The Holy Grail & The Spirit of Truth

Monty Python and the Holy Grail was mostly shot on location in Scotland, particularly around Doune Castle. Doune Castle is a medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, in the Stirling district of central Scotland.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a 1975 British comedy film concerning King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail, written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group. The setting is 932 AD and King Arthur travels throughout Britain searching for men to join the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur recruits Sir Bedevere the Wise, Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Galahad the Pure, Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot, and Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Film. Arthur leads the men to Camelot, but decides it is “a silly place” and sets off elsewhere. As they turn away, God speaks to them and gives Arthur the task of finding the Holy Grail.

Aren’t we all in search of life’s holy grail, i.e. that elusive thing with miraculous powers that provides happiness, wholeness and sustenance in infinite abundance, that thing which helps us feel significant. Without it, we feel inadequate and incomplete, and we’re just going through the motions.

Well, I’ve found it.

Now, before I go any further I need to address the “elephant in the room”. I’m empathetic to those reading who may “walk away” from the conversation and “shut down” to any talk of God because you think I’m pushing my beliefs on you. Please trust that I am not. Here’s why:

  • I am just like you. I feel the same way.
  • I am turned off by religion, which to me is not the same as God. Humankind has really fubar’d what God intended.
  • If you believe our bodies have souls, then its plausible to believe in my God.
  • If you don’t believe in souls, then you can stop reading because I don’t care to change your beliefs. It’s ok if you stop. I understand my message is not for everyone.

Still with me? Good.

If you believe our bodies have souls, then it’s plausible there are souls dwelling among us on earth as well as in some other spiritual sphere we can’t see. All kinds of souls, good and bad. It’s also possible to be believe that there is a hierarchy to souls in the spiritual sphere just as we have hierarchy on earth. In other words, there’s scale ranging from very good souls to very bad souls.

Make sense? Please continue.

Here’s what I’ve learned on my quest for the holy grail and in my work to feel significant:

  • Our soul is a distinct entity, separate from our body, where feelings, thoughts and actions originate.
  • Our body is the vessel for our soul.
  • Our spirit mediates between our body and soul. It is our consciousness. It intercedes on our soul’s behalf and our body does what our spirit wants. Our spirit can be a good or bad mediator for our souls. Our bodies and earthly lives reflect the desires of our spirit, which dwells in our hearts.

Furthermore, there is a Supreme Soul that is pure love, goodness and truth, and it’s spirit wants to have a relationship with my spirit. It wants to commune with it so that my soul can experience love, joy and purpose. It genuinely cares about me and wants to spend time with my spirit so that it may serve as a good mediator. However, it can only do so if I want to spend time with it, if I make time for it. It can not force that upon me.

As with any good parent, the Supreme Soul longs for me to engage in continual conversation because it has my bests interests at heart. It wants me to feel significant and loved. It wants me to be happy. It knows that if my spirit is aligned with it’s spirit, The Spirit of Truth, then my heart will be aligned with it’s heart. Like any conversation, I will only hear it when I’m listening.

What is the first step to finding the holy grail? Simply make time for The Spirit of Truth. Don’t worry about perfection. Just start. Take the leap. 1 minute a day will grow to 5 minutes a day. In no time, you’ll be spending more and more time with it because you want to.

As your spirit becomes aligned with The Spirit of Truth, you will be thinking about its character because you’ll understand it better. The more time you spend with it, the more you’ll understand it. The more you get to know it, the more mindshare it will have with you. The more you’ll think about it, the more you’ll become like it. Remember, that’s a natural law, we become what we think about. The Spirit of Truth will dwell in your heart and your soul will feel a sense of purpose.

I hope this makes sense and you’re compelled to act. I’ve figured out a process to help you find your holy grail, and I’d be grateful for the opportunity to hold your hand throughout the journey.

Why the Pain?

I’m amazed by how many people are hurting. This feeling drives their behavior and society preys on them by offering so many outlets for instant relief. I am equally amazed by how often the root cause stems from their childhood. Usually, an emotional loss or trauma is at the core. Their pain manifests itself in their daily pursuits as they seek a balm. Bad habits and addictions are usually the outcomes of their efforts.

Moreover, they feel they are”not good enough” and often seek to fill the void with love from worldly things. This provides temporary relief from the feeling of inadequacy or hurt, but it’s like constantly running away from something and never getting anywhere. I once had a teacher who said, “The surest way to get to hell is to run away from hell.” So true.

I’ve learned that managing ego and identity is like managing nostalgia. Nostalgia in Greek means “the pain from an old wound”. Who we are today is a function of how we manage the memories, images and experiences from childhood, i.e. the nostalgia. Rather than ask, “Why the bad habit?” or “Why the addiction?”, we must ask “Why the pain?”

Awareness is the first step to getting on the path to healing. We need to understand what’s in our head. And whatever you do, don’t try to escape the pain. Be with it. Being with your pain means you can experience it without having to run away from it.

How can you be with your pain? By sensing compassion from someone. Only when compassion is present will you allow yourself to see the truth.

This is why empathy is so important. When you can put yourself in someone else’s head, see what they see and feel what they feel, then you can express genuine compassion to them. By doing that, it’s a life-changer. They won’t feel the need to run away. They’ll feel empowered and equipped to change. They can experience growth because they have someone who understands along side them.

Whether you realize it or not, nostalgia is a gut level emotion that drives your behavior. No matter how mild or severe the feeling, if you feel inadequate, feel like your not good enough or are hurting, then be assured there is hope. I’ve been there.

You can be with your pain and become the person you want to be by learning how to manage your nostalgia. It will have a positive impact on your identity and confidence. I welcome the opportunity to walk along side you and hold your hand on your journey to build a new version of yourself.

Sacrifice Experiment

What are you willing to sacrifice to improve a relationship with someone? The most common are:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Priorities
  • Ego

As a child, we learned from our parents to “treat others like you want to be treated“, however they got it all backwards. To have good relationships, we need to treat others the way they want to be treated, keeping our own emotional preferences and projection biases out of the mix. People have a basic need to feel understood. They want you to see things through their eyes. They want you to feel what they feel. They want you to understand their worldview. That can only be accomplished when you sacrifice something.

In fact, I’ve learned what you’re willing to generously sacrifice will be returned to you in abundance beyond your wildest dreams. Not necessarily in a direct reciprocal kind of way, but indirectly at some point from someone. All you have to do is sacrifice, expect nothing in return and keep sacrificing. This happens because of a dynamic I call “relationship goodness”. As your sacrifice your time, money, priorities and ego, each relationship you have will improve. At first, the goodness grows in a proportional, linear manner. Eventually, the goodness created reaches critical mass and from there grows exponentially.

This week, let’s conduct an experiment. First, choose someone with whom you’d like to improve your relationship. Then, choose one thing to sacrifice.

  • Time – When they ask you to do something, say “sure” instead of making an excuse why you can’t.
  • Money – Buy them a meal, pay for an expense, donate to their charity.
  • Priorities – Figuratively speaking, let them “jump ahead of you in line”.
  • Ego – (maybe the hardest of them all) Let your ego take a hit for their benefit.

Lastly, keep thinking about other ways you can sacrifice. The more you think about it, the more you will do it. Eventually, it will become second nature because “we become what we think about“.

Write down the results of your experiment:

  • What type of reaction did you get from the other person?
  • What emotions did they express? How did it make them feel?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Would you say your relationship has improved or gotten worse as a result?

When you sacrifice something you care about for what someone else cares about, they feel heard. They feel like they matter. They feel understood. They feel loved.

By doing this, you’re practicing empathy. Your success in life is a function of the mastery of this skill. Why? We’re wired for relationship. God wired us to feel loved.

God has empathy for us. He knows what we struggle with, the habits and additions that hold us back from living the abundant life he wants for us. He wants a good relationship with us so we can feel loved and be healed of those struggles.

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.

Jesus demonstrated for us how to do this, which is why I consider him my role model. Throughout his life, he showed how to sacrifice time, money, priorities and ego to build relationships with people so they could be healed, feel loved and reach their full potential. He was the perfect example of God’s heart.

“I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)

I’d love to hear about the results of your experiment. Email me at marc@mindwolves.com or fill out the form below to share them with me. Trust that I will hold them in confidence.

Addicted to “No” and “That’s Right”

People often get empathy confused with sympathy. Sympathy occurs when you understand and care about the pain and suffering of another person. Empathy occurs when you genuinely feel what the other person feels, see what the other person sees and understand their worldview.

Sympathy is easy. Empathy is hard. With sympathy, you’re looking at the person from your shoes. With empathy, you’re looking out from the person standing in their shoes. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum, 180 degrees out of phase.

Empathy is an acquired skill, and there are tactics you can master to develop it as a habit. Two of my teachers are Chris Voss, CEO of The Black Swan Group, former lead FBI hostage negotiator and author of he book, Never Split the Difference, and Jesus. Chris explicitly teaches and Jesus implicitly uses field-tested tactical empathy techniques. Here are two that I am learning:

  1. Frame your question to get a “no” response instead of a “yes”.
  2. Make your statement to get a “that’s right” instead of a “you’re right”.

“No” Instead of “Yes”

Our society is addicted to yes-line of questioning. Consequently, we’ve evolved to suspect yeses lead to a trap. The objective of going for the no instead of the yes is to make the other person feel safe, protected and calm.

Challenge yourself to rephrase a question you want to ask to elicit a no response instead of a yes.

Here’s a example of when you’re trying to get someone’s time to speak.

Old habit: “Is now a good time to talk?” or “Do you have 5 minutes to talk about … ?

Tip: Place a “Is it a ridiculous idea …” in front of your question.

New habit: “Is now a bad time to talk?” or “Is it a ridiculous idea for you to speak with me about … ?

Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, drawing by Rembrandt, 1803

An example from the bible can be found in John 8:7-9. In those verses, Pharisees bring a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. Their intention was to trap him into enforcing Moses’ law that she be stoned to death, thereby accusing him of breaking the law of the Sabbath. However, Jesus did not fall for it, and he asked a question to elicit a no response from the Pharisees.

Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her. Are any of you without sin,” Jesus asked?

What did the Pharisees do? They left one by one because the answer was “no“. This was the first step in Jesus’ successful negotiation.

“That’s Right” Instead of “You’re Right”

The objective of this technique is to establish a feeling of connection with the other person by focusing on their right not your right. Feel what they feel. See what they see. If you get a “you’re right”, they’re just saying, “shut up and go away”. If you get a “that’s right”, then you’ve established trust and you’re in dialog.

Tip: Place a “You sound …” or ” It sounds like …” or “It seems like …” in front of your statement.

New habit: “You sound frantic.” or “You sound determined.” or “It sounds like your family is really close.” or “It seems like your frustrated.

Answer: “That’s right.”

Now, let’s go back to the bible in John 8:9-10 picking up where we left off. The Pharisees leave, and Jesus is left alone with woman.

Where are they? There’s no one left to condemn you,” Jesus said.

That’s right,” she said.

In that moment, Jesus was able to establish trust and connection with her. This was step two in Jesus’ successful negotiation.

He said just one more thing, “Well then, I do not condemn you either.

The result? The woman felt forgiven, let go of her past, changed her behavior and lived a honorable life from that point forward.

Powerful stuff. This is how you change lives for the better.

Master tactical empathy and become addicted to “no” and “that’s right”. They are game changing habits.

  • You’ll be more successful in your work because you’ll have an empathetic posture.
  • You’ll feel better about your work because you’ll genuinely feel what the other person feels, see what the other person sees and understand their worldview.

Do the Unexpected

“The Opposite” is the 86th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which was also the 21st episode of the fifth season. It aired on May 19, 1994. Click Here to watch a 2 min clip.

George Constanza: “Every decision in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat, it’s all been wrong.”

Jerry Seinfeld: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

Do you ever feel this way? Be honest.

I sure used to. Until I learned how to say the opposite of what I wanted to say, until I learned how to articulate someone else’s point of view, until I could define and confirm their true intentions, I was an ineffective communicator and leader. The skill is called tactical empathy and if you want to build a high trust team or community, then you must master it.

People want to know …

  • Do you see what I see? and
  • Do you feel what I feel?

And if you can get them to say, …

  • “That’s right.” or
  • “That’s not it. This is it.”

… then they will be open to hearing what you have to say. You’ll be in dialog. They’ll feel respected, appreciated, safe, calm and collaborative . If you make a mistake, they’ll forgive you.

Are you on board? Where do you start? Do two things:

  1. Be unexpectedly generous. Surprise people, especially people who are not nice to you. Send a kind note. Make eye contact and smile at them. Take cookies to their house. Think of something generous and just do it. If it feels awkward and unnatural, then good. You’re on to something. Do the opposite of what you “normally” would do.
  2. Spend time alone with God. Make a habit of being alone with God. Why? We see from Jesus’ example that time alone with God empowers us to carry out God’s generous purpose for our life. If he needed time alone with his heavenly father, we need it too.

It empowered him. He is our example.

Example 1: He withdrew into the wilderness in Luke 4 filled with God’s spirit and emerged empowered to perform miracles.

Example 2: He entered the Garden of Gethsemane filled with grief and sorrow, asking God for a way other than his own death to achieve his purpose. After spending time alone with God, he came out of the garden empowered to endure the worst atrocity in history.

It will empower you too. Spending time alone with God empowers us to live generously.

Here’s why this works. When you challenge yourself to be unexpectedly generous and you spend time with God, then more of your mind is occupied by those thoughts. Consequently, you become more generous and your heart becomes more like God’s heart. Your spirit becomes more controlled by God’s spirit and less by human nature, i.e. our natural state.

In other words, God’s spirit is opposite our human nature. “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” Well said Jerry. In my experience, we must learn how to do the unexpected and use Jesus as our role model.

“And rising very early in the morning, white it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. … Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Mark 1:15 and Luke 5:16)

“To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. … Those who obey their human nature cannot please God. … From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.” (Romans 8:6-8 and 1 Peter 4:2)

Leading Meekly

If you want to be a leader that everyone loves to follow, then learn how to lead meekly. Meek is defined as being humbly patient, gentle and kind. People often confuse meekness with weakness. It’s not. Meekness is strength, confidence and grace under pressure and provocation. If you can become a student of how to lead meekly, then you’ll attract “the right” people willing to follow.

Sculpture of Moses in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)

What do I mean by “the right” people? These are people who want to follow, but also want to be trusted with authority so they too can develop in to meek leaders.

As I reflect on my own personal journey, there was a defining moment that resulted in a choice.

Defining Moment: My heart was shattered in to pieces by someone I love. The pain was acute and sustained for years. The mental trauma was a life-disrupting event. I needed relief from the pain.

Choice: Rather than permit fear, hatred, resentment or revenge to fill the cracks of my broken heart, I let God’s love in. His love is what’s holding together my new and improved heart.

With the benefit “the end view”, I see I needed those cracks to let love in. I thought I was living the American dream, but it was actually a nightmare. I professed to know God, but really didn’t. I talked the talk, but did not walk the walk. I fooled people, but not God.

Statue of Moses at the Library of Congress.

Now, it’s important to note my pain was not punishment for my past sins. God does not hurt people. People hurt people. We hurt each other because we have freewill to make bad decisions. God did not wish the trauma on me. Rather, he wept with me as I went through it and made sure good resulted. Throughout the experience, he was with me, working for my benefit and delivering on his promise. I don’t blame him, rather I am forever thankful to him.

Let’s examine how and why my transformation happened:

  • First, acknowledge we become what we think about. This is natural law that can not be avoided.
  • Second, letting God’s love fill the cracks of my shattered heart meant I often thought of him, spent time with him and became of student of the teacher he sent for me, Jesus.
  • Lastly, because I always thought of him, my heart became like his heart. It became my treasure.
Reverse of the Great Seal of the United States Featuring the Eye of Providence .

Because God’s spirit now dwells in my heart, he reveals himself in deeper, more knowable ways to me. Moment by moment, he unveils his thoughts, feelings, power, love and will in a manner that surpasses that of mere language. He speaks straight from his spirit to mine that I may truly know him to greater depths than anyone else. I have centered my life around knowledge of him.

This knowledge empowers me to properly treat others in a humble, patient, gentle and kind way. I am willing and able to forgive and serve without expecting anything in return. I can now demonstrate love no matter what’s shown to me.

That’s how you change hearts and minds. That’s how you lead in a positive uplifting way. That’s how you lead meekly.

In Search of Delight

We become what we think about. That is the strangest secret of life. In the 1950’s Earl Nightingale argued whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality. Its been proven throughout humankind, and my own life is a testimony to its truth.

When I wanted nothing more than to become a NFL coach, I made daily incremental progress toward that goal because it’s what I always thought about. However, that progress was at the expense of my relationships with people I loved. What I thought I wanted most was not aligned with what was best for them. The path I thought would fulfill my purpose and give me meaning was not the course my father in heaven wanted me to take. I was misaligned because my delight was misplaced. The desires of my heart needed to be recalibrated.

The recalibration was painful. Very painful. But I am grateful for it because of the resulting good. The lenses through which I now see life are much clearer. My mind and resolve are stronger. My heart is aligned with my heavenly father’s heart because I delight myself in him.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I stopped thinking about what I think I want.
  • Rather, I only have to think about pursuing a relationship with him.
  • That pursuit becomes my chief joy, my main delight.
  • I become so delighted in him that my wants become his wants.
  • He fills me with right desires and then satisfies those desires in his perfect timing and in his perfect way. I only have to be patient.
  • I trust him as my good shepherd to such a depth that I joyfully follow him wherever he leads me.

I am trusting him to lead me where I once was afraid to go. And by doing that, others are following me. Now I clearly see the particular race I’m supposed to run and I am running it with patience, calmness and resolve. I have not yet reached the finish line, and I am far from perfect, but I will keep on running and struggling to get the prize.

A byproduct of delighting myself in relationship with God is better relationships with everyone else: family, friends, colleagues and even enemies. I can do good to them without expecting to get anything back. I can be kind to all, even the ungrateful and wicked.

At home, I am a better role model for my kids and better equipped to shape them. My foundation is stronger for them. As I delight in my relationship to God, I see them delighting in their relationship with me. They are more willing to follow me and trust I have their best interests at heart.

At work and in my local community, I want to become a leader that everyone loves to follow. I believe when the leader gets better, everyone gets better. Here are seven leadership principles I’ve adopted:

  • Thou shall not wait for permission to make things better.
  • Thou shall not be afraid to make aggressive mistakes.
  • Thou shall create movement, not coast.
  • Thou cares, therefore thou shall persist.
  • Thou has an edge because thou cares.
  • Thou shall be scrappy.
  • Thou shall demonstrate grit.

We become what we think about so search for delight in developing a relationship with God. Plant it in your mind and nourish it with repetition and emotion. One day, it will become a reality and you will get the desires of your heart. Then all of your other relationships will follow.

A Lollipop Moment

I got an awesome handwritten letter from my son, Dallas. He took the initiative. One of the best moments yet between me and him. One I won’t forget. I did not expect the letter. It was unprompted and genuine. He spoke from the heart. It touched me deeply.

It all started when I bought him the book, Every Young Man’s Battle. I thought the book could serve as a healthy framework for me to discuss sex with him. It came highly recommended by my good friend and colleague, Marty Muchnok, who used it with every young man who wanted to date his daughter. By the way, there is a companion book, Every Young Woman’s Battle. Both books provide strategies for victory in the real world of sexual temptation. They are the most honest and forthright resources on teen and young adult sexuality out there.

Dallas is 14 years old. Testosterone is flowing. Temptation is ubiquitous. His mind is fertile. It’s the battleground for his thoughts, both good and bad. His mind does not care what he plants, but it will return what he plants. There is so much “bad stuff” he is exposed to I can’t control. What I can control, however, is an open, healthy, constructive relationship and conversation with his dad, an adult he respects, trusts, loves and knows has his best interests at heart. He calls me “Pops”.

I must admit. “Pops” was nervous. Sex is not an inherently easy subject to discuss with your son. Growing up, my father, brothers and friends followed what the book calls the “Sexual Code of Silence”. The code states it’s OK to joke about sex or even lie about it, but other than that, it’s your solemn duty, as a male, to keep silent whenever a serious discussion about sex takes place.

Nonetheless, I mustered enough strength to ask Dallas if he’d like to talk with me about sex and use the book as a tool to help us do that. If so, then I proposed the following format:

  • Small group – just me and him
  • A brief, weekly reading assignment (1-2 chapters from the book)
  • Set aside 15-30 minutes each Sunday afternoon around 2 pm to chat
  • Use the book’s companion workbook for some Q&A
  • In 12-ish weeks, we’d get through the book, at our pace

I attempted to make the invitation warm and decision easy. It was not something I required, but hoped he would do with me. It was his choice. I conveyed we’d make it fun and meaningful. He accepted.

After the second week’s chat, Dallas handed me the letter. In it, he describes a lollipop moment, a moment when someone does something very influential in someone else’s life.

“Dad, hey, I’m writing this letter to let you know that you are a selfless person and I am grateful for that. I am grateful that you spend money on things that seem stupid to you, but are exciting for us [Dallas and his sister, Jarah]. I am grateful that you go out and get things for us even if you are tired. Plus, I am grateful for giving me a lollipop moment. A lollipop moment is a moment when someone does something very influential in someone else’s life. That lollipop moment for me was when we sat down and talked about that book you got me. I’ve been reading it and I have taken information from it that I will use my entire life.”

PS, Love You, Dallas

Wow. Not only did Dallas teach me what a lollipop moment was, he created one for me. He reciprocated. He expressed his gratitude and love for me in a way I will always remember. He confirmed the responsibility I have to mentor him to become the type of man both I and his heavenly father want him to be. It won’t happen by accident. I must model the behavior and character for him. He affirmed my purpose in life, which is to create positive uplifting moments for human experiences and relationships.

Dallas, thank you for expressing yourself. I know my work is not done, but I like the path our relationship is on. Thank you for sharing what’s in your heart. It gives me joy and strength.

May each of you reading this story experience a lollipop moment this holiday season. Be intentional. Create moments for others without an expectation of anything in return. You’ll be amazed of the difference it makes in your life.

Know that your returns in life must be in direct proportion to what you give. This is a natural law.

  • It applies to physics … For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • It applies to human relationships … You will reap that which you sow.

No one can enrich themselves unless they enrich others. There are no exceptions to this law. We may avoid the laws of man, but there are greater laws that cannot be broken.

Merry Christmas.

My Eulogy

We are here today to celebrate the life of Marc David Casciani and to say goodbye to a wonderful man. Death is always sad, but if there was ever a case to celebrate, this would be it.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Louis Casciani III, the first of his seven grandchildren and the namesake of Louis Casciani Jr., my great great grandfather who was decorated with a Purple Heart for his service in the Pacific Theater in World War II.

I would like to thank you for coming today to mourn the loss of my grandfather, Marc, who I affectionately called Pap C.

He was born October 8, 1969, in Monongahela, PA. However, I think of him as being from Wexford, where he raised my dad, Dallas, and aunt Jarah.

He was especially close to his good friend, Marty Muchnok, who is dad’s godfather. Together they built a”shinning city on a hill” in the insurance industry, which would not have been possible without the contributions of many of you here today. Their relationship dates back to high school, but their friendship did not blossom until they matured as disciples of Jesus Christ. They shared many experiences together, some good and some bad, all which served to unite them in purpose. Along with Marty, he leaves a legacy at FNB Insurance of which we are very proud.

What I am most grateful for is the testimony he leaves behind at MindWolves.com. It is his crowning achievement. It is the fruit of his labor, pain and joy. I know God in Heaven is greeting him with open arms saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.

His favorite Bible verse was Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Pap’s purpose in life was to help people discover who they want to be. With a tender heart and tough hide, he helped them put a stake in the ground and take control of their future. The one that God wanted them to have. The one that was intended for them. 

He helped people build meaningful relationships. First with God. Then with everyone else. He helped them experience joy, no matter the circumstance. He built a community around the world, which he called his pack, whose members exhibit character qualities conducive to living a life of significance and contribute their stories to MindWolves.com. I know many of you here are part of his “One Pack”.

He helped people discover their craft, that thing which they like doing from moment to moment, day after day, year after year. “It’s work that doesn’t seem like work. Once this is discovered, you become a ‘Jack of One Trade’“, he would assert.

A week ago today, I made a surprise visit to Pap C at his home in Wexford during lunch. When I got there, he was already eating with his French Bulldog, Manny. Their backs were towards me so they could not see me coming. As I tip toed, I noticed them enjoying each other’s company. It reminded me how much Pap C cherished the “moments of life”, a love I saw him model consistently. He taught me our main purpose in life is to love and be loved, and he demonstrated it over and a over.

When I tapped him on his shoulder, he turned, looked at me and started to cry. He was so happy to see me. I pulled up a chair, sat down, Manny jumped on my lap, and I had one of the best conversations I ever had with Pap. He had been through a lot the last three months since his heart attack, and I could see the effect on his body, yet he was full of life. His mind was as sharp as ever. We talked about all the things he and Manny were planning to do that day, and he shared the topic of his next story at MindWolves, which was slated to be written Sunday morning, a weekly ritual he had performed the past 50 years without fail.  He also repeatedly told me how much he loved me.

As I was leaving, I had a feeling it may be the last time I’d chat with him. It was. I am so grateful for getting that opportunity.

What became of Pap’s final story at MindWovles? Well, he wrote it, but I found it in draft form. So I decided to take the baton and publish it for him. In hindsight, I believe God gave us that final moment together as a passing of the torch. MindWolves is his gift to me. It’s my inheritance.

Goodbye, Pap. We all loved you very much and will miss you tremendously. Don’t worry about Manny. I’ll take care of him. And don’t worry about your pack, they’re in good hands.

Rest in peace, Pap C. I love you.

There’s no better exercise than to write how you want to be remembered. You’re in control. Don’t waste another second. Discover who you want to be

Humbly,

Marc (the future Pap C)

Creating Moments

I recently listened to an inspiring interview of Chip Heath by Craig Groeschel. It centered around Chip’s book, The Power of Moments.

They talked about why some experiences create more of an impact than others, what makes them memorable and how they can be used to benefit your professional and personal life. For me, it served as a catalyst to explore how I can leverage impactful moments within my company to improve culture, delight customers and create a shared purpose for my teammates. It also gave me pause to think about how I can be more intentional about creating moments with my family.

Until now, I didn’t realize how deeply I’ve been affected by the topic.  It’s as though I’m looking at life through a different pair of lenses and see everything as a collection of experiences, i.e. basic building blocks, many of which I can influence by being mindful about creating the moments I want. By default, this perspective takes the focus off myself and places it on others and what they feel.

My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration cake.

I was moved to create the following moments this week:

  1. Surprise Saturdays. These are days I will do whatever my kids feel like doing. When a “Surprise Saturday” is declared, they get to choose what we do for the day, and I have to do it.
  2. Anniversary Celebrations. The insurance industry has a bad habit of being too internally focused. For example, the day coverage starts is defined as the customer’s effective date or renewal date. Not any longer at First National Insurance. Moving forward, this date will be know as the customer’s anniversary, and we will celebrate it. We will show our gratitude for every additional year they choose to stay with us. Their loyalty warrants special treatment, and as with a marriage, major milestones will be extra special.
  3. Day One. On their first day, every new employee gets a “Day One” e-mail from the President.  It will be the first e-mail they see in their inbox. Here’s an example of one that was sent this week:

This is a big day. We’re so excited to have you part of our team. We’re doing great things, and we’re now poised to do even greater things with you on board.

I’m a big believer in the concept of synergy, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 1 + 1 = 3. We are stronger with each new teammate.

We have a fast-paced, results-oriented, entrepreneurial culture that is balanced with empathy and compassion. At the end of the day, we intrinsically understand everyone wants to feel heard and are mindful of that with all stakeholders.

We are on a purposeful mission to build the most hospitable insurance brokerage on Earth. We are one-step closer to accomplishing that today and are so grateful for the faith you’ve shown in us.

I am committed to being more intentional about creating meaningful moments with those I am blessed to have in my life. I can see it becoming a lifestyle. It will help me grow in wisdom in the ways I relate to people.

Unlike “earthly” wisdom, which harbors envy and selfish ambition and causes discord, this “heavenly” wisdom initiates kind, authentic actions and yields peace-loving relationships. It is considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  It is willing to listen and be open to ideas and suggestions.

As I grow in creating moments, I can also see myself growing in awareness about not disguising my weaknesses. People appreciate honesty and straightforwardness. By being more open about where I struggle, it will help those with whom I’m sharing the moment to be more open, as they may be struggling too.

Thank you Chip Heath for a wonderful book, and thank you Craig Groeschel for an inspiring interview. I am forever grateful.

If you’d like to learn more about creating moments, then here’s a link to the podcast: click here. Enjoy.

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