The Process LLC © 2019

I was talking to a patient the other day, and he told me he was having a hard time being grateful. He was seeing me for knee and back pain, but I felt like there was something more so I probed a little deeper. Life had been getting him down. A family member had passed. He had to take on a second job to pay off some debt. He felt like he was losing at everything. So then he asked me how I had the energy to be a physician. He wanted to know how I could see patient after patient and listen to all of their problems without wanting to quit. And then we just kept on talking to one another.

And then it hit me as it often does. His knee and back pain were nothing compared to the other “pains” he was experiencing. My next patient did not show up to clinic so I had a little extra time, and I wanted to give him something more. And then he put me on the spot and literally said to me, “Can you show me what things you are grateful for?”

I had never had a patient ask me this. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am relatively new to medicine since it is essentially my “second” career, but I have still been seeing patient’s for nearly 8 years now (either as a medical student, resident or fellow) and this had never happened. Perhaps he was comfortable with such a request since we had shared that we had both served in the military (he during the first Gulf War, and I still serving).

So I grabbed a sheet of paper, and I fulfilled his request in the only way I knew how. I did not learn this in medical school or in the military. In less then 2 minutes I gave him the list below. I would have kept going, but he told me to stop.

  1. Being motivated
  2. Having values
  3. Seeing past the status quo
  4. Trying to be better than yesterday
  5. Not succumbing to peer pressure
  6. Delayed gratification
  7. Marrying someone who “gets it”
  8. Not needing much
  9. Adversity to include living in my truck and cancer
  10. 5 real friends and many mentors
  11. Connection
  12. Faith
  13. Having a conscience
  14. Being able to say NO
  15. My girls for teaching me so much

He looked over my list. I told him I could keep going. That I had so many people in my life that I was grateful for. He put his hand up as if to say “enough.” The room was silent. He told me he was “grateful” for me coming into his life today. He then left the room and said he did not need anything for his knee or back pain and that it would all be alright. As he walked out I told him to follow-up as needed and that I would appreciate if he could come back to see me again.

Perhaps I had “felt too busy” to reflect about these things on my own and he came into my life that day for a reason…

And thus, we should never be too busy to reflect on what we are grateful for.

 

 

 

Today, I just want to share a quote. Because I know you are busy. You always are, and you don’t always have time to read one of my blog posts that can be anywhere from 300 to 600 words long, and I am truly blessed that you even want to read any of them. Seth Godin has taught me that if we want to change the world we need to cause a ruckus and we need to start within our own circle of people. We cannot worry about reaching the masses until we can reach those closest too us. So let’s do this together, one moment at a time.

“For one human being to love another human being, that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

I recently had the opportunity to take advantage of being done with my morning clinic a little earlier than expected. I used those extra minutes to join my wife on her weekly Wednesday morning adventure in which she reads to a group of under-served elementary school children.

She had prepped me with stories of her assigned “boys” (three of them) not being able to sit still and pay attention, knocking over bookshelves, eating nothing but junk food, and worst of all — “not being able to read” the most basic of words.

As we waited for the students to get their lunches, we met another “weekly reading mentor” and he admitted that he was lucky to have the “good kids,” knowing that my wife had the troubled ones. I soon realized that the mentor for the two boys standing near me was not likely to show up today, so I decided to step into the role.

These two boys were quiet, standing still, had kind interactions with one another, and appeared somewhat eager to do some reading. I noticed many long and dirty fingernails instantly (it is admittedly a pet peeve of mine that was instilled in me at a young age…perhaps a little OCD that I have passed on to my own children).

As I got to know the boys, I discovered that they each had their own smartphones (and they were each only 8-years old!) and one of the children labeled himself a “youtuber.” I admittedly had never heard this term before. I was quickly saddened.

As we began our reading session, I could see these boys were terribly behind. Both in 2nd grade, yet reading as if they were in preschool, perhaps kindergarten. An atrocity of sorts. How could it be so bad? Where did this situation go wrong?

I knew I would be unable to fix their reading dilemma in one thirty-minute session. My heart was aching for them. I did not want to leave them. I was eager to do something. And thus I struggled.

I am not sure what I can do. I am unsure as to what the teachers and the school can do. But the parents? Are there parents? The boys told me they had them at home, and one boy told me that his mom makes him pancakes and eggs each morning before school. And they each had Iphones. Hmm?

And I just keep thinking about those fingernails………..

The home is everything, and in cases like this it means more than everything. If only our values were consistent.

Take a look around today, and see if you can contribute a little small piece of your time to do something for someone around you…

Stay blessed and always be eager to contribute.

All of us are just that…not exactly perfect, but closer than we think. The concept of perfect is not perfect in and of itself. So I would venture to say that all of us are in fact “practically perfect.” These words came up while I was watching Mary Poppins with my girls…yes, it was a much needed not so masculine moment with two little ladies.

Each one of us in our own little way is “practically perfect.” But like me you probably don’t feel that way unless of course you are a narcissist. I have met a few along my journey, and they are quite lonely people. Some have disowned there own family members who failed to submit to their wishes. These people lead sad lives. Yet when they appear in our paths they want us to think they are in essence “perfect.” But while they might seem conceited and confident on the outside, it is a sure bet that they are quite insecure.

But again, even they, in their own pretentious, conceited manner are in fact “practically perfect.”

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We all have come to understand that perfect does not actually exist. All of us make mistakes. We have all blown up at a colleague or a family member, only later to realize just how lame our actions were. Some of us have posted to Instagram and Twitter only to eventually remove such a post or tweet after someone caught our attention and “called us out” for our actions. Or how about the time you littered, or took something without paying for it, or were rude enough to be talking on your phone while paying for your groceries (too good to interact with the cashier while he or she took care of your need), or when you parked in a handicap space because it was only for a minute?

And I am only scratching the surface. The list is quite long.

So if it is in fact true (and it is!) that we have all contributed to the imperfect list, but we are all within a standard deviation or two to one another (think back to that statistics class), then essentially we are all “practically perfect.” It is not something to boast about or to “rest on.” It is simply nothing more than a new approach to living. A way to be thankful and grateful.

Thankful for the opportunity. Grateful for what lies ahead because of such a “practicality.”

So let’s do this together and chase the opportunity to be better tomorrow than we are today.

When life gets tough we tend to either dig in our heels and work a little harder, or we simply accept our present situation without putting up a fight. Some of us never accept the circumstances we encounter, others of us pick and choose, and the rest just take the punches and give in each and every time. The last scenario occurs for a myriad of reasons that are different for all who choose the path of least resistance. It may have something to do with the cards we were dealt at birth or the ones given to us a little later. Or perhaps we lost one too “many” games and we decided to fold, telling ourselves we would only give in this one time, but eventually the domino effect occurred and it happened over and over again. And sooner or later “settling” became our routine.

A lot less work, not much sweat, no more tears. We accepted our choices as being the best ones possible. We ceased questioning ourselves and our desires. It became easier to just “be.” But obviously this isn’t how you see yourself. Maybe you did for a bit of time (or a long time), but today is different. You are conducting your search for more. You are looking for a keyword or two from this blog that will keep you as far away from “settling” as possible. But the keys that you need are already in your pocket or your purse, or perhaps they are already in the ignition awaiting a twist of your wrist. You may have just not used them for quite a while, or at least as much as the others on your key ring. You have added so many keys to that ring that the ones you really needed got lost in the mix and overshadowed, just the same as your ability to keep fighting, growing and learning was put on hold because you had too many other things to do.

Today is your opportunity to fight for something you have been putting off. Whatever you do, don’t settle for something that you have the capacity to overcome. And most importantly I want you to be able to look back knowing that you gave yourself each and every ounce of self-worth possible.  Here’s to your journey and your PROCESS.

My girls recently completed the first half of their school year. New school, new city, new state. Those three things alone have led to many thoughtful conversations around the dinner table, during car rides, and quite honestly we cannot truly seem to let a single day pass without some sort of criticism coming out of our mouths. We have prayed about it. We have reached out to the principal, the girls’ teachers and other school administrators. In return we have received blank stares, emails and phone calls without a response, and ambiguous retorts.

You see, we fell into the trap of finding an apartment in a specific school district because it was labeled as “the one you have to go to” and the “good” one. What I have come to learn is that like most things in life, it is simply an opinion, and it was our mistake for not doing a little more homework.

The school looks nice on the outside and the inside, and the teachers are kind, caring and compassionate. Those last few items being of high importance. The school itself is designated an “Apple” school, which is something I had not heard of before. And to be quite honest, the administrators of the school are very proud of this designation. The age of technology has won them over, like it has for most of us.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, perhaps my daughters have teamed up to tell my wife and I that all they seem to do at school is “play” and “learn” on Ipads. “Play” is a relative term. The school has contended that “play” and “learn” are synonymous. So my wife, eager to see things firsthand, started helping in the classroom, and even went so far as to transfer her ability from California to substitute in the classroom. She has now seen exactly what my girls have been talking about. And just the other day she had one child hiding under his desk for two hours verbally upset that she would not let him be on an Ipad, another who kept crying because she wanted to be on her Ipad. This is a real problem, and at 6 and 7 years old to have children be upset over being told what to do is unreal.

The bulk of their 7.5 hour day is spent on Ipads. Yes, the bulk, as in more than 50%…more like 75 to 80% depending on how you look at it. So much so that their Ipads need to be charged before the end of the day. So much so that they have even been using them in their physical education (PE) classes. Are you kidding me? PE! I was told it was to record the laps they run, but that after running they were given “free time” to “play” on them. Kids need to run, play, jump and stretch. And we wonder why more of our children are obese than ever before. Children don’t need to chart their workouts…they simply need to be active.

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But again, it’s an “Apple” school.

But Bill Gates, the well-known founder of Microsoft, and many others in the technology development field from Seattle to the Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas, and the greater Washington D.C. region, don’t have their kids on Ipads all day. One private school here in Waco, Texas, where many affluent folks send their kids, don’t use them at all. These kids start learning Latin and algebra at a very young age, and they are engaged in the classics.

The descendants of the technology gods may take a “computer” or “coding” course, but they still read real books, write with a pencil, draw out math equations and use their hands to learn science because these folks know that the basics matter. They are not constantly using “Apps” to do these things. One of my girls had to write out a Christmas story, and another a short report, and it was all done on the Ipad. No actual writing at all.

We obviously need and rely on technology daily. I have used it today to write this blog and send it your way. But we also need the fundamentals.

Our kids are getting too much stimulation, not enough exercise, worsening visual acuity, poor posture, headaches at too young of an age, and their brains are literally changing shape.

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All I want you to do today is think about this situation and in some small way try to make a difference. Educate your friends and family. Donate a little time to read to a child. Find more time to play outside. Get back to the basics. And if anything, see technology as a tool to make your life better, not something you must depend on to “MAKE A LIFE.”

Today’s blog post is short and to the point. I am urging you to find a way, especially since most people like to make new year’s resolutions (and those even get procrastinated upon) to be more present in the lives of those who matter most to you.

Eat a little slower at dinner time so that you can enjoy another’s company.

Spend more time scrolling through someone’s life while talking to them about their day either in person or over the phone vice using your thumbs to scroll through insignificance on Instagram or Facebook (you can still enjoy Instagram and FB, just do it a little less and give yourself some time restrictions).

Get to the gym and exercise. Or simply go outside for a walk. Make it a habit, day after day, and be present with yourself.

Make deadlines for yourself…without them your entire existence can be spent in procrastination.

Walk through a zoo if there is one nearby. Take a look at all the creatures. Don’t rush past them. If there is not a zoo near you, then just walk outside. Enjoy a park, a trail or create your own path. Plenty of amazing creatures abound.

Be present in the moment because life is all about moments, not individual days, weeks or years. Moments my friends are the most difficult things to be completely present in, yet they are the most important.

Stay blessed, keep doing more and do what others only think about doing.

In my house, my wife does not allow the word “suck” to come out of any of our mouths. She sees it as a sort of curse word, and like the rest of them, it is absolutely inappropriate and rude. While the bulk of me agrees with her contention, especially since I don’t want my two girls spitting out such a profanity at school, with other kids or anywhere for that matter, part of me sees a different sort of value in those four letters. I see motivation, inspiration, and the ability to want to do better.

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I was always taught to not “suck” and that if you are not perfect, then you are not “good.” It is a terrible and unrealistic way to think. The truth is, and I know that all of you reading this already know this, but that by messing up, or “sucking” at something you are more apt to see your weaknesses, and you then have the ability to correct those misgivings for the better.

From the Urban Dictionary On-line:

“dare to suck”

That doesn’t mean try to suck. It means to try and possibly fail — to take risks. To dare — and maybe fall flat on your face, with a community of friends to say “Hey, that sucked! But nice try!”

So there you go, it may not be Merriam Webster’s grand collection of words and phrases, but the definition has a great ring to it.

I am pretty nervous about “sucking” right now. Writing my first book, which becomes available to the public in about 90 days, has taught me a few lessons in regard to such a phrase. I took a huge chance in putting my thoughts on paper and sharing them with the world at large. It was definitely a risk. I am making myself vulnerable to public opinion and it does not get much worse than that.

The critique is on its way. The “dislikes,” as well as the harsh comments, thumbs down and poop emojis (and likely much much more) are about to be sent my way. People everywhere will tell me that I “suck.” Like taxes and death, it’s a guarantee. But what’s funny is that most, if not all of those people making those comments have done nothing in their lives that would constitute “daring to suck.” They sit back, hiding behind insecurity waiting to trample on those that get even a hint of positive attention and affirmation.

I am ready to “suck.” I wasn’t always ready, but I am now.

So I urge you to take a chance on yourself. Do something you have dreamed about and go after it with a vengeance. Who cares if you fail. At least you will have tried and won’t have the regret that haunts many folks for their entire lives.

Enjoy The Process my friends…

Discipline versus Regret

Not counting the pain that occurs due to an accident, pregnancy, or any other acute pain scenario you can conjure, there are two distinct pains that we experience during our lives (I am sure you can think of more, but please bear with me for the sake of this blog…).

In terms of these two types of pain, one of them we feel now, and the other later, sometimes much much later. One is generally tough on the ego upfront, the other can destroy it all together. One may cause us to limp for a brief period, the other can cause an alteration in our gait for the rest of our lives.

The best part is that we can limit the pain we experience now and later. We have to be willing to take on a few tough obstacles. We have to be willing to fight for what we believe in.

We must take on a little DISCIPLINE if we hope to look back on our lives with a smile. Without a little DISCIPLINE our lives will surely be filled with more than a handful of relentless REGRET.

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You don’t want to be sitting on the couch in your 50s, 60s or beyond (or even your 20s and 30s) wishing you would have done “it” differently. And if you are already there, don’t fret, it’s never too late to knock a few things off the bucket list.

So why wait?

Welcome DISCIPLINE. Don’t shy from it. It is not a bad word even though many folks view it as such.

REGRET is a much worse state of being. It is disabling. And you often, if at all, cannot back track on the path that it has created.

Blessings to you as welcome a little DISCIPLINE and visibly shun REGRET from you life.

 

Odds are his name is new to you. It was new to me until just a few months ago. If I had heard of such a man at some point in my life, his name had not stuck the same way names like JD Rockefeller, Queen Elizabeth, Henry Ford, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce, Joe Montana, Justin Timberlake, etc, etc, had. If I could have met Mr. John when I was a younger man my life would have likely taken a difference course. I likely would not have ruined a few relationships along the way, and I know for a fact that I would have been a better person.

You see, John passed away at the age of 91. He lived a full life. He is known as the winningest college football coach of all time, and he did not coach at a big name school like Alabama, USC, Michigan or any of the powerhouses that we tend to hear about.

Those that knew him, from his family and friends, to his colleagues and opposing coaches, saw him as a winner in so many ways, but mostly in his ability to connect with others.

He started coaching in 1949 and he ended up spending 6 decades at one school, a small Division III university in Minnesota known as St. John’s.

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When he retired his record stood at 489-138-11 with 4 National Titles, and no athletic scholarships.

His appreciation for others ran so deep that it was the core of who John was. He was an educator of young men and a builder of character. He inspired deep and enduring loyalty.

He had an unconventional coaching style:

  1. No tackling in practice
  2. No lengthy calisthenics
  3. No whistles or wind sprints
  4. No individual team captains (all of the seniors on the team were captains)

He cared about his players being:

  1. Hard working
  2. Successful
  3. Good men

At his memorial, his daughter closed the ceremony with some final words that she had learned from her father:

  1. Compliment your spouse (or significant other) many many times each day
  2. Listen intently to others
  3. Be interested, not interesting
  4. See the best in others

Quite a man, and quite a story.

So I ask you, how do you hope to be remembered by those that you call your family and friends, your colleagues, and anyone that you cross paths with? It’s your decision to make. And you can start building that legacy right now.

 

 

The two words that mark today’s title roll off the tongue with a sort of exquisite flavor. The Latin language uniquely powerful. Yet the definition of the statement is surprisingly sullen. But like most things in life, it depends on your perspective because what is doom and gloom for one, may be liberating for another.

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Tim Ferris, who I have made reference to before, talks about Memento Mori in his book Tribe of Mentors. He uses it as a pathway for success.

And the Wikipedia definition is quite clear:

Memento Mori is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.

If this were your last moment before dying, what would you want to be thinking about? What matters most to you?

Our time really is limited. We don’t know exactly when our time on this earth will end, we just know that it will at some point. Since our time is finite, we should repeatedly concern ourselves with the things that actually matter.

It is quite commonplace for us to get caught up in the things that we would truly care little about if we knew our time was limited, or at the very least thought about that limitation a little more often. Perhaps we would actually “LIVE MORE” if we periodically thought about such a notion.

Expectations, both those put on us by others and those we place on ourselves, are often unnecessary evils. They drive us insane. We do our best to please others and we lose sight of doing the things that matter.

To have that do or die moment puts everything in perspective. Nothing quite compares to such thoughts and because of this fact, it can truly drive us toward the ultimate success that we seek. And such success is not marked by what we own or how much money we have, but rather by how fulfilled, productive and happy we might be able to be. In the end these are the things that make our lives.

Memento Mori drives us to “drop-off” the things that don’t actually matter.

So what are you waiting for? What is your Memento Mori today?

Hello friends! I hope today’s post finds you doing well, and if your mind is telling you that you aren’t doing to well, and your body is echoing that sentiment, then hopefully I can cheer you up a bit.

I have been in Waco, Texas, for several months now. Only a 12-month adventure that is nearing the half-way point. The people are nice. The traffic nearly non-existent. The gas prices much lower than California. But my days have been long. The learning curve has been steep. My patience has been tested on many occasions. I have had to swallow my pride not once or twice, but several times. What does all this mean? This is LIFE.

I write in my journal every day. I haven’t missed a day since I started this new venture back on the 24th of February 2017 (getting close to 2-years). This small task has kept me going when I have felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I write about different things every day. Sometimes those journal entries turn into blog posts, a few of them helped fill-in the pages of my first book: “Exceptional Every Day”, and many of those entries simply stayed right there on the paper, and were simply a reminder that I was alive, able and willing to fulfill my purpose of helping as many people as possible.

Writing, like meditating, helps me visualize what I hope to accomplish. It helps me adjust my attitude and ultimately my perspective. It helps me get better.

Today I wanted to share several titles for journal entries that I have had over the past few months with the hopes that maybe just a few simple words or sentences might light a little fire into your life. I once heard that if one word can explain something, then why use two. Perhaps just a few of my words may catapult you towards creating an entire story for yourself. It’s time for you to write your story. Make it what you want it to be, not what someone else tells you it needs to be…

“Don’t let your feelings lie to you.”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

“Make your life mean something.”

“We often cause our own anxiety.”

“What is your optimal you?”

Let’s keep our stories going so that the adventure never stops!

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The journey begins

April 2019

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