As a private equity investor, seven years represented our maximum investment horizon. Everything beyond seven years was, essentially, forever.
Well, we’re coming up on our 17th wedding anniversary and it doesn’t feel like we’ve traveled “twice” beyond forever!
It does, however, feel very good to be traveling together.
My focus on 7 is related to turning 53.
7 + 53 = 60
I suspect 60 will mark the end of my middle age.
The signs — less of everything — are all around me.
A book which has guided my life is Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. I read it at the start of my marriage and applied its advice, gradually – point by point.
I would notice Dr. Livingston’s advice in others, then change those traits in myself. Ultra endurance sport gave me a set of skills related to not responding to others. Time and time again, I was rewarded when I overcame my urge to engage.
Outside of sport the game was to not-encourage certain aspects of my personality. I came to his writing with an understanding that my approach to relationships didn’t work, and a powerful desire to find a better way to love.
Like a new parent, I did not have confidence in what-to-do, so I focused on avoiding the big mistakes.
- Don’t act on anger => easier than… be patient all the time
- Focus on de-escalation => easier than… seeking to fix whatever seems to be the problem
- Wait until the energy leaves the situation => better than… heated engagement
- Schedule time together => better than… expecting my family to serve me
- Avoid those who bring out the worst in me
- Place myself in my best environment, especially with those I love
Lots of guys, and it is mainly guys, get themselves into unnecessary trouble with regards to sex. Tactics that have proven the test of time. I encourage these in my son…
Strength Training – very useful for anger modification. Like everything, I have tended to over-do-it.
Consistently toss plate and you’ll make less mistakes. Just seems to work.
As a young man, I used (extreme) endurance training. At 53, endurance-fatigue removes too many of the filters I use to manage my family life.
About those filers… I’ve come to realize that the greatest risk my family faces isn’t some external shock. It’s me. Specifically, the personality traits that I burnt off in my 30s will resurface and screw up an enviable situation.
Life gives each of us opportunities to start fresh, take parenthood. Not easy, often not much fun… very rewarding in hindsight, much like endurance sport. My kids have an experience of me that starts in my mid-40s. I love what they see in me. Fatherhood is a reminder that we can change, for the better, at any stage of our lives.
Pick a habit, learned young, that might be useful NOT to pass along.
Break the chain.
Dr. Livingston has ideas for you.
Athletic spouse – when I pointed out the utility of this tactic, my son asked me to detail specifics!
With him, and you, I’ll leave this advice at “it just seems to work.”
By the way, to end up with an athletic spouse I needed to embrace everything implied, both in myself, and subordinating my “needs” to my goals. Again, elite sport was a useful teacher.
As a couple, we support whatever is required to have the physical partner we desire. We live in the fittest zip code in the US, have an extensive home gym, start each day with a workout… a mutually reinforcing positive cascade.
Having “fitness” as a core value creates blindspots:
- desiring access to fit-folks we’d do well to avoid; and
- being slow to embrace not-fit teachers, who are masters of subjects that can change our lives for the better.
Even with the blindspots, fitness crowds out choices that lead us astray. Having tried the not-fit path, it’s a good trade.
Here’s an idea about freeing one’s self from the fears and anxieties that typify the mindset of high achievers.
As an endurance athlete, most of my efforts went into my sport. Prior to that, my energies went into finance. Prior to that, they went into school. However, in finance & in school, there was energy left for pursuits that could have led to ruin. Dr. Livingston covers most my mistakes in the first 20 pages on his book on love.
Despite its realities, elite endurance sport has a strong association with health. That association was enough to nudge me into seeking to be better person outside of sport.
5, 10, 20 years of better… the compounding effect is real, especially when I transferred a “be the brand” coaching model to fatherhood.
There’s a very old teaching that was taught to me by Mark Allen…
If you want the full power of your actions, then tell no one.
From a walk in London (1993) to a couch in Hong Kong (2000) to a wonderful family (2022).
Brief moments, seemingly small choices, gradually reaching for better.