One Life Lesson at a Lesbian Bar in D.C.

A number of years ago a buddy of mine was turning 40. His wife gathered his dearest friends and arranged a night on the town for us to share with her husband.  She contracted a limo to take us around Washington, DC, we went to a great dinner, out for drinks – the whole “sha-bang”.

After many stops and probably as many drinks, a couple of the guys thought it would be fun to stop into a lesbian bar. I wasn’t sure why but it seemed to some of the guys to be an expected novelty.  So they told the driver to bring us to such a bar and drop us off and to collect us in an hour or so.  So we entered the bar and the guys kind of scattered amidst a couple of groups.  I sat at the bar and had a drink and struck up a conversation with one of the patrons to kill the time until we were all ready to leave.

No more than 30 minutes went by and the guys were ready to leave. We finished our drinks and left.  On the 30 minute ride home the guys were speaking of how uncomfortable they were at the lesbian bar and that it wasn’t the novelty they had expected.  I told them that I was comfortable and was enjoying it until they cut my drink and conversation short.

The next day at work, a number of us were discussing the events of the evening and again they referenced their discomfort. They asked me why I hadn’t felt uncomfortable, as they had felt.  They seemed to think I wasn’t telling the truth because they thought I would’ve had to have felt as they had, until I explained why.

You see, all the buddies on the birthday excursion were White – I was the only Black guy, or any minority. I explained to them that I was entirely used to feeling out of place.  Having grown up in Vermont (the state with the lowest minority population in the country) and having gone to a college where 90% of the population was White, I was entirely used to feeling that I “stuck out” – that I was an outsider, so going to a lesbian bar was absolutely no different.  Once I explained this they not only understood but they gained a little perspective – they had gotten a tiny glimpse and experience of what it was like to be a minority amidst a vast group of people, unlike themselves.

Most of us would like believe prejudice, bigotry and racism is on the decline – some believe it to be nearly non-existent.   It is not.  Separate from the politics of the recent election, what so many millions of people are mourning is the realization that this previous thought is a delusion.

Whether they realize it or not, the people so distraught over the election are grieving the loss of a perception that more growth had occurred than had actually. The illusion of it has been shattered by the hate and nastiness spewed forth toward progressive and powerful women, by the absence of rejection of the white supremacists’ support that Trump received and the venom toward religions and cultures.  And many, many women felt betrayed by other women who voted for him – because they also agreed with so many men that a woman shouldn’t be president.

Yeah, I know – many of you will claim he didn’t win because he is a man, and you are correct. He won because he wasn’t a woman.  Those of you who claim his economic plans are what made him win – I might be inclined to agree with you if he had provided any plan. I’m not discussing politics here, I have little faith in our political system as it is – I’m diagramming the evidence to the contrary.  He claimed no specifics, he stated hundreds of falsities and even accurately predicted that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose a vote.  Again, I’m not bashing his politics nor am I promoting hers; I’m merely stating what most intelligent people can acknowledge – that with all of his shenanigans he would have lost to a man with the same record as Hillary.

While I have little faith in our political system, I still have faith in Man. Many say I’m an idiot and that this election shows Man wants to get in the mud and hate; I don’t believe so, I believe that with the absence of fear anything is possible.

Without fear of “losing”, politicians could work with bipartisanship to solve the problems we all want fixed.  Without fear of losing one’s sense of entitlement, those of the majority wouldn’t need to denigrate those in the minority.  Without the fear many have that they themselves have little value, there would be no need to look down upon others.  Without the fear of their own sexuality, people wouldn’t need to fear those with ones different.  And without the fear that their God doesn’t really exist, they’d have no need to control others who know He does.

And without the fear of not being a real man, men wouldn’t need to fear the power of women.

Fear of others different from us is alive and well.  But it doesn’t have to be.  An open mind, exposure, often through travel, and education is really all that’s needed.

I know eight guys who learned this lesson at a little lesbian bar on a rainy night in Washington, DC.

Posted in Diversity, Human Relations, Opinion, Political, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Loss of Free Will (Why people feel how they feel and vote how they vote)


As the story goes, there was a little girl watching her mother prepare the food on Easter morning. She’d help where she could but watched intently everything her mother did.  When it came time for her mother to prepare the Easter Ham, the little girl noticed that her mother bore down and cut a good-sized portion off the end of the ham.  The mother then placed the ham in a pan and put it in the oven.


The little girl was perplexed by this and so she asked her mother, “Mom, why’d you cut that chunk off the ham before you put it in the oven?” The mom pondered the question for a second, realized she didn’t have an answer and replied, “I really don’t know sweetie, that’s just what my mom always did.  Why don’t you go ask your Grandma why she cut the ham this way.”


The little girl went and asked her grandmother and low and behold, her grandmother didn’t know and was given the same answer – that her mother had always done it that way and was told to ask her great-grandmother for the answer.


Undeterred, the little girl went over to her great-grandmother and again asked, “Great Grandma, my mom cut a chunk off the end of the ham before putting it in the oven but she said she didn’t know why, just that her mom had always done it. I asked grandma and she said the same thing – that she didn’t know but that you had always done the same.  So Great Grandma, why did you cut a chunk off of the end of the Easter ham?”


Her great-grandmother simply replied, “Well sweetie, I suppose it was because I didn’t have a pan big enough.”


I’ve always loved this story, partly because it perfectly describes how traditions sometimes begin but mostly because it is usually received by the listener with a unique “aha” and the look upon their face that indicates a new concept has been received by the brain and is being evaluated for consideration. Furthermore, it is a story with which most of us can relate.


While this is a cute story of a tradition of sorts within a family, it is also an example of how we can follow a habit, belief, system or tradition without any real consideration or evaluation as to whether it has any merit or benefit to us.


We don’t just do this with Easter Hams.


In the story we can see how the Mom had to stop and think about it? Now, the bigger question is, do you think the Mom would stop her habit of cutting the ham even after having realized she didn’t have a rational reason?  Only that her mother had done it isn’t really a rational reason, is it?  It’s an emotional one, one similar to tradition, right?  We’ve all heard some of the same types of traditions, “We always put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving”, “We always have pizza on Christmas Eve”; I’m sure you all can think of many more.


We all have conscious traditions like the Christmas examples I just referenced. But, do you see how we can have traditions of which we aren’t even aware?  In this example the cutting of the ham was an unconscious tradition, right?  After all, the Mom hadn’t really ever considered the question until her daughter asked about it, she just did it out of habit, right?  We can consider a habit to be an unconscious tradition when obtained from someone else or even previous generations.


If you get what I’m stating here, the real question is the following:  Would Mom continue with this practice once discovering the origin was due to insufficient baking-ware??  I submit to you that she would never again cut off the end of the ham.  In all likelihood the Mom would stop this practice because she’d become aware of the habit and would have no reason to continue, once discovering the origin was due to a lack of a larger pan; and since she had a larger pan she would most likely use it and all of the ham.


BUT let’s presume the daughter never made the query; that she never thought of asking her mother and therefore the Mom would never have facilitated the daughter getting the answer from the great-grandmother.  What do you think the daughter would do as she grew up and baked her Easter ham?  Unevaluated, she would continue the same habit of cutting off the end of the ham – because her mother did.  She would continue the habit – or the unconscious tradition.  This would occur with the likelihood of Pareto’s Law (80/20 rule).  If her husband or partner became the chef in the family, she would also likely try to enforce this tradition upon them in order to carry on the unconscious tradition, simply because that’s how it’d done.


The elements that greatly contribute to this phenomenon are rooted in how we are as children. From the earliest of ages we innately rely on our parents – for everything, food, shelter and of course affection and safety.  But what comes along with this is the unconscious belief that our parents are infallible – we have to have this belief.  If we didn’t have this unconscious belief and reliance we would flounder because we didn’t have the tools to deal with the aspects of our life.  Make sense?


As we grow, the belief our parents are infallible continues to become more and more entrenched into our existence and unless there is a conflict internally, the belief system goes unaddressed. We parent how our parents parented, we cook how our parents cooked and we unconsciously continue their belief systems – until there is an internal conflict.  That internal conflict with their belief systems, practices or traditions usually result in some form of rebellion.


We all know some that rebelled, right? In the extreme, the rebels parent in a manner exactly opposite how their parents parented.  With the “my parents did this, so I will never do the same” attitude, they arise at a perspective of parenting not of what’s best for the children necessarily, but rather by parenting in the opposite of how their parents did, usually believing nothing their parents  did was correct, so the opposite must be better.  Less extreme examples of rebelling result in lesser levels of rebellion in an attempt to gain their independence and with lesser internal conflict.


As an example of this, instead of rooting for the same team as the parents, the rebelling child roots for a different team. But guess what, they don’t express their independence by choosing another team based on what they like but they instead select and root for the enemy of the parents’ team.


I currently live in the South – North Carolina specifically, and like much of the South, it is big football country. Pro football to a large part takes second place to the college game.  Well, Clemson University football program is somewhat of a perennial powerhouse in the area and if you grew up in a household that rooted for Clemson you are extremely likely to be a Clemson fan or fanatic, depending on how strongly your family rooted for football.  However, if there is a rebelling child in the family the rebelling child won’t root for the University of Montana, they root for South Carolina – the sworn enemy of every Clemson household.  Similarly, a child who rebels against their Washington Redskins upbringing won’t root for a team in another division or conference, they begin to root for the Dallas Cowboys – the Redskins’ sworn enemy.


This phenomenon occurs in every area that is emotionally charged and emotionally supported in the household whether it’s sports, religion, parenting, politics, etc.


As we grow into adults and our rational brain begins to develop fully, these belief systems are fully entrenched until true evaluation of whether they are consistent with whom we now see ourselves as or who we now claim ourselves to be; and this is where the problem begins.


As adults we have learned we are supposed to have a certain character; that we are supposed to have convictions. Furthermore, we have learned that our decisions and convictions are supposed to be based on our intellect and our belief systems but when pressed to provide support for them or to defend a position we unconsciously react just as the Mom did with the ham.  Internally and usually unconsciously we realize there isn’t a real reason, only “that’s what my parents did”; internally and again usually automatically we realize there isn’t a rational reason – but yet, we’re adults and we should have a reasonable basis or defense.


So we make one up, we fabricate a legitimate sounding response to support our position. One that is based on what we can hear externally that may make sense but isn’t truly the real reason for our practice, belief or conviction.


If we apply this example to other situations you will likely think of other similar circumstances. You can ask someone why they do something in a certain fashion and if they know you well enough and don’t fear judgment from you on a conscious or unconscious level, they will tell you they really don’t know – just that they’ve always done it that way. But if they are insecure or a pecking order has yet to be established, they’ll often give you a reason that you know is fabricated, they do this out of an automatic defense of anticipated judgment.  The anticipated judgment we try to avoid is because we are internally forced to confront the fact our method or belief isn’t based on evaluation but based on the unconscious tradition.  Make sense?  We’ve all done it at some point or another – I know I have.


I used to have such an incredible unconscious fear of being wrong that I would have to come up with a legitimate sounding reason, when in fact there were many ways to do the same task or even a better method.  But due to the unconscious fear of anticipated judgment we create an unsubstantiated reason.  We all have this fear at some level until we learn that being wrong isn’t tied to our self-perceived value. Of course, once we discover the ability to embrace being wrong we discover the strength that’s necessary to be able to be wrong.


But before discovering and utilizing the strength to be wrong or just the strength to truly evaluate a position, we are stuck in this phenomenon of trying to never be wrong and thus we continue to create supporting reasons for our position; and with very emotionally charged subjects, we will even cling to data or information that we internally know is suspect or even false in an effort to continue our support for the unconscious tradition.  We’ve all heard people in our lives or on television state their positions and defend them by stating ludicrous propaganda that has been provided by the opposition.


Politics is an excellent arena to witness this example. People are so entrenched in belonging to a political party that they will quote ridiculous propaganda used to increase their fury, in support of their candidate.  The rationale of those with CGAD isn’t always ludicrous – sometimes it might even sound logical and convincing, but until the evaluation occurs they are merely very good at convincing themselves.  This phenomenon occurs in all of us, regardless of levels of intelligence.  Education can sometimes help eradicate the effects of CGAD but there are now many institutions that are solely built to perpetuate these beliefs and thereby perpetuate the effects of CGAD.  Intelligence is not a protection from or a defense of the damages of these unconscious traditions.


In an informal study I performed, Pareto’s Law really holds up. 80% of people maintain their parent’s points of view on sporting teams, parenting, religion, work and politics.  The rebels who take the opposition of their parents’ beliefs or root for the enemy (sporting teams, parenting style, political party or other emotional arenas) account for about 15% of adults.  Only the leftover 5% of people had already developed their own viewpoints without adopting or rejecting that which was taught.  Some viewpoints match that of their caretakers, some are oppositional and some just different; but the viewpoints are their own.


So if you understand the phenomenon I’ve explained here and if I’ve done a good enough job in presenting it so that you understand my meaning. The real $100,000 question is:  If, out of unconscious tradition, we either follow the belief systems presented by our caretakers OR reject them and take the exact opposite path…


Do we REALLY have free will? Or at the very least, do we REALLY exercise it?


I submit to you that until we allow ourselves to truly evaluate the practices, methods and belief systems of our caretakers we absolutely eliminate the concept of free will within our lives.  Without evaluation we merely become a vessel that promotes the beliefs and practices of those before us.  Well guess what?  Those before us were merely promoting the beliefs and practices of those before them.


In my coaching and talks I refer to this phenomenon as Carried Generational Allegiance Deficiency.


Our technology surely has changed our lives and existence as a species but in my opinion, the greatest advancement we have had as a people and a society is the growing willingness to challenge the beliefs and practices of those before us; to seek happiness and fulfillment, something our ancestors never had the opportunity to even conceive.


Carried Generational Allegiance Deficiency (CGAD) truly prevents us (until acknowledged and addressed) from using our free will.  It prevents us from using the growth and understanding of our current life because it is solely based on the beliefs and perceptions of our caretakers and theirs before them.


The unconscious and unintentional allegiance we can have toward the beliefs and systems of our caretakers can be so strong that people will take a stance that is against their evolved core beliefs by rationalizing. An example of this is the recent presidential election.  I know some who strongly disagreed with essentially everything the Republican candidate claimed he stood for but voted for him anyway – because “they are Republican” or because “he wasn’t a woman”.  The belief that anyone is the right choice simply because of their party or sex is the supreme example of lack of self-evaluation, due to Carried Generational Allegiance Deficiency.  The internal conflict of going against one’s own core ethics in support of CGAD results in cognitive dissonance and is very disturbing internally to the individual.


CGAD is the number one cause of why Republicans raise Republicans and Democrats raise Democrats in in the percentages of Pareto’s Law – never truly addressing whether the party is the right party for them. For example, the platforms of these parties have changed drastically within the last 70 years but we still vote consistent with our caretakers, who followed their caretakers.  We can continue to vote for the same party even when the party platform drastically changes but the name remains the same.


CGAD explains how racism continues among those who are considered to be Christian, even though the concept of bigotry goes against every word of the Holy Bible. Ask a sexist or a bigot, “Why do you feel these people are inferior to you?”  Those with CGAD (not the haters who will always exist because they truly hate themselves) will first become defensive and then likely state, “because they are” or other such ridiculousness that seems logical to them or they will claim, “because the Bible says they are”  – which of course is considered ridiculous to biblical scholars.  These two answers account for 90% of the responses – both show there has never been any conscious evaluation, only the retelling of what they’ve been taught; but never providing an intellectually supported argument for their adopted beliefs.  Fear passed along by CGAD is the basis of nearly all bigotry, whether of sexism, racial or religious.


It is how an individual or group can continue to oppress women, minorities and any group different from theirs. Though it is true that “haters are gonna hate”, it is not true that the victims of CGAD are lost. The unconscious fear of rejection of the memory of caretakers, an emotional betrayal if you will, or fear of those different is the power and damage created by CGAD.


But CGAD isn’t only responsible for the social dysfunction we now see in our society, it also impacts the lives of individuals at a much less inflammatory level. I once worked with a golf pro that needed to pass a playability test.  He had taken the test and had failed already twice and had only one more chance to pass.  I began working with him to help him meet his mental potential in the game.   During our sessions I learned that his father felt very strongly that for a man to have value, he must work. My client perceived that according to his father a man must work and work isn’t fun.


The result was that my client had unconsciously adopted these lessons from his father and was applying the lessons in such a way that he internally needed to fail at being a golf pro – because it was fun for him.  Unwittingly, my client had CGAD.  My client had unconsciously adopted his father’s perspective.  After working together I was able to get my client to realize that if his father had the skills and abilities my client had, that the father would likely have a different opinion.  We must live by our own code and convictions regardless of the views of our caretakers but we can’t address the conflict until we know it exists.


Never before in the history of the world has the desire for personal growth allowed more people to seek personal fulfillment and self-awareness than now; it has resulted in people being able to truly seek happiness.  It’s really only been within the last 60 years or so that happiness was even a concept people sought.


So, we must remove the effects of Carried Generational Allegiance Deficiency before we can ever consider ourselves truly independent or fully emotionally evolved.  Only after evaluating what impact CGAD has had on our lives can we truly begin to live our own lives; until then we are really only living those of prior generations.  We can eliminate the effects of CGAD on our lives if we:


  1. Are willing to confront the beliefs and systems of our caretakers
  2. Truly evaluate whether they fit within our ethical core while realizing adopting a different opinion or viewpoint does not have to change our respect or admiration for those before us
  3. Realize our caretakers would have had a different perspective (just like we could) IF they were aware of CGAD and empowered to choose their own beliefs and systems.


By realizing our parents would have felt differently, we allow ourselves to realize they weren’t wrong – they just didn’t have all of the information that we now do. Had they had the same information as we do, they would have the same conclusion of new beliefs and systems that we can now have.  In this manner we free ourselves from the “emotional betrayal” we can sometimes feel we are perpetrating on their memory or against their beliefs.


CGAD is rooted in fear, the fear of things different – people, beliefs, religions, etc. But it also is the cause of so many of those “should”s.  Nearly every personal development coaching client I have worked with finds major growth once understanding the concepts of CGAD and how what previous generations expect of them create the “should”s.  We all know the impact, “We should do this” or “We should feel a certain way”  – but by who’s assertion?  When we truly feel that we “should”, it become “we need to”.  “Should” is the attempted living by the expectation of others, it results in guilt, regret and shame – and nothing good internally comes from guilt, regret or shame.


Until we decide to take back our free will, we will on a personal level continue to be the vessel of ideas before us and as a society we will continue to live in the Dark Ages of the Human Condition. We will continue to live in societies that reject others and demean their value, simply out of fears of prior generations; those beliefs which cannot be defended.


Our ability to grow is directly correlated to our willingness to be wrong.


David Jones


Captive Coaching and Empowerment

(980) 349-6931


Posted in Discovery, Diversity, Human Relations, Political, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Apology Letter to Donald Trump

Mr. Trump,

As a middle-aged black man I heard your rhetoric early on. And I thought that maybe this man could shake things up; disrupt the status quo, overturn the apple cart as it were.  But then I continued to hear more and more your mantra being promoted.  That you were going to “Make America great again” and more and more I thought –

When did America stop being great?

I saw the white supremacists support you and other extremists, those that hate all that is different from them; and I thought, this can’t be how The Donald really feels … But then I continued to see an absence of denial or rejection of their support or even a rejection of their beliefs toward them.

So I began to understand, like most people who allowed their thoughts to be revealed to others and like the majority of the rest of the outside world; that you were a buffoon.

But I was wrong, we were all wrong – you are not a buffoon.  And now I understand.  And therefore I apologize.

It’s not that you and I had a different view of America – it’s that we had a different definition of Great.

I had thought that the growth toward racial equality was good, that the trend of acceptance of others, whether they be gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, abled or disabled marked progress.  That America was trying to be the model nation toward the acceptance of all and that sometimes, just sometimes, how a nation sees and treats its people is more important than economics. 

America wasn’t perfect by any means but it’s growth toward allowing women to have control of their bodies was a step in the right direction; that black and brown people could hope to see true equality in their future when previous generations couldn’t even hope and that this hope was now supported by a tremendous number of white people as well.  We enacted legislation prohibiting lesser treatment of the disabled and elderly.  We even began to understand that people of the same sex have a right to have happiness or misery as equally as everyone else by allowing them to marry.  We had been making strides.

But then you were elected with less than the popular vote and all of the polls were wrong – for the first time. Whether the voting was hacked by Russia, China or North Korea or that the will of people had been heard – it was now real.

It then hit me like a ton of bricks – and I now understand exactly what you have meant by “Making America great again”.

You didn’t want this growth.  Or at least, you wanted the support of all those people who resented the growth.

You want the world as it was post WWII, when the economy was booming – because we all know that war is great for our economy; When women knew their role – to stay in the kitchen and be Man’s sexual and domestic subservient; When different religions were shunned, LGTB’s occupied our closets and minorities occupied the backseat, to never think or believe equality to White America was possible.

This is the America you want and this is what it means to you, to be great again. So I truly apologize for not having understood — after all, this is what you’ve been telling us all along…

We just weren’t listening.

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Lennon and McCartney got it wrong – All we need ISN’T love… it’s so much less

We are in the most tenuous times the recent generations have seen. We KNOW there’s a problem if former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan thinks the majority of America is now “with him” and is running for US Senate.

We don’t need to love everyone – that’s a farce of possibility; it’s be great but really, what are the odds of that ever happening? So what can we do? Exactly, what can each of us do to help make America and what it could be and far greater than our forefathers anticipated?

If we all were just able to do a few things:

1.  Admit we fear the different

Likely since the beginning of time, people feared those unfamiliar to them. I’m certain cavemen were extremely leery if another unknown cave dweller came around his cave. We haven’t changed that much at all. The evolution of Man deals nearly solely with physical attributes and mental capacity. Evolution has changed nearly none of our emotional conditions and responses; only with the desire to evolve emotionally do our emotional conditions and responses change.But as Humans, we tend to hide from ourselves that which we fear. In other words we think fear is a weakness and we really don’t like weakness. And guess what, the desire to emotionally evolve really only arises from a person’s quest to understand his/her role within their world. But unfortunately, most people don’t encounter the desire for this quest unless they have had the desire evoked within due to trauma, travel or education. And tragically, many encounter this only upon the deathbed.I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “The cure to bigotry is travel and education” – or something like that. I could look it up but am too engrossed in the moment – somebody will tweet me the correction I’m sure.Whether we are discussing the recent accelerated racial tensions within America or the continual battle over the Holy Land in the Middle East, it’s the same element at play. We fear different.

But the question should be: Do we need to fear different in looks, attitudes, beliefs or religions? Or should we have already evolved to the point of understanding we should only fear actions taken by one against another?

Fear loses all power when we acknowledge its impact upon us. Under it all, we all fear the same – DEATH and TAXES; everything else is just circumstance.

2.  Be willing to understand the perspectives of any oppositional opinion, not agree but understand from where they come

Do you hate me because I’m Black or are you just unsure how to communicate with me? Do you hate me because I’m Middle Eastern or are you just unsure how I pray? Do you really hate me because I’m a woman? Or are you a little bit afraid of my impact on you? You get the idea.

Start the conversation with a member of a minority group to try to understand from where they come. Start the conversation with a member of the majority and try to understand how he feels his world is changing. Start the conversation with a woman to try to understand what it feels like to be oppressed by all groups. You don’t have to agree with their perspectives. And don’t even try to defend yourself in opposition and don’t place blame, because neither of you are the basis of the difference. But you can be the beginning of the change.

NONE of the origin of the strife is the fault or blame of anyone still living – so avoid blaming and we can start to grow together.

3.  Acknowledge the possibility that our parents, their parents and so on – could have been wrong.

Whether we acknowledge it or not they impacted our belief systems. 96% of Republicans think they are Republican because of their beliefs – don’t kid yourself, it’s not. It’s because we were either trained to be a Republican to emulate our parents/caretakers or we rebelled their ideology as part of our independence in adolescence and rebuffed them as Democrats. And of course it works in reverse as well

This phenomenon is extremely common in all areas of life. Whether it’s politics, religion or sports – it’s the same. It’s also the same in bias, prejudice, and bigotry. Our parents pass on their biases to us – period, end of story. But it’s not their fault is it? Heck no, their parents passed it on to them, and so on and so on.

You can test it out yourself. Don’t try on yourself because we as Humans have a very difficult time acknowledging stuff like this within ourselves. But you can try it on friends. Pick a few friends or people you know who are fanatics for a sports team. 8 or 9 out of every 10 will have adopted their caretaker’s sports allegiance or they root for the exact rival.

I call this Carried Generational Deficiency; it’s not a deficiency that our parents and grandparents passed these elements upon us, merely that we are under the impression we have chosen the belief systems ourselves and that we have rational justification for them. But here’s the thing – we don’t have any rational justification for carrying on our parents’ beliefs; it’s simply because the beliefs were theirs. And emotionally and unconsciously, we feel that if we were to change our beliefs or reject the beliefs of our parents or grandparents, etc. then we would be performing an act of emotional betrayal to our family. Much of this is unconscious but then again, most of why we do anything is based on the unconscious.

There is ZERO blame to place upon those previous generations, they were all taught the same – we just have to be able to acknowledge that it’s possible that their antiquated beliefs would no longer exist IF they had the knowledge, education and facts that you now have.

After all, it was less than 100 years ago that scientists were still trying to measure intelligence of races and cultures by the size of the skull!

Don’t worry about loving each other – just learn of each other.


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Tolerance and Acceptance – Why Dr. King’s message is still needed.

Today we celebrate the life of one of the great men the world has known in Martin Luther King, Jr.; A man considered to be a hero among African Americans as well as those supportive of the Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the life and passing of another great man in Nelson Mandela.  Mandela and Dr. King shared most similar views.  These sentiments are needed everywhere: Between men and women, Christian and Muslim, gay and straight, black and white and brown, and blue and red (republicans and democrats), etc.

In my opinion Dr. King is not only a hero to Civil Rights movement – he was a hero to humanity and his message is as appropriate today as ever it was.  Delivered on August 28, 1963, his famous “I have a dream” speech included content that is needed today.

In perhaps the most famous segment of his speech, he proclaimed “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The essence of his message was and remains to be tolerance and acceptance:  The tolerance of views different from our own and the acceptance that all humans have value; and that only with the disregard of color, religion and culture can we achieve autonomy and peace within our world.

 In today’s world we call this Diversity and Inclusion.  I’ve worked with organizations, hospital systems and individual clients who have claimed to want to make their workplace more diverse and more inclusive.

I think Dr. King and Nelson Mandela might laugh at the terminology of Diversity and Inclusion; because if they see what I see, much focus is spent at trying to be perceived as diverse, tolerant, accepting and inclusive and nowhere near enough effort spent at trying to attain the actual state of being tolerant, accepting and inclusive.

Executives preach diversity and then behind closed doors speak of how women are inferior.  Organizational leaders speak of wanting minorities, but only wanting ”good” ones.  And Congressmen claiming to be of equal rights are heard putting down women under their breath.  Or having one of the more popular members at a country club actually comfortable enough to say aloud, “We finally have one we like”, after having a minority member join.  Whatever the level of importance to lesser significance, there is still work to do.

Much growth has occurred but with every comment we hear from these Congressmen or Executives that are inappropriate it shows there is still work to be done.

My favorite portion of Dr. King’s speech is lesser known:

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.  Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.  We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.  We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.  Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

The crazy thing is that it is really not about color, sex, religion, etc.  He is speaking to all of Humanity about how Humanity can achieve and aspire; he is reminding us that we have the capability to be the people we want our children to see in us.  It is truly about wanting to develop the desire to truly accept another human being as being as worthy as living as we are.  But before we can truly accept another – we must be able to accept ourselves.

The applicable tenet of Human Nature is:

It is inherently present in the insecure human mind that the oppression of others elevates the value of self; conversely, in the mind of a secure human, the oppression of another lowers the value of self.

Understanding this tenet truly provides us with the direction of how we approach the intolerance of others.  The empowerment that’s truly needed is to empower the insecure, to let them know that the elevation to equality for others does not lower their own value.

Think about it, have you ever experienced a boss who is insecure within himself?  How’d that work out?  If like most times, he or she felt the need to promote self or devalue staff – right?  Same with the stereotypical man who constantly complains about his wife; he’s insecure.  The woman who complains about another woman?  The impact of this tenet is far-reaching but the essence of its existence is fear.  And whether it’s in Congress, behind the starting of a war or in our household, it is the fear and how we choose to allow its impact is what is to blame.

The conscious and unconscious fear within a person will result in the attempt to devalue others in an attempt to increase the value within.

Furthermore, anyone who is evolved and secure in themselves must, by default, have the understanding that the elevation of others can only result in the elevation of self.

So let’s commit to fulfilling Dr. King’s dream and the will of many other leaders of humanity:  Let’s do good deeds, struggle for the plight of others and seek to elevate others as this will always elevate our own Humanity.

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The Top Four Reasons Goals and Resolutions Aren’t Realized (and what you can do about it)

Ever wonder why your goals, benchmarks or resolutions aren’t met?  What if there was a way to discover if you were likely to achieve them?

We’re once again at the beginning of another year, a time when people tend to be more introspective.  People think about what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year, they think about what they accomplished this past year and they think about what they haven’t accomplished – over and over again.

As a Personal and Professional Achievement Coach, I work with clients who want one of three things:  Greater success in business, greater productivity in their sport or more fulfillment in their relationships.  Like us all, they have goals and desires; and like most of us they look at the New Year as the start of new methods, productivity or systems that will be instituted to accomplish these goals.

Every year we make these evaluations and every year we see lists of why we don’t meet goals; we see news stories of how to finally accomplish goals in the future.  “So called” achievement experts quote the latest and greatest ways to achieve.  I agree that many of the methods  can help speed the process of a focused individual but most people move forward without an important system of evaluation – and it is the result of these evaluations that can be huge inhibitors to successes.

As I start to work with a new client I will have my clients break down different areas of their lives and have them delineate the areas in which they want to improve.  If possible, I will have them list out the benchmarks of success they seek.  When asked what they specifically need to do to achieve these benchmarks they list out very detailed plans.  The sales executive knows they need to make a certain number of contacts, proposals, presentations, etc.  The athlete knows they need better nutrition, better practice habits, etc. The Administrator knows steps that must be instituted to make better efficiencies in her hospital.  In nearly all circumstances, people have the knowledge of what steps or systems are needed to succeed.  Furthermore, in most areas of business, levels of improvement can be measurable; thereby showing the progress toward the benchmarks or goals.

I’ve worked with a lot of people who want to improve their successes and who want to accomplish goals.  They want to be a better executive, golfer, placekicker, parent, spouse, salesperson and others of the like.  They really all have one thing in common:  They already know what they need to do to accomplish their listed goals.  This fact isn’t unique to my clients, it’s extremely common among most of us.

The fact is, we usually know exactly what we should do to succeed or achieve goals we set.  So here’ the big question:

Since nearly everyone already knows what they need to do to accomplish their goals – so why don’t we accomplish them?  What’s the real reason we don’t meet our goals?  After all, if we already know the steps needed to achieve goals and benchmarks of success – then why don’t we follow Nike’s old advice and “Just Do It”?

So the applicable question is not why we don’t achieve, it’s really a question of why we don’t do the things we already know need to be done to achieve in the first place.

Understanding the answer to the question brings about three important terms and definitions that are important to consider when evaluating whether you will meet your goals or maintain your resolutions.

Merriam-Webster lists the following:

motivation: the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something : the act or process of motivating someone: the condition of being eager to act or work : the condition of being motivated: a force or influence that causes someone to do something

motive: a reason for doing something:  something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act

success: the correct or desired result of an attempt

In consideration of these terms we must address the how, what and why of goal achievement.  The why we achieve is based on the motive we have for doing something in the first place.  How this can be initiated by ourselves or others is the motivation.  The what can be drawn to the desired result, or success.

If the aptitude exists to be able to accomplish the steps to achieve the goals then the only reasons that remain as to why don’t achieve them reside in these definitions.  And the reasons that most goals and resolutions aren’t achieved almost always fall within these four categories:

  • 1.       Because we don’t really want the consequences of the success or levels of success
  • 2.       Because we aren’t really emotionally prepared to accept the meaning of the success
  • 3.       Because internally and unconsciously we don’t believe we deserve the rewards we consciously seek
  • 4.       Because the rewards we anticipate receiving by achieving the goals are not considered consciously or unconsciously to be worth the effort anticipated to be needed.

Though the answers are relatively simple in concept, the reasons and what to do about them are not as simple.  The reasons are generally due to fear, perspective or emotional “baggage”.

In Human Nature it is fact that our actions and reactions are based on two tenets within our prime directive: to seek pleasure or to avoid pain.  And for the purposes within our conversation, please understand that pain is equivalent to fear.  In this realm, fear is the anticipation of an uncertain level of discomfort.  Fear is experienced consciously and unconsciously, and it tends to be considered by our emotional self to have greater significance than pleasure.  Therefore, if all things are equal we will tend to avoid pain/fear than choose to seek pleasure – if given the choice.

Having no or limited experience with the consequences of success (or specific levels of success) is often an inhibitor of success if our unconscious doesn’t know what to do with the unknown consequence that our conscious seeks.  The concept of the “fear of success” is commonly referenced but seldom fully understood; this is the heart of it.  We don’t truly “fear” the success, in reality our unconscious simply can’t anticipate what the success will mean to our internal existence and thereby resists it.

An example of this phenomenon is that of a golfer entering the final round of a tournament with the lead.  If they have these commonly held unconscious systems at work, they will usually fail to hold onto to victory.  It is why many pro golfers must be in contention several times before they “break through” to victory.  It isn’t that they don’t truly want to win, they simply don’t know how; because their unconscious thwarts the result it cannot anticipate.  Consciously, the golfer feels this as stress, fear, and can even experience many physiological symptoms of rapid dehydration, muscle fatigue and even an impaired judgement of time.  All results of the unconscious attempting to preserve its control over consequences it knows it has experienced.

Another element that impacts our levels of achievement or success is perspective.  What often occurs is that people discover that they’ve unwittingly adopted a conscious belief of what success means to them but once evaluated, they discover that their definition of success was not based on their personal beliefs, core values or sense of importance.  Instead, they discover they’ve adopted the beliefs based on how they perceive the world perceives others.

Consider an example of this phenomenon:  A person who lives in Los Angeles and is surrounded by Mercedes Benz, Ferraris and Jaguars can easily adopt the belief system that a symptom and sign of success would be to own one of these luxury vehicles.  It wasn’t their belief prior to moving there but it can become their belief because that’s how they perceive others (in that world) perceive those who drive those cars as a success.  However, once moving from L.A. and to a rural farming town in Indiana, that same person can quickly lose the desire to own such a luxury if those in their new environment consider those who own luxury vehicles to be outcasts and are looked down upon.

Inherently and commonly unconsciously, we have developed our own internal sense of achievement and success that is independent of the views of the outside world; this occurs whether we know it or not as we grow and evolve through adolescence and into adulthood.  When we adopt an additional belief system of “success” as based on the external perspective of others, conflict results.

An additional element of conflict that is commonly responsible is emotional “baggage”.  The taught and untaught lessons we unconsciously learn that impact and develop our internal level of self-worth.  This element results in our conscious mind “believing the press” – that we are as good as others say we are; that we can accomplish anything we set our mind to and other similar affirmations of positivity.  There’s only one problem, our unconscious mind doesn’t believe it.  In this scenario we’ve grown to unconsciously believe we don’t deserve the highest accolades, awards or rewards.  Many circumstances of our history can create this unconscious perspective but regardless of the origin, our lack of internal value on the unconscious level will thwart success or higher levels of success – regardless of our conscious belief system.  In the extremes, the unconscious will truly sabotage successes we’ve achieved in the process of “proving” its beliefs of poor worth to be correct.

Assessment of value and worth both consciously and unconsciously can also have an impact.  Consider the businessman or businesswoman who wants to be considered by their peers as a success.  The determination of success of the peers and the individual may be attaining the level of Regional V.P.  The individual wants the “success” of attaining this position and certainly could benefit from the extra $100k that the salary would provide.  But what if that businessman or woman loved being home at night with their spouse or family; what if, they consciously welcomed the financial security the raise would provide but unconsciously wanted to maintain the peace, sanctuary and intimacy their current life and position provided.

If the position of aspiration requires significant travel away from home, would that businessperson truly put forth their greatest effort to achieve the proclaimed goal?  Knowing that “success” in aspiring to the position would provide a conflict in value or worth to the individual and would absolutely prevent them from doing so.  The same would be true if the conscious and unconscious motives were reversed.  Therefore the conscious and unconscious evaluation of value and worth will impact the level of effort extended to achieve a goal.

The resulting conflicts from these scenarios are responsible for millions of missed goals, achievements and resolutions among everyone one of us and are often considered “failures”.

And the consideration of “failures” is a problem as well…

We tend to focus on the goals that we’ve previously set that we haven’t accomplished and feel bad about it; we usually consider these to be failures.  Most of us hate the word failure – in fact, we consider this word itself to be one of the words that evoke the most pain and emotion.  We fail in marriages, in projects, in tasks and even in business or careers.  Failures (or the interpretation we make to be considered failures) and the fear of them have tremendous emotional impact upon our lives.

While we all handle the results a little differently, often those who “fail” unconsciously internalize failures as diminished value or worth; the results and effects of multiple “failures” can be so impactful that the continually diminishing sense of worth can ruin a marriage, end a career and in extreme instances can make a parent abandon their children.  Others tend to internalize the “failure” as confirmation of internal doubt thus perpetuating a cycle of failure.

But what is failure?  Most of us would accept the definition of failure to be:  The lack of achieving an established goal or benchmark.  What if our definition of failure is incorrect?  What if the definition became:

Failure:  The lack of achieving a wanted goal or benchmark.

No matter what, all people’s actions are based on the avoidance of pain or gain of pleasure; the key is to properly associate to motivate.  The proper association of an emotional connection to the success or achievement is paramount to and directly correlated with the likelihood of success, presuming the aptitude exists.  We must want with full emotional engagement the results of our goals to be successful in achieving them; furthermore, they must be properly associated with the avoidance of pain or fear or gaining pleasure.

So maybe the real question we should ask ourselves when we set our goals or benchmarks:  Do we really want what we say we want?

As you begin this New Year in your business life, career or relationships and you list out the things you want to accomplish, while remembering you haven’t accomplished them in the past.  Consider the following questions:

  • Do I truly, deep down, want all of the consequences of the success we claim to want?
  • Am I truly emotionally prepared to accept all that will come with succeeding and will I truly consider my achievement a success based on my definition?
  • If I achieve my goals and “succeed” will I truly treasure the success and feel I really deserve the rewards?
  • Based on my definition of success, is the effort I anticipate having to expend truly worth the rewards I expect to receive?

If you are able to deeply examine your inner beliefs and cannot emphatically answer “yes” to each of these questions then one of two things exist – either you truly don’t want the results you’ve set for your goals (and thereby preparing to failing at accomplishing them to the highest extent) or you simply haven’t yet properly associated the emotional motivation to achieve them.

The main point – make sure every goal you set is yours and that will fulfill your desires; if they aren’t yours or ones with which you can emotionally ally, you’ll likely not prefer the outcome.

We devote all emotional resources to those goals we emotionally want to achieve.  Put another way:  We cannot, to our greatest potential, succeed in that which we are not emotionally engaged or aligned.

Share this with your colleagues, staff and children – help make them all successes.

To achieve your goals to the greatest levels that you truly seek, work with an expert Achievement or Discovery Coach to help you properly align your emotional investment with your goals so you can reach your fullest potential in the arenas that will fulfill your life.

We’d love to help you.

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Christmas Wishes From an Idealist

For those who protect us: Bravery isn’t fearlessness; its moving forward and doing what needs to be done, in spite of the fear – thank you and we all wish you safety.

For those who give of themselves to better our world: to know you are the real role models.

For the leaders of the world: to realize that real leaders don’t have to lead, nor are those who must have followers.  A leader is one who knows where to go and how to get there and wants to bring you along.

For the politicians in Washington: White, Black and Brown are colors that aren’t supposed to matter anymore – so why should Red or Blue?

For the individual: to realize that when you hate, you tell the world you are unable to love but when you truly love, you tell the world that you don’t believe that hate exists.

For the parents in the world raising the leaders of tomorrow: parenting requires a very tough choice, to be their friend now or to be their friend later  –  it is impossible to do both.

For the children of today: to know that an inspired, engaged and empowered individual is incapable of nothing and is extremely aware of their limitations.

For those I love:  to know just how much you are loved.

From those I’ve wronged: forgiveness, with two exceptions in high school, I have never intentionally tried to hurt anyone.

For those I’ve trained: to understand that with prosperity comes the ability to make change.

For those I’ve coached: that your found peace remains your entire life and shared with others.

For those I’ve met : I hope I touched in some small way.

For those I’ve not met: I hope as many touch your life as those that have touched mine.

For those in the world who think war is a solution: that when you understand what fear is and what it can do, you’ll no longer suffer the consequences of its impact.

For the wealthy: you don’t need to share your wealth but to teach others how to avoid poverty.

For us all to remember: Fed at the dinner party of “life” – conscience for the soul, trust for the heart and hope for your mind; all we have to do is show up on time, eat and not leave early.

For every one of us: to have a Merry Christmas.

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