All posts written by Johnflurry

Wes Roberts: Connectors Series

This is the 2nd post in a series on connectors. Read the 1st one about C.C. Chapman here.

This past month Wes Roberts and I started communicating daily. We’ve known each of each other in the digital realm for a few years and have so many mutual friends (dozens in fact). But through mindfulness Wes took a step further recently and offered up his time and best of all his heart.

wesI speak often on the subject of the stages of men’s lives from boyhood to death. One thing I have realized is that it is rare to find a man that is truly alive in his “sage” years (60s and up). Too often I see down turned eyes of resignation, regret and sadness. Many men have given up or relish in a lifetime of stored up treasures, giving little back. I have found a few that are out-competing their earthly bodies, racing to the finish line with vigorous excitement only to be matched by a young boys aggression and love for adventure. Wes is one of those men.

I’ve lost many of the wise men in my life to death and circumstance. Wes surprised me by offered up love, wisdom, and a watchful eye over my life. Best of all he offered sagely friendship. I answered YES!

This could easily be a post on mentorship, something Wes knows so much about. But really it is more about mindfulness, time and living. As a recent Fast Company article stated, there is always time for mentoring someone. Building margin into our lives to connect is a simple decision. It is one many of us forfeit for something else. I’m no innocent here. I get stuck in cycles of busyness to often.

C.S Lewis in one of my favorite of his writing said “…our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between two people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously- no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption”

Thank you Wes for taking so many souls seriously.

Wes’ Leadership Design Group is located in Denver Colorado and serves many leaders throughout the world with creative mentorship.

 

C.C. Chapman: 1st in a series on connectors

I first met C.C. Chapman through Cast of Dads. My friend Jeff Sass had first introduced me to the podcast and I was drawn to CC’s heart as a fellow dad. Anyone who follows him anywhere on the web quickly learns how much the man delights in his family. It is authentic and touching. It is also refreshing when most headlines highlight broken marriages, walkout parents and selfishness over trustworthiness and commitment.

cc-sox-smileI am not sure when our friendship went deeper but about a year ago it became common for us to check in and connect just about daily (mainly on twitter but often on Facebook as well). It reminds me that we need those daily touches in our lives. Someone who gets us and we can turn to when life hits a bump or even when we have something to celebrate.

Having friends like CC really keeps us grounded and optimistic. He and I have so many common interests from photography, storytelling, humanitarian efforts and writing (and that is just the short list). And in many ways we find ourselves in the same trenches. One of CC’s most recent podcast really sums upmercybracelet the reason why I so enjoy my friendship with him. So much is going wrong in the world. It is one reason I don’t allow myself to get swallowed up by the mainstream medias parade of bad news. Most of all it keeps me connecting with good folks like CC.

I highly recommend getting to know CC. Check out his latest collaboration highlighted in his post When a Crazy Idea Becomes a Beautiful Reality. It really illustrates his heart.

And CC, thanks for adding to my life daily!

From selfie to changing the world

Posing was a big topic of conversation for Kristine and I today. I have had the opportunity to study why people pose (project images of their lives that are far from the truth) in great detail since I regularly speak on the topic at least once a year. It was fitting that my friend Sarah shared Tripp and Tylers latest video An Honest Facebook Movie

Posing can be so amplified today with the the tap of glass and the click of a button. Don’t get me wrong. I love celebrating big moments, sharing common events like the current big winter snow and ice storm in Oregon. I also love hearing about needs and trials. Being able to know what others are going through and pray or how to help is important. But if you hide behind smiling selfies, post only the skimmed moments of your life that hide deep pains or addictions then we really don’t know you at all. I’m not saying tell everyone everything. That would be crazy. Some things we should only share with those closest to us. And for some it is just fine to not share anything at all.

Recently I have been studying the Exodus story. The Israelites as they came out of Egypt began to build what would one day be known as one of the great wonders of the ancient world, the Jewish temple. Every part of the process was given throughout the book of Exodus. Before the priests could enter into the inner rooms of the temple they had to wash their hands and feet in a bronze basin. The basin was made from the beautiful polished bronze mirrors that the women left Egypt with. How fitting. What was once used for vanity was turned into something that symbolized becoming pure and clean.

Today social media is often a mirror. Only this mirror is being broadcasted out to potential millions. Last year was embarrassingly named the year of the selfie. What would it look like to use those same tools of influence to change the world instead. Each of us has so much power to influence, broadcast events, expose wrong doings and help others. It all lies in what we choose to do with that next tap of glass and key stroke. Maybe we should all come clean.

Here are some other posts on posing:

Striking a Pose

Willfully Ignoring Inputs

Staying Allocentric with Curiosity

It’s your move

Every day our world is more digital, more remote (I’ll share my review of Jason Fried’s book Remote soon), and more isolated from in person interaction. And that is nothing bad. In fact I think it is remarkable. But, and this one is huge so don’t miss it, nothing replaces face to face. I work about 200 of my 225 work days in a year remotely, away from my co-workers. I also serve in a volunteer organization where the leaders are very close. Just like my co-workers we all live in different cities. When we do get together it is a rich and treasured time. (You can read a case study United Airlines did on our unique company model for thriving using a remote workplace model.)

doorWhen I have a package being delivered to my house, I look forward to meeting the one who delivers it. For our household, they are always bearers of great things: cool new leather, telescope and science gadgets, books from friends, updated passports or visas, and a myriad of technology.

A few years ago I noticed a significant change in our deliveries. UPS stopped waiting for me to open the door. I would hear my doorbell ring and by the time I opened the door the delivery person was already driving off, leaving only that distinct diesel engine sound as evidence of who delivered it. Often the packages they leave are of significant value. Honestly it feels weird. FedEx on the other hand has never rang and run. Maybe this is a convenience thing. But does it really warrant the sacrifice of customer interaction?

Now with that I do want to add a really cool story about UPS. My sister and brother in law run their businesses from a pretty remote area in the mountains. They started a tradition many years ago with their UPS man. My brother in law and their man in brown both love chess. So every delivery also marks a new turn on a physical chess board. The driver takes a second to make a move on the dedicated chess board sitting next to the door. Some of the games will take 4 to 6 weeks to finish. Over the years it has resulted in a great friendship. I hear the UPS delivery man is in a winning streak of “epic proportions”. Not surprisingly, most of their business is now with UPS, where it used to be with FedEx.

In your business, your family and most of all your friendships, never forfeit human touch, eye contact and face time over convenience. Remote work is incredible and freeing. Facebook can be a precious way for friends and family separated by miles to stay in touch. We can easily connect with thousands more today with a click of update, tweet, plus or upload. But, if you can, choose to connect with your eyes, a handshake and a smile. It makes such a difference.

I didn’t write a Christmas post this year. Mainly I’ve realized I may never top my 2010 one. So with that I hope you have an incredible 2014. 2013 was one of the best years of my life for so many reasons. One of them was connecting with you, my reader. Thanks so much.

Jab It! A Review of JJJRH

I actually did say that (Jab It) to a friend recently who is building his online presence and engaging his growing tribe. Those who have read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It will be very familiar with his iconic words used to remind his audience to throw their best effort in building a business, brand and influence. In other words, Crush It.

In Gary’s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (JJJRH), he has the voice of someone who has been through the startup phase, the middle of tasted success and is now on the top with a hand down to those who follow in his incredible path. In Crush It, he came at the reader with a fervor and near maniacal energy of a man on a rant. (he actually dictated the whole book!)  In JJJRH Gary has slowed down to an even pace of someone who has made many right moves but also plenty of mistakes. There is a humbleness and seasoned approach here that stands out. That is truly new. And if you have ever watched his Wine TV, you know the man has plenty to say and the energy to sustain it. And please don’t read that wrong. I attribute Crush It to being one of the main forces that got this blog through 5 years and over 200 hundred posts. It was an incredible manifesto. I have referred back to it many times.

gvpromo2013JJRH is a brilliant look at not only the uniqueness of social media and its growth to becoming a standard for any brand, but also in Gary’s call for the reader to never get too settled on any method or assumption when it comes to an audience or a tribe.

The first section dives into how JJJRH is a compilation of all things good in his first two books, Crush It and The Thank You Economy as well as new insights, mainly on how to not just survive but thrive on the leading edge of an ever changing horizon of social engagement.  For me being able to immediately apply something I gained from a book is one of the best signs of value.

I lead a team of relationship ninjas at Saddleback Leather Company. In the past year we have branched out into new social platforms. We already knew that each one needed to be approached carefully with sensitivity to how the people on those platforms speak, share and operate. Gary’s guidance on how to do that well is first class. The meat of the book dives into the biggies with dedicated chapters for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. There are also forward looking treatments on emerging networks as well.

A good look at JJJRH means you will have everything to plan your next move. I highly recommend it to CEOs and those in the social trenches.

It Takes Tact

Have you had a conversation that went really well or an ask that was warmly received? I bet you used tact as part of your approach. You might not have even realized it.

In connecting so much of the outcome involves the very first actions. Even before those actions we can prepare ourselves with a proper mind set that leads to tact.

Webster defines tact as “the ability to do or say things without offending or upsetting other people. A keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.” My favorite is the last one, “sensitive mental or aesthetic perception”.

I asked several friends what words came to mind when they thought of the word tact. Here are some of them:

-Respect

-Assume-good-intent

-Genuine,

-Just like we teach our kids, listen more than speak.

-Questions

-Consideration

-Patience

-Listen first

-Gentle

-Lack of tact

-Be considerate of other’s time

-Love

-Slow to speak

-Tact vs. authenticity

-Bring life

-Tact is moot if you’re really connected.

-Be silent

-Less words

-Polite

-Humility.

From the responses I would say everyone both wants tact and appreciates it when others use it.

All of these words are reflections of mindfulness. They reflect the actions of a good listener. Someone who is not rushed. They are characteristics of people who are outward focused.

I think this will be a fun book chapter to write.

133 Email Drafts

How mindful are you with your communication? My friend Peter Biddle a couple days ago noticed a detail of my professional life in an Instagram picture I shared. He commented “133 emails in your drafts folder? Do you ever hit send?”

discardThe answer is yes. I hit send all day long. But more than that I pause before sending even the shortest email. It has become a habit of mine to re-read each sentence before launching a message out into someones inbox. Most I do send. Often, I ditch it and call the person, write a quick text or delete the draft.

My step dad once told me that he thought about everything he said to someone once before letting the words cross his lips. He had a filter that would judge the worthiness of his speech. His practice wasn’t hesitation, double mindedness or indecision, it was great wisdom.

One of the best ways I have found to connect with someone is to learn how they communicate naturally, how they preferrer to communicate and most of all being present and mindful.

Mindfulness is a casualty of our current age. Busyness defaults to hasty words, disengaged hearts and rudeness.

Some of those 133 drafts were extremely long emails. In many of those cases I realized that there is no way I would be able to take the time and read through it myself. Why should I expect the recipient to read it. A phone call or in-person meeting would be much more appropriate.

To end this I thought Tiffany Shlain’s short film on tech etiquette she published this week would sum it up well. Check it out. My favorite was the section on email.

Oh and Peter, I deleted those drafts to make room for more. ;)

1000 More

I have published over 200 posts (a few others on others sites as well) all about human connection since November 2008. I took Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice in his book Crush It and focused on something I could easily write 1,000 posts on (he actually said 500 but I like

photo (1)

the idea of 1,000). So really I am just getting started. But before I write more I want to know what you would like to read. What subjects on human connection do you want explore? These have everything to do with the technology we use to connect, how we do business, the impact our marriages have on the world, how we raise our children and the  art we create.

So please leave a comment telling me what I have missed or send me a note on my contact page. Let me know if you want to write something about connectedness. Thanks!

Willfully Ignoring Inputs

In Steve Jobs’ Biography Walter Isaacson writes “as usual, he was good at willfully ignoring inputs that he did not want to process”.  We all find ourselves here. For Jobs, it was a big one. He was diagnosed with cancer. It was early enough to possibly cure.

inputThese inputs show up most in our relationships. As we connect, work and create we expose the weakest parts of ourselves. Have you ever wanted to hang up on someone? Has a conversation left you red faced? If so you have experienced an input.

Like a chemical reaction, change takes place and we are never the same again. We have a choice each and every-time it happens. We can embrace the often painful experience that can make us flinch, letting it run its course. We choose to address the input and grow.

We can also choose to ignore.

“As usual, he was good at willfully ignoring inputs that he did not want to process”.

There is no softening this. It is one of the hardest things we can ever  choose to do. What lies on the other side of it is humility, intimacy and vulnerability.

Best of all we connect at  a deep part with those around us. We learn and we love. Most of all we change and grow.

 

He turns 13

Even though I have known it has been approaching, my son’s 13th birthday has really taken me by surprise. It has also made me think about how the most important connections we make are with those we are closest with.

On October 24th 2000 my life changed so much.  I will never forget the love I felt for him the second the doctor handed him to me. His birth was not at all how we had planned. Kristine’s pregnancy was healthy but we got those surprising words “surgery” when we were expecting a normal delivery. He had to be rushed into intensive care immediately. The doctor honestly briefed us that he would be fighting for his life every minute of first week. On a lone drive back to our house that week a rush of emotions hit me like I had never experienced before.  I knew that if my boy pulled through I would do everything in my power to be the best dad he could possibly have.

photoAll these years later he has grown into one of the most caring and smart people I know. He has taught me to slow down and enjoy nature when life gets too busy. He regularly stands up for anyone being left out or bullied. And now he is teaching me all about physics.

But as I think about all that is ahead of him in his teens, his 20s, 30 and beyond I can only reflect back on that moment alone in my car. No one really knew if he would live. I had spent hours next to him praying and hoping for the best.

But now I know the most valuable thing I have is my connection with him. I know that it is often just my presence at the right times that matter most. Knowing I am there or available when he needs me has proven to be the difference between success and failure so many times.

So today he is healthy, strong and no where near as delicate as he was that frightful first week. I still have that deep heartfelt commitment to be the best for him.

You can connect with August on many subjects from art, physics, space and time travel or lighter matters like Dr. Who on his blog at www.augustbergquist.com

Happy birthday son!

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