Archives For manhood

“I think if someone gets kicked in the face it is their fault – they watched the foot come towards their face.”

– Kevin Hart

We have a wonderful 13-year-old black Labrador retriever named Iso.  Today, he bit me, and it was all my fault.

Let me explain before you go calling for his disposal.

Iso celebrated New Year’s by getting sick.  Sunday, I woke up to a mess in the mud room.  Thankfully, it could easily be cleaned up.  Unfortunately, this was repeated several times Sunday and Monday while our family was either sleeping or away from the house unable to let him outside to take care of himself.

Finally on Monday morning, Leanne called the veterinarian who provided us with a week’s worth of two oral medications and some sort of canine probiotic for his food.  In order to give Iso his oral medication, I have to physically open his jaw, insert the pills down his throat, and quickly close his mouth to make sure the pills go down.

This morning while I was giving him his medication, Iso clamped down on my left thumb while I was giving him his medication.  I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt me.  (If you’ve ever met Iso, you know he wouldn’t hurt anyone.)  He just didn’t like the presence of my hand down his throat.

I quickly realized he had punctured my skin in two places, so I washed up the wound, put on a couple of band-aids, and headed out the door to work.

The who incident made me think of this video that went viral a few years ago.

Charlie’s brother put his own finger in his brother’s mouth and then wondered why Charlie bit his finger.

We live in a culture of blame – of passing the buck.  We find ourselves in a troubling situation, and we look for someone besides ourselves to take responsibility for the problems we face.

Iso bit my finger, because I had my hand in his mouth.  It was all my fault.

As a husband and a father, it’s time for us to take responsibility for our failures.  Believe me, I fail all the time.  It’s time to put an end to passing the buck to our spouses, our children, our pets, and others around us.

It’s time to recognize our failings and find ways to overcome them in the future by taking responsibility for our actions, by learning, and by making the necessary changes in our lives.

The next time I give Iso his medication, I’ll find another way to make sure I don’t leave my hands in his mouth.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

– Henry Ford

Do you struggle with personal responsibility?  Share your thoughts on the topic in the comments below.

Time to Man Up

December 19, 2016 — Leave a comment

are-you-ready

“A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.”

– Frank Abagnale

As men, we chase so many pursuits.  We want to climb the ladder at work as fast as possible.  We want to be the best athlete we can be.  We want to have the best things – the nicest car, the biggest house, the greenest lawn.  We over-involve ourselves in a variety of hobbies.  And we put so much attention on our favorite sports teams.

I’m not saying that any of these things are wrong, but I think our focus is often misguided.

If you were to create a list of your priorities and the way you spend your time, where would your wife and kids fit into the list?

If your marriage and your kids aren’t near the top of your list, it’s time for you reconsider your schedule and your priorities.

Last week, I announced the new Stretched Men Group website (www.stretchedmengroup.com), and I opened up sign-ups for first three-month mastermind in 2017.  For more information about the group, click here.

The Stretched Men Group is designed to help you understand your current list of priorities, to help you establish your desired list of priorities, and to help you create action steps required to get you from where you are to where you want to be.

The Stretched Men Group is also designed to help you find the accountability you need to make sure your good intentions become a reality.

Your wife and kids need this from you!

It’s time to man up!

If you are curious and want to learn more, I’d love to talk with you.  Sign up below, so we can set up a time to talk.

 

Men – It’s Not Too Late!

December 12, 2016 — 2 Comments

promo-smg

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

– George Eliot

Do you feel as though life is rushing by and your opportunities for influence are slipping away?

Does it seems like your parenting journey, your marriage, and your life is a blur as the calendar pages change at rapid pace?

Do you think it’s too late to be the dad, the husband, the leader, or the man you want to be?

You are not alone!

“THE MASS OF MEN LEAD LIVES OF QUIET DESPERATION”

– Henry David Thoreau

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Stretched Men Group and the new website that goes with this paid mastermind.

www.stretchedmengroup.com

The Stretched Men Group is designed to help you take the next step in your journey to becoming the man you were meant to be.  Through valuable teaching, customized coaching, and essential conversation with other men, you will be challenged and held accountable to take the next step as you go through the next three months with the men in this group and me.

For more information on the Stretched Men Group, click here.

Also, if you know a man who needs to take the next step, I’d love to connect with him.  Let him know about the group and send him to the site, so he can sign up.

I’m accepting new sign-ups for a group launching in January until December 31, 2016.  Don’t wait.  Sign up TODAY!

IT'S TIME TO ASK FOR HELP

I don’t like asking for help.

I came back from Guatemala almost six weeks ago with a cough I picked up at the end of our trip.  A week after our trip, I figured the cough would go away as I began to feel better.  Unfortunately, my cough has persisted.

Finally, I made a visit to the doctor’s office on Monday evening.  The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and an over-the-counter cough medication.  Next week, I’ll return to the doctor’s office for a follow-up checkup to make sure the cough goes away.

I don’t go to the doctor’s office very often.  Thankfully, I’m generally very healthy.  But honestly, I tend to try to beat whatever illness I’m fighting with rest, time, and home remedies.

In this case, it was time to get some help.

Men often do a terrible job when it comes to asking for help.  We don’t like to ask for directions, and we typically don’t want to appear weak by asking for anyone’s help.

We’ll drive around lost for an hour if it means we don’t have to stop to ask for directions.

Does this sound like you?

Do you struggle to ask for help?

It’s great to be independent, but we need people in our lives who will push us forward, who will give us a hand when we need help, and who will hold us accountable to take action on things we’ve been avoiding.

Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Next week, I’m launching the Stretch Man Mastermind.  This is an opportunity to get the help you need.

The idea for a mastermind group was developed in part based on a conversations I’ve had with men who have approached me about mentoring them.

“No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.”
Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

This is humbling – to say the least.  It’s also a bit overwhelming.  (How do I find time to meet with these guys who want my attention?)

After a lot of prayer, thought, and conversations with other men and my family, I’ve decided to launch a three-month, on-line paid mastermind group for men starting next week.

The group is made of men who want to intentionally “stretch” their marriages, their parenting, and their manhood.  The group is meeting on-line (via Zoom) every other week.  After our initial kick-off/get-to-know you meeting, the bi-weekly meetings will consist of a 15-20 minute teaching time where I will share with the group.  After that, we will rotate a hot seat from week to week.  On the hot seat, one guy will bring up an issue or question in which he needs help, and the group will discus the issue/question/topic with the purpose of helping each man STRETCH.  (The hot seat time will typically last 30-45 minutes each week.)

The group will have a private Facebook group for communication in-between our bi-weekly meetings.

And I will be reaching out to each man in the group two or three times throughout the session for one-on-one coaching/conversation and for feedback.

I’m looking forward to the community and accountability that will come out of this group.

Most men are missing this kind of man-to-man interaction in their lives.  And I believe this mastermind will raise the bar for each of the men in the group.  I still have a couple of open spots in the group, and I’d love to fill them before next week.

Is it time for you to ask for help?

If this sounds like something you need in your life or if you simply want to learn more, please contact me so we can schedule a phone conversation.  Leave a comment below or fill out the form below.  Let’s connect.  I’d love to talk with you!

(Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested in the Stretch Man Mastermind.  Thanks!)

SENDING YOUR CHILD TO COLLEGE-1

Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.

Garrison Keillor

IMG_5087One week from yesterday, we will be delivering Hannah, our oldest child, to Messiah College for the start of cross-country season and her freshman year.

Hannah will be spending this week working, finalizing her packing, and saying her goodbyes to her friends.  Hopefully, she’ll have a few minutes for her family.

Hannah is ready to go.  And as hard as it will be for Leanne and me, I think we will be ready as well.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t want to rush things.  We will miss Hannah dearly and we will look forward to seeing her whenever possible, but we would fail as parents if we didn’t launch her onto this next stage of her life.

As parents, we do our best to point our children at the right target.  Like an archer holds an arrow on the bowstring keeping his sights on the target, we’ve kept Hannah on the bowstring of our family.  We’ve done our best to point her to the right target – spiritually, financially, socially, and in other areas of life.

But an arrow is not meant to stay on the bowstring forever.  An arrow is meant to fly towards the target and ultimately to hit the target, and this only happens when the archer releases the arrow from his grip.  And our children aren’t meant to stay on our “bowstring.”  They are meant to fly toward the target and to find their way.  This week represents a major step in our parenting journey.  Next Sunday, we will release Hannah to fly.  We pray that she flies straight and free of obstacles, and we trust that our parenting efforts – our intentional efforts to point her to the right target – will pay off for Hannah and her future.

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was a little sad to be at this point in our parenting journey.  But my sadness is overshadowed by my happiness, joy, and excitement for Hannah.  I’m excited for what this means for our family in the coming years.  Leanne and I will get to spend some more focused time with our son, Isaac, as he heads into a big year.  I’m also looking forward to what this means in our marriage as we draw closer to the “empty nest” stage of our life.

Parenting takes us on all kinds of fun, interesting, and crazy adventures.  It’s important to stop and enjoy the moments and milestones along the way.  And it’s important to be intentional along the way.  The time with our kids goes by far more quickly than anyone can describe.  Make the most of the moments with your kids.  Take time each day to show them your love.  And do your best to point them at the right target.

If you want to connect with other fathers who want to be intentional in their parenting, their marriage, and their manhood, consider joining my new mastermind group just for men.  The Stretch Man Mastermind is all about creating a community of men who want to hit the right target.  If this sounds interesting to you, I’d love to talk.  Fill out the simple form below, and I’ll get back to you.  Spots are filling up quickly in my September – November group.  Don’t miss out!

INTRODUCING THE STRETCH MAN MASTERMIND GROUP

You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.

Mark Udall

Life is way too short to let it pass you by without a plan and without a support team.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life only to realize I had wasted my time here on earth.

I want to be intentional.  And I want to know I gave it my all.

Being a man – and specifically being a father and a husband – can be pretty challenging.  We have careers, family, friends, hobbies, and finances to balance.

I believe many men want to have deeper, more fulfilled lives, but they don’t know where to start.  Guys wander around through life afraid to ask for directions, and they miss out on living their best life ever.

Over the past several months, I’ve had multiple guys approach me in search of a mentor or a guide.  While I’m not a perfect parent or perfect spouse, they have seen something in my family and in me that makes them want to learn more.

These conversations are humbling, and I want to help.

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of the Stretch Man Mastermind Group.  (To learn more about the mastermind group concept, click here.)

What is the Stretch Man Mastermind Group?

The Stretch Man Mastermind Group is a group of men committed to meeting together for three months.  The group will meet every other week in September, October, and November.  The meetings will be held over video conferencing software, so an internet connection, a webcam, and a decent microphone will be important.

Meetings will last 60-90 minutes.

Most meetings will start with a 20 minutes teaching time where I will share on a topic designed to help guys stretch themselves.  These topics will focus on helping us become better fathers, better husbands, and better men.  Then we will have a rotating “hot seat”.  Each meeting, we will focus on a challenge or question brought to the group by one of the mastermind members.  The “hot seat” will rotate from meeting to meeting, so everyone has the opportunity to be on the “hot seat” and to focus on their challenge/question.

The first meeting will provide an opportunity for the group to get to know each other.  And we’ll jump into our normal format for the second meeting.

In between the bi-weekly meetings, the group will correspond with each other in the group’s private Facebook group.

During this inaugural three months, I will also offer two one-on-one calls with each participant to tackle your additional questions and challenges.

This paid mastermind is designed to provide the support, community and accountability you need to intentionally STRETCH your parenting, marriage, and manhood to the next level.

Spots in the Stretch Man Mastermind Group are filling up fast, and I don’t want you to miss out.

If this excites you or you want to learn more, connect with me in the comments or by leaving your information below:


WHY YOU NEED TO WRITE YOUR EULOGY TODAY

One way to evaluate your own reputation is to think about what would be said of you at your eulogy.

Brian Koslow

Have you ever taken time to write your eulogy?

Why would anyone want to write their eulogy?

While I was in Vermont last week, I worked on my eulogy and my life plan.  I spent a lot of time working on these documents.  My eulogy filled two pages in my journal, but the thoughts that went into creating the eulogy filled eleven pages of my journal.  I spent nearly three hours creating this document.

My life plan is still in progress.  I started my charting out my key accounts – the people and the areas of my life where I want to direct the bulk of my attention.  I prioritized them.  And I wrote a purpose statement for each of these accounts.  My next step was to envision the future if I were to achieve the purpose in each of these accounts.  By the time I finish, I will have an action plan – a life plan – for living my life with more intention.

I’m using Living Forward (by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy) to guide my thought process.  If you want to take a deeper look into your life, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of the book, read it, and schedule time to implement the process outlined in the book.  Click here to get your own copy of the book.

When I told a few people I was working on my eulogy, I got a mix of responses.  Some people cheered me on.  Some people said they would just let their kids and grandchildren write their eulogy.  And some people proclaimed how morbid this activity seemed to them.

It’s interesting timing for me to work on this.  I’m doing fine health wise.  I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but you never know.  Actually, the reason this timing was interesting was that my parents just sent me copies of their eulogies.  They are still alive, but they have recently experienced some health challenges that are making them take these actions.

I didn’t work on my eulogy because my parents sent me their eulogies.  I didn’t write my eulogy because I was feeling morbid.

I wrote my eulogy at the age of 44, because I want to live with intention.

Writing your own eulogy is an exercise in thinking about how you want to be remembered.  When you know how you want to be remembered, you begin to better understand the way you should live your life today.  I’m not writing my eulogy to be morbid.  I’m writing my eulogy to make sure I’m living life to the fullest.

It’s never too early to live with intention.  It’s never too early to write your eulogy.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

Have you written your eulogy?  What are you doing to live your life with intention?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

I’m in the early stages of planning a Stretched Dad Mastermind group.  I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m hoping to launch in September.  If you sign up below, I’ll get back to you with more information.

ARE YOU A FATHER_

Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.

Naveen Jain

Our world needs fathers who are present, attentive, and intentional.  Our world is plagued with poor examples of fatherhood.  We see fathers abandoning their families physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

It’s time for a change!

I’ve been a father for over 18 years.

Fatherhood has brought me some of the greatest challenges in life and some of the greatest experiences of life.

My kids are wonderful, but I’ve wrestled through sleepless nights, paralyzing fears, car accidents, and a calendar that won’t give me a break.

On the other hand, my kids have given me the chance to experience victories on the track and cross-country course, emotional highs while listening to their music, and times to just be together.

18 years of fatherhood has gone by so quickly.  When I first started on this parenting journey, I didn’t feel like some of the early struggles would ever end.  Then I blinked.  Now, I’m ready to send my oldest to college.

When you become a father, you have two choices.  You can just let it happen.  Or you can be intentional with how you parent your kids.

I’ve tried to be intentional when it coming to fathering my children, but if I’m honest, there have been many times when I’ve just let it happen.

It’s easy to let the distractions of life, of career, and of personal pursuit get in the way of being the fathers we really need to be for our children, our spouses, and our future grandchildren.  We have a responsibility to provide for our families, but we also have a responsibility to be present for them.

If you’re a dad and you feel like you could do a better job, you’re not alone.  You need to know this.  You need to know that you can start TODAY to be more intentional when it comes to fatherhood.

Part of being a more intentional father involves hanging out with other fathers who want to make the most of their time of fatherhood.  You need this kind of community for ideas, encouragement, and accountability.  Trying to be a more intentional father without the help of others may work for a short period of time, but your efforts will be much more effective when you team up with other dads.

If you’re missing out on this kind of community with other fathers, let me know.  I’m in the early stages of planning a Stretched Dad Mastermind group.  I don’t have all the details yet, but I’m hoping to launch in September.  If you sign up below, I’ll get back to you with more information.

Happy Father’s Day!

Measure Your Words

June 14, 2016 — 5 Comments

MEASURE YOUR WORDS

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Nursery Rhyme

What a lie!

Words have tremendous power to lift people up and encourage them.  They have the power to inspire and motivate.  They have the power to paint a beautiful picture.  Words can take you to the places of your dreams.  And they can take people with you if used correctly.

But there’s also a dark side to words.

Words have power to tear down and destroy.  They have the power to mislead and misrepresent.  Used incorrectly, words lie and even kill.  Words can take you to very dark places.  And they can take people with you if used incorrectly.

There’s a lot of talk about guns and immigrants lately.  People want to bring control to these two areas.  This isn’t a commentary on these debates.

What if we started by bringing more control to our tongues?

Words matter.  Don’t waste them.  Don’t use them as weapons.  Instead, find ways to be constructive when you speak and when you write.

If you want to be a man, measure your words.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

How have the words of others impacted you?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you are interested in talking about issues like this with other men, consider signing up for my men’s mastermind list.  I don’t have all the details right now, but I’m looking to see who might be interested in a group to help you become a better father, a better husband, and a better follow of Christ.  Sign up below, and I’ll keep you posted.

HOW TO RESPOND TO RAGE

The great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage.

Henry B. Eyring

The other night, Leanne and I were driving home from Philadelphia after a wonderful date night at the Walnut Street Theater.  I was driving through downtown Philadelphia making my way from City Hall to the Art Museum when I came face to face with a man in rage.
If you are familiar with the Ben Franklin Parkway around the Franklin Institute, you’ll know that the parkway bends and turns around several fountains, and right now this section of road is even more challenging to navigate thanks to significant construction in the area.
As I made my way around the area, I realized I was one lane too far to the left.  I quickly looked over my shoulder, put my right turn signal on, and began to move one lane to the right.  I immediately stopped merging right when I heard the horn of an oncoming white Honda Pilot.  The driver of the Honda pulled up beside me, and I apologetically waved him forward.  He shouted at me through our closed windows and remained right next to my vehicle.  I quickly lurched forward until he blared his horn and sped up and swerved right in front of me.
The next thing I knew, he pulled a little further ahead and opened his door to stare at me and curse me up and down.  I couldn’t hear a word of what he was saying, but I’m quite confident he wasn’t just saying “Hello.”  He was full of rage.
I stayed in my car and stared back.  Leanne repeated to me over and over again, “Stay in the car.  Stay in the car.”
According to Wikipedia:

Rage (often called fury or frenzy) is a feeling of intense, violent, or growing anger. It is sometimes associated with the fight-or-flight response, and is often activated in response to an external cue, such as an event that impacts negatively on the person. The phrase “thrown into a fit of rage” expresses the immediate nature of rage that occurs before deliberation. If left unchecked, rage may lead to violence. Depression and anxiety lead to an increased susceptibility to rage, and there are modern treatments for this emotional pattern.

When faced with someone’s rage, how do you respond?

Do you turn away?  Do you clam up?  Do you simply freeze?  Or do you respond back with anger and rage?

The responses above are all natural.  We want to be right.  We want to be heard.  And we don’t want to be treated unfairly.  So we often look for ways to take revenge.

How can we get back at the person who is unjustly throwing their anger our way?  How can we make sure we get the last word?

I think we’re looking at it all wrong.

A friend of mine recently pointed out the following passage from Romans 12:17-21:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Seriously?

Live at peace with everyone?  How is that possible especially when I want to take revenge?  Paul’s response is right on.  He calls us to overcome evil with good.  When we do this, we are actually putting “burning coals” on the head of our enemy.

I can’t go back to the person I “met” on the Ben Franklin Parkway.  I stayed away as he drove on ahead.  While I may never see him again, I can pray for him.  And I can look for ways to overcome the evil I face on a daily basis with good.

In case you are wondering, this isn’t an option for those who chose to follow Christ.  We have to find a better way.  We have to resist the urge to rage back.

Paul challenges believers in Ephesians 4:31:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Do you struggle with rage?  What are you dong to overcome evil with good?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

If you are interested in talking about issues like this with other men, consider signing up for my men’s mastermind list.  I don’t have all the details right now, but I’m looking to see who might be interested in a group to help you become a better father, a better husband, and a better follow of Christ.  Sign up below, and I’ll keep you posted.