Measure Up

There is no way to quite describe the feeling that I got when I sat down to eat with daughter at the school cafeteria for the first time. She looked up at me. It was a look that said she completely adored me just for being me. That just blew me away. She couldn't hardly sit still, or know what to do with her hands, as if she wanted to hug me.  There was a searching look as if to say, "Who am I?"  "Tell me who I am."

Fathers have a way of planting life mottos in the heads of their daughters.

"Measure Up!" is one of the most often heard. Perhaps it is never verbalized, but a daughter knows what's expected—and her attempts to live up to those expectations from her childhood result in her running her life by guilt. She ends up serving a motto instead of her creator. 

Stephen Goforth

The Value of Community

I used to think that community was as simple as having friends who bring a lasagna when things fall apart and champagne when things go well. Who pick up your kids from school when you can’t. But I think community is also an insurance policy against life’s cruelty; a kind of immunity against loss and disappointment and rage. My community will be here for my family if I cannot be. And if I die, my kids will be surrounded people who know and love them, quirks and warts and oddities and all.   

Jenny Anderson writing in Quartz

Writing your Own Eulogy

A visualization technique that asks people to write their own eulogy. It’s a technique that Daniel Harkavy, CEO and executive coach at Building Champions and co-author of Living Forward, has been teaching executives for over 20 years.

Harkavy’s tip is to write your eulogy first as if your funeral was today and everything you’ve accomplished so far was all you ever would. “Picture your memorial service as if it were being held right now. Your casket is sitting center stage, and as you look down the center aisle you see the first three rows, usually reserved for those with whom we were closest. Who’s sitting there for you?” he asks. “Most likely your family and dearest friends. Now keep looking down the aisle, and now you’re looking at rows 10 through 20. Who’s sitting there? Probably acquaintances, clients, customers. What did you give to the people in these rows?”

Harkavy says when he walks clients through this exercise during his speaking engagements, they usually all say the same thing: “We gave them our best!” He then asks them what they gave to the people sitting in rows one through three–and their answers usually amount to “We gave them our leftovers.” In other words, their work-life balance is out of whack.

“When you go to write your eulogy, you need to be brutally honest. Don’t pull any punches. You want to really feel this,” Harkavy says. “What would those closest to you say about who you were, how you lived, and what you had to give them, and why would they say that?”

Michael Grothaus writing in Fast Company

We prefer the Apps

The family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in writer Sherry Turkle’s formulation, “alone together.” You are where your attention is. If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it. Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

No wonder we prefer the apps. An entire universe of intimate responses is flattened to a single, distant swipe. We hide our vulnerabilities, airbrushing our flaws and quirks; we project our fantasies onto the images before us. Rejection still stings — but less when a new virtual match beckons on the horizon.

Andrew Sullivan writing in New York Magazine

We prefer the Apps

The family that is eating together while simultaneously on their phones is not actually together. They are, in writer Sherry Turkle’s formulation, “alone together.” You are where your attention is. If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it. Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

No wonder we prefer the apps. An entire universe of intimate responses is flattened to a single, distant swipe. We hide our vulnerabilities, airbrushing our flaws and quirks; we project our fantasies onto the images before us. Rejection still stings — but less when a new virtual match beckons on the horizon.

Andrew Sullivan writing in New York Magazine

Who comes out on top?

To understand a company’s strategy, look at what they actually do rather than what they say they do. The same logic applies to one’s life. For example, ambitious people will reliably tell you that family, or being a mother or father, is the most important thing in their lives. Yet when pressed to choose between racing home to deal with a chaotic pre-bedtime scene and staying another hour at the office to solve a problem, they will usually keep working. It’s these small, everyday decisions that reveal if you’re following a path to being the best possible spouse and parent. If your family matters most to you, when you think about all the choices you’ve made with your time in a week, does your family come out on top?

Clay Christensen, How will you Measure your Life?

Proving Your Worthiness

Have you ever had someone bait you during family gets together?  “Come on. Join me in those old patterns you’ve wanted to shed.” Maybe they don't say that out loud, but that's the invitation.

While you try not to let the person get under your skin, somehow you still end up behaving in a way you thought you had left behind long ago. There’s a tone in your voice that shows you are irritated. You can't stop yourself. You stumble backward into an old pattern of conflict.

Why does the other person say these things? Maybe they wants to feel superior. Perhaps they are feel comfortable in that unhealthy relationship with you.

You might have learned to avoid the conflict by being passive. That puts off the problem, setting it aside for the sake of peace.  But it doesn't redefine the relationship. And a healthy relationship should be the goal instead of the absence of conflict.

You could be vulnerable to other people who use the same kind of put-downs or teases or unhealthy behavior. Perhaps you rise and fall as their approval or rejection comes or goes. You may be overly sensitive to the suggestion that you are inadequate, fearful you are "unworthy" of respect. You may be spending a lot of your life bouncing back and forth between working hard to prove worthiness and resenting the need to prove it.

Stephen Goforth

Love's advice to his younger self

The Week magazine Executive Editor Robert Love offers this advice to his 16-year-old self:

Dear Bob, Would you like some advice from the older you? Turn the volume down to 10 and the SPF up to 30. Be patient with yourself and those who cross your path. Cherish your friends and family; you will miss them soon enough. Don’t feel too bad if you never seem to understand the girl in your life. There are mysteries that will never be solved. Most of all, never lose your curiosity. It will guide you to a career and a calling and bring you into the company of others who are wildly curious about the world and how it works. Believe me, there is no better place to be.

Betting on Those We Love

The year is 1995. Jeff Bezos launches an online bookstore out of his garage in his Bellevue, Washington. His parents sink a substantial portion of their life savings into the effort. "We weren't betting on the Internet," his mother would later say. "We were betting on Jeff." By the end of the decade, Jeff's parents are billionaires, thanks to the success of Amazon.

It doesn't always work out this way, but is betting on those we love ever a misplaced wager? There are many ways besides money that we can show them through our action we are on their side and are rooting for them.

Which of the 4 family types do you come from?

There are basically four family types that we all come from.

1 - The Traditional Family System

The old-fashioned family has a myth that “father knows best.” This family is under the control of only one member.

2 - Enmeshed Family System

The frightened family has a myth that it's “us against the world.” It is emotionally bound together and protective of itself.

3 - The Fighting Family System

The fighting family has a myth of “every man for himself.” Each member of this family is strongly individualistic, recognizing no other authority than his (or her) own.

4 - The Open Family System

The healthy family system theme is “all for one and one for all.” The open family system emphasizes the worth, dignity, and uniqueness of each individual, the importance of unconditional positive regard, and the value of positive reinforcement.

Frankl’s Decision: Meaning or Happiness

By 1941, Viktor Frankl’s theories had received international attention and he was working as the chief of neurology at Vienna's Rothschild Hospital, where he risked his life and career by making false diagnoses of mentally ill patients so that they would not, per Nazi orders, be euthanized.

That was the same year when he had a decision to make, a decision that would change his life. With his career on the rise and the threat of the Nazis looming over him, Frankl had applied for a visa to America, which he was granted in 1941. By then, the Nazis had already started rounding up the Jews and taking them away to concentration camps, focusing on the elderly first. Frankl knew that it would only be time before the Nazis came to take his parents away. He also knew that once they did, he had a responsibility to be there with his parents to help them through the trauma of adjusting to camp life. On the other hand, as a newly married man with his visa in hand, he was tempted to leave for America and flee to safety, where he could distinguish himself even further in his field.

As Anna S. Redsand recounts in her biography of Frankl, he was at a loss for what to do, so he set out for St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna to clear his head. Listening to the organ music, he repeatedly asked himself, "Should I leave my parents behind?... Should I say goodbye and leave them to their fate?" Where did his responsibility lie? He was looking for a "hint from heaven."

When he returned home, he found it. A piece of marble was lying on the table. His father explained that it was from the rubble of one of the nearby synagogues that the Nazis had destroyed. The marble contained the fragment of one of the Ten Commandments -- the one about honoring your father and your mother. With that, Frankl decided to stay in Vienna and forgo whatever opportunities for safety and career advancement awaited him in the United States. He decided to put aside his individual pursuits to serve his family and, later, other inmates in the camps.

The wisdom that Frankl derived from his experiences there, in the middle of unimaginable human suffering, is just as relevant now as it was then: “Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself — by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is.” 

Emily Esfahani Smith writing in The Atlantic