Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Truth in Similarity




To find Truth seek similarity, not difference. Look not at outward stylistic separateness, but at the inward principle sameness. Understand the Core... the Why... the principles that make the manifestation. Recognize difference, but seek similarity. The embodiment of truth comes in many forms. The word of truth translates into many languages. Although outer appearances may differ, look deeper and you shall see the Truth.

~Craig Gray

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Re-Imagine

 


"People are not so much looking for the meaning of life as much as they are seeking the experience of feeling alive." 

~Joseph Campbell




I sit here on the edge of life grasping at a profound feeling that is bubbling up in the outer reaches of my consciousnesses. I reach through the ethereal searching to communicate some meaning; some heart felt wisdom to share, but the fingers of my mind once again fail to grasp the intangible nature of an experience that alludes my ability to articulate it...

I often run across people who are searching for something: Meaning, Fulfillment, Safety, Peace, Adventure, Answers of all sorts... Words are often a poor medium of communication during these conversations. Sharing experiences from my path is only that; experience that I am having on my journey. All of our journeys are different and uniquely our own. We all enter the forest alone where no foot has trodden.

So THAT said, lets talk about this idea of Re-Imagining. Recently I had coffee with a dynamic guy by the name of Gabor George Burt.

In 2011 Gabor wrote an innovative book called Slingshot . In his book Gabor discusses how the creativity that we had as a child is often tragically lost to us as we become adults. So he teaches people how to "Re-Imagine our lives and careers." He gives simple steps to re-activate that creativity and then helps us to apply that creativity to our lives.

I especially liked Gabor's approach because he not only talked about his ideas; he also gives people a methodology for the shift and the ability to apply those new concepts to their lives AND have fun doing it! What could be better than that?! This approach was in alignment with my PeaceWalker Leadership Model of Respect, Protect & Empower (more on that in another blog post).

The Five Aspects of Gabor's Slingshot process are:

Slingshot Framework
Gabor's approach helps organizations to find out why they need to infatuate their target audience and to provide them continuous lifestyle enrichment; how to become market-driving and to shape their (business) offering for broadest relevance; and how to channel their reclaimed creativity into smart strategy. Launching people to new business and personal heights and have fun doing it.

Now, I don't want to steal Gabor's thunder so to speak, so you'll have to read his book to find out for yourself, but needless to say Gabor is a very busy guy helping people and organizations from all over the world Re-Imagine their business and lives. 

Before I go on, let me first share how Gabor and I became acquainted:

I was fortunate enough to meet Gabor, because of his interest in Krav Maga. I remember talking to him on the phone. He had many questions for me. He explained that due to his crazy busy travel schedule coming to regular on-going classes wasn't really possible for him, so he wondered if seminars or private training would be beneficial. I gave him my opinion and some options for him regarding training, emphasizing attending some seminars that might fit his schedule better than standard classes. I was somewhat surprised to see him come to one of my workshops... and then another... and another... Gabor also quickly connected with some others who train with us, who he felt connected with.

On our first meeting Gabor told me what he did and was gracious enough to give me a copy of his book (and signed it for me too!). I was very intrigued. Later I read his book and liked the ideas that he shared. His perspective resonated with me. He spoke of adversity being an opportunity as well as re-imaging the present to shape your future. Which paralleled what I would say regarding using Conflict as an Opportunity and the Decisions You Make Today Will Change the Life You Live Tomorrow.

Well, my approach must have resonated with him as well, because not only does he continue to come back to train, but also he and I are discussing the possibility of collaborating; maybe doing a project or two together. Bringing together our two worlds of empowerment could be very powerful. I am excited about the possibility of it. Not to mention I love working with people who are in their zone so to speak, meaning that they are doing what they love and making a difference inspiring others!

So stay tuned regarding this collaboration (and others!)... In the meantime if you are looking to "Re-Imagine" your life, business or career, pick up Gabor's book: Slingshot!

All the best,
~Craig




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lessons Under Pressure

 

It is testing time at our Krav Maga Academy  here in Grand Rapids. It is a time that we ramp our training up in preparation for the upcoming test. It is a time of hard work, sweat, perseverance, discipline, commitment to yourself and the task you have chosen to work toward. People will have a chance to test their limits, and face uncertainties & fears, not just physically, but on a much deeper level than most realize. The true test isn't physical, it comes on the mental / emotional level. The physical aspects of the test are just the method of injecting the other lessons. It is a way to put enough pressure on the individual to be able to learn things about themselves that might not be apparent without a certain amount of stress.

I've noticed over the past few weeks that some students who have engaged in sparring with people who have more skill then they do have succumb to a victim's mentality. With every strike that their opponent lands on them and every failed attempt that they deliver, their perspective erodes into frustration, doubt, fear and hesitation. Soon some are thinking things like:

I suck!
I'll never be good enough!
Everyone is better than I am!
If this was real I would never be able to defend myself!
I'll probably fail my test!
I will let down my fellow students and my instructor! 
That bastard, why did he even have me test? Just to be humiliated?
I should just quit! 
I'm to busy to do this right now... Too much going on in my life.
This is crap only if I were: Taller, Bigger, Younger, In Better Shape, More Athletic, Had More Experience, etc, etc.

The thoughts creep in like a thief in the night, quietly sneaking in stealing your confidence and shifting your focus; replacing your perspective of empowerment to that of a victim.

Learning to deal with this mental shift is a large part of tests like this. The delivery mechanism is physical, but the lessons are so much more profound if you have the right perspective.   

Let's look at a victim's perspective vs. an empowered perspective:

Victim's Perspective:

The focus is on:


  1. The Problem
  2. Their Emotions
  3. Their Limitations (What they can't control)


An Empowered (PeaceWalker) Perspective:

The focus is on:

  1. Solutions / The big picture
  2. Options (What they CAN control)
  3. Action (What's the Next Step)

Practice embracing and using the PeaceWalker's Empowered Perspective and see how your world changes. I'll give you a hint: When YOU change, you'll notice your world changes when you put things into perspective. Understand that learning a skill is a Process! Look for small victories as well as areas that you still need to work on. Practice!


When you find yourself facing things that overwhelm and threaten you whether in a class, for a test or in real life, try to take time to breathe, relax, let go for a moment to think of the above steps.

And most of all Keep Going!

All the best,
~Craig

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Don't Hope... Decide!

 


While waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon, I had one of those life-changing experiences that you hear other people talk about — the kind that sneaks up on you unexpectedly. This one occurred a mere two feet away from me.
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Straining to locate my friend among the passengers deplaning through the jet way, I noticed a man coming toward me carrying two light bags. He stopped right next to me to greet his family.
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First he motioned to his youngest son (maybe six years old) as he laid down his bags. They gave each other a long, loving hug. As they separated enough to look in each other’s face, I heard the father say, “It’s so good to see you, son. I missed you so much!” His son smiled somewhat shyly, averted his eyes and replied softly, “Me, too, Dad!”
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Then the man stood up, gazed in the eyes of his oldest son (maybe nine or ten) and while cupping his son’s face in his hands said, “You’re already quite the young man. I love you very much, Zach!” They too hugged a most loving, tender hug.
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While this was happening, a baby girl (perhaps one or one-and-a-half) was squirming excitedly in her mother’s arms, never once taking her little eyes off the wonderful sight of her returning father. The man said, “Hi, baby girl!” as he gently took the child from her mother. He quickly kissed her face all over and then held her close to his chest while rocking her from side to side. The little girl instantly relaxed and simply laid her head on his shoulder, motionless in pure contentment.
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After several moments, he handed his daughter to his oldest son and declared, “I’ve saved the best for last!” and proceeded to give his wife the longest, most passionate kiss I ever remember seeing. He gazed into her eyes for several seconds and then silently mouthed. “I love you so much!” They stared at each others eyes, beaming big smiles at one another, while holding both hands.
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For an instant they reminded me of newlyweds, but I knew by the age of their kids that they couldn’t possibly be. I puzzled about it for a moment then realized how totally engrossed I was in the wonderful display of unconditional love not more than an arm’s length away from me. I suddenly felt uncomfortable, as if I was invading something sacred, but was amazed to hear my own voice nervously ask, “Wow! How long have you two been married?
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“Been together fourteen years total, married twelve of those.” he replied, without breaking his gaze from his lovely wife’s face. “Well then, how long have you been away?” I asked. The man finally turned and looked at me, still beaming his joyous smile. “Two whole days!”
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Two days? I was stunned. By the intensity of the greeting, I had assumed he’d been gone for at least several weeks – if not months. I know my expression betrayed me.
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I said almost offhandedly, hoping to end my intrusion with some semblance of grace (and to get back to searching for my friend), “I hope my marriage is still that passionate after twelve years!”
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The man suddenly stopped smiling.
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He looked me straight in the eye, and with forcefulness that burned right into my soul, he told me something that left me a different person. He told me, “Don’t hope, friend… decide!” Then he flashed me his wonderful smile again, shook my hand and said, “God bless!”
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- By Michael D. Hargrove


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It's a Tuesday night, I'm sipping on a tasty stout, watching what I believe will be a cheezy B flick horror movie, feeling more than a bit melancholy. I like this short story (above) and feel that it's true (that's why I chose to share it with you), but if you really know me you may understand when I say that the concept presented in this simple story is something that I am still working on; something that I still struggle with, especially with my close relationships.

All of my life I have been a free spirit, a ronin in pretty much everything, including my personal life. As I continue to get older this aspect of my personality continues to change. I don't really have many regrets in my life, it's been really quite an extraordinary ride so far,  however I do feel myself changing as time marches on. I am beginning to look at things a little differently, however seasons change not overnight but over time.

Some days I remember more than others. Like you, some days I hurt more than others. I am grateful for those people in my life present, past and future. Thank you to everyone who has walked in front of, behind or beside me during some part of my journey. I am especially thankful for those who carried me when I could not walk on my own. I know I'm not always the easiest person to be a friend (or more) with, but I continue to do my best as much as I can in the moments that I have.

A good friend of mine has told me on numerous occasions that "commitment is easier, because once you commit you know what to do, the rest are just details."   Who knows, he may be right. If you liked this story I shared, then you'll probably agree his words may have hit the nail on the head. (Please don't tell him though, his head is already big enough, he really doesn't need any more encouragement in that department!). 

Decide to be grateful for those people in your life that make it what it is. Seek out people in your life that inspire you, that make you laugh, that make you a better person, ones you enjoy spending some  of your journey with and when you find those people, don't forget to let them know every day what they mean to you!

Anyway I'm going to get back to my B-flick and I'm sure you have things to do too, like call that special someone and let them know how much you care... I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. 

Until next time.

Take care,
~Craig