Reflection and Quotes on MLK Day

There are so many different quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that I could highlight. I choose these five favorites, well at least favorites right now. Over the years, there have been so many that I’ve really connected with and my top quotes are constantly evolving.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. “

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

There are times, especially over the last four years, that I’ve thought about how badly we need a person like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. again in our world. Nearly 60 years after he gave his I Have A Dream speech, it feels I don’t know what the words are, but that we have lost the momentum of the change that came through the civil rights movement.

There is massive work which is still undone.

As a white man, there is no more privileged position one can be in – in this country – from a gender and race standpoint.

My Jewish heritage is hidden behind my fathers last name. Driving down the street I won’t be pulled over unless I really try to get noticed by the police by driving excessively fast. At first glance, no one knows that I’m not a college graduate. Or that I’m the son of a carnival owner where we lived in a travel trailer until I was 7 years old. The only thing we couldn’t cover up was how poor we were. It was the kind of poor that you only had to see us driving down the street or come over to our 600 sq ft. house that had been built with remaindered wood and sitting on cinder blocks.

It wasn’t an easy life. And while I can be proud of how far each of us from our family have come, I know we did have it easier than if we had been black, or any other race but white. We could hide. My parents told us to hide. Never tell anyone our story. Don’t tell them about being Jewish, don’t tell them about where your family comes from, or what they do for a living. Never ever tell them you are a carney. Hide. And we could. Because of the color of our skin we could hide.

So long as white America denies that there is different America’s for different people, it is extremely difficult to make progress. Until we recognize the damage that has been done by those who even, to this day, continue to believe in a better America for some people than others. That rights are not for everyone.

My ancestors were killed, enslaved for millennia, persecuted and to this day despised by many because of their race and the religion they practiced. When I tell someone that I’m Jewish, I get – “oh, that makes sense”, but they can never explain what that means and why it finally all makes sense.

And still, as a privileged white middle aged man, I view every day as another chance to become not only better educated, but wiser. It is wisdom to realize that your experience is not everyone else’s experience. And because someone else is different from you, that does not make them your enemy.

There will never be a level playing field.  There will always be the haves and the have nots. And yet, it is important though that we live up to the promise we make that the level of the field will not be based on gender and race, sexuality or disability. Everyone is invited. This is the great fight that we are all engaged in, whether we realize it or not. To live up to the promise of equality.

I certainly don’t have the answers. And I know, that by even speaking my truth, I’m opening myself up to attack. The time for being quiet because you could make a mistake or be taken wrong needs to be over. We need to bring back civil discourse. Discussion. Sharing. And yes, I’ll say something wrong from time to time.

But I’m open to learning and trying. We have to do this if we want to make things better. Not better in a hundred years, but better today. We can peacefully fight oppression. It isn’t a matter of race, it is the duty of all to fight oppression.

As you read this, if you’ve made it this far, know that I’ve decided to still publish this even knowing it feels kind of incomplete. It isn’t a fully realized idea. And still, I think it important to share. To share on this day of service, this day of remembrance, and this day where learning to come together and share ideas is more important than getting it exactly right.

I Can Do Better In 2021

Fourteen days ago I declared my own personal New Years. Even if the calendar didn’t agree I mentally and emotionally moved into 2021.

I began in earnest to do all the things that one does to start anew. Remove the clutter that had built up over the last year. Take care of some projects that I’d let languish. Take stock of the good and the bad in the year of the Rat and what I could bring forward into the year of the Ox. Look over my plans and see what would be best to make happen in this year.

Most of all it felt good to start a bit fresh. To blow off the stink of this monumental year. Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of trials and tribulations in this year as well. Some numbers changing on the calendar isn’t going to instantly change the world.

It can, however, change our outlook.

Many people were blindsided by the events of 2020. The pandemic grabbed ahold and didn’t let go. Survival mode became the name of the game. And most hunkered down and waited for this to pass.

The difference now is that we are coming out the other side. We’ve already endured. We know what to expect. And while things could get worse in some ways over the next few months – we are more resilient than we were a year ago. Many of the people I speak to in my coaching sessions don’t even fully realize it, but they are stronger than they were a year ago. More battered and bruised perhaps. But ultimately they are better equipped to handle what comes their way next.

Now, as I sit on this first day of the new year and the calendar has finally caught up to what I had already self proclaimed, I am optimistic. I feel a sense of responsibility to stand tall and not be a victim to circumstance.

As a child who grew up poor, on the outskirts of society, who was misunderstood and made fun of, I resolved myself to not let the outside world tell me who I could be and to not let the hand I was dealt dictate how I would show up in the world. It is a lesson that took a lifetime to understand and one that still has a great deal of relevance for me now.

The world won’t change immediately because of a switch on the calendar.

We can approach each day as one that is building on the last, where each day we learn more, invest in our personal development, help and be there for others, and continually adjust how we look at each day. Seeing each day from a lens of each day being better than the last because we are choosing to show up better than the last.

I’ll do my part. I’m going to show up every day.

Doesn’t matter if each day isn’t the best. Doesn’t matter if some of those days are going to really suck. What matters is that I’m going to suit up, do my best, and try to help as best as I can, as many as I can.

We will fight the good fight with positivity, respect for others, and show up with civility in order to accomplish more and build a better future for all those who come next.

Are you with me?

This is our time. We can do better. We will do better. And we need more voices in the room. Not yelling and screaming. But voices that want to listen as much as they want to be heard.

I for one am going to give it my all. 

Let your voice sing in this new year. And we can do something amazing together.

Get Cracking, Time to Launch Yourself Into 2021

Jump to it.

There is no time to waste. There is no promise of tomorrow. So, why not do what needs to be done, now?

Get cracking.

2020 is over. Don’t carry it. Feel what needs to be felt. Get help if you are dealing with trauma or mental health issues. Take the moment to reflect on the year, but don’t live it. You’ve already done that once.

Get off to a running start and give yourself a head start. There is still a couple of days till the official start of 2021. (I myself started the new year 12 days ago, but that is just me.) Use this time to start your self motivated journey.

Time to get this party started.

We each need to get going, get rolling, and get on with it if we want to make this year what we want of it. We can control, the controllable, and jump start our year and own outlook by concentrating on the only real controllable, ourselves.

This can be the greatest moment of your life. The moment that you push off all the dirt, pull our feet out of the mud, and start our journey.

Sure we can sit back and wait to see what happens. We can let others have control over what happens next. We can be passive. We can be scared of action. Letting that feeling of helplessness overtake us. —

Or we can kick start our own lives, take ownership of our own actions and how we view our world, and get moving.

I’d much rather set in motion my own plan, even knowing it could fail. But it will be mine. I’m the one who buckled down, put my shoulder into it, and made something happen. It’s far more energizing to activate what I want to see, to be on the initiative.

So let’s crank it up.

You can power up 2021, set it ablaze. It just takes setting your plan into motion, getting that little spark today that touches off growing fire inside you that propels you to Get Off Your Ass and get triggered to make this your time.

This is your time. If you need any help along as you ignite your year with your passion, determination, and action – don’t hesitate to reach out.

I will continue to provide resources to use throughout the year, share my journey as a development geek, and celebrate our successes together as we reach for the stars each day.

Say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021

Breaking Benjamin – Angels Fall (Official Lyric Video)


Fitness and health are important to our overall goals to getting the most out of life. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic, Fitness program : Five Steps to get Started

And if you are looking for less motivation and more substance here are the 5 Steps On The Path To Action

J. Marcus Ross

Plan Your Way to A Better 2021

Only a four days to go until 2021. 1-2-3-4. That is it.

I get so excited at this time of year counting down the days. No matter how arbitrary calendars and years are, they provide something to measure against. It provides some sense of context and reference. And for me, even knowing all of that, it feels good to start and finish things. 

There is just something about fresh starts and beginnings that get me pumped.

I love reflecting a bit on the past year and then using what I learned to make a plan for the new year. There is something about taking a blank sheet of paper and filling it up with ideas. Putting all those hopes and dreams into plans, and breaking it down into smaller chunks of action. Looking at that calendar and sticking in those mileposts on what needs to be done by when.

 –For a messy person like me, this activity provides structure where there would be none. Provides a way to measure accomplishment. To push and strive to get something important done.

This year is all the more sweeter.

It’s the year that seemingly everyone is happy to say goodbye and toss into the waste bin of history. I started 2020 with such hope and excitement. Even as the pandemic struck I made plans and looked for ways to make the most of the time and the adjustments to the world. And while, I did accomplish a lot with my year and there is a lot to be proud of, it all feels some how stained and lackluster.

Perhaps it is because I packed on the Covid-19 twenty. I didn’t keep up some of the daily activities that I had planned. I found myself a bit adrift at times this year. Could be any of these things. It has been a hell of a year and yet I have so much to be thankful for. There are so many people who have been dealt a far worse hand, far, far worse than I have experienced this year.

And so, I do only what I know to do, which is to give back. To share in some small way with others a bit of my journey and what I learn along the way. If this act can in some small way help another person – then I can go to bed each night having fulfilled purpose.

Much of what I put together at the beginning of the year in 2020 was useful throughout the year. Some adjustments were made along the way, but overall I kept the general theme. Because that theme was rooted in my own personal development and my purpose, it meant that even as the year threw a huge curveball, much of what I’d already planned only needed a little adjustment along the way.

This isn’t to say that it was easy. Not at all.

It does however, illustrate the importance of planning and making plans based on core values and purpose. When decisions are rooted in such things they provide a lovely foundation that keeps everything straight even as the world shakes all around you.

There is a lot of promise and hope in 2021. This is the year where each month will be better than the last. There will be barriers and road blocks along the way. What matters is what we do with that time, how we overcome those challenges, and how we better ourselves and those around us.

Set yourself up for luck and have a wonderful 4 days of planning.


As you prepare for the new year and to hit the ground running, well maybe after this year we’ve all had, maybe moving at all is good. It’s important to remember, similar to how we need to organize our physical spaces to be more productive and to reduce stress, our digital world needs maintenance as well.

Remove the clutter – this is not just about stuff. Declutter your life.


For those like me, who have packed on the Covid-19 twenty, check out this Mayo Clinic article

Time for 2021 : Let’s go ahead and start the countdown already

Here we go. There are 20 days left in 2020 and most of us are all too ready to bring this one to a close.

We’ve all struggled in this year one way or another. It isn’t something we should compare. But we should be empathetic to others plight and circumstances.

How do we acknowledge the pain and difficulty – while not letting it pull us down? How do we turn our sights to reflecting on the positive from this year. The things we have learned. While we may be more bruised and bent then we have been in the past, how do we recognize how we can and have emerged stronger and more resilient?

I don’t know if I have answers for the masses of people that are out there. I don’t think there is a one fits all solution. I do know that for myself I have to turn to the positive. I have to have to look to the future optimistically. We cannot allow the darkness to take hold, take root, and take control of how we think and feel about what comes next. We must acknowledge it  and not pretend that it doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t have to have power over us.

There are things in this year that I’m excited about. There was plenty of good. Lots to be happy about. –And I could list lots of things that were challenging, depressing, and down right sickening. I am fortunate that we didn’t have even more terrible things happen in our circle, as I know others have had to endure. For that I am blessed.

I did, as much as possible, make a choice this year to not let the bad times, tear me down. It doesn’t always work out that just because I want a thing, that it comes true. For me, though, this was a kind of mantra. I could feel the pull of the water against me threatening to pull me under. There were days I didn’t want to do anything. I’ve let so many days go by of not reaching out to friends and loved ones. As much of an introvert I am, this has still been very difficult to not have the contact with those I care about. To not travel and see the people I care about, to visit new places, to take pictures, and have new experiences that only travel can provide.

I held to this choice and when I found myself flailing – I worked through it. I found new ways and brought back some old ones that helped me along the way.

It hasn’t been easy.

But there is still good to be remembered out of 2020. Reflect. Look for the good.

And use the next 20 days to set yourself up for a rockin’ New Year.

Our Distraction Loop

Football is back. American professional football. The NFL.

Whether you love the sport (nearly 26 million people watched the Buccaneers loss against the Saints), hate the sport, or can only think of football as being a spherical ball being kicked around on a field by nearly 250 million players in over 200 countries and is mostly clearly the world’s most popular sport – makes not one bit of difference this week.

Because one thing is clear, the world is a better place when we have sports around to distract people.

And this year, we need that distraction more than ever.

This has been quite a year. You don’t need me to tell you.

You’ve probably felt every bit of it.

And even if you’ve weathered the storm – you’ve certainly seen it in the faces of your family, loved ones, friends and neighbors (only on Zoom of course). You can see it in the eyes of those haggard faces hidden behind their face masks while you are out at Home Depot loading up for those improvement projects. 2020 has been a doozy of a year and we are all more than ready for it to be over.

Sure, there is plenty of criticism that sports are a form of mass distraction. Just one of many forms of entertainment made into big business to keep the masses from paying too much attention to those in power. Not to mention that many that are in power are connected and are the owners of much of the world’s entertainment. This has been a common tool since the days of bread and circuses that the Roman Empire used so well to keep the mob from getting too interested in the decisions of the elite.

In a year, such as this, where there is a political contest being waged in the US – the NFL will still undoubtedly pull in more viewers for the Packers Saints match up on Sun, 9/27 or even the Chiefs Ravens game on Monday 9/28 – than Trump and Biden will pull in the next night when they match up for the Presidential Debate. I’m not sure that I can draw any conclusions from this. It should make us take notice.

We have so many different forms of entertainment that can be used to dull our senses, distract, and entertain us. I don’t begrudge any of us that need, especially in a year like this. In moderation this makes complete sense and isn’t dangerous.

As with many things, moderation is key. If we keep taking pain meds to numb ourselves rather than treat the source of our issue – we will find the need to take an ever increasing amount of meds to continue to do the job. We may find ourselves regularly binge watching Netflix and You Tube videos rather than develop a positive behavior that can help us through the malaise.

Our top searches this week on Google, almost, all revolve around entertainment. From Big Ten Football, the Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson movie “The Devil All the Time”, to the Clippers, Celtics, Mandalorian’ Season 2, and iOS 14 release date – nearly all our top searches involve entertainment. All of it a distraction.

There are some glimmers of hope with Sally Hurricane, Bill Gates, and look, Breonna Taylor is popping up in second place for today’s search terms, tied with Maya Moore getting married to the man she helped free from prison. – Some big and important issues to be sure, as long as we are searching for information and entertainment in the guise of information.

I’m all for entertainment. I’ll definitely catch some of my Packers games this year. I can use some distraction. Can’t we all.

I’m just hoping and praying that we are all spending a bit more time on learning, growing as people, helping others, and all around doing good than we are on our entertainment binges and searches. The world is a rich and amazing place and there is plenty for us humans to be doing with our time aside from being distracted. We need our fun. I love to have fun. Let’s just make sure it doesn’t get in the way of the important work that needs to be done first.

Do you find yourself Stuck in the Anxiety-Distraction Feedback Loop – Here is a YouTube Video from the Ken Coleman show – you may find interesting.  Do You Feel Stuck in the Anxiety-Distraction Feedback Loop?


Check out a quick read from Jennifer Anders, PsyD. On Moving Beyond the Anxiety and Perfectionism Feedback Loop.

I’m back with lots of goodies to share

I’m back. And this time, I hope for good.

I took some time away putting some of what I’ve learned to the test. I’ve been distracted a bit by all that is going on in the world. And with coming to grips with some of the decisions I’ve made over the last year. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do with my time. One of those things is writing here for you.

My personal transformation has continued, deepened and grown. It has taken me some time to work through things. And now, I’m ready to come back with a vengeance.

Except, that isn’t quite right. I’m not seeking revenge, retribution, or retaliation. And that doesn’t exactly fill anyone with confidence if I look at my writing as a punishment to be inflicted.

Perhaps, it’s more like I’m ready to come back with verve, vigor, enthusiasm. Maybe with a bit of force, zeal and passion. I’m certainly eager and have quite a bit of zing, zip, vim, and get up and go.

Hopefully I endeavor to have some pizzazz in all that I do. And while my writing may not always convey my fervor, occasionally showing a sparkle of spirit, and an effervescent fizz of dynamism — I do hope it shows my motivation and determination to drive forward to help change others on their journey.

Surely, it will be with a touch of fanaticism for being a development geek and an absolute commitment to help others by using my own unique strengths to their fullest.

I have a lot to learn. And there are some interesting things I can perhaps teach along the way.

This won’t be for everyone. And for the first time in my life, I’m really okay with that. I don’t need to be accepted by all. I’m not reaching for the middle. For average. For mediocre. Or just to say what everyone wants to hear.

Reach with me, for something different.

Are you ready for a change? Are you ready to put in the effort?

This week I’m reading Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I’ve been in the mood to re-explore some impactful books that have helped me along my journey.

I’m always on the search for ways to get the most out of each day. I view each day as a wonderful opportunity to improve ourselves. Marcus Aurelius was a great practitioner of improving his daily routine.  Here is an easy video  –Marcus Aurelius – 5 Ways to Start Your Day (Stoicism Morning Routine)

And for some relaxing and meditation music – I’m enjoying Hans Zimmer – Ultimate Soundtrack Compilation. It has a great mixture of music from Interstellar, Inception, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman Begins, Gladiator and so many others.

Can’t wait for tomorrow and the chance to continue to jump down the rabbit hole with you.

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Drawing and the Zen of Improving the Bad

Are we born with a predetermined set of talents? Do we grow skills from those talents to a certain age and then stop? Are our brains really built with a certain talent set and that core foundation can’t be changed?

If we are good at math, we are good at math. If we are artistic, then we are artistic. If we aren’t good at those things, then we aren’t and there is no changing it.

Or are we not so much skill based but rather we have a set way of thinking? Does that way of thinking, these core abilities influence everything else? 

And is that thinking fixed?

Can we change our core programming?

These questions are very powerful. How we ask them, and what we believe has a lot to say about how we approach learning and self development.

I do believe that we are born and we grow through our formative years with a selection of talents and predispositions. There is a blueprint in our genetics. Then add in some environment and what we learn along the way.

We’ve been asking these questions for a long time, is it nature or nurture? I doubt we will resolve that here. And I don’t even think that it is a binary, one or the other situation.

More than that, it doesn’t seem likely that it is a one or the other situation.

Personally, I believe it is a combination of both.

Similar to what we are just scratching the surface to learn about in genetics. With each new study and experiment we are learning more and more that while we have a blueprint, that blueprint changes over time depending on environment. While there is science to back this up, it also seems logical and fits what we see in the real world.

Personal Bias

It also could be that much like the destiny or freewill debate, I feel better knowing that I have influence over the choices I make, rather than it being written in stone. If life is only an already written, directed, and produced movie where I must play my part and I cannot affect the outcome – then this existence becomes two dimensional.

I know I don’t have control over my life, just over myself and the choices I make. I’m okay with that and it makes total sense in our existence. Anything else, diminishes my role in my own life. And I believe I am responsible for everything I choose to do.

This is why, even after being told my entire life that I’m no good at art, I try to draw. I allowed myself to believe it for a long time. It got in my head, infected me, and I allowed it to define me. I couldn’t even draw a circle so why would I put time into something I was so absolutely bad at.

Except that goes against my core belief system. It goes against how I think about ability and what we put our time into.

Now, I sit down with a notepad,  take out some pencils and have been working at trying to learn to draw better. Any time that I can put pencil to paper, and it’s  recognizable as what I was trying to create, then I’m doing good. I’ve set a very low bar, but that bar is immeasurably higher than it used to be when I wouldn’t even try.

If you believe others stories about you, or your own propaganda than you’ll never do anything differently.

I’m improving at something that I’ve never been good at. And it feels good. I believe in my ability to improve. I believe being good at something because of experience and perseverance means something. It is rewarding.

There is nothing amazing in what you’ve done, if it comes easily. It isn’t a personal accomplishment.

There is no special in being good at something that you were handed. This is merely working to your potential. Surely, we have gifts that we are born with and were developed at a young age. It’s wonderful to be given gifts.

The measure of a person is what they do with what they have been given.

Superpowers are a responsibility, they are not a measure of character. It’s what you do after you get bit by the radioactive spider. You aren’t special because you happened to be in the place to get bit by one.

The bigger test is to go out and work for skills that weren’t just handed to you. I’m never in awe of the kid who doesn’t have to work for their grades, and every test comes easily to them. The born athlete who doesn’t condition, or eat healthy, or workout, or try to grow their ability but who just always does well. It’s a wonderful gift of genetics, but that isn’t anything they did.

Are you naturally skinny, never working out and always eating junk food? Good for you. Be happy these are the genes you were given. You are fortunate and should be grateful. But don’t pat yourself on the back because you didn’t do anything to earn this.

Now the person who has struggled with their weight, who’s parents possibly were diabetic, who watches what they eat but still their body responds with intense cravings even when eating healthy food in moderate amounts, who works out and still is overweight. This person who keeps trying and working for it and fights the urge to give up. This person is showing something about who they are as a person.

So, I’ll keep working on my drawings. I’m okay with not being very good. The fact that I’ve come this far makes me happy.

  • What do you think? I can’t be alone on this one.
  • Do you believe in nature or nurture?
  • Are you in the fixed mindset camp or do you have a growth mindset?
  • What have you worked at that you weren’t very good at or were told you sucked at?
  • What’s your story?
  • Why did you work to get better at this thing that wasn’t a strength for you?

Improve @ Everything By Being Alone

There are a lot of people who are struggling with the isolation of quarantining. Every day the news is filled with depressing numbers. We know people are dying. Some are losing their jobs. Many are just plain afraid. The uncertainty, the isolation, the change in the every day routine is affecting everyone in different but profound ways.

Some are finding working from home is not as much fun as they once thought it would be. Some are struggling because much of their identity was possibly wrapped up in their social world.

Who they are at work?

Who they are with their friends?

Who they are with the neighbors?

We know that many concoct a magazine cover look to their social media in order to present the best possible version of their life. And without that same level of social interaction, without the same distractions – some are catching their reflection in the mirror and it is giving them pause.

And that is exactly what we should be doing during this time. A good, objective look in the mirror can help center us. Bring us back to who we are without filters and distractions.

We lose ourselves when we become attached to the external and the feelings that come from without. We must look within.

We control only what is within. We must know ourselves. What we value? Who we are? And that doesn’t come from anyone else.

The noise of others can help us feel lost. And so being alone with yourself as your companion, you can become anchored again in who you are.

You can never really be with anyone else if you can’t be with yourself fully.

Take this time alone to reconnect with you.

I can say this with some assurance because I’ve been there.

A year ago I had to take a real hard look at the decisions I’d made and what my next move was going to be. I could choose to continue down the same path. Do the next thing that made sense. It’s what we all do most of the time. One decision and then another and another, one link after another in the chain. 

I know it probably sounds crazy but I’d gotten to a place where I didn’t fully recognize myself. I was working all the time. I wasn’t really any fun. I wasn’t having any fun. But wow was I working hard, and every time a new issue came up, I worked even harder. And when things didn’t go well, I would double down and work even harder.

Like a new pilot flying through clouds, I kept making course corrections that seemed right. One on top of another, until I flew out of the clouds upside down.

In the end, I was fortunate enough to fly out of the clouds. I know some people never do. But there I was totally upside down and out of control, and I had never noticed it. All I could think was to keep flying and course correcting.

I stopped. I sat quietly. And I listened to myself. I could barely hear that small voice that had been buried underneath other people’s expectations. Or rather, what I had created in my mind as other people’s expectations. My voice was so small against the ringing and pounding in my ears from the obligations and responsibilities. Responsibilities that I created for myself from the choices that I had made over a lifetime.

I worked through a process of deep introspection I had the tools I had learned over a lifetime of working with others, and put them to the test.

The first thing I started with was being alone. Living in that place where nothing and no one else distracted me. I went for walks, I listened to music, I wrote, I traveled the country visiting more than 30 states in 34 days.

It was hard to look at myself and realize that I’d strayed in some ways from my personal golden circle. – Those were some tough days of soul searching.

Being alone allowed me to reconnect with myself. I could never have done the work – if I hadn’t gotten real comfortable with being alone. This does not mean you have to physically be alone. You certainly don’t have to do the same things I did. It will be different for each of us.

What it means is being able to do some soul searching without distraction. Being able to put out of your mind anyone else’s expectations of you. What you think they want you to be doing. That a tough one, but it is key to making this work.

Right now, is a perfect time to take a good look in the mirror and reconnect with the real you. Once you do, and only once you do can you start to make some meaningful change in your life.

Otherwise, this time and opportunity will slip right on by. Life will return to a version of normal. Full of distractions and obligations. Don’t let this pause in the world – while everyone is collectively holding their breath – go by without making a change. Start with getting to know yourself again.

A Virus Changed My Mind About Connecting

I don’t know why it takes me a bit longer than it does other people to get onboard with some things. In some areas, I’m an early adopter. On others, I’m painfully slow.

Only recently, like in the last few days, have I opened my eyes to making more connections online. I guess it took a virus for me to see things differently.

I love connecting in person.

Actually, that isn’t exactly right, I love connecting in person in a real and meaningful way. I actually can’t stand small talk. I’m challenged by conversations that go no where or always stay surface level. I’m always waiting to get the relationship to the next level where we can really connect and talk about something that matters.

If you ask me about the weather, my head begins the countdown to a nuclear meltdown.

I know. It’s a little…something.

But here, after a lifetime,  I am finally in this place where I really think there is something great about getting to know people. I really enjoy hearing their stories and how they got to where they are, discovering their strengths, and learning how we can both help one another. Working with another person who is committed to a higher goal, who is professional and wants to do a great job, who wants to get the right things done, who wants to teach others and learn.

Those are connections that I really get excited about. When I’m working with someone towards a mission. When we are bouncing ideas off one another. Challenging one another respectfully but deeply and meaningfully. When they are showing me a different perspective. When I learn from another person.

I really get off on that. It is something I’m always striving for myself and looking for when connection and building relationships.

I haven’t always felt this way. I didn’t always understand people.

I never understood people when I was a kid. The reasons people did things eluded me. I couldn’t predict their behavior with much accuracy at all. I could see lies all around me and it bothered me a lot. I loved reading and writing. And had a bit of a scientific way of thinking about things. I wanted to understand how things worked.

I devoted much of my life to behavior and how people act and react. I studied a lot. I watched every interaction around me for years, for decades, cataloguing and dissecting. All of that studying helped me to understand people more and to not feel as much like an alien as I did when I was a kid.

And still, somehow I resisted the online world. I’m on social media, but I with all these rules in my head about how I used it and who I would connect with. To what I’ve now realized, I had these rules to a ridiculous degree.

I get why I resisted. I felt that the connections online were like a video game, it’s a virtual world, and you can see in people’s behavior that they do things they would never do in real life. So, I didn’t interact except for fun or to connect with others that I already know.

Then, this pandemic hit. And like most everyone else, if I want to connect with others, I have no choice but to do so virtually.

While I was realizing this and coming to grips with it, a light bulb went off. As I regularly counsel others to do, I looked at my principles and values. I realized that I was making judgement about how some people were using social media.

It was small minded. And in the real world, I would never have put up with that sort of thinking.

This had become a blind spot for me. Now, that I’d used my mirror to look myself in the face – I was ready to make a change. I’m using that mirror to get rid of that blind spot.

It’s only been a week. Now, I am regularly connecting online. I’m accepting connection requests. I’m seeking others online who want to connect and do so in a meaningful way. I’m learning how to connect in a virtual world because it does connect to our real world.

It is a tool for connecting with amazing people all over the world. In just the last few days, I’ve had some amazing conversations with people who I probably would never get a chance to see in every day life. It’s really something amazing to be connecting with someone in Italy or France, Nigeria, the UAE, Australia, Korea or Japan. Getting to know them, hearing about what life is like right now, and how we can maybe help one another get through this. Spread a little positivity and hope. That sounds like a good reason to change my rules.

I’m not sure why it took me so long, why I was so resistant, and why I never thought to think about online the same way that I do about how and why I connect in my real life.

Maybe, it’s time to stop thinking about the social and virtual world as something different than real life. It’s just life, and it’s about how we live it.

It’s ironic that a virus that caused us to stay away from one another so we don’t infect one another allowed me to start connecting more.