Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pep Talk: "Creating not Compromising"

It’s been a while since Billy Joel in the background accompanied a Pep Talk, but that’s the way it is. It’s a mid-February Sunday in the Mile High City, the body has been pushed, car washed and now it’s time to write about what’s been banging around the ol’  noggin for a few days.

As life has progressed and experience gathered, I’ve become kinda grumpy about something. When hearing folks talk about the beauty of compromise, I cringe a bit and offer, “Can we talk about creating?”

Ya know, those times in life when it just seems there’s no way out. “Irreconcilable Differences” is what, from a two-time participant, it’s called in the divorce world. Those moments, despite best intentions from all, things reach a point of no return when the best practice seems to be compromise. It has always felt like surrender to me.

It seems a far better approach would be to, what’s the old saying, “Keep friends close and enemies even closer?”, gather with those opposed and suggest, “We have to figure out a better way because nobody’s winning here.”

It ain’t easy. We might have to talk with folks we vowed to never utter a word. We might have to forgive and move on. We might have to muster the courage to ask for forgiveness. There are many barriers faced when encouraged to keep working together in achieving goals and overcoming challenges. Like the good sports teams we talk about weekday afternoons on The Odd Couple, the key seems everybody checks egos at the door, jumps into the foxhole as one heart beat and works like heck to emerge from the fray, while battered, better for the effort. Call it victorious if preferred. It seems to be a pretty effective strategy for dealing with the stuff life unexpectedly flings our way with no regard who’s gonna clean up the mess.

Just discovered a dear friend has a body riddled with cancer. I can’t wait to see her and hug a fellow gym rat. I like to joke with folks, but believe it’s the truth, that a “Sweat a day keeps the doctor away.” I’m usually sweat soaked at the end of each workout but this beautiful woman would always give me a hug. She’s got big challenges ahead. Bless you Val.

Anyway, back to the story. Life’s somber reminders to its uncertain fragility. We have issues, challenges and obstacles. The question becomes, will we tackle those annoyances with a spirit of compromise or create? I offer two case studies promoting the latter.

The first is a love story. This guy is in the deep inner circle I’m blessed to have as brothers from another mother. We chat every few weeks or so. Usually with the man with a hearty laugh that’s used often, driving somewhere in support a daughter’s promising water polo career while this simple dude from Missouri driving to support daughter’s promising volleyball pursuit. Separated by distance - Colorado and California - but totally connected to one another. We like to joke, “I’d step in front of a train for you!” We mean it.

This graduate of UCLA, University of Chicago grad school and Wall Street is married to my son’s mother. I was the lead off hitter and Timothy Barton is hitting in the three-hole for the talented television news anchor who was once my wife and gave me an incredible gift: A talented 23-year-old son who is building a nice career in Los Angeles in  the competitive entertainment industry through hard work.

Timothy Barton helped raise Kyle. I will forever be grateful to him for caring for my son like I would care for his daughter. I cherish checking in with him. At some point, we’ll ultimately start singing love songs to one another. I croon Stevie Wonder’s hit, I Just Called To Say I Love You and he’ll counter in similar fashion with the Nat King Cole version of Unforgettable.

I know, we’re weird, get over it.

Dad and Stepdad. United in the effort to raise kids responsibly. I know that ain’t easy either. But we win and so do the kids. Create don’t compromise. Same strategy works for challenges within a business, business district, athletic team, non profit, community or where else roaming. Conflict is part of life. We all know that. What’s unknown is how we’ll deal with it. Student or victim of the experience. Choose the former. It’s a tough struggle, peril is present, and takes everybody, charging from the before-mentioned foxhole, to understand the mission. In this case, loving and mentoring kids through the challenges divorce brings to their lives.

I’m a lucky guy to have a dude who embraced creating, not compromising. The same must be said for the successful businessman who is married to my daughter’s mother. Marriage number two hit the skids but I sure hit the jackpot with the man chosen as successor. We don’t have the goofy relationship Timothy and I have but it’s solid based upon respect for one another in our roles as mentors. My daughter has a very good step father. I’m very thankful 

The point is this. When stuck in a tough situation, as quickly as possible, sit down with the perceived “enemy” and brainstorm about being committed to achieving goals and overcoming challenges. It keeps us locked on creating not compromising. Rarely is that a bad thing.

Have a good week!

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