I’m pretty sure that my name is really George Bailey

It is a Wonderful Life

We’ve all probably seen the 1946 Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a million times.  I have to be honest in that I never saw the movie until a girlfriend during my second senior year in college demanded that I watch this black and white film.

By the time you’re done with the movie, you realize that you do have it pretty well.  You also realize that the world wouldn’t be the same without you in it.  But a day or two later you get mired down in life and all that inspiration falls to the wayside until next Christmas.

Where you are is the place you are, not your destiny.

Where you are is the place you are, not your destiny.

Just this past weekend, I was scrolling through the radio stations and I heard a preacher state that God has created you to do GREAT things in life.  “You’re to live an extraordinary life,” he continued.  I didn’t hear much after that, but I can tell you that I heard the message that seemed as if it were spoken only to me.

I think that message was directed to me in that I have had dreams and visions of doing something extraordinary.  I’ve had it since I was a kid.  But what really hit me is that all these years later, it really hasn’t left me.  You see, I’ve been struggling with this for most of 2016.  What is that one thing that I can do in order to raise people up.  The ideas have morphed into a plan and specific direction.  So when I heard Mr. Radio Preacher telling me that I’m supposed to do something extraordinary, the stirring continued.

Often times I wallow in what I haven’t accomplished, and, as a result, let go of even bigger dreams.  Ouch.  Did you hear that?  My modest accomplishments don’t seem big enough so I surrender the bigger dreams instead of embracing them.

It’s not like my life isn’t extraordinary.  It is.  I have an awesome wife (Michelle) and 5 kids who keep me sharp and on my toes.  I’ve written a critically acclaimed book (although the sales aren’t NY Times levels), I’ve had sooooo many call, text and e-mail me as to the impact that I’ve had on their life.

But I know that if that was it, I may as well pick out my plot and buy a casket.  We were never called to rest on our laurels.  A bigger mountain awaits us.  So, finally, I’m incorporating and putting my dreams to paper.  I have a plan.  I’ll use my talents and learn along the way.

What is it you’re called to do?  I know it’s something that I wasn’t called to do.  The drudgery of today evaporates when you have your purpose.  It rarely drops on your lap.  You need to seek it out, and as you do it becomes more and more clear.

Proverbs 29:18 speaks truths….Where there is no vision, people perish.

Find your passion, embrace it and use your talents to achieve your dreams.

So A black man and a honky get on a plane…..

A total ReWire

So…..A black man and a white man get on a plane…..Where’s the punch line?  Oooops.  No joke….so it must be controversy.  Political incorrectness.  Did he say BLACK MAN?  What’s up with HONKY?  Maybe he should have said CRACKER.

Last week I flew back from an event in San Diego.  The event…if you will…was put on by Steve Scanlon, through his company, ReWire Inc.   ReWire is a company that helps you ReWire the way you think.  Basically, ReWire, Inc., helps people in a myriad of ways.  But one super sexy way is to get people (i.e. me) in a position to walk away from bad habits by replacing them with something awesome.  Sounds cheesy actually.  Actually for me it’s a really stupid thought.  Let me think….I’m going to give up a bad habit, or addition, and replace it with something good?  Might as well tell me that I’ll lose 50 pounds in 30 days.  Nice thought, but it ain’t gonna happen.

I’ve known Steve for years and I totally admire him. But I have to be honest…I’ve heard him ad nauseam.  A great man, but I know his routine.  I know his M.O.  I know his complete sincerity, but the problem is I KNOW HIM….and I get bored with repeat performances.  Been there….done that.

HOWEVER, in my true quest to become all that God wants me to be, I went to the ReWire event with a completely open heart.  Long story short….it rocked me.  It rocked my heart.  “AUTHENTIC, SUSTAINABLE CHANGE.”  Not 5 easy steps to $1,000,000 (yeah right).  I wanted change.  But it had to be real change.  I mean…”Good to Great” change.  I’ll fill you in on ReWire, Inc on my next post, but I have to tell you that I left a changed man….not just the head…but the heart, or in my case, the rudder of my life.

On my way back, I was exhausted.  All I wanted to do was be left alone on Southwest Airlines (you are now free to move around the country).  I was tired.  I attended ReWire and worked out with the NAVY SEALS (seriously…those guys).  As I sat there on the plane, I was wedged between a woman with a service dog and an elderly 80 year old black man.  Damn…I was the guy in the middle.

Though I wanted to be alone, I felt this little nudge that said “talk to him.”   Honestly, I didn’t want to.  Not because of him, but because I was spent and just wanted to pass out for a bit.  “Leave me alone” I thought to myself in the silent nudging by God.  But after 45 minutes into this 4 hour flight, it wouldn’t leave me.  “Nat,” my black neighbor, ordered a gin and cranberry.  I found out that he was ex military from his conversations with the flight attendants.  So, I thought I’d buy him a drink just to appease God’s gentle nudge.  However, I ended up ordering a drink for myself as well.  I haven’t drank on a plane since my honeymoon almost 20 years ago.  But here I was drinking with Nat.

To judge on skin color is ridiculous as Nat and I so well know.

To judge on skin color is ridiculous as Nat and I so well know.

We bonded through the booze.  He was 30 years older than me, but he was my brother.  We spoke seriously at first.  Family histories, work histories, experiences all came out….and then the ultimate man bonding….the harassment.


ME:  Dude….what’s the deal with those nails?  Are they painted?

NAT:  Yes…I get them done every 3 weeks


NAT:  It’s not politically correct to call them stewardesses.  They’re flight attendants

STEWARDESSES:  I don’t care what you two call us….we’re not politically correct and you’re both hilarious

NAT:  I do them and my feet every 3 weeks.


NAT:  No one has every questioned my manhood.

Later on in getting to names, I said I have two black names….Jerome…and Lawrence.  He says “those are black names?”  I said “no, they’re German, but you guys stole them and now I’m a white guy with two black names.”  He said, “really?  They’re black?”  Our “African American” flight attendant said…”Nat…they are black” and we all laughed.

Nat proceeded to tell me that his favorite place on earth is Germany and that he enjoyed his time in Germany more than any other place in the world.  I told him that my father was in the service for part of the same time.   We compared notes and got back and forth between family, travel and humor.

He told me that we’d be great friends if we didn’t live 2 hours away from each other.  He told me that he was supposed to have cataract surgery, but although he was a man’s man, he was afraid of surgery on his eyes.  I told him that my father is an anesthesiologist and has done over 50,000 of them and that he needed to get them done.  He said that his closest of his 3 remaining kids lived in Atlanta.  I told him that I’d take him to the hospital and spend the night with him.  He again said we’d get into a lot of trouble together.

We exchanged telephone numbers and took a selfie and I bugged him about his “man purse” as I unloaded the bin above him as we deplaned.  The 5 rows behind him and the FLIGHT ATTENDANTS cracked up.  He was quick to tell me that MAN is the first word of Man Purse.  I deplaned.  We shook hands, and I promised that I’d call.

We’ve spoken since then.  I’ve invited him to Thanksgiving.  I told him that I’d drive to where he lives and pick him up.  I told him that he could spend the night with my wife, my siblings, their families and my own 5 crazy kids.  It’d be about 50 people in all and I’d have a lot of gin and cranberry just for him.  He again said that we’d get in trouble if we hung out.

Yesterday one of my best friends lost his father who had just turned 89.  He lives 5 miles from Nat.  I told him that I’d like to come to his father’s services.  But in truth….I’m secretly excited to spend time with Nat.

Steve Scanlon….a Rewiring can be a great thing for us all.  It was for Nat…and it for sure is for myself.  Just think if I hadn’t gone to ReWire or opened myself up to something new.  I would never have met or known Nat.  Now I get to see him again this next week…..and we’re both better for it.




Sidebar. I did ask the flight attendants and everyone who walked by us who they liked more…a strapping young great looking white guy or this 80 year old black man. Of course they all picked Nat! Nat said that everyone always picks him and he would have been surprised if anyone would have picked me…. A friendship has been born!


YOUR Decision to Be Great isn’t as Difficult as Wendy’s Decision

Wendy's Story

This story of Wendy should inspire you to go from Good to Great

This story of Wendy should inspire you to go from Good to Great

Wendy (not her real name) was the youngest of four sisters. She was beautiful, dynamic and full of promise when I first met her.  She was well-spoken and maintained a good position at work.  She was about twenty-one years of age and dating a boyfriend who really cared for her.  She had been living on her own in an apartment by herself.  She seemed quite normal and balanced in most ways.  To the average outsider, it seemed as if she had the perfect life.  Why would a young girl with a seemingly perfect world see a counselor like me?

As we met, Wendy began to confess that she had anger issues against her seemingly perfect boyfriend. She admitted that the boyfriend was fair to her, kind to her and treated her with the respect that every woman wants.  But she had fits of anger and rage against him.  She really wouldn’t explain why.  He seemed perfect after all.

After we had established the proper rapport, Wendy stated something that stunned me. She broke down crying hysterically in session.  After working to regain her composure, Wendy said that she had been molested by her father.  She added that all of her sisters had been molested by her father as well.  As if that wasn’t stunning enough, Wendy said that she was still being molested by him even at twenty-one years of age.

Although I could never comprehend the horror that she had suffered, my heart was torn as much as it could be for another human being suffering a tragedy that I would never experience. I could only imagine the pain that she must have endured growing up.  Wendy’s childhood was lost early in life and been repeatedly violated ever since.

My mind raced. I didn’t know how to respond?  Do I tell my supervisor?  Do I tell the police?  Do I just let her continue to spill her soul to me?  What can I say to someone like this?  She came from a very middle class family in a fairly wealthy community.  I’m abhorred at what I have just heard.  Do I let her know that I feel disgust and I wasn’t even the victim?  How could she continue to let this happen even though she’s living on her own?  Do I tell her that I have three brothers and that I can get them all to over with me to kick this guy’s ass?  If she wanted to kill her father in revenge is it really too extreme?  Did she need help planning a murder?

While my head was spinning, I decided to let Wendy continue with her story. As the story unfolded, she revealed that this had been going on since she had hit adolescence.  All of her older sisters had been robbed of their childhood as well.  I wanted to know why, at twenty-one, she was allowing the abuse to continue.  I pressed her as to why she allowed her father to continue even though she was out in an apartment of her own.

Wendy told me that she moved out and got her own apartment in the hopes of separating herself from her father. To ensure that she always had enough money to afford her apartment, she became the one of the best employees at work.  She couldn’t fail.  Moving back in with her father was not an option.  Wendy told me that when she got the apartment she was excited to be free of the threat of her father’s passes at her.  To further protect her, Wendy kept the blinds shut so that any passerby could not determine whether or not she was inside the apartment.  But although she had moved out on her own, her father came knocking and began to force the issue again.

Despite all of her precautions, dad still came by. Her father would knock on the door and say “Wendy, I know that you’re in there.”  Quietly she would freeze both from sheer terror and in order to ensure that no sounds would be emitted from her apartment.  Her father would knock all the more.  In fact, he was relentless.   He’d yell “Wendy, I know that you’re in there.”  Though she refused to answer the door, her father would throw down the final words that would ensure his conquest over her.  “Wendy, if you’re not going to let me in, then I’m going to go get it from one of your sisters.”  It was finished. Wendy lost.  She would get up, walk over and open the apartment door.

This was probably one of the most devastating times during my short career in clinical psychology. Wendy became one of my favorite clients for reasons that I’ll delve into later.  I really wasn’t equipped to deal with something of this magnitude this early in my career.  But she trusted me and I really felt a personal responsibility to help her find a solution out of this hell that she was living.  She needed healing.  Her pain was incredible.  I wasn’t experienced enough to be handling something of this magnitude, but our relationship had evolved to the point that she trusted me in spite of my inexperience, and in spite of the fact that I was male.   If I bailed out and turned her over to another therapist, I would be one more male letting her down.

Personally, this case took an immense toll on me. This was supposed to be just a job.  I was to use this internship to learn.  Therapy 101 says that you can’t get attached to your clients.  And I definitely wasn’t supposed to bring any of this home with me.  This would be difficult.  I came from a great family.  My parents loved me.  They challenged me, but the one thing that my parents did that Wendy’s didn’t do was that they protected me.  I was crushed know that her father, the one who brought her into this world, her personal protector as assigned by God, had violated each of his daughters…each and every one!

To make matters worse, Wendy’s mother permitted the abuse. Mom knew of the atrocities and did nothing to stop the molestation of any of them.  Wendy told me that she vividly remembered a time that her father had his friends over for a weekly poker game at their house.  The father had excused himself.  When gone for more time allotted for a bathroom break, Wendy’s mother went looking for him.  She found him molesting his daughter in the middle of the hallway upstairs.  In the middle of the hallway!  Wendy remembered her mother going up and hitting the father and yelling, “get back down to your poker game.”   Dad got up and went back downstairs and rejoined the game and mom went back about her business as if nothing had happened.

By not fighting for her daughters, Wendy’s mother was condoning her father’s actions against each of the daughters. Wendy’s mother violated her as much as her father had.  Each parent had made the decision that Wendy and her sisters were disposable and not of any importance or worth fighting for.  Even today, I’ll never understand the amount of damage that Wendy’s parents did to her. I don’t know how a child or adult will ever be able to let go of something as horrendous as what she had experienced.  Wendy was violated and destroyed by the very people that were assigned to protect her.  The only people that Wendy learned to trust were her sisters who were experiencing the same hell that she was.  But it was Wendy who offered herself as the sacrificial lamb in order to protect the others from their demented father.

So this begs the question, what does this have to do with greatness. Wendy never had a normal life…ever!  Yet somewhere inside, Wendy said to herself “this can’t be all there is to life.  There has to be more to life than what I’m experiencing.”  How would she have any idea of what a normal life was?  Perhaps she heard her classmate girlfriends talk about the good times that they had experienced with their father?  Perhaps they spoke of their mother who wouldn’t allow her friends to do something because the denial was to protect them.  Maybe she envied other children whose parents would insist on being with them when their friends went off on their own in order to protect them.

For over twenty-one years she had no knowledge of anything normal, but something inside, deep down wouldn’t let go that there was something greater for her in this world. Her older sisters weren’t good examples for her.  The sisters never went outside for help.  Yet something inside of Wendy told her that she wasn’t going to be like her sisters.  That she could create her own freedoms if she would only take the actions necessary to search it out.  She didn’t know the route to get there, but she knew that she had to move forward.

As a matter of finality, Wendy and all of her three sisters did take appropriate actions in order to ensure that their father would never commit these crimes against anyone again. At the age of twenty-one Wendy had the rest of her life to create the life she wanted.  Sure she would need further help in order to deal with the bastardize view on life that she was exposed to during her youth, but she was free to do so now.

Wendy was a protector. Wendy protected her sisters.  Wendy would allow herself to be abused by her father in order to protect the elder sisters who shared the similar pain.  Wendy was not dealt the same deck of cards as most of society.

Wendy probably grew more than almost any of my patients under my care. I don’t attribute that to me.  I was no more that an encourager or guide for her.  Ultimately for Wendy to be set free, she needed to decide four things;

  • Was her life valuable enough for her to aspire to something greater than the hell that she lived daily?
  • Did she have a purpose in life that was worth living for? In other words, was the potential for her future greater than the pain of her past?
  • Could she even let go of her past and the associate atrocities in order for her to have a meaningful future?
  • Was she willing to pay the price to see if she could create something great with her newfound freedom?

You see, for a lesser woman, the answer would be no. Her father, her supposed protector, had broken and repeatedly violated the trust that comes with parenthood.  You might argue that a reasonable mother, once finding out that her husband, is the one exposing their innocent children to evil would immediately intervene and yet didn’t.

She had every reason to give up living.

You are called to greatness NOW! In case you are one of those people with short attention spans who skip the introduction of a great literary works such as this book, I’ll repeat myself again.  You, yes you, are called to be great NOW!   This is an important sentence for three reasons.  First the person that has been called to be great is you.  Not your neighbor.  Not the friend with the outrageously high I.Q.  Not the child heir to someone’s multi-million dollar estate.  You! Only you.  You have two choices…you can accept it and embrace this as a plan for your life or reject it and continue in the safe, yet unfulfilling manner in which your life may be led right now.

The second part of the sentence, “you are called to be great now” is the word great. One of Webster’s definitions of great is “eminent, distinguished or chief or preeminent over others.”  I love this part of the definition.  It’s irrelevant what your calling is in life.  Greatness transcends position or title.  What being great means is that you are to be eminent, distinguish or even preeminent over others in your calling.  That does not mean that you are someone to lord power over others, it only means that you are to be the best of what you are called to do.  From housewife to president of the United States, you have been given a DNA that no one else on this earth has been given.  You need to utilize it to the best of your abilities.

The third and final part of this sentence, “you are called to be great now” is the tense of the sentence. Being great is not about your future.  Being great is not about your past.  Being great is not about yesterday, last week, two weeks ago or ten years ago.  It’s not about your failures, your missed opportunities or about the devastating tragedies that may have happened to you in the past.  Being great is about being great…now, today.  And it’s designed for your future.  That future is the rest of your life.

When are you going to make your decision?????


Just Gonna Stand There and Watch Me Burn

But That's Alright Because I Love the Way You Lie

Your journey starts today

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that’s alright, because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
But that’s alright, because I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie.  Eminem

I have so many things that I want to accomplish in life.  I think that’s when I’m in life’s sweet spot.  I’m at my best with a goal and with a vision.  As I write this post I have my personal Life Plan right next to me ready for its umpteenth edit since I drafted my first version in 2003.  It needs to be relevant.  What worked for me when my oldest kid was 5 won’t work when he’s now 17 and almost ready for college.

I love the way you lie…….

It starts with brutal transparency with yourself to yourself.  My great friend, Steve Scanlon, who runs ReWire, Inc (see www.rewireinc.com) says that the longest journey any person can take is the 12 inches from your head to your heart.  Not only is the journey long, its where the lies show the most.  Or do they.  The lies are their and it’s those very lies, that unless exposed will keep you from the calling and passion that’s been placed in your heart.

Now I know we said things, did things
That we didn’t mean and we fall back into the same patterns
Same routine….

It’s so much easier to sacrifice a dream, a passion, a calling than it is to deal with the lies that we tell each other and the lies we tell ourselves.  The funny thing is when we’re lying others know that we’re not the real deal.  They know something is missing, but yet we lie.  We protect the façade.  The greatest lie is the lie we tell ourselves.  The second greatest lies are the continual ones we tell others especially those closest to us.  But it’s so much easier to “fall back into the same patterns, same routine than it is to actually be fulfilled.  Easy is the enemy of great.  Not everything needs to be hard, but accomplishing your dreams, your vision and being fulfilled, is so much more difficult than easy and falling into the same patterns and same routines.

I apologize even though I know it’s lies
I’m tired of the games…..

But the lies continue…..I’m at a point in my life where I am tired of the games that I play solo.  It seems that I don’t play games with others anymore, but I have a PhD in gaming myself.  I’ve lived too long.  I’ve enjoyed so many things along the way, but being occupied is different than being fulfilled.  The games with others start when we first stop playing games with ourselves.  Those 12 inches.  What a journey.  Some people will spend a lifetime never travelling those 12 inches.  If you’re like me, I get half way there but bail out often.  I don’t want to tell myself that I’m a fraud so it’s easier to bail and fall back into the same patterns, same routines.

I think the funniest thing is that when we lie to ourselves we actually hurt those who we’re closest too.  They’re close to us because they see those glimpses of our DNA that we decide to share with the world from time to time.  They’re in you’re life because they’re attracted to you, but you can’t impact their life because you haven’t dealt with the lies in your own life.  Those 12 inches become your Everest.  And when we fail to take on our mountain……

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn
But that’s alright, because I like the way it hurts
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry
But that’s alright, because I love the way you lie

MY JOURNEY restarts today.  Want to come with?