Dreaming Big – The possibilities scare me into inaction.


Welcome! Today I’d like to thank you for reading my blog. It is a great pleasure to write and share with you and I appreciate your taking the time to read it.

This post is inspired by a blog prompt from Dungeonprompts. This week’s prompt is DREAMING BIG.

To dream big?!? When I grew up, dreams in our house were very small. Yet we did dream all the same. We dreamed of my parents finding jobs. We dreamed of having a good place to live. We dreamed of having more than just enough to survive. Our home was full of small hopes. Hopes that never died even through the adversity we faced. Each new place and circumstance came with its own dreams.

My story begins there. As I grew up I learned to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me. To keep my hopes and dreams small. To get what I wanted and needed one step at a time. And I am glad to say that I have come a long way one small dream at a time.

But to dream big? The very idea is daunting. To write this blog post gives part of me a sense of dread. To that part of me dreaming big is to suffer big disappointment, and to write about dreaming big makes it that much closer to a reality. Thus it brings me that much closer to inner death. The death of a dream born on the wings of adversity and eventual disappointment.

So my internal pragmatist jumps in and takes over, keeping my vision short-sighted and my hopes well within the level that my inner fears will not be triggered by. Yet it’s not a pragmatism born of knowledge about how to go about achieving my goals. It’s a pragmatism born of my fear of falling short of my dreams. It’s a very limiting pragmatism.

But to dream big? The very idea creates feelings of anticipation. The very thought of dreaming big is enough to get me (F)eeling (E)xcited (A)nd (R)eady. My pulse rate rises and my mind races through the paths of prediction, blazing through the imagined futures of my possibilities.

But I am confused by this inner sense of readiness. It feels the same as real fear. It reminds me of the pain of disappointment. It reminds me that I never got to play the trumpet. It reminds me of Boy Scout badges unearned. It reminds me of the fighting in my family and the break-ups that forced us to move again and again. It reminds me of the anger of others at me for staying in my room and working on my games.

In my mind all possibilities of achieving my dreams become blocked. So I flee back away from those big dreams. I put my head down and continue along the small dreams, the dreams my own limiting thinking believes are possible.

But to dream big!! I never learned to be a quitter, but I have been quitting. I have quit before I even began. I have quit to avoid the anticipation of fear. Anxiety strikes again! 

Until this blog prompt I never focused my mind on the question. If I was to dream big what dreams would I have?

I have no five-year plans. I have no vision of myself beyond the next iteration. All my goals and plans are related to small dreams. Don’t get me wrong. My goals have placed me along a path that can take me far. But my vision on that path is placed firmly right on the ground in front of my feet.

To dream big? You know, I don’t really know what that is like to do. I can imagine it’s like walking with my head faced up to the sky of possibility without knowing what my feet will encounter. But what if I trip? What if I lose? What if I fail?

Those voices are strong, but I know them all too well. The voices that I learned so long ago. Voices that do not now serve my highest and best.

So today I will choose to Dream Big!

Will you dare with me to dream big? Will you share your dreams with me here? Will you post a dream you are afraid to share out loud in the comments below? Will you share with us here that thing that makes you feel excited and ready? Will you?

I will get us started.

I dream to speak to groups and crowds and let my story serve as inspiration to those whom it will. 
I dream of meeting Tony Robbins and spending time sharing ideas with him.
I dream to publish a table-top role-playing game and a novel. 
I dream to blog and vlog so others can remember, laugh, and cry along with me.
I dream to create and learn something new everyday, so that when I look back there is a trail of works in my path of learning.

Thank you and bless you one and all for being present in, and participating in, my life.

Advertisements

Commitment


Welcome! Thank you for coming and giving me the opportunity to share with you my ideas and thoughts.

Today I’m thinking about commitments — commitments I make to myself, and how I often abandon them in the face of my perceived demands of time and effort. This post is about that….

Sometime in 2002 a friend and co-worker made an observation of me. He said “Dave, this project is all screwed up, you are the PM [project manager], and yet you are not being blamed. Nothing sticks to you. It is as if you have a teflon coating.”

At the time this made me feel good. It made me feel safe. So I analyzed why this was true. From this I developed the teflon coating strategy. Here is the great secret that until now hasn’t appeared in writing. 🙂

  • When you make a mistake be the first person to tell your immediate supervisor or customer about it.
  • Do not commit to things that you don’t absolutely know you can do.
  • Produce solid work products, at least one every two weeks, but preferably as often as possible.

Shortly after this in late 2003, I was coaching a PM team on a temporary contract and was confronted by my client. “I heard you’re telling my team how to avoid being blamed for things by applying a teflon coating!”, to which I replied with a smile.

“Let me get this right. It would be a problem for you if people came to you right away when they made a mistake, didn’t tell you they could do things they didn’t really think they could, and produced a solid work product as fast as possible?”, to which he replied kind of sheepishly, “well no.”

I thought of myself as one clever dude. Pats on my back all around. My ego was happy. For a while the hole I felt inside from my lack of personal fulfillment was filled.

Of course the strategy is actually a good thing to do. It helps everyone involved. My sharing of this strategy actually has helped people out many times, and most of them appreciated it. 🙂

But what I failed to realize for myself, in my cleverness, was that while I was doing good work and achieving results, I was ignoring my most important customer — myself. I used my strategies entirely to protect myself from criticism by others and to gain the acceptance and appreciation of others. I was dependent upon the outside validation, and I needed it to feel complete. My cleverness was serving me and failing me at the same moment and I didn’t even know it.

Here is the sequence of events where I abandon myself.

I identify a problem I want to solve or something I want to create, and I tell myself I will do it. I come up with a plan and thoroughly commit to myself to follow through on it.

Then this plan meets the perceived reality of my co-dependent mind. With so much focus on the acceptance and appreciation of others there is no place for my desires in the mental model. So I abandon my plan and commitment before I even start. In order to I protect my own feelings, I act as if I never made the commitment, choosing instead to be needless and wantless.

This way of abandonment of myself is so easily done and so pervasive in my past I honestly cannot fathom the number of times I’ve done it.

I’ve been working to change this for many years. And in many places in my life I’ve had success. Recently, through work I’m doing on myself around my weight, I’ve come to be aware of this process at a new level. I’m acutely aware of how this process was feeding my desire to overeat. In order to appease my inner self away from feelings of anger and sadness at my abandonment of self, I indulged myself with food.

So as expected, once awareness is had, I cannot return to blissful ignorance. Once awareness dawns, here comes my higher power to challenge, reward, and fill in my needs.

Insert into my life Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken The Giant Within, my psychotherapy process, and my desire to achieve a biggest loser competition. I daresay I cannot get off this road of change now.

Tony’s words come blasting out loud and clear in my new desire to change — “The power of decision will change your life.” They are followed quickly by the words of Vince Horan — “your decision to be needless and wantless worked for you in that old family system but it doesn’t work for you now.”

Bam! Right in the face. Why am I making decisions to accomplish things and not following through? Why am I unwilling to put my own needs and wants out into the world?

Because I decided to a long time ago, and I’m still making that decision.

Once the question is asked, the answer is there, and the opportunity for change provided. Like a veil lifted. In the time between two seconds, I find the time to change my decision. In the time between two seconds I can decide to make a different commitment.

So now I’m applying the teflon coating internally — To be accountable to myself. To not tell myself I’ll do something I don’t know I can absolutely do. To make good on my commitments to myself and produce the creations and outcomes I have committed to myself.

And you know what? The universe is conspiring to support me and it’s using people in my life to do it.

For example:

I had an idea last year to create a stand for my iPad to make it into a document camera. I put the idea into action and made a commitment to myself to do it. I in fact got with a friend and built the stand. It was a great dimensional prototype. But honestly looked bad. My decision was to find someone to help me design it to look better but had no idea who. So I set a time frame to reach out through my social network to see who I could find to help me.

A day later, Erin, my wife, returned from a trip and I proudly showed her my ugly duckling of a stand. Before I could say more than five words she declares, “it’s kinda ugly.” To which I had a moment of fear realized.  But I let it pass without defense or comment. She was simply stating her observations and I agreed.

But what came next surprised me. She simply said, “give me a piece of drawing paper and a pencil.” In fifteen minutes, she ripped out a design that was beautiful as well as meeting the functional dimensions I had already proven out.

I was blown away. I had in my hands the answer to my problem, a solution I would never have seen had that ugly prototype not existed. I had simply followed through on my commitment to myself to build the prototype. I had set aside my fear of criticism and failure and made it anyway, and the fascinating part was the realization that it was the imperfection of the prototype that compelled Erin to action. She felt a desire to solve the obvious problem in front of her.

Without the failure of the prototype to be visually appealing, the design would have not been created.

My mind still boggles at that chain of events.

By following through on my commitment, I had achieved more than I had expected.

What I know from my life is that an internal commitment is a double-edged sword. Made too easily and sloppily, I can set myself up for failure, leading to poor self esteem. However, living without needs and wants means that I remain co-dependent and miserable.

Today I will apply my strategy to my internal commitments and use the teflon coating. I will share my commitments with others so the commitments have a life beyond my mental box.

I am committed to blogging here. I like it.

Thank you all.

Gratitude


This post is in response to a DungeonPrompt. This weeks prompt is:  GRATITUDE

“We respect nothing until we are grateful, until we take nothing for granted.  There may be no quality which causes as quick a transformation from sorrow to joy, from depression to elation, from dejected futility to awakened usefulness than overflowing gratitude.”

– Aadil Palkhivala

I have often wondered why people felt that there was such a strong impact on their happiness from gratitude. Every since I was kid I have thought I was grateful. Every year at Thanksgiving I had no trouble listing off a bunch of things I was grateful for. I could at any moment tell you something I was grateful for. And in genuine fashion I thought of myself as a person who did not take things for granted. I felt I was great at gratitude.

However, I never found the serenity I was seeking no matter how many times I said the serenity prayer. I was always caught up in the anticipation of problems. It could be said I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

My mistake was that I thought gratitude was only about the past. I thought of it as framing up the past in a positive light. Finding the silver lining. Recognizing the value of others. Being grateful for what others did for me. I didn’t realize how habitually and automatically I made assumptions that made it impossible for me to feel true gratitude.

The greatest assumption I was unaware I was making was to assume I wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to be loved without earning it. In that frame of mind I could have no true gratitude because in the end I framed everything as a transaction. One where I paid and earned the love.

I have began over the last ten or eleven years to realize that I have very little gratitude towards myself. I have lived so long with the other shoe is going to drop that I have a tough time being in the moment grateful for everything around me. In the last three years I have began to see how habitual and automatic my subconscious has been in framing up the world to perpetuate my fear.

Now I am framing up the world differently. I am working to let go my fear of problems and be grateful for everything that comes but most especially to be grateful for all the love I am shown.

For me gratitude is about not fearing the future and about exploring life as a grand discovery. What will come next? I will strive to welcome it with my eyes wide open, arms spread wide, and with great joy. As I’m sure it will be amazing and helpful.

I am grateful for each moment in my life.

I am grateful for the opportunity to work on this post. Thanks Karuna for this Prompt.

When Did Death Become Real For Me


Having come again to blogging with my last post I was quickly followed up on by a friend of mine. This came in the form of a blog prompt. Having no idea what a blog prompt was I became intrigued.

This post is a response to the prompt by DungeonPrompts of “WHEN DID DEATH BECOME REAL FOR YOU”

From the earliest part of my life, death seemed like something that took us away from pain. My grandparents took me to the Nazarene Church where they taught that heaven was a place of beauty and happiness. Here I began to see death as a solution to pain and not as a event to be feared.

I have thought of death as a positive transition best made at the end of a long life. I have never really feared death as a result.

That was until one day in 2009 when my dad was killed in a motor cycle accident.

My dad passed away leaving his fourth wife widowed. To me it felt like another exit. One he’d made so many times from past relationships. Another abandonment of his family and obligations. Of course this was the hurt kid inside me who was still holding on to anger towards him from my perception of his wrongs.

I was angry at his departure and felt justified in my judgement of his life. A few weeks after his departure I went on a vision quest.

A quest I have been on since.

As I have come to realize my father’s death as much as anything has been a catalyst to live my life. Not a catalyst to use the time I have. Not a catalyst to let go of past wrongs. Not a catalyst to be honest. Not a catalyst to be loving and kind to others. Not a catalyst to accept my own mortality. Those things I could find without his death.

Instead it has been a catalyst to look for and find the repetitive patterns that do not support my highest and best. A catalyst to question my judgement of others and look for my projections of my own anxiety there in.

A catalyst to be a greater presence in the world than I believed/believe I could/can be within this life time.

As I look now upon my judgments of his life and the cycles I thought I saw there. I realize they are just reflections of my own patterns in the surface of his life. My patterns of setting up situations and people for me to be disappointed. Patterns of using my judgments to bolster my fragile ego to camouflage my internal anxiety. Anxiety that is deep rooted in the belief I am not good enough. Anxiety born of the anticipation of abandonment from everyone and everything.

I still believe that death is a transition. I however, am learning that the transition may not be one away from pain. The pain of anxiety is not a reality of our world but a reflection of my own internal fears about the nature of the world and my place in it.

Today I chose to live happy and fulfilled. Today I chose to let go my fear of abandonment and explore my life.