Your Identity Crisis Is Actually A Huge Blessing, Here’s Why

I’m in the midst of an identity crisis.

I am 65 years old.

This should not be happening. Right?

But it is.

I am having difficulty, actually an outright challenge coming to terms with who I am and more importantly, who I want to be.

I am asking myself these questions:

1. Who have I become?

2. Who am I becoming?

3. Am I adding value to others’ lives, to this world in my own unique way?

4. Where am I going?

5. Am I enjoying my life?

6. Am I fulfilled?

7. Am I doing something truly meaningful?

“The worst lies in life are the ones we tell ourselves.”
― Brad MeltzerThe Inner Circle

I will not ask myself if I am happy. That is not the right question. Happiness comes and goes throughout your life. I have a fairly strong opinion about happiness.

It is based on 65 years of life and a few rough spots that have occurred along the way. Yes, a few rough spots. Judge for yourself:

  • Prison — yep. I spent almost 3 years in a Federal Penitentiary…
  • Divorce — more than one…
  • Alienation from loved ones — still happening…
  • Ostracism — ”friends” ran for it in tough times. Turned their backs…

And, oh yes, last, but certainly not least, Cancer happened.

The Big C.

  • 6 Operations
  • 12 Chemotherapy sessions
  • 8 Stereo Tactic Body Radiation treatments
  • 12 CT Scans2 MRIs
  • 3 Colonoscopies
  • 2 Endoscopies
  • 10 Doctors and Specialists
  • A bleeding ulcer
  • Dozens of prescriptions
  • Self administered blood thinner injections

I think that’s enough…

But you know, we all face tough stuff in life. And I am not going to debate whether someone else’s rough patch was rougher than mine, suffered more, fell to lower lows. What’s the point of that?

When you suffer you suffer. Leave it at that.

So it is not about always trying to be happy. I have reached the conclusion that happiness is a byproduct of getting good stuff, the right stuff done.

It is about persevering through the muck, the mire, the crap that you will sometimes find yourself knee or even neck deep in.

Happiness can come about even when life is dragging you down, when your back is against the wall, when you get kicked in the teeth. Because, that is just going to happen at times.

Its really all about how you face life, how you handle what is thrown at you, about how you emerge from the inevitable trials and tribulations.

Do you emerge charred, burned, forever damaged, indescribably broken? Or do you become hardened by the forger’s fire, like a new alloy? Better than the old version of you.

Will you be a Phoenix rising from the ashes? Job emerging from his trials more blessed than before? Do you experience the refinement and rebirth described as Kintsukuroi in Japanese culture?

So my identity crisis has nothing to do with wanting to be happier. It is about checking in with myself in an effort to understand if what I am pursuing is the right stuff.

If who I am becoming is the “right” me, if the things I am involving myself in are fulfilling and adding value, or if they are just fillers, noise, chaff, flotsam and jetsam…

As a classic and chronic procrastinator, there are a lot of initiatives I started and never finished. A lot of things I meant to tackle, and never did.

Dragons left un-slayed. Mountains remaining un-climbed. Adventures un-embarked upon. Kingdoms left unconquered.

But why focus on those? That would only drag me down, paralyze. and depress me. After all, haven’t I accomplished much? Met a lot of goals? Celebrated a lot of victories?

Well sure. We all have. We all have accomplishments to celebrate, dances worth dancing, songs that deserve to be sung, fireworks to fire off.

However, that’s not my point here.

My point is that you wake up some mornings asking yourself those 7 tough questions above, and all of a sudden, you become uncomfortable,

  • Jarred out of your comfortable life.

  • Spun out of that complacent orbit you’ve been in.

  • Jazzed right out of your comfort zone.

  • Shoved in front of the mirror to stare at yourself hard.

Or maybe you don’t ask yourself those questions. But you know — you SHOULD!

Because those questions, although causing an identity crisis for me, are necessary questions. Here is what they drive:

  • Reflection — deep introspection

  • Questioning — hard and tough

  • Mid course corrections — get off that train now dude!

  • Pruning — get rid of that, stop this, change all of these

The result? You end up in focusing on the right things. Putting you back on the right path or confirming that you are still there.

And validating who you are or who you want to be. Fulfilling.

And that’s worth the price of a brief identity crisis.

It’s a blessing people. Not a curse!

What do you think? Have you done some quality check-ins with yourself lately? Let me know. E-Mail me at

You can connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE
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10 Deadly Mistakes Cost Me Everything — The 4th Mistake — Majoring in Minor Things

The allure of the minor things in life can be difficult to resist.

The trivial, the mundane, the distractions, the shiny object, the squirrel flitting from branch to branch. They are almost like a drug, reaching out to you, interrupting, engrossing, diverting, interfering, confusing and preoccupying your thinking and focus.

These distractions keep you from your real mission. Prevent you from concentrating on and accomplishing the truly important things in your life.

Often times, during difficult periods in your life, as you confront challenges, trials and tribulations, distractions offer a false sense of peace, a respite from the hard reality you are facing. I believe this is your mind’s way of helping you cope and survive during these periods.

In my case, during a set of events culminating in a disastrous finale, a number of things kept me busy and preoccupied. Some real examples:

  • Incessant “refreshing” of my company’s stock quote to see how we were doing
  • Preoccupation with an idea for a book on the life of Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Researching Single Malt Scotch
  • Bidding on vintage guitars
  • Shopping on Ebay…

Sound trivial? Minor? Of course…

Who knows what I could have done to alter my fate if I had only focused on the real issues and problems and not allowed the minor things to get in the way.

How can you tell if you are Majoring in Minor Things?

Here is what to look out for.

The Warning Signs

  1. Too many hobbies, and not particularly good at any of them
  2. Avoiding meetings — just not showing up
  3. Subscribing to dozens of magazines, mailing lists, blogs, newsletters
  4. Addiction a maniacal working on an overflowing mailbox
  5. Climbing down an Internet rabbit hole, expanding searches, going deeper and deeper as the path twists and turns
  6. Having dozens of pages open in your browser
  7. An insanely long To Do list full of trivial items — and a false sense of accomplishments from completing many each day
  8. Constant Procrastination
  9. A cluttered desk with half started tasks and assignments
  10. A series of home projects in progress, gathering dust
  11. Excessive TV watching, especially news programs

You cannot be successful in the long run if you are 10 miles wide and an inch deep. There are a handful of things that are important enough to account for the greatest impact. This is what Jim Rohn mean by Majoring in Minor Things, his own 80/20 rule.

Steve Jobs once said “Focusing is about saying No”, his inimitable way of underscoring how important it was to avoid distractions. It’s important to hitch your vision and strategy to the truly impactful things and execute those to the best of your ability.

Personally, I failed by trying to do it all as well as getting tied up by distractions and trivialities. Instead of becoming great at a few important things, I became quite mediocre and even poor at many trivial ones.

Obviously, you shouldn’t do that…

Let me know what you think.

You can connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Denial, Effectiveness, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Development, Self Improvement, Simplicity, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You MUST Get Rid of Digital Crap

Most of the stuff I see in this Digital world that I am connected to is…wait for it…CRAP.

What I receive in my in-box, in my Twitter feed, on Facebook, in my blog feeds, is crap.

I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but it is EXACTLY as I describe it: pure unadulterated crap.

Now I totally get the fact that crappiness is in the eye of the beholder, but in this case I BE THE BEHOLDER, and I am the one deciding what is value and what is CRAP CRAP CRAP. You however,  have a right to and should make your own decisions.

So read on, or decide that this post is crap too. If so ignore it and move on. I’m a big boy. I can take it…

Let’s continue.

I had gotten immune to the crap. Built up a tolerance, such as one does with caffeine, or smog, or the sulfur taste in well water. But now, I’ve gotten quite sick of it. And I AM doing something about it. I must. Or I will simply go mad.

I am not exactly sure when my digital crap problem started. I think the phenomenon must
be similar to waking up one day to realize that you are addicted to alcohol (which I was, so I DO have SOME experience with this) or other substances, or Internet porn, or collecting  STUFF (gazing at that yellowing pile of Marvel comic books dating back to 1987 over in the corner).

Over the years I suppose I had “willingly” and openly signed up to dozens and dozens of mailing lists, catalogs, as well as subscribed to a multitude of blogs. Also I suppose, I had a tough time distinguishing between value and crap. In the case of the Blogs, as I think about it, I felt guilty reading someone’s blog post and NOT subscribing to it. After all, writers WANT and NEED an audience. I myself want people to subscribe, and to read MY crap!

But if you are able to look at this issue AND your own writing and situation objectively, you will admit to yourself that not everyone is for you and you are not for everyone. Not every single person will or should be a member of you tribe nor you of theirs. That’s not how it works.

The natural way of the world is that people who develop an affinity to what you say and what you write will gravitate to you. In turn, you will gravitate to people you share commonality with. You will go back again and again to read that which makes sense, adds value, entertains you, gets you thinking, and gets you laughing or crying.

So, a week ago, I promptly began to unsubscribe from a large number of mailing lists, and quite a few blogs.

I looked hard at what was coming across the electronic frontier, and I took a digital chainsaw to it. If it did not add value, entertain me, make me think, make me laugh or cry, or move me, I detached from it. I severed the ties. I cut the electronic umbilical cords. I blew stuff away.

Now the reality is that there are worthy and valuable things being said out there in digi-land. There are people with good advice, interesting things to say, and valuable information. The challenge is to sift through all the chaff so you can find the wheat. The shiny penny in the scrap heap. The pony in the pile of crapola.

How does one actually do that?

Well, it’s going to be specific to you. But I don’t mind sharing the checklist I used to simplify my digital life and blow away the crap.

As I was going through my in-box and feeds, I asked myself these questions:

  1. Will I lose something of real value if I unsubscribe from this list? Blog? Site?
  2. Am I receiving anything of value from this mailing list? Blog? Site? Is it SIGNIFICANT value?
  3. Is the subject of the mailing list, site, or blog consistent with my topics of interest, my values, my self interests, my reason for being? Moi raison d’etre?
  4. Is the author, contributor, writer, someone with expertise and skills, relevant (to me) experience, respected, with integrity, accountable for what they say, responsible for what they do?
  5. Does the content drive me to think reflectively, make me laugh, pull at my heart strings and bring me to tears, or help me solve life’s problems?
  6. Is this the kind of stuff I absolutely cannot do without?

After one week of going through that checklist, severing myself from every email in my in-box that originated from a mailing list and from numerous blogs and other lists, I can’t begin to describe the liberating feeling of freedom. The pure bliss. The feeling is very similar to how I have felt after the physical de-cluttering and simplification exercises I’ve gone through in my home and office.

My digital life is simpler, my in-box is cleaner, streamlined, free from crap. This is allowing me to focus on the truly important and valuable things in life.

Now when an infrequent email from a list I had subscribed to happens to pop up in my in-box (Pinterest emails for example are particularly difficult to unsubscribe from) or a post from an infrequent blogger shows up, I go through the 6 questions above and make my decision about what is important and what can be cut loose.

Seriously, after one week, the majority of the pruning has been done. Crap is virtually gone!

You can do this too. Beat the crap. Focus yourself. Pick your tribes carefully. Follow the value. Hitch your digital wagon to the shining stars.

You might have found this to be good advice, helpful, worth listening to. Then again, you may have found me to be full of crap…

You can connect on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

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10 Deadly Mistakes Cost Me Everything — The 3rd Mistake — Lacking Integrity

There are many things you can lack and still be successful. You can fall short in many areas of your character, skills, talents, and experience and still steer clear of danger.

Integrity isn’t one of the things.

This is what INTEGRITY means to me:

  1. Integrity is a deep and resonating core value. It is not a superficial trait
  2. Integrity grounds you. Not just what you say, but what you do, who you truly are
  3. Integrity is an “integral” part of your character
  4. Integrity is the glue that links what you think, what you say, what you do, who you are

When there is no integrity, there is no trust.

Followers look for 2 things in Leaders – skills and integrity. You can follow a leader that is still building and learning skills, but you should not follow a leader that lacks integrity.

I’ve given much thought on how I ended up in prison, serving a sentence in a Federal Penitentiary. My lack of integrity was one of Ten Deadly Mistakes leading up to that.

So I designed a prescription to address Integrity as a Leader, although I believe that this prescription would serve anyone as a checklist on how they rank in the Integrity area.

  • Establish a set of sound ethics policies
  • Integrate them into all business processes
  • Communicate them broadly to all employees
  • Make clear there is no tolerance for any deviation from any of them
  • Live by these policies.

You have to make time to set your “integrity agenda,” for yourself, and then to make clear how important Integrity is to you, for others. It won’t happen if you are not active in getting it done.

I took for granted people would be able to figure out right from wrong. The problem is, in the middle of a hectic and pressure filled life, I myself failed to figure it out.

Don’t assume your Integrity ranking is where it should be, or that others can plainly see what you stand for. Understand who you are from an Integrity viewpoint, and what you stand for.

Make sure what you outwardly display through you actions, and not just your talk, clearly communicates the Integrity in you.

I’d love to hear what YOU think.

You can read my blog, HERE, connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.


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10 Deadly Mistakes Cost Me Everything — The 2nd Mistake — Negative Influences

There is no lack of advice in this world. If you want or need advice, you can always find someone willing to give it. Even when you don’t want it, someone will be very willing and eager to jump in and tell you what they think.

The second deadly mistake I made, was allowing myself to be influenced by the type of people that no one would or should want advising them.

Impact from “The Voices”

I’ve come to use a great expression that I learned from Jim Rohn. Voices of Value. Some voices you hear offer valuable counsel. Their advice will positively influence and help keep you on track.

Other voices offer advice that will get you in trouble.

Usually, the bad advice is evident. You can immediately tell that what you are listening to, what the person is saying, is just plain wrong.

When someone tells you to literally

  • walk off the edge of a cliff
  • drive with your eyes closed
  • drink a glass full of bleach

It’s not hard to see right through that kind fo advice…

Hard Shoves and Subtle Nudges

Those are hard shoves. Easy to see and feel. It’s a SHOVE. A hard push. When you see hear or feel it, you can immediately reject it.

But sometimes, the bad advice is subtle, wrapped in a way where it is hard to determine just how dangerous it is.

The people giving this kind of advice are storytellers. Their stories entice and pull you in. They convince you to follow.

The people telling you these stories seem credible. They appear to be successful, and what they are recommending seems to be great advice.

These are subtle nudges. You are nudged ever so slightly. An inch here, a half an inch there. Until one day you wake up and find yourself way off course.

A hard shove immediately throws you off course. Easy to feel, simple to discern. A series of soft and subtle nudges, over time, can have the same effect as that hard shove. Either can place you in danger, some place you don’t want to be, like off the edge of a cliff.

With the subtle nudges, you don’t see it coming until you are in free fall…

The Solution

I had plenty of people surrounding me, all eager to give advice. The challenge was to sift through the ones worth listening to and ignoring the others.

Tune in the Voices of Value. Tune out the others. Simple. Well, not really…

The How

How can you tell the difference between the voices?

Develop the habit of listening to different perspectives from divergent sets of people, then pay attention to the still small voice inside of you. The longer you listen, the better listener and discerner you will become.

The 5 Steps to Follow While Looking and Listening

  1. Identify and Vet Potential Voices of value — look at their profiles, resumes, bios, what others say about them, the comments they get, and ask others you trust for their input
  2. Monitor what the potential voices say and write about for a reasonable period of time to ensure consistency, integrity, ethical constancy, and concordance with your own values
  3. Drop anyone from your list of potential voices that appear at all questionable
  4. Enter into mentoring relationships or follow candidates cautiously and gradually — do not blindly follow advice
  5. Continuously monitor and evaluate what your voices say and do

Potential Sources of Voices of Value

These are sources I have found especially valuable when seeking out potential voices:

  • Research Professional, Socially Renowned and Recognized Experts — Look for people in your chosen field, or with skills you want to acquire with the breadth and depth, doing the things you do or want to do, extraordinarily well. It also matters if they do those things for a living. After all, one of the hallmarks of doing things right, and of success, is that people keep coming back to a person. To continue to do business with them, and to obtain their services. These are voices of value.
  • Look at Peers or Higher Ups in Your Present Company — People that perform similar roles, or supervise the same or similar areas as you, or things you aspire to. Look for people with more time on the job and with more experience, especially if they have worked at other places. Above all, look for people that others look up to and hold in high regard. Those are voices of value.
  • Join Groups With Similar Affinities — These would be groups that share your common interests. For example, if you are a Human Resources professional, a group of other HR Professionals. If you are in Finance, a group of CFOs, or Professional Accountants or Economists. If you are a Technologist, a Tech related group. You get the idea. Once you become a member, watch, listen, observe what people have to say and how it is received. Who do people listen to and engage with the most? Who do they gravitate to? Who commands the audience and has earned respect? These are voices of value.
  • Attend Conferences or Trade Shows That Feature Sessions and Speakers — A good speaker doesn’t have to be world-renowned or famous. In fact, most if not all of the world-renowned speakers, presenters, authors were not at all well known once upon a time. Attend the sessions. Listen. See what the audiences think. Observe how the presenter behaves, what they say, how they say it. You just might find a voice of value you can follow in your area of interest. And if the speaker is just starting out, you may be lucky enough to engage with them early on before they develop such a huge following that you are now just part of the mass audience.
  • Go Back To School — Perhaps you are still attending college. Or maybe its been a while since you set foot on campus. Either way, take a look at your current or former professors. If it’s been a while, go back, virtually if you can’t physically. What do they stand for? What are they lecturing on? What are they saying? Writing? Publishing? Does it resonate with you and your values? Do they have a following? Are they respected? These individuals are potential voices of value.
  • Take a Fresh Look at Family Members — I recently r-engaged with members of my family that I had not had meaningful conversations with in quite a while. I discovered some deep thinking, interesting discussions, broad perspectives, and sound advice. You might just discover a voice of value, or two, or three among your family members.

Make sure who you are listening to, being influenced by and following is adding value and not leading you off a cliff. You are not a lemming…

You can connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

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10 Deadly Mistakes Cost Me Everything — The 1st Mistake — Pride and Arrogance

“The Proud will be humbled. Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.” ~ Jeremiah 9:23

That is what scripture says. How old is this scripture? Let’s just say extremely old. Timeless. I believe that it is 100% indisputably true.

For it was my desire and inclination to demonstrate my intelligence and wisdom, my skills and experience, my economic power and the material things I acquired that did me in.

Pride was the first, and by far the biggest mistake I ever made.

The downfall of many people, including leaders in all walks of life, is that early successes begin to inflate their egos.

The trappings and power of an executive office lulled me into a false sense of security. I began to believe that I was superior to other people and institutions, and that I could do no wrong.

Here is my prescription for dealing with pride and arrogance, for what it’s worth.

  • Never forget your roots. We all came into the world buck naked. We all depended on someone to give us life, and to sustain it. Some of us came from really humble beginnings. In your mind, come back to that organic period of humility and let it wash over you to center and bring you back to reality.
  • Don’t think yourself invincible or infallible. We all make mistakes. Acknowledge them, face them, learn from them, and move on. Don’t justify and rationalize mistakes into acceptable behavior.
  • Become more black and white in your thinking about what is right behavior and what is wrong and unacceptable. Once you start to see the world in shades of gray, you think you can hop in and out of the gray areas of life at will and cannot get into trouble. Pride creeps in and convinces you of this.
  • Don’t place yourself above anything or anyone. Everyone has value. Red is not better than blue or purple. In fact, purple is the combination of red and blue. They are all colors with a valuable place in this world.
  • Look in the mirror. Literally, a real mirror. Do it figuratively as well. Introspect. Nightly, weekly, quarterly, and annually. What is going right. What is not so right. Take inventory. Take that inventory and use it to continuously improve.
  • Don’t TRY to be humble. Humble is not something you DO. It is something you BECOME and AREHumility is a by product of a life well lived. Once you say you are HUMBLE, guess what? You are not.

An ancient script says, “Pride goes before destruction” and it behooves people, and leaders with a propensity towards egoism, to tattoo that on their forearms.

This is a never ending battle with me. That’s just the way it is…

You can connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

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How 10 Deadly Mistakes Cost Me Everything I Held Dear

I once thought I had life all figured out. I had the perfect plan. I was going to be rich. Famous too. Accomplish great things. Perform legendary feats. Do countless good deeds. Leave a lasting legacy. Become powerful. Create an empire, and rule over it.

Something went wrong.

Actually, something went COMPLETELY wrong.

For a short time, I was on the path to greatness. I was rolling. I could do no wrong.

Then, I hit a wall. I crashed. I burned. I went down in flames and took others down with me. Not only did I destroy my own life as I knew it, I also demolished many other lives.

I devastated my own family, my children, and my parents. I wrecked the lives of co-workers and their families. I damaged and sullied not only my own reputation, but the good name and fortune of an entire international company. I shattered lives of shareholders, employees, and the public.

Most hurtful of all, I laid waste to people’s opinion of me. People whose friendship I valued and treasured. I violated their cherished friendship, trust and good will.


Too dramatic? Overstating? Wanting to get your attention with hype and flair?

No. This stuff really happened. I am not making it up. Not at all exaggerating. But make up your own mind.

The purpose of this story, my story, is to share the 10 reasons why and how I went from the pinnacle of my professional career, the very top of what many professionals desire to achieve, to crashing and burning, and spending almost 3 years of my life in a Federal Correctional Institute.

I had the opportunity to avoid this. I didn’t see it coming. Rather, I chose to ignore the warning signs. They were there. Good people tried to help me. I didn’t listen. I didn’t heed the good advice.

I had a lot of time to reflect on WHY this happened to me. I spent time in jail with a lot of successful people who suffered similar fates. I have been able to “boil the ocean” and get to the 10 reasons, the essence of why it happened, and to validate those reasons. The 10 Deadly Mistakes.

My hope is that this story and the 10 mistakes, will help someone else avoid the same fate.

My fervent desire is that you won’t repeat my mistakes. That you WILL listen, and take the advice I so recklessly ignored.

Next up: The First Deadly Mistake…

You can connect with me on Twitter HERE, LinkedIn HERE and Facebook HERE. You can send me an email HERE.

I’d love to hear from you.

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