It is extraordinarily frustrating to live as a black-and-white thinker in a world full of grey.  If we are limited to perceiving relationships, circumstances, and situations in an exclusively binary manner, we will likely end up either extremely happy or extremely upset.  The only logical outcome of seeing and thinking in two dimensions is to exist at one end or the other, happy or frustrated, depending on what is currently happening around us and to us.

Binary thinking tends to discount nuance and historical context.  Binary thinking tends to want answers to questions immediately.  Binary thinking has very little room or understanding for others to process information, or to see another perspective.  It disallows for others to answer a question with, “Yes, but…”

Oftentimes, this boxes others into corners.  When people are boxed into corners, their flight, fight, or freeze response is activated, and they tend to go on the defensive.  When this occurs, people tend to make decisions they don’t like or fully understand.  This is the space in which heated arguments happen and relationships are damaged.

Sometimes we arrive at decisions or understand something well in advance of others.  It can be frustrating to have to wait for them to “get it.”  The longer we understand or believe something, the more we can reinforce it in out thinking and behaviors.  The longer and more deeply we hold on to things, the greater our frustration when others either disagree or are slow to get on board with where we are.

Well, that’s just tough nuts, isn’t it?

Do we need binary thinking?  Certainly.  There are situations that are urgent and immediate.  Fire in the house.  Get out.  Also, there are times when people can over-think, and not make decisions.  This can hinder growth and progress.

I would argue that we need multi-directional thinking.  Read about that in the next post!



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Posted in brains, Business, Coaching, Leadership, Life, Uncategorized


My podcast and audiobook libraries have grown pretty large.  At times, I get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of content available and left unheard.  I subscribe to twenty-one podcasts*, and have twenty-one audiobooks on my device.  Until this very moment, I was not aware that I had the same number of each, which is both cool and “yeah, whatever” at the same time.

Most of the podcasts renew daily or weekly, with a couple that renew monthly.  I listen to eight of them on a regular basis, and the rest occasionally.  I have listened to or am currently listening to each of the audiobooks.  Probably because I paid for them.

One of the issues I am having with The Horde is information overload.  I benefit from breadth at the expense of depth.  This isn’t a universal for me–I have listened to a couple of my audiobooks several times (notably, “Top Dog” and “The Talent Code”).

Another issue, which might not be an issue, is that much of the material presented in one source in The Horde parallels or reinforces information another.  Because I sometimes (read: most of the time) don’t discipline myself enough to slow down, breathe, and be still, I will merge information from one source to another.  I will start one podcast, for example, then switch to an audiobook, and then switch to a different podcast.  Sometimes this happens in the twenty-odd minutes it takes to drive to my school.

So, I have a goal for myself: Listen more to less.  Engage more with fewer.  Appreciate the breadth of information, and embrace the depth of knowledge.  Build up the myelin in my brain, so that I can actually use the information.

How about you?

*As of last evening, I now have 25 podcasts in my library, and 22 audiobooks.  Paring it down…


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A virtuous cycle is a chain of events that reinforces itself through some type of feedback loop, with advantageous or positive results.  As the cycle develops, it is strengthened.

Despite appearances, a virtuous cycle isn’t self-propagating.  If the cycle doesn’t receive input and energy, it slows down and stops altogether.  Also, if outside influences are acting against a virtuous cycle, more time and effort are needed to keep the cycle functioning.

Getting physically fit is an example of a virtuous cycle.  As we begin to get more physically fit, we feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Feeling better, we are better able to make and maintain healthy life choices in relationships, eating and sleeping habits, etc.  This motivates us to increase our physical fitness, so we continue to work on our fitness.

Of course, if we discontinue the habit of being physically fit, we break that cycle.  That’s not to say our lives will automatically and immediately go to pot.  However, good leads to good.  We get fit, we feel good, so we continue to get fit.

Good leads to good.

What types of virtuous cycles are you planting in your life? In your children’s?  It might be an interesting exercise to draw out a few virtuous cycles, and then do spot-checks on a regular basis to see how well the cycles are running.

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Posted in brains, Coaching, Fitness, Leadership, Life, mental health, Uncategorized



I have been listening to a wonderful speaker lately, by the name of Graham Cooke.  A lot of his teachings have to do with our reframing ourselves.  Rather than seeing ourselves as starting from a place of weakness, defeat, sin, etc., we need to have a different mindset.

We need to start viewing ourselves as, Cooke says, in the image that God sees us.  That image is of us strong, victorious, righteous, and right with God.  Once we have that mindset, we will act accordingly.

During mat chats with students and team members, we often talk about seeing ourselves as champions prior to competing.  We talk about seeing ourselves as having already won, as being victorious.  Because we see ourselves in that light, our behaviors and training need to match the image.

So, we are beginning to train and learn like champions.  Rather than causing us to slack, this mindset pushes us to reach higher, to train smarter, and to give our best.  It’s making a difference.  Our focus is better, our training is more precise, and it’s a lot more fun.  It’s much harder, but it’s so much better.

So, what’s stopping you from having this image? Yeah, easier said than done.  Most good things and habits are.  But why not start today?  It’s so much better!

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Posted in brains, Coaching, Fitness, Leadership, Martial Arts, mental health, neuroscience, Uncategorized


Every weekday morning, I listen to the Joyce Meyer Radio Podcast.  This is part of my quiet morning routine, helping me get my mind around what’s important and not just what will cause me to be busy.  Apparently the majority of her audience is women, proving once again how much smarter they are than us men.

Today, she made the comment, “Each step [in our walk] is a decision.”  That resonated with me.  Whatever direction we are headed, it is our deliberate decision leading us.  We shouldn’t be surprised with most of the consequences of our actions, and we certainly shouldn’t be surprised when we arrive at our destination.  We’ve been heading there all along.

I get that along the way we will encounter people and situations we didn’t expect.  I also get that once we begin heading in one direction, we will need to make adjustments along the way on how to best proceed.

But let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  We’re pretty smart.  The vast majority of the time, we know where we are headed, and we have a pretty good idea what’s in store for us once we get there.  So, let’s decide to be thoughtful, prayerful, and vigilant before we set out.

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My beloved, Christine, and I are both in our forties.  As she often reminds me, I am deeper into my forties than she is.  In fact, I am so deep into them it is much easier to see fifty than to look back at forty.  It’s good, though.

One of the things that happens as we age is that invitations to formal events change.  It has been a while since we have been invited to a wedding.  It’s been even longer since either one of us has been invited with a “plus one” on the invitation, since we are now in our twenty-second year of marriage.

One of the conversations I have been having with my team is developing a “plus-one” attitude.  Rather than doing to minimum requirements, they should go at least one step beyond.  During our more intense training sessions, we will give the athletes a timed requirement.  For example, they will be required to do 100 perfect side kicks, each leg, in two minutes.

Many of them are at the point where this is getting pretty easy.  So, they should keep adding a “plus one” until they run out of time.  Not only does this increase their athleticism, it bolsters their confidence and mental agility.  I want them to keep pushing their ceilings, and to push back at me because they are just killing it.

“You think that’s going to be hard, Coach?  That all you got? Nah.  Look at what I’ve got!  Look at what I’m made of!”  When they get to that point, I know they are getting ready to go against the best in the world.

Where in your life can you add a plus one?  I would recommend in most areas, make small changes.  Those are easier to accomplish and easier to track.  Over time, those plus ones have a multiplicative effect.


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So, then there’s passion.  We are often told to “follow our passion” in life, to do what speaks to us.  We strive to have passion in our marriages.  More often than not, we use the word passion to mean great, deeply felt emotion, sometimes romantic in nature.

If we look at the word “passion” in an etymological framework, we see that early definitions of passion had to do with suffering, pain, and enduring.  I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone give the advice to follow pain and suffering.  Nor do I remember it being a good thing to try to increase suffering in marriages and relationships.

So, what to do?  Nothing, really.  Keep using the word passion as it is in the modern sense.  The definitions of words evolve and change.  Maybe you can find something you are deeply interested in that won’t cause you a lot of suffering, or put you in a frame of mind where you have to merely endure it.  Something that you care deeply about, and are still able to keep your sense about you.

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So, I don’t feel like “blogging” any longer.  I’m not very disciplined in it anyway.  Additionally, I have well under a million “followers” who read it.  And, sometimes I find my own writing forced.  So, I just am not feeling it.

Except. I still have some things to say.  Maybe a lot of things.

And.  Despite how I “feel” at any given moment, those things are going to be said.  Because if I acted on just my feelings, my life would be chaotic and dysfunctional.

So, there it is.  Darn it!  Or, yay!  See?  Neither one of those will make my decision.

What about you?  What do you have to say?  Are you saying it?  To those who need to hear it?

Or, are you selling yourself short.  Are you afraid that they will laugh at you, ridicule you,  or get angry?  Or, worse yet, ignore you.

Too bad.  You have something to say.  How do I know?  Because you are.

So, there.  Get on it.  The world is hungry for people to step out and step up.


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Monday afternoon, I had an unexpected gift on my desk.  A bag of coffee!  In fact, the very one that is pictured above.  I had not had a very good day up until that point.  I was tired and had gotten behind on a few projects.

This past weekend, some athletes, families, and I travelled  to Indianapolis for a seminar, and on Monday I was pretty exhausted.  We left early Friday morning, and came back Sunday evening.  It’s a bit over 600 miles from my house, and with construction, rest stops, and traffic, the trip home took about 11 hours.

Additionally, I did not rest well Saturday at the hotel.  There was a wedding, and some of the wedding party thought it would be a swell idea to have a loud, drunken discussion in front of my door.  At least they were having a good time.

Sunday night, I slept fairly hard.  Waking up Monday, I did not feel well rested.  Going about my day, I was in a bit of a fog.  Mentally, I was working hard to prepare myself for classes and training.  Mondays tend to be twelve hour work days for me, which most of the time is fine.

Seeing that bag of coffee on my desk immediately lifted my spirit.  There was an anonymous note with it.  You can see it at the end of this post.

I’ve trying for a couple of days to create some sort of grand, life-changing takeaway from this kind act.  How the universe somehow shifted, never to be the same again.  Instead, here’s what I came up with: Thanks.

Thanks for being generous.  Thanks for knowing me well enough to give me some really excellent coffee.  Thanks for thinking of me.

I’m going to save that bag when it’s empty.  Maybe that’s weird.  I don’t really care.  That gift came on a day when, unknown to the giver, I was struggling a bit.  It totally changed my day.  I want to remember that.

Thank you.




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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, mental health, world taekwondo academy




In my less-than-good moments, I am somewhat of a jerk.  (I was going to put something else, but want to keep this rated PG).  Take, for example, last Friday.  I was scheduled to get an MRI on my left shoulder, which got injured in a minor auto accident.  Since I generally follow a rule of “On time is late,” I arrived a few minutes early.

Which is funny, because I have had appointments at medical facilities before.  The most consistent thing is how off-schedule they tend to run.  For them, it seems, the “On Time is Late” rule is actually, “On Time is–not us.”  Whatever.  A minor inconvenience and a first-world problem.

My check-in time was 2 pm, and the procedure was scheduled for 230.  Fine.  In medical terms that means my check in is at 2 pm, and my procedure sometime after 3.  However, Friday was meant to be a special day.

As the day got on, I started not feeling terribly well.  Nothing big, just sort of icky.  Went to the MRI anyway.  As I sat waiting, every once in a while the lights would flicker, followed by a huge clanking.  Since I have had an MRI before, I guessed the noise and lights were the  machine probing someone else.  However, interspersed with the loud noise and the flickering lights was a sound light a huge cat coughing up a fur ball.

In the next room, I could hear voices asking someone if he felt OK.  Apparently he did.  This went on for several minutes.  The hacking, the questions, the answer.  A mini game of Groundhog’s Day.  With a lot of phlegm.

At about 245 (early-late!), I got called to the second waiting room.  Because it makes us feel better to be moved from one spot to the other to do the exact same thing–wait.  Whatever.  Minor progress, I guess.

The nice young woman who took me back explained that I would be changing into a gown.  I asked her how long this part of the waiting was, because the first part was such a blast, and she said, “I have no idea, honestly.  We’re really far behind.”  She then said I could wait while she found out how long it would be.  I told her I would not be putting on the gown at this particular time, which gave her some pause.  “Yeah.  That’s smart.  I wouldn’t either.”  She paused again, because the man was coughing.  Again.  “He just got over pneumonia.”

She left.  I stayed.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

The good news is that I was now into close proximity to this gentleman.  Some of the personnel kept asking him, “Are you sure you’re OK?  You sure?  Really?”  Because, as you know, you have to be still in the MRI thingy or it doesn’t work.  Coughing does not still make.

I heard a crunching, chewing noise around the coughing.  The gentlemen said, “No (hack), this cough drop they gave me is really good.  Really good.  Did the trick.”  Yep, sure did, as evidenced by your only coughing five times in a row instead of ten.

The woman who had been attending to me came back into my little closet. Yes, I stayed in the closet where the gowns were, because there wasn’t anybody in there working whatever he was working out of his throat.  And there was a bench-drawer thing.  Deal with it.  Anyway, she looked at me with now-tired eyes and said, “Well.  It’s gonna be a while.  There are a few people ahead of you (a few!  yay!).  And, well, we can’t find the doctor.”

Huh.  That’s a new one.

“Would you like to reschedule?”  No, no, thank you. I would rather sit and wait by someone who is “just” over pneumonia (whose gown is not closed in the back, but nice boxer shorts), when I am really starting to not feel well, and this is going to be probably another hour before I go in to a machine with very tight walls and, because I am a bit claustrophobic my brain tells me I am trapped in it.  No, no.  I think we are good here.

Then, it hits me what ungracious and un-called-for thoughts I have been having.  I realize how much negative energy I know I projected.  That these woman might have had a long day as well, and that even if my afternoon was inconvenienced, I don’t have to be an ass.

So, I take a breath, and say, “Sure.  That would be great.  Thank you for all your help.”

Here are some takeaways from that experience:

  • I forgot what grace and mercy look like, and that I could have had and shown more
  • I am a pain for all things medical (see first point above)
  • If restaurants ran their operations like many medical facilities, they would close
  • I am a pain
  • I could have prayed for that man’s healing, for the people working there, and for my own patience











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