Month: November 2017

Banana Seats and Life

Banana Seats and Life

When I was eight-years-old, I had the coolest bike ever. I don’t remember the brand, probably a Schwinn, that was big then.

But the thing that made it very cool? The Banana Seat with the trick sissy bar. Yep, that was cool.

I’ve always been a lover of speed and general mayhem. I was that kid on the block that built the coolest bicycle ramps…ever.

You know the kind: pile a bunch of flat rock and strategically place a board on the top to make a ramp that you could launch yourself into the air and see how many matchbox cars you could fly over.

Hmm…to remember correctly, that flat rock? Yeah, that was broken pieces of asphalt that my buddies and I dug out of the nearest pothole (I know, we created a bigger pot hole—it was for a good cause!).

Oh, and the board? Yeah, an old shredded 2×4 or 2×6 or 2x something or other. Actually, anything the bike tires would fit on, worked juuuuust fine.

Then after this fine bike ramp was constructed?

Travel about two houses away and pedal as fast as I could. Fly up the ramp and Wham! I’m in the air and have defied gravity once again!

Again, very cool stuff.

Until one day…

I couldn’t find the perfect flat rock so I used a garden rock (um…no need to specify where that came from) to prop up the ramp.

I headed up the street on my fine banana seat bicycle and let the pedaling begin.

I was hauling buns by the time I came to the ramp.

Then, right before my tire touched the board, it slid to the side. I jerked the handle bars and I was launched, without the bike under me, straight into the gutter.

I blacked out momentarily, but when I came to, my bike was in the middle of the street, my friends just stood there staring at my corpse, and my entire right side was on fire.

Not literally on fire, but I had road rash from my right ear all the way down to my right ankle.

I still can remember the pain from that crash.

And…somehow, I survived my childhood.

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Life is full of pain.

It’s also full of good things too.

It’s extremely important to be able to see the goodness around us when feeling the pain that life dishes out at times.

Yet, the deepest wounds in life aren’t the ones we get from crashing our bicycles, but it’s the emotional pain inflicted by someone else; usually someone we trust, someone very close.

Emotional pain is deep, sharp, and can linger for years.

Enter the term…Forgiveness.

It’s an easy word to write. Easy to tell someone else to forgive. Easy to complain about someone else, “Jeez, they need to let it go and move on with life!”

But the reality is, Forgiving may be one of the hardest things on the planet to do.

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Anger, pain, joy, surprise…these are all normal reactions. Physiologically speaking, there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.

Walk into a room and everyone yells, “Surprise!” Automatically, if not expecting it, you’re going to be surprised.

Something good comes your way, you’re going to be full of joy.

Crash your bike into a city gutter? You’ll do what I did…run home a bloody mess looking for your Mommy and leave the darn bike in the street.

Broken promise? Betrayed?  A lover that decides it was just a fleeting season and now it’s time to move on?

Painful? Yes. But it also produces anger.

Anger is just as normal of a reaction and there is nothing wrong with you feeling anger.

It is NORMAL!

After the anger wears off, that’s when the tricky part starts.

Unforgiveness can warp the mind and heart and wreak havoc on you physically. Life is just too short to walk around pissed off at the past, and those that live there.

And that includes damning your own self!

Problem with emotional hurt is we have a tendency to replay what was said, the promises made, the actions done; like some horrible rerun, it plays over and over and over in our minds.

We find ourselves brooding over the hurts, which perpetuates the pain.

Brooding is an interesting word. The origins of the word is from German that means to breed, and to nurse feelings in the mind. As a noun, it relates to new born animals; as a verb it means to think deeply about something that makes us unhappy.

So, a step to Forgiveness, is to stop the reruns—the Brooding—that, unfortunately seems to happen naturally.

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For some reason, I have more of a tendency to brood and walk around under a cloud of despair even when it’s clear and sunny out.

It’s something I’ve been working on more and more over the past few years and slowly, the sun seems to be brighter these days.

Here’s a few items that have helped me to stop the reruns, refocus my energy on the positive, and ultimately has helped me Forgive others, and myself. I hope this helps in some way:

  • Journaling. Set aside some alone time, grab your computer (good old fashion notebook works too) and start writing about life. Write about whatever it is that is on your mind and heart. And, don’t hold back. Let it rip. Want to cuss, call someone bad names, throw a few F bombs around? Go for it. It’s healthy. Just don’t let anyone else read it. It’s for your eyes and your eyes only. You’ll be amazed at how clearer you will be able to think about a situation after writing about it. It’s like it purges the ick. Lot of research out there that tells us that those who journal are overall healthier and happier in life.
  • Concentrate on your Four Pillars. Your Physical, Spiritual, Mental, and Emotional health. Move, be it a walk or a run. Meditate and be grateful. Read or do a list of ideas (list 10 ideas about anything, doesn’t matter, just get the brain to think and sweat a little). Surround yourself with positive people; not those filled with drama, gossip, and complaining.
  • Grateful. I mentioned this above. It’s hard to be grateful when the reruns turn on, but this little simple thing you do is a huge game changer. I look at even the smallest of things, a flower, a bird flying, heck, just the fact I can see those things is incredible. Being grateful helps shift our thinking toward the positive and begins to erode the negative.
  • Find a confidant. Hard to do when you’ve had your heart ripped to pieces. Find someone you trust to confide in. Take it slow if you’re not sure who to trust. You don’t have to divulge everything all at once. A confidant won’t judge you or damn you; they’ll listen. And if anything, someone just to listen to us is a healing salve.
  • Accept and be kind. First(!), to yourself. When we get hurt, we have this horrible reaction of blaming ourselves. “If I were smarter, then this wouldn’t have happened.” “I should’ve listened to so-&-so, they warned me!” Needless chatter! Be kind to yourself and learn to forgive yourself. Accept you’re not perfect. Accept the fact that in life people do things to protect and preserve themselves (sometimes very selfishly) and most of the time, their actions have nothing to do with us at all. It does NOT mean you’re a bad person. Change what you can for you to be better in the future, but don’t continually beat yourself up over the past. It’s just not worth it.

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After about a month I healed up from my nasty crash.

I kept riding that very cool bike and had that thing for another 9 years before I stripped it down and used the parts to build the best BMX bike ever.

Yeah, more crashes, but very cool ones.

Life is exciting and full of good things, even the crashes…so much to learn from them that really does make us better at riding this crazy thing.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Reinvention, Self-Improvement
Leadership and a Man Named Wayne

Leadership and a Man Named Wayne

What I post here on Friday is not necessarily what I’ve written earlier in the week for this blog.

For example…

I wrote a post which is the beginning of the Chronicle of Oneiron—based on my book Shadows of Reality. It’s a historical account of the Land of Oneiron. I thought of publishing it in a series of snippets as I write it.

But, while I was brainstorming on that, a second post came to mind, totally out of the blue, which derailed the first post…typical!

The second post I want to publish is 10 Surefire ways to have Your Employees Hate You.

Leadership is a passion for me. Like you, I’ve been under many different types of leaders. Some I hated, some I didn’t have any feelings for—good or bad—and some I absolutely loved: it’s the Law of Thirds.

As I brainstormed for the second article, I couldn’t help but think of a few leaders I have known personally over the years.

Men and women who are the gold standards of leadership: by how they lead and how they treat their employees. It’s those type of individuals that their subordinates go above and beyond, not for the organization, but for them.

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Gold Standard of Leadership…

Then, I thought of a man by the name of Wayne.

He was a steel fabrication foreman.

The steel fabrication yard is a mundane, assembly line type of work. It’s filled with the roughest and toughest men around, and it’s a place that if you aren’t paying attention to detail, you could screw up an order by bending rebar one wrong degree that would cost the company thousands or millions of dollars.  Or worse, the loss of a limb, if not your life.

So you can imagine the duties and responsibilities—including the stress—of such a supervisor.

Wayne wasn’t a large man, about average. In the steel industry, big muscles come in handy. I’m sure Wayne was a strong man, he just didn’t look like it from the outside: just an ordinary guy, working his ass off, doing the best he could…just like the rest of us.

Wayne was my Dad’s boss. They worked together for many years in a steel yard. Maybe I missed something along the way, but I never heard my Dad say anything negative about Wayne.

When I was eight years old, we couldn’t keep my dog any longer for several reasons, but my parents felt that Wayne was the best candidate for my dog’s future.

I went with my dad to drop off Poopsie (yes, that was my dog’s name). I cried. I couldn’t keep her. I cried all the way home.

Wayne was kind, gentle, and gracious. He took Poopsie in. I’m not sure if he wanted or needed another animal, but that’s just how Wayne was.

Through the years, Wayne was someone who came up in conversation with my Dad at times. My Dad told me how that Wayne would call (from time to time) to check in and say hi, even after they went separate ways in their careers.

I remember visiting with Wayne once, after I grew up. He was a soft spoken man, humble, and he always seemed to smile.

Wayne asked a lot of questions about a person to get to know them, but he never bragged about himself: his positions, his ranks, his titles.

He never talked about his credentials.

He never boasted about how many rough men or women he supervised, and he never once talked bad about anyone.

Actually, I don’t think I ever remember Wayne speaking a curse word or ever hearing anything negative coming out of his lips.

Wayne was a guy that if he said that he’d be there, or do this or that, it happened. There was no question about it. His word seemed to be gold with everyone who knew him.

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For every 2 good leaders, there are 8 bad ones. That’s not a good statistic, but you see this everyday when you slog into your place of employment. You can name a dozen piss poor managers at your workplace, and probably hard pressed to mention one good leader.

But, it’s the good leaders that share the same traits and characteristics as my Dad’s boss; Wayne.

And, if we’re attentive, we can learn much from, and apply to our own lives from people like Wayne; and not just at work.

When my Dad passed away, Wayne came to my Dad’s celebration of life. Wayne made it a point to find me and visit with me. He had tears in his eyes and even broke down and cried in front of me about my Dad’s passing.

I wondered how many supervisors care that much about their people? I appreciated his visit.

I recently found out that Wayne had passed away himself. It’s too bad. Too bad because a good leader has left this earth.

So, I suppose instead of ranting on poor leadership, I thought I’d leave you an example of what a good leader is.

At the end of the day, it does NOT matter how many widgets you and I produce, or press our employees to create, but it’s the number of friends we have made along the way.

 


 

Photo by Mikael Kristenson

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Leadership