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Jun 192012

This past Sunday  morning O and I were at the table where she was drawing me a great picture for Father’s Day. As she was drawing each little picture she’d describe for me what she was drawing.

This is a sweetheart for me and dad.

This is wife Jake.

This is wife Dad.

This is a house party for Mina (imaginary friend)…and so on…

What an imagination this little being of sweetness is! It was hard to make out exactly what this 4-year old was drawing but she had descriptions and she certainly knew what it was. So I would remember, I wrote down (with an arrow pointing) next to each little picture what the drawing was. I knew in a year, heck even a week, I’d forget that the swirly line she drew was supposed to be a cup drinker fire band, and no, I don’t have a clue what that is!

What an imagination this little princess has!

Then she asked me a question, “Daddy, What do you want to be when you grow up?”. At first I just thought this was a cute and sweet question that a little 4-year old asks. Then I sat with it for a moment and thought about exactly who I am in my life. Completely out of habit I thought about what I do for a living. Then I realized the question was about who I want to be, who I am.

Most of my life I defined who I was by things I did or things that existed outside of Josh. I quickly reminded myself that whether or not I like work, whether or not I’m athletic, whether or not I fall under any external label that identifies performance driven roles I am who I am. I’ve spent the last year of my life in deep reflection and personal growth.

That question posed while at first sweet, innocent, and cute was a reminder that we don’t have to do things to become who we are. Being who we are is nothing more than an awareness of what’s been there our whole lives. No, not outside of us, inside of us.

It was also a reminder from this little creative genius that it’s never too late to become aware of “who we want to be” when we grow up. Unlike obtaining a PhD, a Law Degree or the title of Vice President, becoming the unique, worthy, lovable, good enough people is as simple as turning on the lights.

Everything you ever wanted to be, everything you ever wanted to see in your children is a matter of awareness.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Jan 232012

Yesterday afternoon, men all across the country (I’m sure the world) were engulfed with the very thing so many of us have trouble explaining…feelings.

I know I speak from experience when I say that I was so anxious, scared, happy, pissed off, shocked, and disappointed as I watched “My Baltimore Ravens” GIVE the game away. In fairness, even if we made that very routine field goal in the end it wasn’t a guaranteed win but damn, did we play an amazing game!

Something occurred to me this morning though. I thought about all those emotions that go along with supporting our favorite sports teams. There are some guys that can watch a game, come out feeling happy or slightly disappointed (depending on the outcome of the game), and then an hour later act as though nothing happened. Of course, the reality and what’s much more common is mass emotions. If their team wins they are elated, the world around them is the most amazingly beautiful place and everyone is treated with love and kindness.

What happens if his team loses?

Watch out! Weeding out those guys that will actually get physical with someone you’re still left with your average dude. The average dude is going to be pissed if his team loses. Not just pissed for a few minutes either but for a while, maybe even days. He may take it out on his wife, his kids, his co-workers but he’s going to be pissed.

This morning I wondered why many men, myself included (in the past), take these things so personally and just get so upset! Many men are performance driven. We’re praised on the things we accomplish and criticized for the things we underperform in. What’s worse, many of us live under a false belief that we’re not good enough.

In the beginning of this post I intentionally referred to “My Ravens” and “we” when talking about the Ravens. I was born and raised in Baltimore so of course I support the Ravens. However, it’s more than that. The Ravens have somehow now become me. “We lost”, “We won”, “If only we…”, “How could we…”, and a myriad of other things we tell ourselves about “our” team. Some how the success or failure of the teams we support become personalized and we define ourselves by their actions. What happens is that the false belief of “I’m not good enough” gets reinforced. It’s not just that the Ravens lost. It becomes, “we lost”, “we suck”, “we’re not good enough”….

Of course, we don’t go around actually saying, “we’re not good enough” but that’s exactly what we tell ourselves inside. Afterall, what would explain acting out like a small child, screaming, pissed off, and overall sour over game?

We’re not going to be able to resolve these not good enough feelings in this post but the next time the guy in your life ruins the rest of his day, your day, and everyone else’s day around him remember the following:

He’s not this mad that the (Insert favorite sports team here) lost the game. He’s this mad because he’s been lying to himself about who he is and he was just reminded about that lie. Validate his feelings and let him know it’s perfectly okay to be pissed. More importantly let him know how much he’s loved and how important he is. Any opportunity you have to remind him that he is good enough will go a long way to ensuring that he doesn’t have to wait for his team to win to feel like a winner. He’s already a winner, he just doesn’t know it yet.

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