Drive

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It’s 5:00am and the clock interrupts blue skies over a calm shoreline. I would swear there’s sand in my bed, but it really is just in the corners of eyes as I run my left pointer finger down and away. Jumping out of bed with both hands firmly planted, my feet almost face the ceiling and then hit the rug. In full stride, I step towards my closet to put on today’s coat of armor.

I think,’What battle is being fought today?’

Most days include a few, so I need to pack a bag get it loaded onto my silver horse before I forget.

Part hair to the left or right?

Then onto the easiest decision in the morning, breakfast. Same solution each morning, a super parfait made of greek yogurt, blueberries, apricot jelly on a bed of crunchy granola and honey topped with wheat germ and cinnamon. Every day, home & away for over 10 years. No coffee ever. A tall glass of apple cider or juice with as much apple cider vinegar as I can handle that morning. It’s going to be another successful day. There is drive is every fiber of my bones, tendons & muscles. But the direction of that power will be misguided if I don’t make my first creative attempt at a smile.

I look at our cat and wonder, ‘What he would be look like if he was human? What job would he do? What type of cat would he have? Alright, no more playing.’

I look at my online calendar to see conflicts and there are always a dozen or so. Drop, keep, keep, drop, drop, drop! If you want to know who and want you love… try overbooking everyday and going through this exercise in 10 seconds. A priori decisions tell plenty about you. Then I breath. I assume I was before that, but now I really breath. After going thru a few deep, full lung-busting inhales/exhales, appropriate game face goes on.

“Hello, Jake! What do you want to eat?”, I shout down into his room.

After the answer will determine the next 15 minutes and ability to catch the bus on-time. It’s this game face that I enjoy the most. Not hockey, yoga or any of the many hats in the rat race I hold. The elbow grease it takes to be a leader for my family. That is true reward. Cliche? If I really didn’t mean it, but I couldn’t be more sincere. With all the rushes I get each day, nothing stays with me as long as a hug for helping my son get a sandwich or my daughter a new app for her phone.

Oh gosh, I’m going to be late for work, I must stop digressing. I get my family into the car and we just get to bus stop on time. Switch face now to marketing mode. I’ve meet many marketing people in the last 25 years. Some just don’t get it and others get it but don’t care. The select group of less than 1% are leaders and make things happen. I believe this to be true of all things, only about 1% know, everyone else is so distracted or ignorant that the have little wins but are very inconsistent. Even a broken watch is right two a day. Do I care if the rest of the world acts like what I’m saying is wrong, I refer back to my 1% rule. In order to be better, lead better and achieve lofty goals that seem insurmountable, I must not allow what was done before to be an example.

I begin each work day with a new slate. The start is about the research. All the information available won’t mean I thing if I make the wrong connections. If I assume anything is correct, I’m not a leader. I’m a pencil pusher. So after I’ve done all the research I believe I’ll need to start my day, I’ll connect dots. Then connect them another way and then another. The information and multitude of possibilities are not used to solve the problem for create anything. They are my library for the day. All of them are possible. Going into a problem with no end game or expectation is by far the best way to remove emotion from the equation thus limiting distractions.

Some solutions need to be about emotion. In that case I’ll consider the problem using all emotions. “How would it be if I made them cry, laugh, angry, confused… what if that wanted to die or live with greater hope. Can I get them to love or hate?”

This all happens in minutes. Every permutation is considered and those I forgot will be added later. Then I been to focus deeper. Like putting a magnifying glass on sand, then a microscope. The big picture takes all things into account, but it only tells some of the stories. If I’m going to arrive at the best option and there will be thousands, I’ll need to know everything about it. Right done to it’s building blocks.

So after research, connecting dots, and deeper insights… I pause. The pause is to come back to reality, what matters. All the information in the world and details does not solve problems, simple steps solve problems. Sometimes it takes thousands of simple steps, but they are still just one action, followed by another. Nothing happens in a vacuum, so finally I talk to people. See what they think. Leaders can not be shy nor can exist without the next leaders. Those that will carry the torch.

What I love about this process it grows stronger each day with each project. Because I’ve gone through many solutions, the ones I don’t use today… I may use tomorrow. I’m in a sense, solving all types of issues when I try to solve one. I like to think it’s like driving. All the outside information is processed and you react, second after second. Driving eventually becomes second nature and when you add navigation, playing your favorite song and phone calls into your vehicle… it can be quite a busy place, yet you still drive. Looks like it’s time to drive home. “Dammit, traffic.”, I say while thinking now is a great time to get a jump on tomorrow’s problems.

S’later

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Creatirement

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When you’ve thought about something for a very long time, it can often become reality in your mind before it occurs in the physical world.  For creative thinkers, it can be borderline delusional. So when evaluating one’s wealth or should I say financial stability, it can be hard to separate what you want things to be versus what they truly are from an actuarial and accounting viewpoint. Why? Risk is the key.

Let me first start that as an artist, my mind is trained, from a lifetime of creation, to build manipulative ideas, word streams and imagery. These can be good or bad, beautiful or ugly, completely new or thoughtfully borrowed, truth or a lie. In my younger years, I had to often ask myself, “Are you merely trying to get an emotional response or do I 100% believe what I’m saying to be true.” Or is it something else, because the fact is, neither can be true as well. I could be completely wrong, totally delusional.

Finances are balanced from the other side of the brain. With a background in mathematics along with art, I needed to give my logical side a desk of its own without the whimsical colors and lines getting in the way of facts. I figured logic is brutally honest. It hurts sometimes, but it can set great things in motion.

So as I aged and became responsible for others, I figured I must become completely transparent and learn how to strip social defenses during conversations in hopes of getting others to be true to themselves too. By separating the “creative” defenses from the cold hard facts, I received more valuable relationships and information. Words I could take to the bank. Like putting relevant search terms into Google and wanting to get the top results, I hoped for a priori to pour out and guards to gone. The result has been a wonderful collection of friends, experiences and knowledge. I think we shared real emotions and tried to arrive at the facts of life. It helped me see clearly when I needed it most. 

Where I am going with this? After all that, can what I’m witnessing today involving a possible early retirement opportunity be possible with very low risk or is this just a molded creation of a future I desire that has a possibility of putting my family in grave financial hardship? A question leading to another question. I learned such is retirement.

I quickly realized, there are too many moving pieces to control, too many worldly factors that could change our risk. So I just looked at the number, our wealth and ran a hundred formulas. I looked at every “future” scenario I could think of and crunched the numbers. Then I did it again and again. Still more questions that needed solutions came up.

What I ultimately learned are three things:

1- Honesty, humility and respect got us here and will guide our future.

2- Letting go is what you do when you are truly in control.

3- Reality is art as well and I’ll put my retirement up near the top of the list of my greatest creations.

And though all 3 of these statements can be debated, what can not be argued is the path taken got me here and it truly is about the journey, not the arrival. You never really arrive.

Please look out for my next blog. It will be about my final days of work and what that feels like. I also expect to reveal some secrets that got me here.

S’later (see you later)