Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Doubt, Confidence, Life.


If you know me publicly, you may be a bit shocked by this quick post, but if you know me personally, you probably already know this. (it was supposed to be short, but when I am on a roll…)

I have a tremendous personal battle I wage each day to get beyond my fears, to stop worrying and to take even the smallest action. In fact, this post is only coming after what must be a bottle of champagne on my flight to Phoenix… This is in despite what many perceive as my overt confidence, arrogance and occasional intellectually based rudeness.

But its important for you, yes, I do mean you not the other person reading this, to understand that this is normal, its ok, youre ok, Im ok. The thing is, most leaders won’t admit this is what they face, because they also carry the burden of managing perceptions and casting a long powerful shadow so that others who may seek to exploit such traits as weakness will not know where to shoot their slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

In fact, I did have this personally happen to me once when engaged in a negotiation with a former colleague who deliberately exploited my emotional vulnerabilities and my beliefs in fairness and doing the right thing. Good thing is, even he couldn’t change who I was, despite the pain he forced me to endure through the tumultuous process.

But I am hear to oppose this, and to end this for me and hopefully you too.

This all just kinda popped in my head, so I don’t know where I am really going with this, but early today I tweeted that I was proud of my buddy Alan Silberberg from You2Gov for all that he has been accomplishing. Shortly thereafter I was in tears, which has happened all too often on this trip during deeply personal moments when I have been alone, as I am doing once again now.

My mother, used to say this all the time to me. That she was so proud of me. That I could do anything. That I was her miracle baby (both my parents had Cerebral Palsy).

For a long time, no one said that to me, or if they did, I felt it was insincere. Many wonderful women who I have loved (and still do) told me this, and I dismissed such reinforcement as their own shortcomings for not recognizing how fucked up I am, inside and out.

They weren’t of course, in fact, they were and still are perfect, just as they are. We all are, we just don’t often feel that way because we measure ourselves and others against an unrealistic ideal instead of the practical global reality that we are all one, we all suffer through the same psycho/emotional conditions but yet inside us all is the potential for greatness. However, with the burden of needing to realize this potential and not wanting to disappoint, I have all too often run from it to the bottom of a bottle or the escape of a video game…

A fear of failure as much as a fear of success. It’s a miracle I am even still here on this earth and able to do even a tenth of what I do in my life.

Facing Reality

The other day, I came face to face with one of my own deepest fears, when I met Julie Vessigault, aka @potentiallee when she shared with me her own personal story of life’s biggest challenges. In her face though, I saw not the despair or the challenge or the thing I feared most, I saw love, I saw life, I saw a human soul who could see beyond her condition and recognize her own loveliness and her own humanity and her own potential. Her attitude, as I came to know in her tweets and brief interactions online was the same in real life as it was online.

Yet in her face, I also saw my mother. She is not completely what mainstream media or advertising would call normal, she is different, like us all a snowflake to be admired for her differences and her alikeness.

As I explained in my keynote at Drupalcon last week, we have a real problem today with what Shel Israel explained to me as ‘the other’ and what I have been talking about as the “Us vs. Them” problem. If you don’t look like, act like, talk like, believe like, smell like, think like or seem like me, you are the other. As soon as we see other people as separate of ourselves, instead of like ourselves, we all too often immediately shun them, cast them aside and dismiss them as having little to no value to our lives. It may often be expedient to do so, but its not right and it’s the same thing that is feeding the current political upheaval in our country over healthcare (well that and some greedy old white men trying to manipulate others and public opnion for their own personal and financial benefit – see even I do it, but I think it is with good reason here)

It is worsened by the fact that we have transcended (in many parts of the first world at least) our basic needs for shelter and are moving to a higher plane of our existence, where we can be more aspriational in nature, seizing economic opportunities, achieving self realization and also changing the things we don’t like in ourselves through plastic surgery and fashionista accoutrements.

What I saw in Julie was not the other, but myself, or rather what could happen to me, and what almost happened to my mother. If it weren’t for my grandparents taking myself and my mother in, her situation could have easily been mine… and I don’t know that I would still be on this earth much less being able to share this story with you had it not been for them and their love. (and of course my mom’s amazing attitude and ruthless persistence and belief in herself… and me)

Julie loves planes. As a child she dreamt of being a ‘stewardess’, still does. But she doesn’t look like a flight attendant and I don’t honestly think an airline would hire her for that job. She does however love people, and despite what some may see as her quirky social skills, I know she could be a tremendous asset to an airline, especially one like Southwest or Jetblue, which have fully embraced our humanity bringing levity and satisfaction to so many.

So I am going to make a public request to Paula Berg, and whoever is running JetBlue’s social strategy, you should hire her to help with your twitter and other social connections online. At least interview her. This is something I would normally never do and in a sense I feel wary even of telling her story, so I hope no one gets mad at me, but other people needed to know this story too and in my stream of consciousness on this subject, here I am.

But back to the main story and reason for this post.

I’m imperfect, wouldn’t you like to be imperfect too?

I am so far from perfect, its not funny. I have physical problems and pains in my body everyday now, I never could throw a baseball and still cant, I can barely complete a sentence before thinking about something else, my ADD, while not as bad as some, has caused me to suffer deep depressions resulting from my frustrations with not being able to do what others do so easily, I drink too much sometimes, I interrupt people when I should be politely paying attention, I am wrong headed and stubborn in my ideas, I raise my voice in anger too easily, I react without thinking, I have a hard time being present in any moment, I speak in absolutes when I believe the world is grey and mushy and worst of all, over the past several years I have been disrespectful to my loving wife on all too many occasions, often without cause.

Its not that I am short tempered, its that I am often frustrated with trying to explain how I see something, or how I feel and trying to be linear in explaining it gives me a headache sometimes. I am trying to overcome this every day, being aware of it is the first step, and certainly I have mitigated much of this over the last few years to become a lot better at being in the world then when I was younger. I am mad mostly at myself and unfortunately Kristie often bears the brunt of it, yet she keeps on keeping on, forgives me (if only I could forgive myself) and she still loves me.

For this, I want to tell her and you that I am truly sorry. I am moving to a better place personally, emotionally, physically and professionally. I have to. I cant keep living this way.

Kristie Wells is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She makes me proud everyday in every way. She is not book smart and she is occasionally not as eloquent as she would like, but her heart and her soul make up for this in ways to innumerous to mention here. She runs Social Media Club locally and internationally, an idea I had several years ago and which she has been saddled with ‘in order to protect our reputation’ and to fulfill our commitment we have made to you. She is making good money from her job as Community Manger / Social Media Girl with Ribbit and she is putting that money as much into supporting me and trips like this one I have been on as she has put into her own happiness and well being. Then she sends out a DM like this that make me cry again and again:

“I love you very much and bathe in your passion to bring people together. You are inspiring.”

Too often don’t feel that way myself, but do try so hard to do my part to heal the world, to make things right and to contribute whatever value my voice may convey.

She deserves to be treated better. She deserves to be honored. She doesn’t deserve to be yelled at for misspeaking or for forgetting to complete a task I asked her to do to support me. I am sorry I have not been able to transcend my own insecurities, my own fears, my own doubts and my own fears to embrace all of her in the warming cocoon of love and respect she deserves.

Most of all though, I am sorry I have not gotten past these shortcomings to be more effective, that I have not believed in myself enough, nor had enough courage to take the actions I needed to take care of myself, to serve the community and to be bold when the moments have arisen. While many people may see me as a serial entrepreneur, and technically I am, its not because I am a bold risk taker, its because I see no other way and I am driven by the passion of my ideas and my belief that the world can be a better place… and of course by my ego which needs to have external approval in order to feel loved and accepted rather than a love of self which I more often then not am missing in my day to day.

I have another personal post I will share with you in the coming days that speaks to this more directly, along with a plan for manifesting that and changing my life, our lives, but for now, I just need the catharsis of publishing this and coming clean with my higher self despite whatever professional consequences may exist.

The Point

Finally, I am writing this to let my wife know how proud I am of her, how grateful I am that she puts up with my bullshit, how much I appreciate her support, how lucky I know I am to have her in my life and how much I look forward to living the next 50 years with her by my side.

The title of this post has very simple origins – its everything that went into the above, in contrast and in connection with each other, the words that motivate us or prevent us from being all we can be. Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Doubt, Confidence, Life.

For me, my biggest problem is clear – its fear. Fear of publishing, of being wrong, of being right, of becoming famous – of having demands placed on me that would showcase my weaknesses (despite my belief that Marcus Buckingham is right in “Now Discover Your Strengths”) and a fear that I am simply not good enough, smart enough, loving enough, caring enough or doing enough.

Yes indeed, this is life. Deal with it and keep on keeping on despite it all, just do so with respect for everyone else suffering through the same, worse or better conditions. We are all one. One species with a fate that is not distinct from each other, but intimately tied to our mutual success or failure.

Be bold, be not afraid, I am here with you, struggling just as you are, and yet here I lay my soul bare for all to see and critique. Fuck it. Its me, and I am so much more then a collection of words about my challenges in life. That’s serious.

The time for change is now, and YES WE CAN do it.

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