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UNCOMMEN Model Integrity

Integrity

How much is your integrity worth?

I’ve heard it said, “Life is caught more than taught.” Ever since college I have caught a lot from Neal Gooch – often in random places. One time at a drive thru the woman at the window clearly undercharged us. I thought, “Bonus!” Neal looked at the receipt then he let the lady know she gave him back too much change. The woman quizzically looked as if to say, “Who does that?”

As we pulled away from the restaurant, Neal looked at me and said, “My integrity isn’t worth $2.48.” Without 3 points and a poem, Neal taught me what integrity was all about.

I picked up a few more life maxims on Saturdays doing house projects with Neal. He often invited me and a few other guys over for what he called, “quality time.” I think it really meant he got quality work done without much quantity pay. As poor college students he knew exactly how to bribe us. Enticed by bacon and eggs, or pastries, or pizza, me and my buddies left the comforts of our dorm room and found Saturday’s filled with spreading mulch, cleaning out a basement, or painting walls. The food was the hook, the brotherhood was a bonus, but the real prize was watching a husband love a wife and a dad play with his kids in between the chores. Often after hauling boxes and cracking jokes, we heard how Neal spoke kindly to his wife, watched him kiss his eldest son on the forehead, and saw him dust off his youngest after a fall and say, “You’re ok, dude. Brush it off.”

As a young college guy who didn’t grow up with a dad, I caught what a dad at home looked like. Today Neal and Jennifer Gooch and their four sons live in Johannesburg, South Africa. My wife and I traveled there recently to spend a few days with their family. Once again, I found myself catching Neal show me what being a husband and dad looks like. Watching him interact with the family, especially his teenage sons, gave me a glimpse of what I aspire to become: a man who stands by his word to love his wife, raise his children to model integrity, and not sell his integrity for a few bucks.

Dee Lanier

Head Coach, UNCOMMEN

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We’re Thankful for Role Models

I wasn’t fortunate enough to receive guidance and support from my father, but there are several men in my life who have acted as role models by sharing their time, wisdom and good attitude when I needed it most. Because of them, I am forever grateful for the example they have given me to be a better dad. These men include my grandfather, my uncles and a mentor. But the one man I probably learned the most from is my father-in-law, Randy.

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I never expected that my best friend’s dad would one day become my father-in-law, and that I would establish a close relationship with the man I had always heard wonderful stories about from my friend, Josh. I had been a bit jealous then, listening to Josh talking about his trips to visit his parents, and invariably a notable story involving his father. Josh’s experiences were foreign, yet mesmerizing to me. Most of the anecdotes that caught my attention were the ones about how he and Randy worked to restore a car or repaired a car Josh was having trouble with. No one had ever invited me under the hood like that. I did learn some things about car maintenance from my mom, but never experienced the bond that happens between a father and son while working together.

A couple of years later, I fell in love with Josh’s sister and Josh’s dad and I began sharing the intricacies of mechanical repair under the hoods of many cars. Sure I would still have the embarrassing moments where Randy would ask me to hand him a three quarter eighth something or other and I would fumble my way through his tool box looking for the correct bit, or lug nut, or ratchet. But despite my clear novice in repairing much of anything besides a computer, my father-in-law began sharing great life lessons. My relationship with Randy made me aware that it doesn’t matter whether it’s your father or father-in-law. Everyone on this Earth can experience a personal connection with One who cares for us, shares with us and teaches us about life if only we will let him.

written by UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier

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Get Your Good Samaritan Game On!

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It’s that time of year again, where gift lists are circulated, eggnog prep is underway, and red cups create controversy. In the Lanier household, we bought our Christmas tree early this year, and decorated it an entire week before Thanksgiving. Please don’t report us to the holiday etiquette police! Sure, colors in our house have a weird blend of orange and browns colliding with reds and greens, but no one is confused about what season we’re in.  It’s the Holiday season. Not Fall, not Winter, not football or basketball, those things all exist to help feed our nostalgia around the season. The season where Pilgrims and turkeys, and fat dudes in red jumpsuits take up rows of store aisles and jingling bells reign in every auditory environment. Tis the season.

What does it all mean though? What does it all truly represent? Furthermore, what/who should we give our time, energy and money towards? What is the greatest gift we can give this holiday season? You already know the answer. Some of you are smiling in delight, others may be rolling their eyes at the sappiness of this sentence- the greatest thing you can give this holiday season is love. Let me take it up a notch. Not just to you and yours. I would venture to say that the greatest gift you can give to your family is the experience and joy of bringing life and love to others. So here’s the challenge for my family, and I hope to pass on this challenge to many of you- try and create a Good Samaritan project for you and possibly your family to engage in.

You know the story of the Good Samaritan. The example of loving your neighbor is detailed by telling a story about a man coming to the aid of another man who had been terribly beaten by robbers. This Good Samaritan, as he came to be known, was the only one who risked his reputation, his own safety, and used his own time and own dime to help this man in desperate need. In the story, the highly regarded religious leaders walked on the other side of the road to avoid trouble. Effectively, they avoided serving outside of their comfort zones, and outside of their perceived calling. Then the story teller looks to the listener and tells him frankly, you are called to follow this example. Serve a broken world by giving away your own sense of self-worth and get your hands dirty by serving the “least deserving.”  By doing so, you prove where your heart is. I would venture to say that he essentially told him to go and be a little reckless, be UNCOMMEN! Go and do likewise this season.

written by UNCOMMEN Head Coach, Dee Lanier

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Pitch Perfect Day

Most dads receiving this blog post have a lot to do and don’t have time to read. Thanksgiving is only a few days away and you’re likely thinking about wrapping up work for the week, getting the family ready for a visit somewhere, and which teams are playing on Turkey Day. So if you’ve tuned me out, I get it. To those dads, I say Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family time.

Now to the dads that are still extremely busy, but can spare 5 more minutes to read a cool baseball story. Allow me to paint the scenario… The weather in Upstate New York was amazing for Halloween Day. It was 11 am. and nearly sixty degrees. The sky was blue, the grass was still green, and the colors of fall speckled the trees. It was a pitch perfect day for Trick or Treating and… one more game of wiffleball.

There’s two outs in the bottom of the third. The Royals trail the Dodgers 10 – 8 in the decisive and final inning of Game 7 in the D-K Wiffle Ball World Series. The previous 6 games were battles, a roller coaster of emotion for both Dad and Kenny. But it could all come down to this. The Royals have a gift runner (Dad) on first base after a fielding error on the second basemen (Kenny). But the Dodgers’ closer (Kenny again) is pitching lights out. As the closer searches for the right grip, let’s reflect on the past 25 days.

The whole thing started after the MLB playoff brackets were announced. For the fifth consecutive year, Dad and Kenny would play every game until a victor was proclaimed. The format was single-elimination for the wild card and divisional rounds, a best of three for the championship series, and a traditional best of seven for the World Series. 17 games were already in the books and the 2015 match up had Dad’s Kansas City Royals against Kenny’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kenny, the Dodger closer, stares down the potential tying run as he grips the wiffleball, holes away from the batter. It will be another curve ball, attempting to paint the outside corner of the plate. The wind up… the pitch… Dad swings. Crack! The ball shoots down the first base line, but Kenny was quick off the mound. He fields it and touches first base just ahead of the charging Royals runner (that’s Dad again). Out number three. Ball game over. Series over. An eruption of emotion and jubilation fills the field. Dad hoists his 10-year-old son up in the air and hugs him. “You did it! You won… again!” For the fifth consecutive year, Kenny is crowned champion.

This is Dadnamics, or the infusion of creativity, adventure, and silliness into Dad-Time. The D-K Wiffleball World Series is merely one more example of how this Dad operates. But why? The greater the risk, the greater the reward. How can we, as Dads, capture more memories in the time we are able to spend with our kids? It’s not a lecture of quality time vs. quantity time. Both are vital. But we are all stressed for time as dads, so here’s the challenge. Why not seize an opportunity this Thanksgiving weekend? It won’t take much. Just crank up the Dadnamics dial of creativity, adventure, and silliness and create a memory. I promise you that it will be worth the risk. Not only will you have a blast, but your son or daughter will never forget.

And that’s a good thing.

Bible Reference: 2 Chronicles 5:13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,

Written by UNCOMMEN contributor, Ken Carfagno. To learn more about Dadnamics, visit www.dadnamics.com.

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UNCOMMEN Husbands Sustain

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Public speaking isn’t for everyone. It’s one thing to speak, quite another to communicate. There was the guy teaching a bunch of guys on how to “love their wives.” Unfortunately he compared a husband’s love for his wife to a nursing mother – that guys should “provide sustenance to” their wives like a mom feeding her baby. Try to get that picture out of your head.

While the guys may have cringed, he’s got a point. When my wife ‘sustained’ our children, I don’t ever remember a time when I asked her, “Honey, when was the last time you fed the baby?” and she responded, “Oh, I don’t know, it’s been a few days.”

Instinctively a mom knows her baby’s sustenance has to be consistent, catered to their tastes, and is crucial for their survival. Ask yourself a few questions:

Is your love consistent? I don’t know about you, but I rarely miss a meal. Unless I’m fasting (for a very short time!), about every 4-5 hours I feed the beast. It’s all too common for our wives to go months between meals: a date night, taking a walk, go on an adventure, a simple text saying, “are you tired? You should be because you’ve been running through my mind all day long,” or a well thought out letter. Sustenance is ongoing.

Is your love catered to her tastes? You’re not going to catch me at the all you can eat tofu bar. Unless I’m in a foreign country or on an diet challenge, I generally sustain my body with stuff I like. It’s common to give love the way we want to receive love. But your love language probably doesn’t match hers. Want to know if you are catering to her “love” taste buds, ask this UNCOMMEN question: “Honey, do you feel the depth of my love? Not do you know it, but do you feel it? If not, how can I sustain your soul?”

Do you realize your love is crucial to her survival? It’s no secret many women feel malnourished by their husbands. Their closets may be stuffed with clothes and pantry stocked with food, but their souls are famished for attention and craving emotional sustenance from the one who promised to love them until “death do us part.”

Like a baby craves milk, every woman wants to be wanted by her husband.

Be UNCOMMEN.

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The Power (and destruction) of Angry Words

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I get to approach this conversation from two perspectives. The first is that I have been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and personal development coach for the last 10 years.  I have worked with hundreds of men on the topic of anger and how to handle those moments of frustration as well as explore the underlying triggers of anger in their lives. In doing that work I have discovered many great tools that effectively help my clients manage their anger.

The second perspective which I approach conversation is more personal and powerful I think. My wife and I have been married for 18 years and we have four kids between the ages of 10 and 6. I’d love to say that I’ve mastered this aspect of my life and that I never allow frustration to seep out but thats not true. One of my goals is to practice what I preach and to be authentic in who I am and how I present healthy life instructions for my clients. With that, I certainly don’t pretend to be perfect, but I am committed to doing my best to live out the principles for which I encourage I clients embrace. The bottomline is, I have learned by personal trial and error.

Growing up, I had always been taught that it was wrong to be angry that it was inherently bad.  In fact, my conservative religious background gave me the impression that it is a sin be angry. Therefore, whenever I got angry, I not only felt the frustration of the situation that triggered my anger, but I also felt a religious guilt or shame that I got angry in the first place. That typically would make me just feel more frustrated or even angry at myself.

As a young adult, I came to the understanding it is inevitable that you will have strong emotions, but when you have them, do not cause harm.

It is important to be aware of how powerful these moments areThey are VERY powerful and must be treated with respect and responsibility. Our words can leave a painful and lasting impact. Our tone of voice must not be overlooked, as well as our physical posturing in these moments of frustration and anger.

If you’re a dad with young kids there is lots of research showing that there is NO lasting benefit to disciplining when we are angry. Heres a quick summary of the brain-science: the minds of our young children is much more primal or animalisticthan logical. They perceive our frustration, anger, and adrenaline as a direct threat to their existenceliterally, to their survival. In those moments of our anger, their brains are activating the flight or fight instinctual reaction. That is not the part of the brain we want to stimulate when we are correcting or disciplining our kids. In order to be effective in changing our children’s behavior it is so important to maintain a low firm calm tone of voice, to kneel down to their eye level and clearly express the desired behavioral expectation. In so doing, we allow their developing frontal lobe (the logical part of the brain) a chance to make a logical step forward.

Here are some suggestions I use in my life and coach my clients towards:

Creatively increase your margins

If you are like me or others I know, you live a very full life with no extra time or margin in the schedule. The idea of self-care or leisurely time is elusive however, very important. It would be ideal if it is possible to maintain habits such as weekly exercise routines, small community groups, or other fun activities.

As a result, we need to get creative in finding ways to create this much needed space. One space that most of us have is our drive time in the car to and from work. I am sure this is getting some chuckles because most people equate commute time to road-rage, not zen-filled mindful peacefulness. But if you are as busy as I am, you have no choice but to capture every moment that can be used for good. Be aware of what you’re doing in the car on your drive to and from work. What are you listening to? What are you thinking about? I suggest making a playlist of music that you have a positive and peaceful association with and listening to that instead of talk radio that may increase stress or anxiety.

I also coach my clients to practice a basic breathing exercise to do while driving that lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. The simple explanation, is to intentionally take about 10 long slow inhalations as if you were faking a yawn. This practice of deep breathing has an automatic physiological response in our bodies to reduce stress.

Create a daily prayer or mantra.

I had a client named Jason who was a Marine Corps vet who received a purple heart in Afghanistan. Among other things dealing with his anger was a part of the counseling goals. He daily took a commuter train to downtown Los Angeles and use that time to to create some much needed margin in his life. Every day as he rode in to work you take on this positive statement of became a prayer or mantra for him: I am a good leader, I will manage my team well, I will effectively overcome obstacles and create solutions at work today.Likewise on the ride home, it’s been a few moments thinking I am a good man, I will connect with my wife affectionately, and be present with my children joyfully tonight at home.

Don’t go at it alone

As men we need to interact with other men in healthy ways. Connecting with other men to provide accountability is imperative to minimize our negative response in moments of frustration and anger. Accountability can play out in many different ways; our close friend, an online community, a counselor, a personal development coach, or a pastor. And for some of us it may look like attending a specific group design for anger management. And that’s fine. Because we need to know that we aren’t designed to do it alone, and is wise to get support.

The chances are, if you are reading this post you are a person prone to passion and strong feelings.  That is great, be a passionate person. But remember in those strong feelingsin those impassioned emotionsdo not cause harm. Be UNCOMMEN.

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