Philosophy Wellness

Choices? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Choices!

I was watching a PBS show one day and saw the host mining gems in Sri Lanka. Since I didn’t believe in the diamond industry, I nonchalantly asked my girlfriend at the time if she wanted to go there to mine for an engagement gem. We booked flights for a trip 3 months away. Fast-forward to departure day and we were no longer together (don’t worry, we occasionally keep in touch and I still think she’s a rock star). I still went. Travel is probably my number 1 passion.


Haggling over gems in Sri Lanka

These are photos are from my trip. I went out to the gem mines to see if they would allow me to go underground. Unfortunately, the rains had made it too dangerous to go below. But I still got to see the process and haggle for stones for 8 HOURS! It was one of the most enriching trips of my life. At the time, I travelled to “find myself.” Now, I just travel and I AM myself- all the good, all the bad and most importantly, what’s yet to come. Where for the first 42 years of my life, I didn’t understand JUST how much power I had over my own destiny, I now completely understand.

Life is just a series of choices we make. As long as our intent is good, it’s always the right decision. How it plays out can’t be determined in the moment, or even months later. So there’s no such thing as a good or a bad choice. It’s just choice. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have REGRETS. I have lots. I have lots of regrets for the choices I made or the words I used when my intent wasn’t good. I have regrets about the first 40 plus years of my life and how selfish I was. I hurt people. But I also know that if I didn’t go through THAT part of my life, I wouldn’t have come to this EXACT moment, where I am happy most of the time. I still speak out of emotion and ego. I can say hurtful things. I’m still learning.

Mining Gems in Sri Lanka

For me, time is the most important commodity I have and it shrinks daily. So I NOW speak plainly, show my frustrations easily, and have those difficult conversations with people that everyone needs to have in life with at least one person, freely. I’m not afraid to show who I am because I’m not going to be loved by everybody. So it doesn’t matter. I’m just me. And I want to cultivate that- a community that is accepting of themselves and everyone else. We all have fucked up and will continue to do so. That wont change. We make mistakes. We’re human. But if we surround ourselves by similarly intent-ed people, the mistakes happen less often. I don’t know about you, but I need help too.

Philosophy Training Uncategorized Wellness

One Thing You Need For Mobility….AND Happiness

You NEED more rotation in your lives. I mean seriously, your physical future health depends on it. These aren’t fear tactics I’m sprouting. Most of you are stuck in one or two planes of motion. We move in 3 dimensions. Do the math.
So what happens if you keep doing what you’re doing without adding training and movement? How about this- what happens in 10 years? 20?! 30?!! Do you care? Maybe it’s too far away. But 30 years from now, you will wish you took that question more seriously.

I see it happening right now. My clients are getting younger and younger with issues only seen in the senior adult population. I’ll yell it from the tops of the trees. Many will suffer a very painful and slow decline. It doesn’t have to be like that. THAT doesn’t have to be the outcome.
You know, there are actually people out there that decide when it’s “time”- not out of pain, or sorrow, but fulfillment. I know I can’t control most things, but I know that I CAN control, to a large extent, HOW I grow old. I choose to make movement medicine for myself and my clients. I choose to do my best to practice empathy and compassion. I choose to take measures to decrease my overall stress. I choose to feed my body mostly nutritious things, while adding other things in limited quantities because I enjoy them 👉🏽🍕🍔🌭🍰🍫🎂🍩🍪🥂🍷🍻😛.
There are things within your control, decisions that can be made, paths that can be taken to get to wherever you want to go. You simply have some work to do on a regular basis. How did you get good at the thing(s) you HAD to do, or the thing(s) that you love? Practice Practice Practice….

What I Learned About Leadership From The Fire Department

I was fortunate enough to be a Firefighter/Paramedic with the Prince George’s County Fire Department for over 11 years. In that time, I learned a lot about my “self,” my strengths and my weaknesses. Hard work was never difficult for me. I started working when I was eight years old, growing up as a poor and briefly homeless first generation immigrant in the 1980’s in NYC. New York in the 1980’s was definitely NOT the Disney like atmosphere it is today. I learned by example from my father (a single dad with one child). He was gone before I arose and home after I went to bed. This is and was the norm for immigrants- working multiple jobs for many hours, only to sleep for a few in order to support their children. You don’t hear THOSE stories in the news. But I digress.

Now let me be clear, my job wasn’t backbreaking work. It was simply sweeping, mopping, and folding clothes at a friend’s laundry. I was paid in food and genuinely enjoyed being around their family. I also had another job selling toys at a family friend’s small toy shop in Jackson Heights, Queens. I was lucky enough to start work at an early age because it taught me what many call “work ethic.”

Fast forward to now and let me tell you what I learned from all my experiences, especially the fire department. You may be surprised at the circumstances that were the most valuable. The valuable lessons I learned weren’t from the fire ground. They weren’t in the situations where life and death mattered. It wasn’t in the back of the medic unit trying to resuscitate a lifeless infant. The most valuable lessons learned were actually in the firehouse itself.

The absolute best leaders were the ones that grabbed a mop, broom or toilet brush FIRST, then swept, mopped, or cleaned toilets before asking anyone else to do so. You know what seeing THAT made me do? Grab the broom, mop, and brush from their hands and do it myself. Of course, it wasn’t a tactic for them. So most of the time, they wouldn’t allow it. We worked together. THAT is integrity and not being FANCY.

The best leaders were the ones that actually tried to get to know those “underneath,” with REAL, authentic conversations (when we had time). They didn’t judge, but had real deep concern. They could see past the outer shell and delve just a little deeper. The best leaders were the ones that talked to individuals, not at them. The best leaders were the ones that covered my food in the middle of dinner, while I was whisked away by the alarm bells. I recognize and appreciate each and every one of them. Their small “actions” made me want to work HARDER for them. Read that last sentence AGAIN. The crews always loved and respected those types of leaders.

We also had the opposite type of leader. There were those that shut themselves in the office during housework. There were “leaders” that propped up their feet on the ottoman, watched TV, or played on their phones, as the rest of the crew swept and mopped “around” them.

Too many of you “leaders” out there are fancy. You think that the rise to the top inversely relates to the amount and/or type of work you do. Let me tell you something you probably already know deep down. You’re going to fail. Your people dislike you. Your ego is large without an equal amount of humility. You’re main drive is monetary. You think of yourself more than you think of others. And you’re probably unhappy. I feel sorry for you.

If this sounds like you, I’m rooting for you to turn it around. There are too many employees that hate coming into work because of your actions, or lack thereof. These people have families and bills to pay and you’re pushing them out the door. Your actions have serious repercussions. I’m not sure how to teach empathy, but I hope that you have a come to Jesus moment. You need them as much as they need you. They are not your property. They are people. Please remember that.

Some of you are thinking, “Yes, but my company is too large! I can’t scale that!” Seriously? Have you even tried? Figure it out! What are those fancy degrees for if you can’t take 8 hours out of your week to scale and SAVE AND THRIVE YOUR BUSINESS? Remember what Gary V. says- karma is just practical.

I know many higher ups in the fire department with massive responsibilities and they figured it out too. THAT is real life and death decision-making. If you actually care, you can do the same. Is there really a choice? Your business and its culture depend on YOU. So take the time and really talk to your people. Ask questions. LISTEN. Troll their social media accounts and see what’s important to them. The Golden Rule is practical and the ROI is massive. So treat your team right and actually give a shit. It’s your responsibility as a leader, but more importantly as a human being. If your business fails, it was supposed to. The market ALWAYS dictates that.

Thanks to all the wonderful leaders at PGFD. You taught me so much.