What Does Success Look Like For You ? How Do You Know When You Get There?

Like You, I Wonder About “Success”.  How Do You Know When You Arrive?

Are there “stages of? ….building blocks for?….  formulas or recipes?

It’s a big topic so let’s get it popping.

True story:

I recently ran into a business friend from many years ago.

We’d known each other when we were both grinding it out through a dismal time in the construction industry.

We’d agreed to catch up over a Starbucks. Now here we were.

Phil is a burly guy with a kind of brusque manner and voice that is permanently set on “outdoor” volume.

After some opening banter, he pauses and then declares (outside voice).

“I googled you man. You’re a freaking 40-year overnight success!”

The conversations around us fell silent. I could feel multiple laser stares aimed right at me.

His spontaneous outburst and the absurd hilarity of it all caught me off guard. Something welled up and I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop.

He laughed boisterously, enjoying the dramatic effects of his own comedic delivery.

When our moment of mirth subsided, the surrounding conversations came back to the normal Starbucks level.

As with any honest humor, it’s usually wrapped around a nugget of truth. This was no different.

Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”    -Winston Churchill

When you talk “success” and how you actually define or quantify it, the definition tends to vary.

A quick G search of the word renders 2.5 billion hits in .67 seconds so it’s obviously top of mind for lots of people.

For some folks, it’s about money.  Ok, probably for most folks that’s the measuring stick for comparison.

For others, it might be house size or being able to travel to faraway places. For others, it’s about a relationship to their family; for some it’s faith, and for many, it’s honestly just staying alive another month. The definition of the term will change relative to where you’re at in life, probably dozens of times.

The part I love most about my work is helping clients figure out what success looks like for them. Then we start navigating obstacles, achieving more or getting better at something – a.k.a. becoming “successful.”

Because most of us spend on average 1/3 of our life (about half of our waking hours) pursuing a livelihood to make ends meet, it’s important to have some sort of scaffolding or contextual framework around how to think about this concept.

From observation and experience, there are some underlying factors to success in any realm.

Wealth is definitely an easily understood way of keeping score, but if that‘s the only way then look out!

Ok – back to the point.

Because the wealth/success thing has such an overshadowing effect,  I’ll get it out of the way in this post.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”  ― Albert Einstein 

A Remarkable Essay

I love it when someone else writes a brilliant article around something I’ve been thinking. Moreover, they absolutely nail it.

In this instance, kudos to American venture capitalist Morgan Housel who has provided a remarkable essay ranking every type of success, wealth and poverty.

It’s equal parts enlightening, entertaining, surprising and useful for perspective.

Stage one of 19 on the spectrum begins where you would expect – complete dependence on others for sustenance – but quickly jumps to people who have money and assets but are impoverished in other ways.

Stage four is a cautionary tale, “Your lifestyle expectations consistently grow faster than your income and assets. Adaptive poverty.” Stage seven is too: “Your entire personality is built upon the appearance of being wealthy, attracting a predatory social group that will abandon you.”

The stages of wealth start looking attractive around number 13, where you love your job enough that it feels like a hobby and pays more than you ever expected.

I’ll let you go on to discover the highest stage – the psychological equivalent of the Forbes billionaires list.

If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.  –Edmund Burke  


The overriding revelation in the piece is that success is often as much a matter of perspective as it is a sum of money.

Folks who are deeply envious and generally insecure are unlikely to feel wealthy no matter how big their investment account becomes.

Those with close family ties and social connections can feel content with far less.

Another poignant revelation of this innovative list is that we often fail to recognize the wealth of all types that we already have.

Here Are 19 Ways to Gauge Success

  1. Complete reliance on the kindness of strangers for sustenance. Deep poverty.
  2. Your income is above average but you are overcome with envy and a feeling of inadequacy towards those who earn more. Psychological deep poverty.
  3. You have a large income and net worth that was acquired in a way that brings active disdain from people who would otherwise want to like you. Socially bankrupt.
  4. Your lifestyle expectations consistently grow faster than your income and assets. Adaptive poverty.
  5. You have so much money you can do nothing, and doing nothing leads to boredom at best, self-destruction more often. Ironic poverty.
  6. You have a large income and net worth you are satisfied with, but your career and assets are fragile (often leveraged) and will disappear when the world shifts only a little leaving you yearning for the money you used to have and became accustomed to. Pent-up poverty.
  7. Your entire personality is built upon the appearance of being wealthy, attracting a predatory social group that will abandon you without remorse the moment the money stops.
  8. You have a large income and net worth that was made in a job you hate that requires such long hours that it derails your social and family life. Financial wealth, life poverty.
  9. You have a job you love surrounded by people you enjoy but one that doesn’t pay well and leaves you vulnerable and stressed about your finances. Financial poverty, life wealth.
  10. You have enough money to stay comfortable and a good group of friends but you didn’t earn the money yourself, creating a lack of pride and ability to appreciate the value of a dollar that makes you feel poorer than someone with less money that was earned from hard, meaningful work.
  11. You can afford a little bit more than the people you interact with daily and it makes you feel superior to them. Technical wealth but actually insecurity that’s likely to backfire into social poverty.
  12. You can afford a little more than the people you interact with daily but you still live the same material lifestyle as they do, which creates social cohesion among your friends that’s valuable. You have a high savings rate that puts a gap between your mood and most financial hassle.
  13. You like your job so much it doesn’t feel like work and it pays more than you ever expected to make.
  14. You could stop earning a paycheck tomorrow and your lifestyle could remain the same for the indefinite future.
  15. You can go to bed and wake up when you want to. You have time to exercise, eat well, learn, think slowly, and clear your calendar when you want it to be clear. Health wealth.
  16. You can, and want to, use your wealth to help other people. And you want to help them because you care about them, not because it will make you look good or make them beholden to you.
  17. You genuinely feel no benefit from the social signal of wealth, because everyone you want to love you would still love you if you weren’t wealthy. So everything you spend money on is for its utility, rather than glitz.
  18. The people you love the most will have to work hard in life, but your wealth provides them a safety net that will help them avoid undue hardship.
  19. You are respected and admired by people you want to respect and admire you regardless of your financial circumstances. Psychologically speaking, you’re now on the Forbes list of billionaires.

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Phil’s perception of my alleged success was that somehow I had “arrived”.

My read on the same scenario was that I was merely “staying on track and keeping going.”

Huh! Guess that’s the kind of stuff that makes life interesting.

Like Abe,  I had some friends who believed in me. I didn’t want to let them down.

Until next time!




The Minimalist Habit and Why You Might Want This

                                                      Photo by Author 

Recent times have given us the opportunity to pause, reflect, perhaps change direction, or clarify what matters.

Pandemic restrictions have fostered an imposed simplicity of life and lifestyle that many were never previously accustomed to.

One outcome has been a resurgence of Minimalism. This countercultural movement has been around for centuries.

Minimalism has influenced art, music, design, architecture, science, business systems, and personal lifestyles.

I love it when an ancient concept comes roaring back with new relevance.

Wholesale changes in our lifestyle include spending less, saving more, working more simply from home, and rediscovering the great outdoors.

Me?  I loved it and lived it long before Marie Kondo started cleaning up, Elon Musk decided to sell all his houses, or some guys made a Netflix movie about it.

The recent past has allowed us some head-space to evaluate everything. I mean everything from how we “do life” and how we do “do business.”

If you hold vague negative feelings about things like consumerism, clutter, debt, and all forms of distraction, you’re well on the way toward a minimalist lifestyle.

Don’t freak out. It doesn’t mean you have to toss it all and adopt a monastic existence.

The basic tenets are to combat the chaotic excesses of modern-day living.

History abounds with minimalists who adopted a simple living lifestyle in support of a greater life mission.

JESUS OF NAZARETH   Rabbi | Prophet | Healer

“What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.”

CONFUCIUS  Philosopher | Chinese Mystic

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”


LEONARDO DA VINCI – Inventor | Painter | Sculptor

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

More recent examples include:

 HENRY DAVID THOREAU – Writer | Philosopher

“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify! … Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.”

LEO TOLSTOY – Author | Essayist | Educational Reformer

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.”

ALBERT EINSTEIN – Physicist | Nuclear Scientist | Scholar

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

More importantly, Minimalism has become a viable antidote to what I’ll call the info-demic. Never before have we been carpet-bombed with so much information. So often, the data is conflicting and confusing.

Like guard rails on a mountain road, or radar in the fog, there’s a measure of wisdom in functional Simplicity.

There’s really no manual or rulebook for adopting Minimalism.

Here’s my take on how it works in real life.

Desires and Expectations; Deliberately expecting less from those around me and the world, in general, allows me to appreciate what I have. That doesn’t mean I stop striving for better. I can only do the best I can, and others can only give what they’ve got. Often that leaves gaps of unmet expectations. Approaching those gaps with a measure of grace and understanding smooths the bumps. Sometimes you find pockets of joy along the way.

Possessions; This means being intentional about owning only what you really need. I’ve started ditching stuff that no longer serves a purpose and stopped buying things for the sake of ownership.  This frees up resources for me to be generous with the people and the causes that I love.

Relationships;  Minimalism in this realm is brutal to explain but here goes.

Relationships have different degrees of value. I think of them as relationship “buckets.”

Some are purely transactional– like the guy who cuts my hair. We have some friendly chit-chat about family and life, but that’s about it.

Then there’s the relational bucket. Here’s where I relate and stay in touch with many folks, but it’s more at the “acquaintance” level.

My standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Disclaimer:

Hi Ray! Great to hear from you, and I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for your Invitation to connect, but it was probably an algorithm suggestion – right?  Fair warning – I’m a minimalist FaceBook contributor. I do enjoy staying in touch with what’s going on for others (minus cute cats and what so and so had for breakfast)  So – just so you know – my FB “friend” bar is pretty low. You don’t have to loan me money, bail me out of jail, or visit when I’m in “The Home” or anything.

This usually gets a good response and opens the door for further conversations.

Thirdly, there’s the transformational bucket. These are my “spark” people who inspire me with their intellect, wisdom, care, love, and humor. Time together is always an energizing, uplifting, and nourishing experience. Hopefully, I do the same for them.

In the end, it’s about discerning which relationships add genuine value and making enough time for those who mean the most to you.

Thought Life;  Thought life minimalism involves confidence to not over-think (worry), underthink (neglect), or race ahead to check off as many boxes as possible. It’s being present and engaged while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Each day is a chance to engage fully in the joys, triumphs, sorrows, fears, faults, and near misses that make up a life.  Each day is a chance to do better and make a difference for yourself and others.

A Myriad of Benefits

Go ahead. Google “Benefits of Minimalism,” and you’ll quickly get the picture.

Personally, I enjoy the less stress, more freedom aspect of Minimalism. The additional freedom allows me more time to be productive. It leaves more room for people and causes I care about. Decision making becomes much easier because either it fits my value system or it doesn’t

Wrap Up

You see, simplifying, and removing clutter, whether it’s figurative or literal, isn’t the end result – it’s merely the first step. Understanding why you’re doing this gives you the traction to keep going.

Until next time,




Stuff I learned from my dad, but didn’t appreciate ‘til later.


Father’s day is the opportunity to reflect on the dads in our lives and the lessons we learned explicitly or not. There’s the dumb jokes, socks in the sandals and failed attempts at a mustache, obsession with enough fiber, and other quirky things that stick out.

Now well into my own adulthood, I have a fresh appreciation of the things he was trying in his own way to teach and model.

Dads are easy targets. We all have one. Fatherhood as a meaningful societal topic has been seriously downgraded by decades of comedic ridicule. Whether it’s Fred Flintstone, Archie Bunker, Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin, media dads are consistently portrayed as inept, overweight simpletons who bumble through life in varying degrees of self-inflicted crisis or dysfunction.

Essential dad qualities like character, integrity, deep care for their family, self- sacrifice and hard work seem in short supply in media portrayal.

For most of my growing up years, my dad was austere and somewhat distant. He had grown up in a devout, disciplinarian, matriarchal somewhat dysfunctional family. He was the only son in a family with five sisters. Grandchildren (like me) were considered second class citizens to seen and not heard. 

I was a precocious and rambunctious kid, continually getting into things. By all standards, I had a great childhood, but it seemed like I was always in on the verge or in some sort of trouble. Approval or any display of affection was in short supply. That was his way. It was how he was raised.

It wasn’t easy for him. The war years hijacked his career ambitions of being an educator. He tackled a variety of jobs to make ends meet. There was a failed attempt of making a go with the family farm, then hardware store manager, itinerant heavy duty mechanic for farm equipment and then chicken farming and egg production. It wasn’t ‘til his early forties that he revived his dream of being a teacher and we moved cross country to a new job in Ontario.

As I moved through my teens and young adulthood there was a gradual softening and growing acceptance. By my late twenties, we had a valued friendship with genuine dialogue. We enjoyed time together.

These days, being a dad myself, I’ve come to appreciate the deeper life lessons that were imprinted earlier on.

I learned relentless consistency, especially on things that are important. This life lesson has broad application leading to good results in so many areas. For him, it was regular oil and filter changes and regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance as per the manufacturers’ guide.

Long after he wasn’t able to drive and the memory was getting sketchy, I’d get quizzed on whether various vehicle things had been properly looked after.

I learned to work hard. He worked hard at whatever he set his hand to. Today’s information age seems to offer a “life-hack” for just about everything. The never changing reality is that most things that are valuable come on the other side of a ton of just plain hard work.

I learned to love deeply. Dad’s relationship with mom was a 70-year love affair. They both acknowledged having viable “other options” when it came to life partners. Well into their eighties, it was an on-going inside joke for them as they speculated about how things might be different if they had decided on marrying so and so. Invariably this conversation would dissolve in laughter.

He gave me versatility and grit. He taught me by example that with intention, focus, patience, and determination I could master new competencies. His forays into various jobs and enterprises were born of necessity.  I meanwhile, had the blessings of many options.

There are many other things, too many to enumerate.

God blessed me with a great dad and I’m grateful.

Habits, Rules and Our Quirky Human Nature

I don’t watch a lot of television .

That said, one show that gets airtime at our house is called NCIS.
Let’s just say my wife is a fan.

It’s a popular 15 year plus series that follows the escapades of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Washington, D.C. Major Case Response Team, led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. 

Team leader Special Agent Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon), is a tightly wound, monosyllabic type with steely blue eyes and a tense jaw twitch that flares whenever he’s pissed off, which is pretty much all the time.

The other notable thing about Gibbs is that he lives by a set of iron-clad rules. His rules, accumulated over time, are his worldview and personal guide for life. Appropriate to the series, they are a sure-fire checklist for solving all sorts of heinous crimes. His team has to get acquainted with his rules pretty quick if they are going to understand Gibbs or survive his highly driven personality.

Gibbs’ Rule #8: “Never take anything for granted.”

It all started when his first wife, Shannon told him that “Everyone needs a code they can live by” After their wedding, Gibbs began writing his rules down, keeping them in a small tin inside his home. Though he uses the tin full of handwritten rules often, we almost never see it.

Gibb’s Rules has spawned its own website and an entire spinoff industry of T-shirts mugs, posters and plaques. See: https://bit.ly/2FHtCgE

“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” Thoreau 

Point is, we all have personal rules and corresponding habits that form around them.

I recently poured through the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhag and skimmed Atomic Habits by James Clear. Both authors make that point that our internal rules and habits are insanely powerful.

No matter if it’s the Ten Commandments or Gibb’s Rules, how we engage with rules and habits governs just about everything. It dramatically impacts our personal well-being, productivity, and overall happiness.

Researcher and author Gretchen Rubin who is best known for The Happiness Project offers some remarkable insights on how we interact with rules, – both our own and those imposed by others. 

Surprise, surprise!
No one size fits all.
We have widely varying responses to rules that shape and govern our lives. 

Rubin outlines four broad categories as a framework of understanding on how we respond to rules. People tend to fall into these four general response categories.


Obligers are great at meeting outer expectations. They deliver projects on time in a dutiful fashion when someone else is counting on them They struggle with inner expectations, such as setting personal resolutions. They become discouraged when trying to adopt new habits because they’ve tried and failed in the past. They need outer accountability to meet inner expectations,” says Rubin. “They do well with deadlines and team supervision.

There are hundreds of ways to build outer accountability, and that’s what obligers need.


There are Questioners who question all expectations. They will follow the rules, but only if it makes sense. They want to know why they should do something because they have a deep commitment to logic and efficiency. This tendency can be viewed as being disrespectful or insubordinate because they seem like they’re trying to undermine authority. Some workplaces (or families for that matter) reward questioning and some absolutely don’t. Questioners generally need to learn how to ask questions in respectful ways. 


Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner. They do what they want to do in the way and when they want to do it, acting from a source of freedom, choice, and self-expression. When someone else tries to get a rebel to do something, they resist.
“Identity is so important to the rebel,” says Rubin. “For example, a rebel might resist going to a 10 a.m. staff meeting because they hate being told where to go and when to show up.” 

If you’re a rebel, it might just help to be not too self -absorbed with it. Just remind yourself of the example you’re setting or the goals you want to accomplish. 


Upholders are good at meeting inner and outer expectations. They meet deadlines, thrive under rules and expectations, and keep resolutions without too much of a problem. Rubin is self-admitted upholder, which is why she had an easy time completing her Happiness Project.

While this tendency sounds like productivity perfection, one of an upholder’s issues is that they can be seen as rigid, having a hard time switching gears when circumstances change. They also struggle when they’re in an environment that has an emphasis on flexibility If there is a rule, they don’t break it.”
If you’re an upholder, you thrive under routines and schedules. You can do what you want to do once you decide, says Rubin.

She explains it all beautifully here. https://youtu.be/gBNEVXg2CNU
Grab a coffee and give it a look. Well worth the watch. Recommend.

“If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?” Charlie Brown

Something to Think About

Our personal tendency around rules shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework of responses lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage with others more effectively. The framework helps explain why we act and why we don’t act.

Something to Do

Check your personal inventory of rules and habits. Maybe some things need “Kondo-izing”.
The world around us is constantly changing, yet there are things we cling to for no apparent reason other than it’s become a comfortable habit. A self-imposed rule may no longer be relevant.

The better you understand yourself, your own nature, your own temperament, your own habits, your own values, the better you can engage with others and the rules of life. 

Have a great month!

As always, I really appreciate your thoughts, observations, questions and comments.  

We’re doing important things together in this world, so I love hearing about what’s happening for you!  
(or even what kind of coffee you’re enjoying this month)

Drop me a text or an email. I’d like that.

Lorne  604 6174707 

My Summer Tetris Obsession

Smatterings From My Liminal Summer Brain.
Ahh… summer.
I just got back from some serious cabin time. It’s my high country wilderness “analog retreat”.  Here I can read, think, pray and do some blue sky dreaming about how to lead creatively in a world that can get chaotic at times. How to make life richer, more fulfilling, and meaningful for those I love. 
I have a confession to make.
It’s an addiction that crops up every now and then. Especially in summer, I definitely fall off the wagon. My addiction fills my deep-down need to create order out of chaos and build things.
No, it’s not messing up my life or anything. I don’t think it’s time for an intervention. But still, it’s ever-present, lurking, tempting. 

It’s my struggle with Tetris. There. I said it!

It’s that amazingly simple yet addictive puzzle game where a colorful procession of seven different pieces falls endlessly into a geometric hodgepodge. I have to strategically rotate, move, arrange and drop the tiles at ever-increasing speeds. If I clear as many lines as possible by completing horizontal rows of blocks without empty space, I’m rewarded by achieving a new level. If I fall behind in the process and the unarranged shapes surpass the skyline then –BAM! Game over. 

Tetris Life Lessons (With Some Bruce Lee Thrown In For Kicks)

Let’s face it. Games and sports are hugely analogous to life. The term “Tetris Effect” became a way to describe how players were inspired by the game in everyday situations.
Because Tetris, like the real world, challenges you to establish order out of chaos using an organizational system. There are transferable concepts everywhere in real life. Everything from packing the car trunk, loading a dishwasher, or building a team or an organization. How’s that next thing going to fit for optimum efficiency? That’s the Tetris Effect!
Focus, Focus, Focus 
It’s called it being ‘in the zone”. This near-meditative state can happen in all aspects of life, from playing chess to driving in rush hour. Being in the zone is nothing more than achieving a heightened state of focus. A good example is 16-year-old gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez set to do a balance beam routine at the 2016 Rio Olympics. There’s intensity in her eyes and she can be seen to mouth the words “I got this“ just ahead of her near-flawless performance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfsf2gbR4K8  

Whether you’re playing Tetris or writing a funding proposal, this level of mental intensity is not easy to achieve. Figure out how to get there, then stay as long as you can. When it slips away, take a break. Take 20 or 30 minutes to grab a snack or go for a walk. Let your mind rest, then come back and start again.

You can’t always get what you want (Rolling Sones) 
You build and build and wait for a “straight” piece to clear off a whole bunch. Guess what? The stick is just one of the 7 pieces that fall, so chances are 7 to 1 you won’t get what you want. Not right away, at least. You’ll get something you think might work, but then you’ll get something that doesn’t fit at all, and you’ll get three or four clunkers in a row. In real life, this translates to settling for something that’s not quite right or ending up in a job that pays the bills but shrivels the soul. Know what? It’s not the end of the world. Patience my friend, Eventually the right piece shows.

But if you try sometimes you might find, You get what you need (More Stones)
I used to think “Tetris or nothing” stacking and stacking, holding out way too long. Sometimes I would get a stick at the right time, and get my Tetris. Most of the time, however, I would just stack everything up to the top and that would be the end of my game. Sometimes it’s ok to knock off two or three lines at a time and keeping everything manageable and mediocre while waiting for the big move. The key is to sustain and survive until you see your opportunity for that big move. Keep your end goals in mind, but don’t feel bad about making some mediocre moves along the way.

You gotta have faith.
You know what you want. Just a bunch of shapes that come together then the stick piece at just the right time. right? Well, take heart and know that there is always a stick piece coming. Good things are out there, but you must be patient. Keep at it, have faith, and eventually, the right pieces fall into place.

You can’t rely on faith alone.
Strategy helps. The Tetris powers that be seem to favor those who indulge in a bit of planning. Faith is important because there is definitely a stick piece coming.  Having a strategy and plan is equally important. Sure, the left side of the screen tracks each piece, but it doesn’t give you the bigger picture or help you predict the immediate future. A little forethought can go a long way. Keep your game manageable as you practice patience. Get a line here and there, keep yourself in the game. Before you know it bingo, you’re on a roll. 

Bias for action beats doing nothing.
The number one killer in the game of Tetris is overthinking and hesitation. “Should I put it here, or flip it over there?” This might translate into, “Should I take this course or apply for this position or that one?” Speed in dealing with circumstances and opportunities matters in business and in life. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study.
 Spend too much time mulling as the pieces fall, and you miss out. Think about what you do, but DO SOMETHING!

The more you do it, the better you get.
The more time you spend playing, the higher your average score. The same goes for life. A great photographer takes a lot of pictures to come up with several that are exceptional. If you’re a writer, write a lot of stories. Little by little, more and more of them will be good. Same with anything. Keep at it, you’ll get better.

It doesn’t get easier
Your reward for doing well? You get to it all again, only tougher!
In Bruce Lee’s final film, the hero yips, yowls, and Eee…yahs! his way to the top of a multi-level pagoda, crushing bad guys of different fighting styles on each floor. His quest is to retrieve something sacred, though it’s never named.
On each floor, the opponents are more badass-y than the last. On the top floor, he faces the towering 7’2” Kareem Abdul Jabbar, whose martial arts style and prowess match his own. 
You can watch this epic battle here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ic2k2P_FG0 
When he discovers the big man’s vulnerability to light, that’s the tactical advantage our feisty little hero needs to prevail.
Remember. No one is asking you start on the 19th level. But if you’ve already gotten past the first 18, then why not try?

Turn off the music.
When I’m driving and looking intently for a street address, I instinctively turn off the music to help me look.
Don’t know exactly how that works but it does.
When you stack your pieces too high, the music in Tetris speeds up. This creates the illusion that the pieces are moving faster. They aren’t. Don’t cave or freak out.  Music distraction only diverts your focus. Know your deadlines, but don’t worry about them. Keep your objective in mind, and finish strong.

I love it when a plan comes together
The whole reason I and millions of others play Tetris is that every now and then you get that perfect coming together. Piece-piece-piece-TETRIS! Piece-piece-TETRIS! Sometimes it just flows, and it all fits together perfectly.

I love that feeling. It’s the best. No one expects life to work like that all the time, but sometimes it does.

Love it, appreciate it, and know that it’s ok to look forward to it.
 What’s your favorite summertime game obsession? And why?

Visit me at https:// LorneEpp.com and drop me a line. I’d love to hear what’s going on for you this summer.

Until next time. 


Beginnings, Endings, Messes in the Middle

Hi there!

Welcome to my front porch.

It’s the place I love to read, think, meditate, and visit.
For several glorious weeks a year, the porch becomes central to my existence. It’s a place where neighbors of all kind, nature and the divine all seem to seamlessly come together. 

Here it’s the aroma of a woodstove fire intermingled with freshly brewed coffee that sets the stage  for conversation or meditation with a back drop of snow-capped peaks. All senses seem to be heightened and enlivened in the rarified mountain air. Even regular Columbia dark roast drip tastes exotic in this setting.

It’s a place where I can be unplugged… yet connected to the people and things I care about.

It’s not unusual for a raucus Kingfisher or curious fox or even mule deer to come visiting at the porch. They are such regulars we name them. Mutt and Jeff, the young mule deer twins seem to like the smell of my coffee. A lot of sniffing going on.

Technically I’m on holidays, but I’m such a ravin’  fan of you all, I didn’t want to miss to opportunity to connect. This months’ blog post is coming to you via a satellite dish, a solar panel and a couple or truck batteries. A quintessential blend of high tech and old school seems to get the job done.

Beginnings: Endings: Messes In The Middle

As usual, I’m writing as much to myself as I am to you.

Our lives are shaped by a series of stories, each with its own unique trajectory woven together in the fabric of life.

We leave home. We make a new home. We enter our career building and family raising years. Eat. Sleep. Work. Rest. Repeat. There’s a few other things thrown in of course. 

We end one piece of our life’s work and begin another. 
Endings and beginnings are bittersweet—we celebrate each with a keen awareness of the other.


There’s emphatic and universal agreement on the importance of good beginnings. 
We celebrate marriages, ship launchings, grand openings, new babies and a ton of other stuff with great optimism. A good start provides a strong and sound foundation for a relationship, where a bad start often results in a lot of extra work to get things back on track, or else the relationship might simply go from bad to worse, and then fail.

When people join a system (a family, a group, a function or an organization), that system has an established purpose. The people who join need to bring something of value to that system’s purpose or else they don’t find their place.

A good beginning depends on having a clear sense of belonging from the beginning!

The Messy Middle:

Here’s where things get interesting. 

The world changes. The ground shifts. Things go horribly wrong. Opposition or inadequacies arise. Loss, crisis, hardship. People can get horribly stuck. Sometimes we find we’re running flat- out only to discover we’re running in the wrong direction. Weariness and wilderness wandering sets in. It’s the “make it or break it zone” where people have the opportunity to turn struggles into strengths, or find whole new levels of personal resilience. 

Author Bill George in his book “Finding Your True North“ describes this fairly predictable life crisis as a “crucible experience” that tests us as leaders to our limits. As painful as these experiences might be, the crucible challenges our underlying assumptions about who we are.

Crucible times help us redefine our values and priorities and force us to come to grips with our view of ourselves and our place in this world! 


Why are endings and having things end well so important?

If you and I are fortunate enough to navigate the messy middle and get to have a say in how things end off, then we are truly blessed. As I come to a close of my MTR time, I truly count myself as that. 

Good endings ensure that the next person who follows can begin unencumbered. But it’s inevitable that endings and beginnings all come around; if a new person brings something left over from another place, they bring those dynamics into the new situation. Ideally, everyone will leave their old situations well and bring the full-bodied gifts from their past into their present.

Think about a time when you left a situation or relationship in good shape with no regrets. It might have felt like everything that needed to be said was said and now you were free to go on to your next chapter with the acknowledgement and best wishes of others.  

Acknowledgements might include:

  • the recognition of what you’ve accomplished
  • the possibilities of others building on your contribution 
  • the part you had played in this system even though you happen to be leaving
  • the value of the experience
  • the gifts you developed that you’ll be taking with you
  • the memories and friendships you’ll take with you
  • the appreciation you feel
  • possibly the sadness at leaving
  • the joy of what was coming next

Acknowledging these things is a key practice in creating a healthy, thriving workplace culture. 

When these things are said, we can look each other in the eye, trade a knowing smile around the amazing things we’ve accomplished together and feel free to move forward on a good basis! 

Oh yeah. It’s not all about me. Just tryin’ to live it out as I move on this month.  
Got any beginnings, endings or messes you’re dealing with right now? 
Drop me a line. Always thrilled to hear from you and respond.


Threescore and Ten: What It Feels Like

Hey there,

Recent studies have shown that the more birthdays you have the longer you’ll live. Who knew! 

The Very Best Work I Do Is Here
It’s an early go today so I’m jumpstarting with a hand crafted double shot Americano from my trusty stove top espresso maker. Each month I look forward  to bringing you the best of ideas that are actionable towards our growth and support as leaders of a foremost community service organization. They are based in our vision and values. They come near the top of the month and that’s on purpose. It’s to inform us, inspire us, keep us focused on the realities of the month ahead.

I write about leadership in life, and connecting the dots between work, relationships, faith, leadership and human nature. So please grab a coffee, tea, kale smoothie or whatever you love to drink, put your feet up and spend a little time with me. 

I always look forward to this time. And thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.

Hitting Threescore and Ten: Here’s What It Feels Like 
Things I’ve Loved and Learned Along The Way
Recent studies have shown that the more birthdays you have the longer you’ll live. Who knew! 
So…….If 50 is the new 30, and 60 is the new 40, then is it too far-fetched to assume that 70 is the new 50?
Here’s the thing. My current existential crisis is that my 70th birthday just went whizzing by yet somehow, I still feel remarkably un-different.
While it’s tempting to make light of the hefty number of years I’ve spent on this planet, something is calling me to hit it hard and head on — no cutesy euphemisms about “70 being the new 50,” etc. I think it’s time to just call it.

I’m officially now a “more vintage” dude.
I’ve always thought of “older” being at least 15 years beyond where I was at any given time and conversely younger people were just varying degrees of younger. There does seem to be more and more of those younger types these days.
My friend Don (younger) says “I keep forgetting how old you are Lorne. You still have all your hair and teeth” while my neighbor Ray (older) snorts “Ha! you’re still just a kid!“
While today’s 70 is nothing like the 70 year olds of my parents’ Geritol generation, there is no dodging the fact that turning 70 marks a whole new escapade in life. The one we used to call “old age.”
I’m still bending my brain around what is “old” exactly? And what does it mean to be 70 in a society that worships youthfulness and people strive to maintain it at all costs?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: From my current vantage point, getting older is exactly what I tell myself it is, no more and no less. (Much like everything else in life)  I’d like to think I’ve earned a few more time outs. It doesn’t mean I need to set up camp there and have a snooze. I love the senior discounts on my favorite things and the surprised looks that comes when I ask for them.
Staying moving for me means more than just remaining physically active, although doing so is critical for us more vintage dudes. Getting older also means learning to appreciate each day as a new adventure challenge with the possibility of a few random aches and pains. There is still much to be discovered!
At age 70, I appreciate the verve and the discipline of my younger dude self who put in time at the gym keeping fit and strong, so that today, I can keep on moving, physically, intellectually, spiritually and creatively. It allows me to hoist the grandkids and chainsaw down firewood trees up at the lake. (dead ones of course)
I appreciate more than ever my lifelong love of learning new stuff, my boundless curiosity about people and what makes them tick. I appreciate my capacity to focus intently and navigate complexity better than most. I appreciate that boyhood dude that still lives in me who always wants to know and see what’s next and is committed to figuring out a way to get there.
Things I’ve Loved And Learned Along The Way
To be clear this is not a comprehensive list. That would be way too long. And If I were writing this tomorrow it might be entirely different.
I’ve learned that Parkison’s Law actually works and can be applied to almost anything.
IE. The work always expands to fit the time allowed. The junk always expands to fit the space allowed. Brain monkeys always occupy whatever brain space they are given and on and on. Lesson: healthy boundaries work.  Book of Proverbs – anywhere
Then there’s the Law of Randomness that kicks in every once in a while, randomly of course, and makes life totally uncertain, unpredictable and sometimes tragic.
I’ve learned to cherish friendships. Good ones are hard to find so I work hard at keeping them. Kinda like a bank account, you have to open up and make some deposits and not just withdraw. My best friendships have been tested by time and adversity. So-so friendships always need a bit more of a test drive before investing.
I love “Whoa” moments. A true “Whoa” moment is hard to come by and ever harder to maintain for very long, but you realize that somehow it profoundly changes you. It’s the difference between an amazing photograph and some astounding facts about Niagara Falls and the experience of standing right there at the railing at the brink with the thundering roar of the water and the earth shaking beneath your feet and the heavy mist hanging in the air and clinging to your skin.
I love gazing up at the sheer enormity and beauty of the Milky Way in the clear northern sky realizing that that our little solar system and sun is only one of several hundred billion others in our galaxy alone. Whoa!  
Moments like these bring on some intense combination of awe, elation, sadness, wonder and clarity. More than anything they make me feel ridiculously and profoundly humble and weirdly insignificant.
It was a moment like that years ago, where I determined to work solely on the things that bring me joy with people I love. Life pushes back on that now and then, but yes, that’s been the “stay the course” life strategy for me.
I’ve learned it really pays to check my default settings every once in a while.
You know when that little wheel thingy starts spinning endlessly in the top left corner on my screen of life, it’s time to hit “Force Quit” and check those settings that govern my responses, attitudes and interactions with others.
Gratitude vs. self-pity
Generous vs. selfish
Benefit of the doubt vs. instant skepticism
Showing up and caring vs.not
Quick to listen, slow to speak vs. not
Trusting vs. wary
Thinking critically vs. being critical
Bias for action vs. waiting ‘til things are exactly perfect.
Focusing only on downsides vs. acknowledging upsides
Some things that haven’t changed: I want to be healthier. I want to be more creative. I want to find what is hidden inside of me, dig around, unleash it. I want to find the strength to do that. It’s not an easy to thing to do. To scrape the dirt and dust that collects inside of ourselves. To explore. To wander. To create.
Thanks to each one of you for spending this time with me every month for some years now and sharing this amazing journey. I plan on sticking around and “doing life together” for at least another 20, so stay tuned. 
I’ll keep sending back postcards from this new frontier.
Older dudes that inspire me.
Moses – didn’t start his life’s work until he was 80 
Nelson Mandela – didn’t hit his peak influence ‘til 76, tried a brief retirement but then un-retired at 85 
BB King was still writing tunes, rockin’ it out and touring in his late 80’s 
Just sayin ‘ 
Got any Whoa! moments you care to share ?
Any default settings you’re struggling with right now?

I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.  


Dealing With My Monkey Brain

Opening up this blogpost is one of the better decisions you’ll make today. You’re one step closer to being a smarter, happier, and just generally more interesting and well-adjusted human being. Way to go!

Every month you can look forward to a hand-crafted, expertly curated blogpost and update from me on the 1st of every month except when that falls on Sundays. That’s because I like to slack off on Sundays and do other super cool things that others might not understand.
I write about life, leadership, faith, relationships, hard work and connecting the dots to try and make it all come together. I love learning new things and I love helping others do better. My goal with this monthly reach out is to propel us toward excellence in becoming better servant leaders. Most importantly, it keeps us tracking with each other and our work together.
Grab a cup of your favorite hot drink and let’s hang out for a bit. I’m tending a mug of ambrosial Guatemala blend. It’s a Christmas gift that I’m trying to make last. Thanks, out there.
You know who you are.

 Dealing With My Monkey Brain
 So I’m at Starbucks with my friend Brad, solving the world’s problems over a Grande Americano and he asks a vaguely disquieting question.

“How are you really doing with this whole resignation thing? “ I could have easily skated around that one with a stock “doing ok.” In a moment of radical candor, I had to confess there were times I was  was dealing with the monkeys in my brain on this one.

This doesn’t happen often for me, but it does happen. You know how your mind can race around in 14 directions?
Monkey Brain Syndrome is “brain gone wild” due to excessive multi-tasking and hurried activities fueled by addictive technology, media stimuli overload, and the rigours of everyday life demands.
Our 86 billion neutrons in our brain that regulate our thinking/feeling processes get over charged and start crashing into each other at warp speed. The next thing you know, the thinking/feeling train starts coming off the track.
Engaging in this frenetic brain activity has diminished our ability to complete simple tasks accurately, think clearly, accomplish a fulfilling day’s work, maintain a healthy body, develop meaningful relationships, grow and have fun.
We may be at risk of losing control of our most important personal asset,- focussed brain power.
The term “monkey brain” was originally attributed to Buddha more than 2500 years ago, 
He described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.

Today in the 21st century, his observations are as relevant as they were then. The digital age and smartphones are actually re-wiring our brains to have shorter and shorter attention spans.
A 2015 survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that the average adult attention span has fallen to 8 seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000.
We now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish!   
We think in McNugget time. Informational flotsam and jetsam flows unfiltered, along with the meaningful stuff in an eternal stream. We get a feel-good hit of dopamine from the perception that we’re getting things done.

Seems I can’t wait for a haircut, or stand in line at the bank, or even pause long enough for the microwave to ding, without fighting a reflexive urge to sneak a peek at my smartphone. It seems the last digital micro-high only accelerates the need for another one.

Here are some of the symptoms of Monkey Brain Syndrome

    • Inability to stay on-task longer than 10 minutes
    • Checking emails or texting more than 5 times an hour
    • Dissociative or distracted interactions
    • Random irritability at slightest delays or interruptions
    • Can’t remember what you did 30 minutes ago
    • Difficulty solving normal problems or making decisions
    • Feeling of being pulled in too many directions
    • Feeling like busyness is out of control *
    • Not enough time to get things done*
    • Making frequent mistakes
    • Nearly impossible to quiet your mind (trouble sleeping)
  • Strained relationships with people you care about

**Hurry Up Sickness **is closely related to Monkey Brain Syndrome

To some degree, we all have monkey minds with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for our attention. Fear is an especially obnoxious monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. Ego, is very loud, pushy monkey and wants a lot of airtime. Then there’s Doubt, Not-Good- Enough, Rationalization. Perfection and Procrastination and Rebellion all on a rampage, swinging from limb to limb, agitated and noisy.
I’ve been around long enough to have developed a few personal antidote strategies.

    • S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Not to the point where my productivity lags, but enough to remember that I will get everything done eventually – it doesn’t have to be right now. Manana is sometimes a good day to get things done.
    • Take a few deep cleansing breaths – I prefer an outside walk and imagine the new air circulating through my body, revitalizing and refreshing me.
    • Take a mini break. Nearly all well-known creatives do this. IE Einstein was well known for his violin breaks. Me, I prefer guitar.
    • Have routine daily quiet time meditation.
    • Count blessings – instead of the numerous tasks at hand. We are all blessed with so much goodness in our lives– we just need to remind ourselves of those special things and people in our lives.
  • Stay positive – The game plan for each day emerges from God’s drafting room. Even with its hang ups and bang ups, I need to give it a chance to unfold. Trust more. Stress less. Dial up gratitude. Mute grumbling. Stay true to what I’m about

Author Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) has three great questions to help manage our emotions.
1. “What’s the real reason I’m feeling this?” 
Maybe the answer is fear or worry. Maybe it relates to something someone said to you years ago that was never resolved. 
2. “Is it true?”  
Is what you’re feeling at that moment true? Have a good listen to what you hear yourself saying . You’re acting like you’re the only one trying to do the right thing in the whole world! No. That’s not true.” 
3. “Is what I’m feeling helping me or hurting me?” 
Will you get what you want by continuing to feel this way? A lot of feelings we have seem natural, but they’re actually self-defeating. 
Let’s say you go to a restaurant, and the service is extremely slow. You wait a long time to be served, and then a couple comes in 15 minutes after you and gets their food before you do. You get increasingly more irritated until you feel something welling up inside you. 
What’s the real reason you’re feeling that way? You’re hungry! 
Is it true? Yes. You’re frustrated because the service is slow. But is your emotion helping or hurting? It’s hurting. Do you get better service by getting angry with the server? Absolutely not. 
Does nagging work? Has it ever worked? When somebody tells you all the things you’re doing wrong, does it make you want to change? No! All it does is make you defensive. 
When you ask yourself these three questions, you get a better grip on why you feel the way you do and what you need to do to help the situation. 
That’s called managing your emotions. 
Brad’s deadpan assessment?
“Don’t feed the monkeys!” 

Have great month of March! 
Got any monkey’s you’re dealing with right now?  I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.