprofitable real estate and solidified our financial position.
Started a second men’s group.
Worked with clients privately and in small workshops to help them live the lives they want.
Wrote a rough draft of a self-help book.
Meditated every day.
Went on a number of adventures with the family, including taking my 90-year-old mom to New York, and my son backpacking in the Sierras.
Finished another year of Somatic Experiencing training.
Attended workshops at UCLA and elsewhere.
Co-led two men’s retreats.
Was a good dad to my four children, a good friend, and a good partner.

 Now, it’s your turn. Make a list of a dozen things or so that you made happen in 2010 that you are happy about. Take in what you’ve done. Let yourself feel empowered by how you’ve lived this past year.       
Stay positive. Do not go into “yeah, but” mode where your critic wants to shower you with the dung of how you ‘should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve’ done better. The power of this exercise is to silence the critic and take in and be grateful for all that you’ve been able to do this past year.
That's part one.
Now, for the second part.
Let yourself feel the energy and satisfaction of what you’ve done this past year. Let it empower you. Now envision what the next year might hold in store for you. What would you like to make happen?
Oscar Wilde wrote, “New Year’s resolutions go in one year and out the other.”
We all know that so many of our resolutions go by the wayside, but it is also true that we are much more likely to do something if we commit to doing so. I, for example, meditated haphazardly for over thirty years, some days doing it, some days not. Sometimes a month would pass and I wouldn’t meditate. A little more than two years ago, before a group of men, I committed to meditating every day. I’ve done so ever since.
Making a commitment, especially to a group, can be very empowering. I made a commitment last year to two local papers to write at least two articles per week, and I’ve done so every week since then.
            What commitments do you want to make for the coming year? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want to reach out to others and deepen your relationships? Do you want to write, sing, dance, or play? Do you want to pray more? Apply for a new job? Learn a new skill? Practice gratitude and acceptance for things just as they are, including yourself?
Whatever it is, go for it.
            Here are some of mine:
I commit to finishing my book this year and sending it out to publishers and agents. 
I commit to finishing the classes for my fifth graduate degree.
I commit to hiking Evolution Basin next summer with Lisa.
I commit to deepening my relationship with my children by being there for them on a daily and weekly basis throughout the year, for example, by talking with them, texting them, visiting them, taking them to the library, playing games with them, and sharing meals with them.
I could go on, but that’s what I have the courage for right now.
What about you?
Go public with your commitments. I would appreciate it if you would send them to me. Think about your commitments carefully. You are committing to them. They are not just dreams, wishes, or nebulous goals. Be specific. Be realistic. Set time limits. Be thoughtful about your choices. You are saying you are going to do them. 
            If you are interested I am offering a workshop on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011 for setting goals and making commitments for the year. We’ll explore what is at the root of your choices and expose any resistance you might be having. Research has shown that it takes about 10 weeks or so for people to get established in new habits or to change old ones, so I’m offering follow-up classes that will meet each week for ten weeks on Tuesday evenings from 5-6:30.
            So, list some of what you’ve done this past year, then stick your neck out and make some commitments for the coming year. Enjoy. And give thanks. And Happy New Year to You and Yours!
            I can be reached at or 805/680-5572

Monday, December 27, 2010


You may have read or heard some of these before, but like good green vegetables, you probably can’t get too many of them in your mental diet. I find them refreshing and encouraging, inspiring and amusing. They help me breathe a sigh of relief, and they lighten my load. They free me up when I start wanting to feel sorry for myself. They help put life in perspective. They help prevent whining.    

Henry Ford had five businesses that failed before he started a successful car business.

RH Macy had seven failed businesses before he opened Macy’s department store.

Soichiro Honda applied for a job as an engineer with Toyota, was rejected, and was unemployed for months before starting Honda Motor Company.

Akio Morita, founder of Sony, designed a rice cooker as his first product. It burned rice and was a total flop.

Colonel Sanders had his chicken recipe rejected hundreds of times before he opened Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of imagination.

Lucille Ball was considered very unpromising by her drama teachers and was advised to look for another line of work. Early in her career she was considered a B actress, at best.

Most of Emily Dickenson’s poems remained in her desk drawer during her lifetime. 

Helen Keller, well, you know about her.

John Lennon was dyslexic (dyslexia: has a hard time with words. Ha!).

Einstein was considered slow as a child.
He didn’t speak till he was four.
He couldn’t get a job at any university at the time he wrote four of the most important physics papers ever written by anyone, anywhere, at any time. 

Darwin’s father was very unimpressed with his young son’s intellectual abilities. (Way to go, dad!)

Isaac Newton failed at running the family farm before his uncle sent him to Cambridge.

In his day, Socrates was labeled an immoral corruptor of youth.

Edison failed at least a 1000, if not 10,000 times, designing a damned light bulb that would work.

The Wright Brothers suffered numerous failed attempts at making a plane that would fly, which only made their depression worse.

Mark Victor Hansen went bankrupt and wanted to kill himself before starting The Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books with Jack Canfield that sold over 100 million copies.

Lincoln suffered from depression and failed throughout his life, until he didn’t. 

Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. He went walking the black dog, his code words for depression, quite often.  

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter, since she was unfit for t.v.

Harry Truman went bankrupt before becoming president.

Jerry Seinfeld froze during his first performance and was booed off stage.

Fred Astaire: “Can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little,” comments from his first audition.

Hollywood studios initially rejected Charlie Chaplin as too nonsensical.

After his first film, executives told Harrison Ford he didn’t have what it takes to be a star.

Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime, to a friend, for not much money.

Beethoven’s teachers thought he was hopeless.

A crowd ran the composer Igor Stravinsky out of town after his debut performance.

Mozart was dismissed from his position as a court musician.

Jack London’s first story was rejected over 500 times.

During his lifetime, Claude Monet was mocked as an artist.

Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times, so he threw it in the trash.

Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC film school.

Charles Schultz was turned down for a job by Walt Disney. Schultz later created Peanuts.

27 Publishers turned down Dr. Seuss’s first book.

“The colossus of independence”, John Adams, second president of the United States, “who was learned beyond all but a few,” suffered from self-doubt.

 Elvis Presley was told to go back to truck driving.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

And so on.

The lesson I walk away with from these examples is that most of us are not failing enough. We’re playing it safe. We’re picking up our toys and sulking off to our rooms before we’ve even given the game our best shot, and then our next, and our next, and our next until we break through to the place where we are gifting the world with what we have to offer.
            Another word for a failure is a mistake. A mistake is a mis-take, a shot that didn’t take, a shot that didn’t quite make it into the basket. So take a shot, and then another, and then another. Learn something each time, like Edison did, like Lucille Ball did. Miss as many shots as it takes until you start sinking them, because that’s what it takes, even if you’re Michael Jordan, Lucille Ball, or Abraham Lincoln.
            So go out there and fall on your face. Get it over with. Do it again and again.
            If you really want to live, you’ve got to fail. If you really want to learn how to shot, you’ve got to go out there and miss a few shots—or a few thousand shots.   
            There’s no other way.
            But there is a way.
            So get on the court and keep playing.
            And enjoy the game.
For coaching or SE sessions please contact me at 805/680-5572 or