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Which Wolf Are You Feeding?

There is an old parable that uncovers how I have felt over the last couple years, and maybe you too. 

The conversation is between a grandfather and his grandson and does like this:

“I have a fight going on in me,” the old man said. “It’s taking place between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

The grandfather looked at the grandson and went on. “The other embodies positive emotions. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. Both wolves are fighting to the death. The same fight is going on inside you and every other person, too.”

The grandson took a moment to reflect on this. At last, he looked up at his grandfather and asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee gave a simple reply. “The one you feed.”

This parable serves as a powerful reminder of the fight that every human being must face. Regardless of the type of person you are or what kind of life you lead, you will find yourself battling two conflicting emotions at some point in your life. 

They can be between anger, angst, frustration or calm, peace, passion and many other emotions.

I find I am coming in contact with both wolves.

It’s important to be conscious of which wolf you are feeding.

Defeating Average.

 

Colin

Honey Makes Me Wiggle

I was making a lunch snack for my daughter this morning and I asked her the typical question.

Would you like almond butter and honey or almond butter and jam?

She shook her head and came over and pointed at the honey.

Almond butter and honey I said. 

She shook her head no, “just honey.”

Why, I said?

“I don’t like Almond Butter.”

But you have always liked Almond Butter I said.

“I just want honey. Honey makes me wiggle.”

Fair enough!

As I am learning, things change often with kids. What was true one week is not true the next. What worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow.

Accepting that as true with my daughter makes life easier. 

I am focused on staying a little curious a little longer and treating each day with a beginner’s mind.

 

Defeating Average.

 

Colin

Chosen Family

We were at a NYC afternoon get together for friends that support the arts and formed a non profit during the pandemic. It was my wife’s group and I was tagging along to keep our 3 year old Tess amused. 

It was a beautiful brownstone with a big wall of books all the way along one side and brick on the other. 

My goal was to keep Tess from disturbing the adults and make sure my wife could have a good time. I’m on the introverted side by nature and pull myself across to the extrovert side for work and get-togethers. It takes (and uses up my energy) to build small talk with groups of people. 

After a number of puzzle games and Tess and I grazing on snacks, I picked her up and brought her into some conversations. She’s a natural connector!

I found myself getting re-acquainted with small talk and finding out how people spend their work weeks and what brought them together as a group. Good people, wanting to give back to a community of people they love.

Once the small gathering hit critical mass the host said a few small words. What stood out most was her use of the words “chosen family.”

Many people left NYC during the heart of the pandemic, while others banded together to shine a bright light for dim prospects on one of the most important industries in the city.

  • Some friends left so you needed to find new ones
  • You had to make a real effort to travel outside the city to see people and you could not choose everyone
  • Zooms with friends and family was the new normal, you had to prioritize people
  • You had a fraction of the amount of disposable time and heart to give to others, you had to choose wisely

The pandemic has changed many things, including who you choose.

On this US Thanksgiving (for those who observe) recognize when the chips were down, who you chose and chose you.

Have a wonderful holiday.

Colin

 

 

The Right Trail

I spent the last week hiking 100 miles through Death Valley with my running Mentor Ray Zahab and 4 other hikers and a support guide. 

 

“Keeping on the same trail with easy terrain can seem like the right way, but you need to have the courage to follow your way points, what you know is true and take on tougher terrain to prioritize safety, hydration and success. Committing to the wrong path can be deadly.”

 

Ray crossed the Canadian Arctic three times, the landmass of Antarctica and ran 4,500 miles across the Sahara Desert in 100 days in 2009, which was turned into a film “Running the Sahara” narrated by Matt Damon. In 2011, 2014 and 2018 he crossed Death Valley North to South and East to West at the hottest time of the year, in July. Death Valley is the lowest altitude on earth, down to 250 feet below sea level and has been measured as the hottest place on earth. Earlier this year 134 F!

 

Ray is the only person I would go through Death Valley with. We had temperatures of 80 F to 97 F.

 

The first four days were challenging terrain and hot. Day 5 and 6 had the most brutal terrain I have ever encountered. Six terrain changes in one day (flat sand, deep sand, hard crystallized salt, salt rivers, big crusty salt planks and one foot high sharp fan like structures.

 

The big salt structures you need to carefully step over, can go on for miles. We were moving at less than a mile per hour in some areas. 

 

As we got into the centre of the field of high salt structures, Ray really laid down an education on Death Valley.

 

“This is why people die in heat and specifically in Death Valley. Three people died this past July. A couple just a half mile from the road. If you don’t have enough hydration and electrolytes (salt balance for the body) and you get into the centre of where we are right now, you are at high risk. It’s easy to get confused, be worn down, fall down and injure yourself and make mistakes. It’s at least 3 miles or 3 hours in any direction from where we are right now to exit the park. Without the right hydration, direction, will power and capability, you are dead.”

 

So after that pep talk, we all took another sip of water from our filled up blatters, watched our steps and moved as a unit.

 

Are you on the right trail? How do you know?

Are you prepared for brutal terrain physically or mentally ahead?

 

If water, salts, mindset and capabilities are the recipe for hiking success, do you know the recipe for your own success? 

 

Be curious. Beginner’s mind.

 

Defeating Average.

 

Colin

I visualized being at the top for three years 

I visualized being at the top of Everest for three years until I was.”

  • Ricky Singh (Indian / American Entrepreneur)

We sat around the dinner table talking about our first day on the expedition and someone ask Ricky “we heard you climbed Everest in 2019, tell us about the experience.”

He said “I climbed for 6 weeks every spring in Nepal with the team I assembled over three years. We practiced our skills and build trust constantly. When back in the US I spent a little time each night visualizing success. I saw myself at the top. I saw through any obstacles. Skills will only get you so far in Everest. You need belief in yourself, confidence you can handle anything that comes your way.”

As we hiked Death Valley this week he got me thinking about my values.

Trust, learning, exploration.

Trust and learning have always been my top two. For me part of exploration is courage.

Ricky exemplifies courage and learning.

To be different, think differently, challenge boundaries. He was one of the most curious people about life I have ever met.

Ricky had the courage to believe he could make the highest point on earth.  He planned for it meticulously. Three of four people on his expedition made it to the top. All made it off safely.  Ricky lost two fingers to frostbite on the way down.  A simple mistake taking a glove off at the wrong time. Other mistakes could have been much more consequential.

Part of what I love about these adventures, are who you meet and what you learn about them and about yourself.

What do you want?

How can you meticulously plan to make it so? Visualize its completion.

How can you be a little more curious learning from others.

Defeating Average.

Colin

Welcome Unanticipated Problems

“Anticipate and welcome the unanticipated problems and permit an exercise into transcendence vs. tragedy. Take out the negative energy and turn it into action.”

 

I have been listening to Ken Burns interviews as he prepares to launch his PBS 4 part series on Muhammad Ali!  I can’t wait.

 

From a legendary documentary filmmaker, words of wisdom on how he prepares for films for life.

 

Defeating Average.

 

Colin

Are you a leader of tomorrow?

What is life? 

 

What’s it for?

 

There is a lot of ambiguity in the world right now. We are coming out of lock down. Life is getting back to normal. There is a new virus variant, we may be retracting, putting more strict measures back in place?

 

One thing is certain. Nothing is certain right now.

 

How does that make you feel?

 

Uneasy, confused, despondent.

 

I think we have all felt these emotions. I certainly have.

 

We are entering a new uncertain future.

 

The leaders of tomorrow (and this includes leading yourself and your family), are people who can adapt, pivot, grow, learn.

 

Attitude can lead you through ambiguity.

Recovery for mind and body can lead you to the right results.

Living (and showing others how) through your values leads to victory.

Understanding and empathy helps lead you over the mountain pass of uncertainty.

 

We are all in it together.

Help one another.

 

I will be on PTO for the rest of the week and taking a break from writing to spend time with my family.

 

Have a great week.

 

Defeating Average Together.

 

Colin

How do you retain top talent

25-40% of people are thinking of quitting their job in the next 6-12 months! Are you one of them?

In a recent article published in Axios titled the Great Resignation Wave, surveys show anywhere from 25% to upwards of 40% of workers are thinking about quitting their jobs. Similarly, a UK and Ireland survey found that 38% of employees were planning to leave their jobs in the next six months to a year.

Why is that?

I’ve read and heard from many people:

 

  • The pandemic has really spurred people to think deeply about what is important to them and how they prioritize that
  • They want to be aligned to a company or organization that meets their values
  • They want to be inspired on the mission of what their company does
  • The job market is very hot right now and will no longer will tolerate working for a bad boss

 

If you are a leader of a team or an aspiring leader, here are some things to think about:

  • People want to know where they stand in their career. Have you had this conversation with your employee and are you both very clear on their long term opportunity and approach?
  • Have you created an environment, especially in this new virtual world where they feel like they belong? Have you helped create their internal company network?
  • Have you created a safe space for them to share their values with you and their peers? Do they align to the company’s values?
  • Are you clear on what they are trying to achieve personally outside the job? Who and what’s important to their family, including kids? 

 

People are making family decisions more than ever before in this pandemic.

 

We need to be closer than ever before to our people when we (currently) lack the ability to see most of them in person.

 

Lead and treat people how you want to be treated.

 

Defeating Average in growing your team and family.

 

Colin

I used to collect stickers…business stickers

Passion, joy and something to look forward to is an anecdote to anxiety.

When I was 8 years old, a couple friends and I would call up local businesses and ask if they could send us a few of their business stickers.

We got a lot of – what? Pardon? You want what?

When I think of it now, it sounds a little absurd.

On the other hand, we were very committed. We repeated exactly what we were up to and why we wanted the stickers with no apologies.

“We collect business stickers. We have a big album. We have them from all over Alberta.” (My home province in Canada).

Shiny ones were the best. Often long haul trucking companies had sparkly ones, even better.

Some people would take our address and pop them in the mail. Others would ask us to send them an envelope with return postage. Either was good.  We ended up getting a surprise in the mail and split the stickers.

Maybe I am thinking about it more as Tess starts to grow up and has all sorts of hobbies.

She loves stickers, bracelets, magna tiles (hours of fun).

Whether it’s kids, nieces, nephews or for yourself, passion, joy and something to look forward to can be a critical part of a challenging year.

Defeating Average with sparkly stickers.

Colin

Rock Tumbler

I had a rock tumbler when I was younger.

For those who have not heard of it, it’s a small cylinder that spins or tumbles. You put stones in it with some small pebbles that wear down and smooth your stones.  

You leave it running for a few days.

When it’s done you have some beautiful smooth stones and you add to your rock collection.

I was thinking of this lately and why I enjoyed it.

  1. Taking something from rough form
  2. Investing in it over time
  3. The anxiety and excitement of what will result
  4. The reveal and pride in what you produced

 

It made me think of how people invested in me and now transitioning to how I invest in other people.

  1. You have a valuable rough young resource you are responsible for
  2. You listen, you coach, you advise 
  3. You ride the emotional coaster of some success, failure and growth
  4. You graduate someone you manage or mentor into the next state of their career

 

The stone continues to tumble, get smoother and shine.

 

Defeating Average one tumble at a time.

 

Colin